Asking if pellet grills are healthy is a lot like comparing the nutritional values between a bag of vegetables and a fistful of candy. It’s really all about what you’re cooking up.
However, there are some health concerns when it comes to grilling which has nothing whatsoever to do with taste or the nutrition facts of the object of your grilling desire.
Let’s face it, chewing on a slab of meat that was grilled to perfection on a pellet stove has no comparison in the taste department.
You can try to duplicate the juicy, even heat and tremendous taste grilled burgers or steak or roasts produce.
But the only way you could complete a perfect match is with another pellet grill. We’re pretty serious about that.
But, as we mentioned, there are some health issues you need to be aware of that can be connected to pellet grilling.
Studies Have Indicated A Link To Cancer
Alright, before you start to run away screaming, there has been a number of studies conducted in the last few years.
The study results point to a possible increase in the risk of developing pancreatic cancer, among other types of cancers, and the consumption of smoked or grilled meat.
As much as we’d like to remind you that sooner or later everything we do has the potential to impact our health in one way or other, there are ways to reduce the cancer risk and still chomp on a chunk of perfectly pellet grilled meat.
How Does Grilled or Smoked Meat Cause Cancer?
There you have the $64,000 question.
However, we intend to explain the distinct differences in how each method of meal preparation can be linked and what to do to try to break that link.
After all, pellet grillin’ makes a meal far too delicious to stop enjoying because of a risk factor, right?
Well, cancer is serious business, but we can show you how to sort of skirt around that and still get your share of mouth-watering, grilled-to-perfection meat.
The Grilling Method
Animal fat is the link to cancer and when you toss a slab of meat on the grill.
If you’ve ever seen the way fat flares up once it starts to drip off of meat and land on the heat source being used, you’ll know what we mean about this not really helping you cook you dinner.
When the fat explodes into flame it releases a handful of nasty chemicals that were trapped inside the fat. These chemicals need the fire to react and become even more dangerous.
They have the rather tame handle of heterocyclic amines (or HCAs for short). Once these chemicals are released into the air they float up and bury themselves into your burger or steak.
It’s the consumption of meat containing these fresh new, nasty chemicals that are linked to an increase in developing cancer.
How Can You Reduce The Risk When Grilling?
That, my friend, is the easy part. If you have one of the best pellet grills on the market you may have a grate that reduces flare ups. Your goal is to do just that, cut down on the number of flare ups.
In fact, one easy way to remember this is to repeat the following phrase while watching your steak grill: “Flare ups can flare up my cancer risk.” Pretty simple, right?
The Smoking Method
Here’s where things get a little hinky. You know how bad smoking is for your health, right? The link to cancer from smoking cigarettes or any kind of tobacco comes from carcinogens.
When you use wood smoke to treat meat on a pellet grill you are essentially bathing your upcoming meal in carcinogens known as polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs for short).
The really sad part of this story comes from the fact that the PAHs are also what make your smoked food smell so freakin’ awesome. Essentially, breathing in those nasty smoke critters is a lot like smoking a pack of cigarettes, minus the tar and nicotine.
How Can You Reduce The Risk When Smoking?
Remember, we are talking about smoking meats here. We also don’t want to down play the potential risks here, but breathing in a little smoke every now and again is not as harmful as say, standing over the smoker every single day.
But you can also reduce the risk even further by marinating before smoking. Here’s the rub (pun intended) if you marinate the steak or roast what you are doing is two really cool things.
First, you are adding a number of great flavors to the meat in a virtual flavor bath or soak. Secondly, the marinate acts as a kind of protective cover.
Kind of how sunscreen is supposed to give your skin a fighting chance in the sun. The marinate cover actually makes it a little harder for those nasty chemicals floating around in the smoke from penetrating deep within your dinner of choice.
One More Way To Reduce Your Risk
We know that when you have one of the best pellet grills you are going to want to use it whenever possible. We do the same.
However, you can also use your pellet grill as part of the cooking process.
As an example, you may wish to start meat in the microwave oven and finish up on the grill. This reduces your risk of flare ups and cuts down on the amount of smoke you’ll be breathing in.
Or, you could start on the pellet grill and once you get the meat happenin’ you can finish it off in the oven. Either way, you will not be viewed as a grill pansy.
If anything, your health conscious attitude may turn you into a grill hero. You know what that means, right?
You’ll have imitators throughout the neighborhood starting or finishing steaks, roasts, whatever just like you. You could start your own blog.
You could end up on the front page of your local newspaper as the guy who put health back into grilling or smoking. At the very least your dinner guests will appreciate your concern for their health and that should make you a hero in their eyes. And by all means, cook something healthy!