Published on April 18th, 2019
White or red, who doesn’t love meat? Meat is a vital part of global cuisine in most cultures. When cooked right, meat can be a good source of protein and vitamins.
There has been much debate about which method is the healthiest way to cook meat. Earliest humans to eat cooked meat did so by roasting on the open fire.
Popular methods like roasting and grilling are being pushed aside for healthier options. Newer methods like sous vide are becoming more popular as they are healthier.
Why is the Method of Cooking Important?
White meat is a part of many healthy diets. Red meat on its own is not particularly unhealthy. The way one cooks the meat will determine whether it will help your body or harm it.
For example, a dish of chicken and vegetable stew can be an excellent health booster. But, the same piece of chicken, slathered in batter and deep-fried can give you heart disease.
Red meat is always red flagged due to its cholesterol content. However, a lean piece of red meat, cooked in little or no oil, will boost your health.
Healthiest Method Of Cooking Meat?
The healthiest option to cook meat is debatable. Here are some methods that are widely considered as healthy:
1. Sous Vide
Sous vide is a method of cooking meat in a tub of water under low heat in a Ziploc bag. The phrase translates to ‘under vacuum’.
Sous vide came into the cooking scene back in the 1960s as a safe way to keep or cook food. Cook’s Illustrated explained how Sous Vide later became a chef’s trick to preserve flavors.
But, flavors aren’t the only thing this method protects. It helps food retain vitamins and minerals, whilst using little or no added fat.
As fancy as the name sounds, this way of cooking meat is simple. The meat will cook evenly on all side and keep all its healthy juices. For healthy, consistent results, sous vide is the way to go.
2. Pressure Cooking
Pressure cooking is cooking food at a high temperature in a pressured pot for a short period of time. The temperature is high inside the pot because of the pressured inside.
Most lean red meats are tough. It can take hours of cooking to soften the meat. Cooking those in a pressure cooker can give you a tender consistency in a matter of minutes.
Due to the short period of time, fewer vitamins and minerals are lost. There is little or no loss of iron in this cooking method.
Healthy options for pressure cooking are making a stew or pot roast. Adding vegetables and lentils with the meat will increase nutritional value.
3. Slow Cooking
This old method is easier to use now due to the invention of the electric slow cooker pot.
One simply needs to mix all the ingredients together and leave it in the slow cooker. The dish will need no further attention.
The meat will cook at low heat for a long period of time. Hence, there is no toxic byproduct released due to high heat.
The lid covered pot ensures that evaporation doesn’t take away all the vitamins and minerals. The liquid condenses back to the dish.
It is necessary to eat the gravy with the meat as vitamin B drains out into the fluid. Using meat with collagen is great for slow cooking.
Other Comparatively Healthier Options
1. Stews and Soups
As mentioned earlier, stewing is a great option as long as you do it right.
With soups and stews, we consume the liquid released from the meat and vegetables. All the vitamins and minerals drain out into this fluid.
It is important to remember two things while following these methods.
The cooking temperature should be moderate to low while cooking. High heat destroys the nutritional value of food.
Another important factor is keeping the pot covered. A covered pot prevents nutrition from evaporating away.
Using pressure cookers or slow cookers is a great option for stews and soups.
Both methods involve cooking in a small amount of water.
Poaching is usually used for eggs and fish. But, it can be an excellent choice for cooking tender meat.
Lean cuts of lamb and soft, thin slices of beef can be poached. Poaching is a great option for chicken and duck.
Bring the seasoning infused water to a simmer and then add the meat. Turn up the heat and bring it to boil for a minute to kill all the germs. After a minute, lower the heat and poach until the meat is cooked.
One problem with poaching is vitamin retention. Most of the vitamin drains into the water, which we throw away.
Roasting is a method of cooking in a high heat oven. One plus point of roasting is that you don’t need to add extra fat to cook the meat.
Using a roasting rack can help drains out the fat inside the meat. However, vitamin B tends to drain out with the juice. This is why the juice is used to make gravy that is eaten with the roast.
4. Stir Frying
Stir-frying is an Asian method of cooking. In a hot wok with a little oil, food is tossed around until cooked.
Stir-frying is comparatively healthier as cooking takes less time. With no water involved, the food retains its nutrition.
Using less soy sauce and oil can help make this method healthier. Stir fry both meat and vegetable for a wholesome meal.
Whether grilling indoors or outdoors, it is one of the most popular methods of cooking meat. Everyone loves barbecued meat due to the taste and aroma.
While it’s not the healthiest method out there to cook meat, it’s far better than other unhealthy ones.
Grilling is a method of cooking meat over open, high heat. It is a present version of prehistoric roasting on a firepit. The heat burns off any fat content from the meat making it leaner.
However, without the right tools, the happy grilling experience can easily turn into a nightmare.
Some popular ways of cooking meat are bad for health. Even if they produce amazing taste, use these methods less frequently.
Broiling is done with the broiler in an oven. High heat cooks the food from directly above. A broiler can run so hot that it might burn your meat quickly if you aren’t careful.
2. Deep frying
Another very popularly method is deep frying. Fast food like fried chicken, french fries, onion rings, etc is all deep fried.
Deep fried meat is usually slathered in batter and fried in a tub of oil. Deep fried food is a culprit behind ever-increasing obesity.
The amount of saturated fat consumed via deep fried food is immense. It is the most unhealthy way of cooking meat.
Why Are These Ways So Unhealthy ?
All of these methods release harmful chemicals such as AGAs, HAs and PAHs.
AGAs are changes that occur in protein and fat when exposed to sugar. Consumption of AGAs changes your cells. It makes you prone to heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, aging, etc.
Other such byproducts are Heterocyclic Amines and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons. These are both created when meat cooks at an extreme temperature.
There are many amazing and tasty ways of cooking meat. By using methods like sous vide and slow cooking, people can opt for a healthier lifestyle.
It is better to occasionally eat deep fried or broiled meat. Reduced consumption means you are lessening the risk of getting ill.
You have to find the balance between the various ways. Remember that meat is only unhealthy based on fat content and the way you cook it.
Choosing the right kind of meat and the right way to cook it can boost your health.
Angie Grey, an expert author from Faveable.com brings you all you need to know about fashion and grooming. She loves the outdoors and travels the world like a nomad.