BBQ Tips For National Men’s Health Month

BBQ Tips For National Men’s Health Month

June is National Men's Health Month! This month is all about encouraging the men in your life to take care of their bodies by eating right, exercising, and working to prevent disease.

June is National Men's Health Month! This month is all about encouraging the men in your life to take care of their bodies by eating right, exercising, and working to prevent disease.

This month is also all about the grill on, including the opportunity to win a new one. Thus, today’s article is going to focus on little tips and tricks to take your BBQ season to the next level.

While I’m not here to turn your BBQ habits upside down, I will be sharing some actionable, science-fueled suggestions that will greatly improve your health in both the long and short term with the least effort possible. 

In order to understand where I’m coming from with today’s piece, we need to first understand the biggest threats to men’s health both for current you, and future you.

Current You

Needs to be aware of the fact that high blood pressure and high cholesterol medications are among the most frequently prescribed pharmaceuticals to men in Canada.

Future You

Needs to be aware of the fact that the two biggest threats to a man’s longevity, that are affected heavily by food choices, are heart disease and colorectal cancer.

So what can we do differently on the grill to protect us from all of the above, while also improving the balance of our diet?

Let’s find out.

Grill These:

Powerhouse Veggies

    All vegetables are good for you, but certain types have unique characteristics such as soluble fiber, potassium and calcium which make them extra useful for your healthy lifestyle.

    These include broccoli, okra, zucchini, eggplant and brussels sprouts.

    Every grill session should include at least one or more of these veggies, in my humble opinion.

    Fatty Fish

    The term “fatty fish” refers specifically to salmon, sardines, trout, herring and mackerel.

    You’ve probably heard about Vitamin D and Omega-3 Fatty acids before, but you may not be aware of the fact that fatty fish are the only foods that contain large amounts of both.

    I appreciate that with rising food prices salmon may be hard to choose on a frequent basis, but the good news is that more accessible fish like sardines and mackerel, including canned, are amazing choices.

    For me, most grilling sessions should include at least one fish option – I recommend using a nice lemon pepper seasoning.

    Complimentary Vegetables

    I consider “complimentary” vegetables to be those that enhance the balance, enjoyment and nutritional value of the meal and act as compliments to the powerhouse vegetables discussed in section one. 

    Vegetables are among the most important foods for long-term health, so my hope is that helping you categorize and think of them a bit differently might help.  

    My top selections in this category include squash, sweet potato (especially purple if you can find them!), red bell pepper, tomato and mushrooms. 

    Each of these choices are grill friendly with unique value to men’s health.

    Squash and sweet potato have large amounts of soluble fiber and potassium whereas red bell peppers and tomatoes carry large amounts of the antioxidant lycopene. 

    Figs For Dessert

    All fruit is good for you, but I’m going to suggest figs as a fun, low prep required choice because they are high in both calcium and fiber. 

    But Avoid These

    My baseline philosophy is that you get healthy by what you do, not by what you don’t do.

    As a result, I’m not going to be creating an exhaustive “foods to avoid” list.

    We do, however, need to talk about processed meats.

    Processed Meats

    Processed meat that ends up on the grill might include hot dogs, ham and sausages.

    The significant amount of salt and preservatives in these products, including the actual curing/smoking process, mean that they simply aren’t great for your health and are associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

    My best advice is to keep these products to a bare minimum. Moderation is always key.

    Red Meat

    For many, if not most, steaks are the epitome of grilling season and for that reason I’m not going to spend much time dissuading anyone from red meat intake. 

    Instead, I’m going to offer up guidance on how to navigate your red meat intake:

    1.     If you intend to eat more than a 9 oz steak per week, consider opting for leaner cuts like eye of round or sirloin more often.
    2.     Try to grill, on a weekly basis, at least as much fish as you do red meat
    3.     Marinate it, and all other meat/seafood you BBQ (see next section)

    Bonus – Marinade Matters

    The trade-off we face to enjoy the delicious taste of BBQ grilled meat is the fact that cooking at high heat and charring meat can lead to the formation of potentially harmful compounds known as HCAs.

    There are a number of ways we can minimize this, and one of the most effective things is marinating our meat prior to grilling.

    Meat should be marinated for at least 30 minutes and generally an effective marinade contains three components.

    • A high smoke-point oil base:Avocado oil has the highest smoke point among all plant-based oil options
    • A touch of acidity: Such as lemon, lime juice or vinegar
    • Herb/Spice Blends:Such as onion, garlic and any host of potent spices like oregano, rosemary, thyme and so on.

    A 2007 study from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that using a marinade of this nature reduced the formation of harmful compounds by up to 70%, an important consideration when cooking steaks given that red meat is more likely to form these compounds than other types of animal protein.

    Variety Is The Spice Of Life

    The goal of what I outlined above was not to turn the BBQ season upside down, but rather introduce a few ideas that will improve your health with minimal additional effort.

    Let’s see what sticks.

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