Meat is a staple in many diets. Not only is it tasty, but it is also an excellent source for high-quality protein and nutrients. However, some cooking methods prove to be a little less healthy than others. If you’re looking for the healthiest way to cook meat, keep on reading.
Meat has been cooked and consumed by humans for thousands of years. The fundamental reason to cook food is that it breaks down tough fibres, making the food easier to chew. Food that is chewed thoroughly is easier to digest, which allows your body to absorb the nutrients much more effectively. Cooking also kills bacteria like salmonella, which can lead to illness and even death.
Unfortunately, cooking can also rid the meat of its nutrients, and the extent of this depends on the cooking method. Here are four cooking techniques to help you decide which of it is best for you:
1 – Roasting/Baking
Roasting and baking are similar as both use dry heat. Dry heat cooking is mainly cooking without liquid.
When you roast a piece of meat, you place it on a roasting pan. The meat sits on a rack where juices flow down while cooking. The same can be done in a rotisserie, a device that slowly turns the meat as it cooks. It is a standard method to cook entire animals, such as turkey, or large chunks of meat.
2 – Grilling/Broiling
Similar to the previous method, grilling, and broiling also employes dry, high heat. The difference between grilling and broiling is that in grilling, the heat source is from below while in broiling, the heat source is from above. Grilling temperatures also range around 190°C to 230°C and broiling at 260°C to 280°C.
These are two popular methods, especially on steaks and burgers, because of the charcoal flavour the meat gains. Unfortunately, this method is potentially harmful as dangerous chemicals may be produced in the process.
3 – Poaching/Stewing/Simmering
These three methods of cooking are similar methods of moist cooking. Cooking time is also much longer with these techniques, and they use lower temperatures. The cooking liquid that the meat will sit in will depend on which method you choose. Poaching lies between 60°C to 80°C, stewing at 70°C and 80°C, and simmering at 85°C to 90°C. If the meat cooks at over 93°C for an extended time, it will toughen up significantly. Poaching is an excellent method to cook delicate meat, such as fish and duck.
Research has shown that cooking with moist heat at low temperatures reduces the risk of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), as they are harmful to the human body. On the other hand, lengthy cooking will cause the product to lose much juice that contains nutrients and vitamin B. If you do consume the juices, you will gain most of what was lost through the cooking process.
4 – Pan-frying/Stir-frying
Pan-frying and stir-frying are when you cook a piece of meat in a skillet, wok, or pot. In stir-frying, the meat is flipped continuously, while pan-frying means that the meat isn’t moved as much. With the high heat that these two methods utilize, cooking times are extremely short, which helps retain flavour in the meat and maintain its tenderness.
These two techniques are one of the best ways to cook meat as more nutrients are retained inside the meat. Also, the fatty areas of the meat are less likely to become oxidized. Oxidized cholesterol contributes to heart disease.
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