Electric smokers are the new kid on the block as far as one tier smokers are concerned, even though they have a relatively modern history compared to kamado grills or charcoal smokers.
The best electric smokers use electricity and heat convection to cook smoked food between 100 – 275 degrees Fahrenheit. They have gained in popularity thanks in part to leading manufacturers such as Masterbuilt, Char-Broil, and Bradley.
But are smoked foods prepared using these smokers healthy? We take a more in-depth look to find out.
Are Electric Smokers Good?
Electric smokers make smoking convenient. They do not use a direct flame, but rather a convection system, which circulates heat and smoke back around the meat, cooking it evenly from all directions. The temperatures range is also not too high. Smoked food is subject to cold smoking at 60-80 degrees F and hot smoking from 180-250 degrees F using these smokers.
Many come with a digital control panel for temperature controls that can be Wi-Fi or remote-enabled. This way, they allow you to smoke foods low and slow, much better health-wise compared to high-heat searing, grilling, and frying, which do not retain the nutritional value of foods.
Thus, these units help to retain the smoky flavor in smoked meat while significantly reducing the production of carcinogens, making this method of barbecue healthy.
Is Smoked Meat Carcinogenic?
There have been some health concerns raised as regards carcinogens in smoked food.
Subjecting proteins like smoked meats and fish to high temperatures produces heterocyclic amines or HCAs. Also, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs, known carcinogens identified in a recent scientific study, form during a flare-up when fat and meat juices drip into the grill’s flame or directly onto hot coals.
The addition of wood chips acts to enhance the flavor and juiciness of the smoked food without the need for added fats, oils, or artificial flavor enhancers, which aren’t healthy. However, bear in mind that eating smoked food i.e. smoked meat (beef and poultry) and fish regularly, may carry the associated risk of contracting cancer or heart disease.
Are Electric Smokers Safe?
Not only are electric smokers healthier than the other type of smokers, but they’re safer too. They reduce heat and smoke leakage well eliminating the possibility of unsafe flare-ups from open flames and smoke, as well as reduce the overall smoking time.
People living with lung problems are also better off using electric smokers to prepare smoked foods since they won’t have to contend with the smoke pollution of pellets or charcoal, which produce harmful pollutants in the home. The advanced insulation of electric smokers also retains heat and smoke well, preventing it from escaping from the smoke chamber, and keeping food flavorful.
It’s not enough to settle on electric smokers and hope to make healthy barbecued meals. To get the most from your electric smoker, you must also take specific steps to keep your diet and body as healthy as possible, and increase your intake of vegetables as well as lean meats and seafood.
Some other key recommendations include:
- Always curing your just-bought electric smoker before use to avoid the dangers of manufacturing residues
- Make marinades and brine that are low in sodium or salt; wet marinades are sure to reduce the formation of carcinogenic PAHs and HCAs compared to dry marinades
- Eating smoked food that is lean and healthy, e.g. lean meats, omega-rich seafood, and fresh veggies has numerous benefits over fatty meats like pork, hams, or duck that are bad for your blood
- Always cleaning out your smoker with hot, soapy water after use, especially the grease-filled drip pan, water pan, and cooking racks
- Consider limiting your intake of barbecued protein meals to one time per week; moderation is always best
- Consider using technology like Wi-Fi and remote controls to monitor the progress of your smoke from any location and to ensure that your food cooks well
So, are electric smokers good for your health? The short answer is yes, but only when used in moderation.
They smoke using less direct heat compared to other types, are environmentally safe, and have automatic temperature regulators, which ensure that food is not overcooked or undercooked.
With their digital control panels, you can control, regulate, and adjust food temperature and even cooking times from any location, ensuring that your food cooks optimally and retains as much of its nutrition as possible.
Should you want to learn more about electric smokers check out our Electric Smokers Buyer’s Guide. We give you the latest information on all the latest models, including features and specs, which means you’ll be in the know before you buy.