Food wars: grilled fish vs smoked fish

Grilled fish vs smoked fish is the battle of choice today on Food Wars. These are probably two of the most popular ways of preparing fish in the country. So, you see why it is important for you to know which method is healthier for you and your family.

We are here to show you some of the things that we do regularly that might be harmful to our health. This is one that you might want to pay attention to. So, let us dive in shall we? Which is better for your health; grilled or smoked fish?

Smoked fish

Smoked fish
Smoked fish (source: Alibaba)

Smoking is a method of preparing and preserving food that has been around for hundreds of years. It was used in the time of cavemen to prevent spoiling of fish and meat.

Nowadays, modern conveniences like the refridgerator has made that particular use to be not as important. Although the method still helps to preserve the fish. But nowadays, it is used more for flavour and tenderness than to prevent spoilage.

Smoking makes use of smoke (from wood, tea or any other source) to cook the fish. Now, smoking can be done in two different ways; hot smoking and cold smoking.

Around here, hot smoking is the most common method.With hot smoking, the fish is cooked at medium heat (over 80 degrees). This process properly cooks the fish and gives it a flaky texture.

This method usually kills all the bacteria in the fish, but it comes with its drawbacks. The smoking process used on fish and meats produce a compound known as PAH (polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon). This substance could be carcinogenic, especially for those that take a lot of smoked fish.

Also, smoked fish generally contains a high amount of sodium. If you eat smoked fish regularly, this is something you should be careful of. Excess sodium in the body could lead to gastrointestinal problems, including gastric cancer.

Grilled fish

Grilled fish
Grilled fish

Grilling involves subjecting the fish to direct high exposure to radiant heat. The source of the heat is usually hot coals, wood or gas. Grilling cooks your fish faster than smoking. It also produces a black char on the outside of the fish which can be unhealthy.

This char contains substances known as heterocyclic amines (HA). There is also a possibility that the juices of the fish can drop on the coals to produce smoke. And just like smoking, this smoke contains PAH.

These substances have been linked to a higher risk of colorectal cancers. It is also important to note that both these substances are officially listed as carcinogens by the US Department of Health (DOH).

Which is healthier?

Well, many of these facts are all scientific, which can be difficult to associate with food. For instance, it is not known at what quantity these substances are carcinogenic.

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But, as with most other things, moderation is the key here. Grilling and smoking fish, even though they taste really good, have their health risks. You can reduce this risk by reducing your intake of smoked or grilled fish.

Another thing you can do is to cut away all the charred part since these are usually the parts containing the carcinogenic substances. Some research have also found out that covering your fish in lots of marinade can reduce the formation of these carcinogens. Cool right? makes your fish yummy and safer.

What is the verdict then? Grilling and smoking fish mostly amount to the same thing as far as the health side of things go. They both have the potential to contain carcinogenic substances. Although if you can prevent dripping when grilling, you can reduce the risk.

Strictly speaking, grilling does seem to be the healthier option. But then, if you eat in moderation, the risks of developing any health issues from eating grilled or smoked fish is reduced.

Segun is an ardent lover of fashion, reading and writing. When Segun isn't swimming baking or cooking he is punching away keys somewhere on the African continent. He is a creative with a penchant for finding (and in some cases creating) new and interesting ways of doing things. For more details, send an email to


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