Marinating Grilled Meats May Reduce Cancer-Forming Components

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Recent reports that grilling, which gives meat that taste-tingling smoky flavor,  may develop cancer-forming compounds have discouraged some cooks from using this method of cooking. Now food chemists have found a solution. It has been discovered that marinating the meat can decrease the creation of chemicals known to increase cancer risk.

Dr. J. S .Smith of Kansas State University (KSU), writing in the Journal of Food Science , wrote that the key to reducing the chemical called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) when grilling meat  is using the right marinates rich in antioxidants. HCAs are formed when high heat sears compounds like amino acids on the outer edges of chops and steaks.

Researchers at KSU tested commercial spice-containing marinade blends–Carbbean, southwest and herb, on round steaks.The steaks were mainated for one hour and grilled at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  The food scientiests found that steaks marinated in:

  • The Caribbeas blend produced the highest decrease in HCA content –88 percent.
  • The herb blend–72 percent
  • The Southwest Blend–57 percent.

According to Dr. Smith, commercial marinades that offer spices and herbs have antioxidants that help decrease the HCAs formed during grilling.

When making marinates from scratch, adding herbs and spices such as

  • Oregano
  • Dill
  • Rosemary
  • Tumeric

These are rich in antioxidants and will help to decrease the HCAs created by grilling.

In a study by the Department of Food Sciences and Human Nutrition at Michigan State University, it was found that garlic, lemon juice and honey were also effective in reducing the cancer causing compounds. These were tested on beef and chicken. Honey was found to be most effective of the three.

The results of these studies on how to use mariniates to make the meat healthier to eat, they will add to the flavor of the chicken or meat.


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