Barbecue: marinate the meat before cooking

Do you like red meat and can’t live without it? And marinate it well before cooking it, especially on the barbecue. An article in the Journal of Food Sciences reports a study showing that aromatic marinades have a beneficial effect on the carcinogenic effects of cooking meat.

Marinating the meat before grilling it could do a lot more than enhance its taste. Researchers have found that marinades rich in aromatics may help reduce carcinogens in meat.

The problem with red meat is HCAs

When a piece of meat is cooked at high temperatures, carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) can be formed. Studies have linked the presence of these amines to the birth of stomach, colon, pancreatic and breast cancers. Temperature is the main factor incriminated in their formation: barbecue cooking creates the most, followed by frying and grilling. Baking, boiling, sautéing or steaming are the best solutions to reduce these effects.

Aromatics and herbs rich in antioxidants

Scientists from the University of Kansas have found that antioxidant-rich herbs and aromatics in marinade can reduce AHC formation by up to 88%.
The researchers tested the effects of three different pre-made marinade mixes. The steaks were marinated in a creole mix, a tex-mex mix, and a herb mix, for one hour. These three mixes are all composed of herbs rich in antioxidants and all the marinades contained at least two spices from the mint family, rich in antioxidants. Each piece of beef, just over a centimeter thick, weighed just under 100 grams. These steaks, as well as those that had not been marinated or had been treated with an aromatic-free marinade, were pan-fried at 200°C for five minutes per side.

88% lower levels

After cooking, the researchers compared the HCA levels in all the steaks: compared to the unmarinated steak, the creole mix had an 88% lower amine level, the herbs 72% and the tex-mex by 57%. In all cases, spices and herbs have shown their benefits in lowering carcinogenic factors from cooked red meat.

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