This is the time of the year when we are all out in the backyard, tossing steaks and hamburgers on the grill. In the past, this blog has featured stories about how meats can turn cancer-forming by the grilling process. However, new research shows that there may be a way to decrease this risk dramatically.
Research published in the Journal of Food Science suggests that marinating meats may decrease the cancer-forming compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCA), which are produced during grilling, by a whopping 70 percent or more.
Three commercial spice-containing marinade blends (Caribbean, southwest, and herb) on round beef steaks were tested by researchers from Kansas State University on grilled steaks. The steaks were marinated for one hour and then grilled at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
The food scientists who published this work found that steaks marinated in the Caribbean blend produced the highest decrease in HCA content (88 percent), followed by the herb blend (72 percent) and then the southwest blend (57 percent).
“Commercial marinades offer spices and herbs which have antioxidants that help decrease the HCAs formed during grilling,” says Dr. J.S. Smith, principal researcher at Kansas State University. “The results from our study have a direct application since more consumers are interested in healthier cooking.”