• Grill: Beer Marinade Makes Barbecued Meat Safer

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    Beer makes every barbecue better? You bet it does. But better for your body, too? Sure, why not? Before you wash that thick, juicy steak down with your favourite craft lager or ale this spring and summer, consider dunking the meat in a seasoning concoction that includes said ale or lager. Why? Simple: a new study released earlier this spring suggests that beer-based marinades help reduce the formation of potentially harmful substances in grilled meats. The study appeared in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in March. Researchers (those lucky scientists) tested out three examples: grilled samples of pork marinated for four hours in Pilsner beer, non-alcoholic Pilsner beer or a black ale, cooking their samples to well-done on a charcoal grill. OK, those are extreme conditions (who cooks meat on the ‘cue to “well done?) but the results they found at the beer bath limiting the formation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which form when meat is cooked at high temperatures, were very encouraging. PAHs are linked to a higher incidence of colorectal cancer, and are also common in car exhaust and cigarette smoke.

    Past studies have shown an association between consumption of grilled meats and a high incidence of colorectal cancer. High levels of PAHs, which are also found in cigarette smoke and car exhaust, are associated with cancers in laboratory animals and may also explain the grilled meat/cancer connection.

    It has long been known that marinating in substances that are high in antioxidants – such as herbs from the  herbs of the Lamiaceae family (basil, mint, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sage), but also tea, wine and even a simple olive oil and lemon juice mix – can help to significantly reduce the formation of PAHs and their related compounds HCAs (heterocyclic amines).

    Now researchers in Portugal, writing in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, report that a beer marinade could have the same beneficial effect.

    The researchers took samples of pork marinated for four hours in pilsner beer, non-alcoholic pilsner beer or …

    The substances in question are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons — or PAHs, for short. They form when meats are cooked at very high temperatures, like on a backyard grill. And high levels of PAHs, which are also in cigarette smoke and car exhaust, are associated with cancers in laboratory animals, although it's uncertain if that's true for people.

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