Did you know that grilled well done meat might be dangerous for your health. Researchers have discovered a possible link between grilled meat and cancer. So does it mean we need to give up grilling? Fortunately, not! The solution to the problem is to marinate your meat before grilling.   

The problem with grilling lays in the fact that when meat is cooked at high temperature, several compounds are formed - heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) which can damage your DNA, thus increasing the risk of cancer. So marinating meat will drastically decrease the amount of carcinogenic heterocyclic amines (HCAs) by as much as 99 percent.  They are formed when the meat is cooked at high temperatures.  Marinades act as "bodyguards" between the skin and carcinogenic compounds. Adding herbs to marinades such as rosemary may reduce the amount of these toxic compounds even more due to the presence of antioxidants in herbs and spices.

Researchers have conducted a study on the inhibitory effect of antioxidant-rich marinades on the formation of heterocyclic aromatic amines in pan-fried beef.  They discovered that antioxidant-rich marinades containing white wine (with/without alcohol) alone or mixed with herbs  (garlic, ginger, thyme, rosemary, and red chili pepper) were the most powerful HCA-reduction marinades. Additionally, if you marinate meat in acid (such as vinegar), it will stop the growth of harmful bacteria, like listeria.

Here are some useful tips for marinating your meat before grilling or pan frying:
  • Allow at least 30 minutes for your meat to be marinated before cooking
  • Always marinate your meat in the fridge in order to avoid the growth of bacteria
  • Marinades containing lemon juice have been found more effective at reducing PAH production
  • Create a barrier between the flame and meat by placing foil on the grill.

Happy Grilling!

Leave a Reply.