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Marinades Help Keep Grilled Meat Safe
Date:8/22/2008

Study found they reduce the amount of cancer-causing compounds

FRIDAY, Aug. 22 (HealthDay News) -- You can have your steak and eat it, too, without producing harmful cancer-causing compounds, new research shows.

As a matter of fact, marinating meat in antioxidant-rich spice blends can reduce the risk of these heterocyclic amines (HCAs) forming by more than 80 percent.

"If you are concerned about carcinogens, marinating a product, and this would be any kind of muscle food product, is a good way to dramatically reduce the formation of HCAs," said study author J. Scott Smith, a professor of food science at Kansas State University. His research was published in the current issue of the Journal of Food Science. "The marinades would have to be rich in spices," Smith added.

And although the researchers didn't specifically check this, Smith suspects that the antioxidants found in red wine and in many fruits and vegetables might also do the trick.

HCAs are "suspected" human carcinogens produced in muscle foods that have been cooked at high temperatures. HCAs are created when heat acts on amino acids and creatinine in animal muscle.

Barbecuing produces the most HCAs, followed by pan-frying and broiling. Baking, poaching, stir-frying and stewing produce the least HCAs.

The researchers tested three different commercial marinade blends (Caribbean, Southwest and herb), purchased from a local grocery store, on fresh eye of round beef steaks.

The steaks (about 3.3 ounces each and one-fifth of an inch thick) were marinated for one hour (turning several times) in one of the blends, then cooked in a skillet at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for five minutes on each side.

Steaks marinated in the Caribbean blend had an 88 percent decrease in HCA levels. The herb blend reduced HCAs by 72 percent, while the Southwest blend reduced levels by 57 percent.

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Marinades Help Keep Grilled Meat Safe
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