Marinating your barbeque meat in beer could be life-saving

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Many people envisage having a lamb chop from the barbecue with a cold beer and thoughts of relaxation on a summer day pop into their minds.

Research has indicated that this meal could be good for your health. Marinating your meat in beer before you grill it is said to reduce the risks of getting cancer from consuming barbecued meat.

The method of using hot coals to cook meat is said to increase the production of harmful chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These carbons have a link to colorectal cancer.

According to research which has been published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, taking the time to soak your meat in a beer marinade reduces the levels of PAHs while it is being grilled. It has been found that black beer or stout is most effective.

Little was known about the effects of beer marinades previously, but it has been known that tea or wine marinades cause a reduction in the levels of some of the carcinogens in meat being cooked.

Professor Isabel Ferreira Ferreira and some of her colleagues based at the University of Porto in Portugal, commenced their tests by grilling pork to well done on an open charcoal grill. The meat had been marinated for a period of four hours in non-alcoholic Pilsner beer or black beer ale and Pilsner beer. The alcohol level of the Pilsner beer was 5.2%, whilst the black beer’s level was 5%. All the beers had been bought from a local supermarket.

The loin pork steaks which weighed around 100 grams and were about 75mm in thickness had also been purchased from a local supermarket within Porto.

The results showed that the black beer produced the strongest effect in reducing PAHs levels when compared to meat which had not been marinated at all.

The head researcher of the project concluded that all the marinades proved to be more effective than no marinade usage at all and the black beer was the most effective in reducing the PAHs level by more than 50%.

Professor Ferreira said that individuals who were unprepared to give up barbecued meat should soak it in beer before cooking as a ‘mitigation strategy.’

The research found that the build-up of PAHs has three potential sources. The first may be contamination by the smoke from the coals which contaminates the surface; the decomposition of certain organic matter within the meat, but mostly by the combination of the hot embers and the dripping fat. The main factors affecting the levels are the proximity to the source of heat, the level of fat in the raw meat and the period of cooking.

Image credit: Ganesha Balunsat

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