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Molecular Healing: Simple Spice May Ward Off Cancer When Grilling

Posted Aug 24 2008 2:14pm
Ahhhh Summertime is almost here. At least in the upper Midwest where winter tends to hang on like a visit from the inlaws.

Yes we have had a few glimpses of 70 degree weather and when the sun comes out so does the grill. I love the taste and convenience of grilled foods. I don't like all of the negative publicity about cancer causing compounds forming on my tasty grilled meats.

The culprits are called heterocyclic amines or HCAs for short. These bad guys tend to form on meats that are cooked at too high a temperature (mmmm char broiled). HCAs have been linked to an increased incidence of cancer. They also tend to form on grilled beef products.

So what can we do to preserve the good ole backyard burger barbecue. Well, you could do like I do and don't eat beef but I know that's no fun for a lot of people. Or, according to researcher J. Smith, a Kansas State University Food Science Professor, you could sprinkle a bit of Rosemary extract on your char broiled creation.

Rosemary is a common spice with great antioxidant properties. According to Smith, rosemary breaks up the cancer causing compounds on the surface of beef. A little bit of rosemary extract can go a long way. Smith found that the rosemary reduced the formation of HCAs from 30 to 100 percent. He recommends using a little bit of extract on the surface to avoid producing a rosemary burger.

Smith also found that marinating meats also reduces the formation of HCAs. He recommends marinades consisting of basil, mint, sage, savory, marjoram, oregano and thyme. These are all rich in antioxidants.

If you serve your rosemary burger with some grapes you will reap more antioxidant benefits as well (see my previous post on this).

So what's next? Perhaps you will soon see a cancer preventing Grill Mates on the shelf of your local supermarket!

Peace and Healing,

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University of Arkansas, Food Safety Consortium (2008, May 24). To Block The Carcinogens, Add A Touch Of Rosemary When Grilling Meats.
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