• Laura Sesana

Beer May Reduce Harmful Substances in Grilled Meats

Scientists from the University of Porto in Portugal have found that beer, when used as a marinade, could help reduce the creation of harmful substances when meats are cooked at high heat.

Basheer Tome, Flickr Creative Commons

PORTO, Portugal—As the summer grilling season draws near, scientists from the University of Porto in Portugal have found that beer, when used as a marinade, could help reduce the creation of harmful substances when meats are cooked at high heat. Not only have they found that marinating your steak in beer may actually be healthy, they also found what kind of beer works best.

The researchers’ findings are part of a study published in The American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

According to Olga Viegas of the Nutritional Sciences Department at the University of Porto and lead author of the study, previous research has shown a relationship between consuming grilled meats and a higher incidence of colorectal cancer.

Viegas explained that cooking meats at high temperatures like the ones generated by an outdoor grill can create polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), substances also found in automobile exhaust and cigarette smoke. PAHs have been associated with some types of cancers in laboratory animals, but it is unknown whether the same is true for people.

Previous research has also shown that marinating meats in beer, wine and tea can reduce PAH levels when the meats were cooked at high heat. However, until now, scientists had not inquired into how different kinds of beer in marinade affected PAH levels.

In the current study, scientists used Pilsner beer, non-alcoholic Pilsner beer and a black beer ale to marinate pork samples. They marinated the samples for four hours and then grilled them to well done over a charcoal grill.

Black beer had the strongest effect when compared to un-marinated pork, reducing PAH formation by 53 percent. Pilsner nonalcoholic beer came in second at 25 percent, with Pilsner in last place at 13 percent.

“The intake of beer marinated meat can be a suitable mitigation strategy," say the researchers.

Avoiding direct exposure of meat to a hot metal surface or an open flame can reduce PAH formation, according to The National Cancer Institute. Removing charred pieces and avoiding making gravy with pan drippings is another way to reduce PAH intake.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress with main offices in Washington, D.C. and Columbus, Ohio.



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