Here's another reason to include beer at your next backyard barbecue: New research suggests marinades made from brews and ales help reduce the formation of potentially harmful substances in grilled meats.
The findings, reported in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, are based on studies by Portuguese researchers from the University of Porto who determined compounds in beer, wine, tea marinades can reduce the levels of some potential carcinogens in cooked meat.
Past studies have shown an association between consumption of grilled meats and a high incidence of colorectal cancer. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are substances that form when meats are cooked at very high temperatures, as on a backyard grill. And high levels of PAHs, which are also in cigarette smoke and car exhaust, are associated with cancers in laboratory animals, although it's uncertain if that's true for people.
The European Union Commission Regulation has established safety standards for the carcinogenic potency of PAHs in food and attributed maximum levels for these compounds in foods. But little was known about how different beer marinades affect PAH levels, until now.
The Portuguese researchers used a charcoal grill to cook samples of pork — after they had been marinated for four hours in Pilsner beer, non-alcoholic Pilsner beer, or a black beer ale — until they were well-done. They then measured the PAH levels in the meat.
The results showed black beer had the strongest effect, reducing the levels of eight major PAHs by more than half, compared with unmarinated pork.
"Thus, the intake of beer marinated meat can be a suitable mitigation strategy," said the researchers.
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