Spicy barbecue marinades have joined the ranks of cancer-fighting foods, say Canadian scientists who took their research right to the grill.
Those familiar marinades — so redolent with hot peppers, ginger, garlic, and spices — also contain generous amounts of antioxidants, said Raymond Thomas, a University of Western Ontario biologist who led the research.
"Common marinades may be more than just tasty sauces — they can also provide a major source of natural antioxidants," he said. "Foods rich in antioxidants play an essential role in preventing cardiovascular diseases, cancers, neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, and inflammation," Antioxidants also help with skin problems associated with aging, Thomas said.
Thomas and two other researchers were specific. The team tested Jamaican-style "jerk" marinade, along with varieties containing garlic and herbs, honey garlic, roasted red pepper, lemon pepper garlic, sesame ginger teriyaki, and "green" seasoning.
Two varieties contained the most antioxidants, the team found. The jerk and sesame/ginger/teriyaki combination "outperformed" the others, by virtue of the intensity of their ingredients.
The marinades are a convenient way to snag some of the cancer-fighting substances, Thomas said.
"Herbs and spices are excellent sources of antioxidants, but estimating consumption rates can be difficult considering they are not generally consumed in large quantities," he noted.
One finding was counterintuitive: The percentages of antioxidants can be reduced the longer the marinade sits on the meat, Thomas found. He recommends brushing on extra sauce shortly before serving, or even using it as a salad dressing.
The research was published in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, an academic publication. It adds to the ever-growing body of research that plumbs the serious medicinal properties of everyday edibles.