Published: May 27, 2010
Cooking meat at high temperatures is known to create toxins called heterocyclic amines, which have been linked to some cancers. Marinating lowers the risk by preventing the formation of the toxins. But one ingredient that makes a big difference is rosemary. Studies show that adding it to ground beef and other types of muscle meat before grilling, frying, broiling or barbecuing significantly reduces heterocyclic amines.
In a study published in The Journal of Food Science in March, scientists tested extracts of rosemary on ground beef patties that were cooked at temperatures from 375 degrees to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The extract was added to both sides of the meat before cooking. The higher the concentration, the greater the reduction in heterocyclic amines (in some cases by over 90 percent.
Scientists attribute this to specific antioxidants in rosemary: rosmarinic acid, carnosol and carnosic acid. Another study two years ago compared several marinades and found that the one that was most protective was a Caribbean mixture, which, they wrote, “contained considerable amounts” of the same three antioxidants.
If rosemary is not your thing, or you have an allergy, try marinades with garlic, onion and lemon juice. They have also been shown in studies to be effective (garlic and onion much more so than lemon juice).
THE BOTTOM LINE
Studies show that marinades with rosemary help eliminate some carcinogens in grilled meat.