Friday, June 4, 2010

Spicing Up Grilled Meat Can Lower Cancer Risk

Source: Science Daily (Summary by NIM)

Red meat always seems to be the 'bad guy' when it comes to selecting a source of protein. Not only does it tend to have the highest amount of saturated fat and the greatest association with heart disease (and other illnesses) compared to other meats, but research also shows that when it is cooked before consumption, red meat also increases our risk of cancer. Thankfully, new research has found that certain spices applied to meats such as beef not only add flavour, but can significantly cut our cancer risk as well.

When high-protein foods, especially meats, are cooked to high temperatures through broiling, frying or barbecuing, cancer-causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are naturally formed. According to one of the researchers in a new study, "Cooked beef tends to develop more HCAs than other kinds of cooked meats such as pork and chicken....Cooked beef patties appear to be the cooked meat with the highest mutagenic activity and may be the most important source of HCAs in the human diet." Researchers have been looking for ways to reduce or eliminate this problem, and spices may just be the answer for now!

According to the study, certain spices have natural antioxidant properties, and in testing, they have been shown to reduce the HCA levels in cooked meats by up to 40%. The spices with the highest antioxidant properties appear to be finger root, rosemary and turmeric. Of the group, rosemary was found to be the most powerful source of antioxidants.

Find out more about this study by reading the article called "Spicing the Meat Also Cuts the Cancer Risk, Research Suggests" from Science Daily (May 18, 2010).