Marinating Meat Can Reduce Carcinogens from Grilling


Resources and Research Blog
hero symbol

Too Hot GrillMarinating meat before grilling can reduce some carcinogens that are connected with colon polyps and cancer according to research from Kansas State University.

Food technology researchers marinated round steaks in three different commercial marinade mixes containing different spice blends including Caribbean, southwest, and herb.  They then grilled the steaks at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grilling meat at high heat produces heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), both of which have been associated with an increase in colorectal polyps (adenomas).

The Caribbean spice mixture reduced the level of heterocyclic amines (HCAs) by 88 percent, the herb marinade by 72 percent, and the southwest by 57 percent.

An analysis showed significant levels of the antioxidants carnosic acid, carnosol, and rosmarinic acid which are also found in the herbs rosemary, oregano, and sage.  The research team attributes the reduction in HCAs to these antioxidants.  The highest level of the antioxidants was found in the Caribbean mix.

Dr. J.S. Smith, principal researcher at Kansas State said,

Commercial marinades offer spices and herbs which have antioxidants that help decrease the
HCAs formed during grilling. The results from our study have a direct application since more consumers are interested in healthier cooking.

SOURCE: Smith et al., Journal of Food Science, Volume 73, Number 6, July 14, 2008.

3 thoughts on “Marinating Meat Can Reduce Carcinogens from Grilling

  1. Does anyone know if it is required that the rosemary get cooked into the meat as a marinade or would the same effect happen from adding rosemary after cooking the meat?

  2. This is fascinating. Does this occur only with charcoal grilling, or does any type of grilling (ie. electrical) produce the carcinogens? I always heard it was the burning of the charcoal that posed a health hazard, but it sounds like just the act of cooking meat at high temps causes the increase in these potentially hazardous compounds. We love to grill, and my husband was recently diagnosed with stage three colon cancer, so I’ll take mine with Caribbean marinade please!

Comments are closed.