Adding Spices To Meat Helps Reduce Cancer Risk
Spices such as Rosemary will do more than just enhance the taste of ground beef.
They may also cut down on the risk of compounds that can cause cancer Nutrition and food scientists have been seeking ways to reduce heterocyclic amines (HCAs) for years. HCAs are the carcinogenic compounds that are produced when muscle foods, such as ground beef patties, are barbecued, grilled, boiled or fried. Several studies have shown consuming HCAs through meat increases risk factors for colorectal, stomach, lung, pancreatic, mammary and prostate cancers.
New research supported by the Food Safety Consortium, found that certain spices containing natural antioxidants would reduce HCA levels by 40 percent when applied to beef patties during cooking.”Cooked beef tends to develop more HCAs than other kinds of cooked meats such as pork and chicken,” the researchers noted.
They said “Cooked beef patties appear to be the cooked meat with the highest mutagenic activity and may be the most significant source of HCAs in the human diet.”
Previous studies have shown that meat products cooked below 352 degrees Fahrenheit for less than four minutes had low or undetectable levels of HCAs, with HCAs increasing with higher temperatures and added cooking time. For food safety, it’s not a good idea to lower cooking temperatures too much. It’s better to include antioxidant spices (with phenolic compounds) which can block HCAs before they form during heating and still allow high temperatures to be maintained.
The University of Arkansas research team investigated six spices including: cumin, coriander seeds, galangal, fingerroot, rosemary and tumeric. They found that the fingerroot, rosemary and tumeric had the highest levels of antioxidant activity toward inhibiting the formation of HCAs, with rosemary as the most effective.
Consumers can take advantage of the spices by integrating them into their cooking regimen. Previous research has demonstrated that some commercial rosemary extracts, can inhibit HCA formation by 61 to 79 percent. Earlier work also showed that Thai spices can inhibit HCA formation by 40 to 43 percent.
Future research in this area will investigate what some marinades or powders can do to inhibit HCAs when applied to a cooked patties. Earlier projects showed that marinating steaks with certain herbs, rosemary and other antioxidant spices also reduces HCAs.
University of Arkansas, Food Safety Consortium.
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