By Chris Temelkos
Did you know that the barbecued meat you just ate could give you cancer? When meat is cooked at high temperatures (above 400F) it produces harmful carcinogens. This major change in molecules creates large quantities of creatine that combine with amino acids and form heterocyclic amines (HCAs) which bind to DNA and cause genetic mutations that can trigger cancer growth.
Studies have shown that consuming a lot of well-cooked meat relates to an increased risk of developing pancreatic, prostate, stomach and breast cancer. Fat can also factor into the equation, at high temperatures fat will oxidize and produce toxic compounds like malondialdehyde which have the same effect as HCAs.
All hope is not lost, however, studies have shown that marinating meat in herbs can drastically cut the amount of HCAs. A recent study found that antioxidants were able to interfere with the accumulation of malondialdehyde from meat, ground meat with a mix of spices high in polyphenols, like garlic had 70% less malondialdehyde.
So next time you grill that steak or flame broil those hamburgers add some herbs and spice, not only for a wonderful flavour, but for the benefit of your health and the prevention of several cancers.