RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Spices and herbs can make food so much more flavorful, and can help you cut down on the amount of salt used in the kitchen. But more and more research is also finding that cooking with certain spices and herbs can drastically cut down on harmful carcinogenic substances that form on meat when we cook them at high temperatures. And now's a good time to find out more, because grilling season is right around the corner.
THE DETAILS: Recent research from scientists in the Food Safety Consortium, a collaboration between the University of Arkansas, Iowa State University, and Kansas State University, have found that herbs and spices used on beef can help reduce heterocyclic amines, or HCAs, carcinogenic compounds created when muscle foods, such as ground beef, is barbecued, grilled, boiled, or fried. Eating HCAs created from cooking meat have been show to increase your risk of colorectal, stomach, lung, pancreatic, breast, and prostate cancers.
Researchers J. Scott Smith, PhD, professor of food chemistry at Kansas State University, has found that gingerroot, rosemary, and tumeric—all high in antioxidants—can curb the amount of HCAs in cooked meat, even when high temperatures are maintained. (When cooking under 352 Fahrenheit for less than four minutes, levels of HCAs are very low or undetectable.) Smith has found that rosemary has the most protective action. (His previous research, published earlier this year in the Journal of Food Science, found commercial rosemary extract used in cooking reduced HCAs by 60 to nearly 80 percent. )
Published on: May 19, 2010