Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Beer Medicine

To Reduce the Health Risk of Barbecuing Meat, Just Add Beer 179

Posted by timothy
from the honey-this-is-my-medicine dept.
PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) writes "Grilling meat gives it great flavour. This taste, though, comes at a price, since the process creates molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which damage DNA and thus increase the eater's chances of developing colon cancer. But a group of researchers led by Isabel Ferreira of the University of Porto, in Portugal, think they have found a way around the problem. When barbecuing meat, they suggest, you should add beer. The PAHs created by grilling form from molecules called free radicals which, in turn, form from fat and protein in the intense heat of this type of cooking. One way of stopping PAH-formation, then, might be to apply chemicals called antioxidants that mop up free radicals. And beer is rich in these, in the shape of melanoidins, which form when barley is roasted." (The paper on which this report is based, sadly paywalled.)
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

To Reduce the Health Risk of Barbecuing Meat, Just Add Beer

Comments Filter:
  • Whoever posted this summary really should have added that. There are other places where one might consider adding beer that would be less effective. You don't have to get past the paywall to find that.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      This so much. I'm not even much of a beer lover to be honest, but it makes a great marinade for meats, especially beef. (colas as well, oddly enough. )
      Just as long as it isn't too much, that is. Even too much of antioxidants are bad. Oxidation is an important part in the immune system as well.

      And it isn't even that that is the problem. The larger problem is production of carcinogenic material from burning overall.
      Pre-cooking food at low heat for a period before slapping it on the grill can cut down the

      • by pla (258480) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @12:47PM (#46677125) Journal
        Pre-cooking food at low heat for a period before slapping it on the grill can cut down the time needed to cook it as well as limit how much burnt material is produced.

        Except, by doing that, you've ruined the whole reason we barbecue things - Because we want that thin outer layer of charring.

        Yes, we have plenty of ways to cook foods without forming PAH, acrylamide, or the other carcinogens-of-the-week. We could boil everything. We could microwave everything. We could bake everything on low heat while basting to keep the surface moist. Those will all pretty much prevent the formation of all the nasty chemicals we worry about in our barbecued foods. They all take less effort than barbecuing, too - A typical cookout basically requires someone manning the grill continuously to cook up a steady flow of burgers and hotdogs; vs throwing 10 lbs of dogs in a big boiling pot and having enough cooked to feed a small army in under ten minutes.

        We grill things over open flame because all those nasty carcinogens make it taste better. Simple as that.
        • by HornWumpus (783565) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @02:43PM (#46677803)

          Boiling food. aka English BBQ.

        • by jfanning (35979) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @03:51PM (#46678357) Homepage

          By cooking over a low heat first you ensure that the meat is cooked evenly throughout, and then you sear the outside over a very hot grill. Otherwise you end up with raw inside and black outside. By searing last you get the flavour and evenly cooked meat.

        • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @04:46PM (#46678703)

          Pre-cooking food at low heat for a period before slapping it on the grill can cut down the time needed to cook it as well as limit how much burnt material is produced.

          Except, by doing that, you've ruined the whole reason we barbecue things - Because we want that thin outer layer of charring.

          No, you don't. Not actual charring. Are you the kind of guy who likes his hot dog completely covered with a crust of black ash? I know a few people like that, but if so, you guys are in the minority. Most people want a well-browned piece of meat, which is mostly produced through flavorful byproducts of the Maillard reaction and caramelization. If your food is actually charred, you've gone beyond that and destroyed those flavorful compounds, instead producing bitter compounds with a bad texture.

          Yes, we have plenty of ways to cook foods without forming PAH, acrylamide, or the other carcinogens-of-the-week.

          Yeah, by not burning your food. The GP's advice is spot-on to produce the absolute ideal of "grilled food" for the vast majority of people. If you want the tastiest, juciest steak you've ever had in your life, I dare you to take his advice. Put it in an extremely low oven (well below 200F, 150F or below is ideal) until the interior temp rises to somewhere around 100F or a little above. (With an oven temp of 130-150F, this could take a few hours for a thick piece of meat.)

          Then throw it on your hot grill until you get a beautiful browned flavorful exterior. Don't let it burn -- cooking time will probably only be 1/4 or so of what you'd usually need. Let it rest for a few minutes, and eat a steak like you've never tasted before.

          No need to BURN your food just to get the interior up to temperature. Get the whole piece of meat warmish to begin with, and then use the grill to BROWN your food and maximize flavor compounds. I know this is an extra step and takes longer than simply cooking at high heat, but the result is actually better tasting food, in addition to fewer carcinogens.

          We grill things over open flame because all those nasty carcinogens make it taste better. Simple as that.

          No, they don't. They tend to form at the greatest rate when you're overcooking the outer layer and destroying flavor compounds. GP's advice is just an extension of the "let your steak come to room temperature before grilling" advice, which most grilling afficionados will agree is helpful to get a more evenly done piece of meat with less fuss and less chance of overcooking or burning.

          I'm NOT saying that you can't cook reasonably good food on the grill without doing what GP recommends -- but I AM saying that taking his advice (and doing a little extra work) is a way to maximize the exact grill flavors that most people prize, while also avoiding burnt layers of food that taste like sawdust.

          (If you don't believe me, you should know that these are precisely the kinds of methods that many high-end steakhouses use -- with only a short grill time, but a longer time in the oven either before or after grilling to bring the interior up to temperature.)

          • By the way, I should mention that many restaurants -- and home cooks too -- have switched to sous vide methods instead of using an oven, since it is faster and more precise. But the principle is precisely the same: very small time on the grill, longer time getting the interior up to temperature.
            • by Sockatume (732728)

              You can cheat this using a ziplock bag, a bowl, and hot water. Get the meat up to an unpleasantly fleshy temperature, and it should only take a few minutes each side on a cast-iron pan to have a nice medium rare. (Use a meat thermometer to check its done-ness when you take it off the pan.)

            • By the way, I should mention that many restaurants -- and home cooks too -- have switched to sous vide methods instead of using an oven, since it is faster and more precise.

              My feelings exactly. Looked like a shitty version of sous vide to me, just begging to overcook the steak or at the very least, dry it out by having it in a hot oven for 3 hours!

              Sous vide to the temperature of desired doneness, and then finish over thermonuclear heat (30 seconds per side) immediately prior to serving. I know you know that, but just for the benefit of others who might want to try.

      • But the burnt part is the one that tastes good. Seriously, I don;t even bother with propane BBQ grills, I only use Charcoals because of the taste, the smell, the sound (the whole *experience* if you wish)

  • Stupid (Score:4, Informative)

    by WilyCoder (736280) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @10:25AM (#46676201)

    What a stupid article. Beer is hardly the best source of antioxidants. Blueberries would be a far better choice.

    "Eat antioxidants to prevent cancer" ....well thank you captain obvious, we have known this for many years!

    • Re:Stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dreamchaser (49529) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @10:35AM (#46676267) Homepage Journal

      What a stupid article. Beer is hardly the best source of antioxidants. Blueberries would be a far better choice.

      "Eat antioxidants to prevent cancer" ....well thank you captain obvious, we have known this for many years!

      Except beer makes an excellent marinade for meats and can be incorporated into BBQ sauce as well.

    • Re:Stupid (Score:5, Informative)

      by Shinobi (19308) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @10:36AM (#46676281)

      However, recent discoveries point out that it's not as clearcut as that. In fact, antioxidants can also increase the chance of cancer developing or even increasing cancer growth, by preventing formation of ROS, which disrupts signalling.

      Antioxidants have already been linked to cancelling out the effects of excercise for the same reason, the antioxidants suppressing the ROS, which screws up the signalling.

      • by akozakie (633875)

        Which makes this story even more interesting. In this case you're not adding antioxidants to your body, which might protect you or harm you, evidence for both has been reported. You're adding it to the food while it's being prepared, reducing the amount of PAHs, which are doubtlessly bad for you. More antioxidants in your body - open question. Antioxidants acting on your food before you eat it, removing other dangerous chemicals - clearly a good idea.

        Analogy: drinking base to reduce bad effects of ingested

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      Blueberry-marinaded steak? Um, OK.

    • Re:Stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @11:32AM (#46676653)

      "Eat antioxidants to prevent cancer" ....well thank you captain obvious, we have known this for many years!

      Except we do not "know" that. The link between anti-oxidants and cancer is not clear. Eating fruits and vegetables (high in anti-oxidants) is correlated with lower cancer rates. But if the anti-oxidants are isolated and taken as supplements, they are NOT correlated with cancer reduction, and in some cases make it worse. So maybe it is something else in the fruits and vegetables that is beneficial. Exercise is also correlated with cancer reduction, and exercise causes an increase in the supposedly harmful free radicals that anti-oxidants suppress. The interplay of these factors is complicated and poorly understood. So it is not at all clear that anti-oxidants "prevent cancer".

      • Re:Stupid (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 06, 2014 @12:24PM (#46676993)

        The bacteria in your colon are what is triggering or preventing the triggering of many cancers. That is the main reason why eating fruit is NOT the same as drinking juice or supplements. The bacteria in your colon form an extremely complex web of interaction with your body. Healthy gut bacteria protect you from all sorts of food borne illnesses, like salmonella and even colon cancer. Never mind c. diff. and recent links to autism when population is disrupted or altered via oral antibiotics.

        colon cancer,
        http://www.sciencedaily.com/re... [sciencedaily.com]

        salmonella,
        http://www.sciencedaily.com/re... [sciencedaily.com]

        autism,
        http://www.abc.net.au/4corners... [abc.net.au]

        It's not just a "sack of shit". It's the most important part of you and there is no "pill for it".

      • by Bengie (1121981)
        Not to say it's widely accepted, but the research I've seen about supplements and anti-oxidants is that you can't isolate a single anti-oxidant and expect it to work. They tend to work better when you have tends of thousands of different anti-oxidants. Most dark colors plants or fruits tends to have huge numbers of different anti-oxidants and they compliment each other to the point that any single anti-oxidant is almost useless.
    • by Assmasher (456699)

      True, but which one are we more likely to consume with our steak? Now if only pizza had these colon cancer causing properties and I'd have an excuse to drink beer 'round the clock...

    • by ClintJCL (264898)
      If i were to go to every BBQ on the planet and make a helpful suggestion, the suggestion of beer would be far more helpful than blueberries, as most BBQs won't have blueberries on hand. Your pedanticism is so unnecessary as to be harmful.
  • "polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which damage DNA and thus increase the eater's chances of developing colon cancer"

    Pretty rare to start with, so I suspect it's from "one in a million" to "1.5 in a million".

    We have actual things to worry about, grilling isn't one of them.

    • by khallow (566160) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @11:50AM (#46676765)
      And perhaps you shouldn't be grilling your colon on the barbeque anyway for other reasons than PAH exposure.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Colon cancer is the second or third most common cancer in the world (depending if you are talking about women or men), and tends to be even higher in modern, western countries with a ~60% 5 year survival rate. While you see what looks like low probabilities of ~50 per 100,000 diagnosed per year in the US, this works out to about a couple percent chance any given person will be diagnosed with colon cancer at some point in their life. That isn't anywhere near a one in a million chance and colon cancer is ac
  • I volunteer to be the subject.
  • by rubycodez (864176) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @11:04AM (#46676485)

    plenty of hard clinical studies showing no link whatsoever between free radicals and cancer (or other claimed bad effects like aging).

    the 1970s called, they want their junk science back.

  • Apologies if asking sounds like blasphemy, but it's still an honest question.
    • by MightyYar (622222)

      There is an incredible variety of beer - it's just fermented grain flavored with anything you like. They can be bitter, sweet, or just about any other flavor - some companies even flavor them with massive amounts of sugar and flavorings like a soda... It is hard to believe that you don't like any of them.

      • by mark-t (151149)
        I've tried quite a few.... never found one that I liked. Not saying that none could ever possibly exist that I'd find palatable, but I imagine that any that do are probably really exotic and cost an impractical amount to use for something like marinade.
        • by MightyYar (622222)

          My wife hates beer, but she loves those sweet malt beverages. I do brats on the grill that were first boiled in beer and I add beer to chile and stews and she never complains (or notices, for that matter).

          • by mark-t (151149)
            My situation is the opposite... I don't like beer, but my wife does. Conversely, however, she dislikes the taste that beer gives to something when it is used as marinade... she'd rather just eat the meat and drink the beer.
            • by MightyYar (622222)

              Well, there's no winning that. If the boss doesn't like beer marinade, it's a non-starter :)

      • Bullshit. If it contains anything but water, malted barley, hops and yeast it is a cereal malt beverage, like Zima and American Budweiser.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          Aren't we the stickler for government regulations! I don't really care if the alcohol exceeds some government mandate or if the "wrong" grain is used. It's all beer.

          • I'm going to drink a nice red grape beer with my steak dinner. Maybe put some Irish distilled beer into coffee.

    • by ganjadude (952775) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @11:40AM (#46676707) Homepage
      cooking with beer is not the same as drinking it, you should be just fine. My brother hates beer but loves when I make chilli because I use a good stout in it
    • by matria (157464)
      Use it as a hair rinse or setting gel. Works great, and believe it or not it doesn't leave an odor.
  • Grilling and barbecuing are not the same thing [wikipedia.org]
    • Well, they are and they aren't. The terms are used in different countries to mean different things, but the activity known as "grilling" in the US is known as "barbecuing" in the UK (and I believe Australia.)

      I suspect the article is written using an English dialect that uses the definition that applies to US-grilling/English-barbecuing. Not unreasonable, the world is a large place and it's not like Americans invented the English language. Why do we speak that fur'in Eurospeak anyway? Surely we should spe

  • Since we're discussing Porto, try the local delicacy [wikipedia.org] which is an artery-hardening meat sandwich featuring beer gravy!
    • by ruir (2709173)
      The local delicacy is disgusting, much better a grilled bacalhau or even bife na pedra. (e sim, tb sou do Porto).
  • by istartedi (132515) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @11:41AM (#46676713) Journal

    As far as colon cancer is concerned, there is a lot of common sense here [nih.gov]. I doubt a tiny little factor like anti-oxidants on your beef is going to make much difference if you're an overweight smoker in your 50s. Having beer around might encourage you to drink heavily, which is listed there as increasing risk. So. If you already like beer marinade then great. If you don't, then there's virtually no reason to use a recipe you don't like. Concentrate on the elephant in the room before addressing the mouse.

  • Now lets have some under 21's use this to be able to buy beer.

    It may make for an interesting court case.

  • I thought all experiments should have a control group, but BBQ without beer... Has that ever been tried before? Can than be credited with two discoveries?
  • When the message is drink more beer I'm willing to accept an article at face value.

  • They are using this technique ever since here in Holland with horrible results. In fact the more beer the higher the accident rates.

  • The other option is chocolate which is even higher in antioxidants! Chocolate BBQ Ribs!

  • If it comes down to eating grilled steak and getting colon cancer or eating beer-flavored steak and maybe not?

    I'll choose colon cancer.

    • While I happen to agree about beer (it tastes like rancid demon urine), I've had things that were cooked with beer (beer battered fish, beef cooked with beer, etc), and I've found them to be very good. They don't taste like beer at all.
    • There are a HUGE range of beverages with vastly varying flavors which fall into the category of "beer". How many styles have you tried? There are lots of alternatives to the fizzy yellow stuff sold in 30 packs.

      I can imagine that a big imperial stout, doppelbock, or barleywine might make a great marinade for steak.

  • by MrKaos (858439)
    It tastes great!
  • This thing is full of ifs and maybes. This is neither news nor science. It is speculation.
  • Would it not be just as effective to pair a meal with a few good beers? Does the beer have to be added when cooking or can said beer be added while eating?

To thine own self be true. (If not that, at least make some money.)

Working...