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Beer Medicine

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

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

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  • 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.

  • Re:Bunk! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mr Foobar ( 11230 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @11:38AM (#46676693) Homepage

    Oh no! We're all gonna die if we eat BBQ'd meat.
    As with anything like this, the worry warts will probably buy into it.
    Remember when they said: Saccharin, DDT, and the zillion of other things that are suppose to be bad for you?

    My mother grew up in the deep back woods of east Texas during the 30's. A very big part of her diet growing up was various forms of smoked, dried, and grilled meat. A *lot* of such meat, often that was about all her diet was in a day, either by itself or was the main flavoring component. Many members of her family, both close and extended including herself and both her parents developed and died from colon and intestinal cancers. Her younger brother is suffering from it now. Many of the people who lived around her did, too. The thing is, once her family got out of that situation (improved economy, moving to the big city, etc) and ate a much more varied diet that didn't depend on smoked meat, the amount of familial colon and intestinal cancer has dropped down to almost nothing. That's good news for me and my siblings, of course. Dying from colon cancer is not my favored way of death, to be honest. It was a rough way to see my mom go.

  • 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.)

  • Re:Bunk! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mr Foobar ( 11230 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @05:29PM (#46678953) Homepage

    Correlation does not equal causation. Repeat this until you understand it. Darwin weeps to see science misused in this way - although as a Texan, you dumbasses have never understood science anyway.

    Thanks, troll. I didn't make the correlation, a good number of oncologists have. They and their associates have seen a lot of it over the years. Diets heavy in smoked and grilled meat do have a correlation with increased chances of colon and intestinal cancers, especially if those diets start early in life.

    And I never said *I* was a Texan, thanks for asking. Proud native Floridian. Some might suggest that's not any better, but hey... :)

VMS must die!