Grilling this Labor Day? Spices may play role in reducing cancer risk!

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Grilling this Labor Day? Spices may play role in reducing cancer risk!

This is a repost of a 2010 blog of mine. But I thought it might be a great reminder to those of us who love to cook meat on a grill.

Researchers are reporting that adding certain spices to your steaks or burgers before tossing them on the grill will not only add to the flavor of the meat but may also cut the risk of cancer long associated with the cooking of beef.

Here’s a report from the AP:

Scientists at Kansas State University found that three spices in particular — fingerroot, rosemary, and turmeric — seem to direct the greatest amount of antioxidant activity toward preventing the formation of heterocyclic amines (HCAs).

HCAs, they note, are the cancer-causing compounds that are produced when foods such as beef are barbecued, grilled, broiled, or fried.

Specifically, the three spices appeared to cut back on HCA production by upwards of 40%, the team observed, thereby significantly reducing the HCA-associated risk for developing colorectal, stomach, lung, pancreatic, mammary, and prostate cancers.

“Cooked beef tends to develop more HCAs than other kinds of cooked meats such as pork and chicken,” KSU food chemistry professor J. Scott Smith noted in a news release.

“Cooked beef patties appear to be the cooked meat with the highest mutagenic activity and may be the most important source of HCAs in the human diet.”

Therefore Smith and his colleagues looked into the HCA-inhibiting potential of six spices:

  • cumin,
  • coriander seeds,
  • galangal,
  • fingerroot,
  • rosemary and
  • turmeric.

Of all those investigated, rosemary came out on top as the strongest protector against HCA.

The authors suggested that consumers integrate these spices into their menus when appropriate, noting that some, such as rosemary, come in an extract form that has demonstrated HCA inhibition of 61% to 79%.

They pointed out that spicing allows for the sort of high-temperature cooking (above 352 degrees Fahrenheit) that is typically recommended for safe grilling, while at the same time blocking the increased HCA production that is known to occur when the flames intensify.

Smith and his team plan further research to see what other marinades and powders might do by way of HCA curtailment — they noted that earlier work has shown that marinating steaks with particular herbs and spices effectively lower HCA production.


© Copyright WLL, INC. 2022. This blog provides healthcare tips and advice that you can trust about a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

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