Who doesn’t love a cold beer while barbecuing? Enthusiasts can rejoice, as a new report from the University of Porto in Portugal says that adding beer to meat being grilled reduces the cancer causing carcinogens found in barbequed foods.

The report was published in the latest issue of Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The University’s Isabel Ferreira explains in the report that grilling creates molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which damage DNA and thus increase the eater’s chances of developing colon cancer.

The PAHs created by grilling form free radicals which in turn, form from protein and fat in the intense heat of this type of cooking.

The studies carried out showed one way of stopping PAH-formation is to apply antioxidants that mop up free radicals. Beer is rich in these, in the form of of melanoidins, which form when barley is roasted.

Dr. Ferreira’s research involved several beer marinades – one Pilsner based and the other based on a black beer. Since black beers have more melanoidins than light beers, Dr. Ferreira’s hypothesis was that steaks with the black-beer marinade would form fewer PAHs than those steeped in the light-beer marinade,

After several grill sessions, all in the name of scientific research, her hypothesis were proven to be correct. When cooked, unmarinated steaks had an average of 21 nanograms (billionths of a gram) of PAHs per gram, those marinated in the Pilsner marinade averaged 18 nanograms, while steaks marinated in black beer averaged only 10 nanograms.

For the study, the researchers used 32 3.5 ounce pork loin steaks. Eight steaks were unmarinated for the sake of comparison. The other steaks were each marinated in 3.5 ounces of the beer marinades with nothing else added, for four hours at 41°F which is a typical refrigerator’s temperature.

Before being put on the grill, the steaks were patted dry and cooked on a charcoal grill about six inches above the charcoal at a cooking temperature of about 445°F. The steaks were cooked to an internal temperature of 167°F – medium-well to well-done – after which they were analyzed in the lab.

The result – beer loving grillers are happy.

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