(NaturalNews) A plethora of scientific research has been published in recent years condemning grilled, fried, and other aggressively-cooked meats as harmful to health -- and for good reason, as overcooking meat has, indeed, been shown to degrade its nutritional profile, and in some cases even make it carcinogenic. But one easy way you can proactively avoid the potential toxicity of meat this summer is to simply marinate it first.
When meats are cooked at high temperatures, typically over an open flame or hot coals, the intense heat generated converts otherwise beneficial amino acids in the meat into toxic compounds known as heterocyclic amines (HCAs). Similarly, when the fat in meat is exposed to an open flame, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are produced. Both HCAs and PAHs have been shown to damage DNA, and in some cases cause cancer.
But the good news is that these harmful compounds can be prevented from forming by first marinating meat. According to several recent studies, marinating meat basically protects it from becoming damaged by high heat. And the reason for this, at least according to some informed experts, is that marinades typical contain herbs, spices, and other agents that are high in antioxidants.
"Marinades create a 'barrier' between the meat and cancer-causing compounds," writes Larissa Long for LiveInTheNow.com. "Researchers believe that this could be due to the high antioxidant content of various herbs and spices used in marinades."
Numerous studies over the years suggest marinades make meat healthier
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry affirms this, having found that a variety of unique marinades exhibit anti-HCA effects when applied to meat. One particular marinade blend containing garlic, ginger, thyme, rosemary, and red chili pepper was found to reduce HCA production by an astounding 74 percent. Similarly, wine by itself; dealcoholized wine with herbs; beer and herbs; dealcoholized wine by itself; and beer by itself were also found to help reduce HCA content in meat.
Another study published in the Journal of Food Science a few years earlier found that HCAs are reduced by various other types of marinades. A "Caribbean" marinade, for instance, was found to reduce HCA production by 88 percent in this study, while both an herb-based and "Southwest" marinade helped reduce HCA content by 72 percent and 57 percent, respectively.
And again in 2012, a study published in the journal Food Control found that applying a marinade to meat prior to cooking can significantly reduce its PAH content. In this particularly study, acidic marinades containing lemon juice were found to be most effective at reducing PAH production in meat during high-heat cooking.
As always, choose grass-fed, non-GMO meats and GMO-free marinades for optimal nutrition
All in all, it appears that soaking meat in some kind of protective marinade containing either acidic or herbal ingredients for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking it can help significantly reduce its content of potential cancer-causing agents. Just be sure to use meat that is derived either from grass-fed, pasture-based animals, or animals fed only non-genetically-modified (non-GMO) feed without added antibiotics in order to avoid other health problems. And always choose marinades that contain only non-GMO oils and other ingredients.