Beer and BBQing

Kim McCorquodale RD, CSO

As our weather gets warmer, many of you are probably barbequing more often. And, what goes together better than a BBQ and an icy cold beer?

Unfortunately, there has been research of late that points to an association between colorectal cancer and eating grilled meats. Substances called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can form when meats are cooked at very high temperatures, such as on a backyard grill. High levels of PAHs have been associated with cancer in laboratory animals, specifically lab rats. Now remember, this is an association — not a proven cause and effect. But, it is a good idea to make choices to avoid eating too much of these anyway.

This is where the beer comes in. Beer, wine and tea marinades can lower the levels of PAH in cooked meats. A specific research project looked at pork marinated for 4 hours in Pilsner beer, non-alcoholic Pilsner beer or black beer ale. All meat was cooked to well-done.  All of them helped, but black beer worked the best by reducing the PAHs by more than half. The researchers concluded that “the intake of beer marinated meat can be a suitable mitigation strategy,” and I bet it tastes pretty good too!

So, the next time you plan on barbequing keep this in mind. Marinate your meat for at least 4 hours in whatever beer you have around. It won’t hurt you, and it just might help reduce your cancer risk.


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