A few years ago, researchers hit upon very unfortunate evidence that grilling meat could be bad for you. Specifically, they found that meat cooked at high temperatures produces polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), substances that have been linked to cancer. So much for the sweet smell of summer.
Now comes some better news. Scientists have found that marinating pork in beer—yes, beer—can reduce the level of carcinogens.
The Economist has details:
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. So Dr [Isabel] Ferreira and her colleagues prepared some beer marinades, bought some steaks and headed for the griddle.
One of their marinades was based on Pilsner, a pale lager. A second was based on a black beer (type unstated). Since black beers have more melanoidins than light beers—as the name suggests, they give it colour—Dr Ferreira’s hypothesis was that steaks steeped in the black-beer marinade would form fewer PAHs than those steeped in the light-beer marinade, which would, in turn, form fewer than control steaks left unmarinated.
And so it proved.
Update from a reader:
I’ve been marinating and boiling steaks and bratwursts, respectively, in Shiner Black for years. I had no idea of the possible health benefits, and it’s possible that the boiling process might make them moot anyway. But I can say from experience that the darker the beer, the better the meat will taste after grilling. Your mileage may vary, but I often find it disappointing now to eat non-barbecued beef or pork that isn’t three sheets to the wind.
So, here’s to our health!