A cold beer and a steak from the barbecue are often said to be a match made in heaven on a summer’s day.
However research has found that the pairing is also good for your health as marinating meat in beer before grilling it can reduce the chances of getting cancer from eating barbecued food.
The process of cooking meat over hot coals is known to increase the production of potentially harmful chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are linked to colorectal cancer.
However, according to research published by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, soaking meat in a marinade of beer – particularly stout or black beer – reduces the creation of PAHs when it is grilled.
High levels of the chemicals, which are also present in cigarette smoke and car exhaust, are associated with cancers in laboratory animals, and doctors have previously discovered a link between colorectal cancer among adults who eat a lot of grilled meat.
Wine or tea marinades can reduce the levels of some potential carcinogens in cooked meat, but little was known previously about how different beer marinades affect PAH levels.
Professor Isabel Ferreira Ferreira and colleagues from the University of Porto in Portugal grilled samples of pork marinated for four hours in Pilsner beer, non-alcoholic Pilsner beer or a black beer ale to well-done on a charcoal grill.
The Pilsner contained 5.2% alcohol, while the black beer contained 5.0% alcohol. All beers were purchased at local supermarkets.
Loin pork steaks weighing about 100 grams and around 75mm thick were also bought from a local supermarket in Porto.
The scientists found the black beer had the strongest effect, reducing the levels of PAHs when compared to meat that had not been marinated.
All the beer marinades were more effective than no marinade at all, the lead researcher said.