Beer + Meat = Less Cancer?

Slather that steak in a stout, pair that pork chop with a porter—all in the name of good health. Beer marinades are actually an effective way of reducing levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a group of carcinogenic compounds that form on grilled meat when fats and juices interact with an open flame, finds a new study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

But not all beer has equal cancer-preventing potential: Researchers marinated samples of pork for four hours in either a Pilsner beer, non-alcoholic Pilsner, or a “black” beer, and then grilled them until well-done. Black beer (think: Guinness) had the strongest effect, reducing levels of PAHs by 53% compared to unmarinated meat; followed by the non-alcoholic pilsner (25%); then the regular Pilsner (13%).

“We attribute much of this effect to the antioxidant activity of the beer, which is highest in dark beer,” says study author Isabel Ferreira. Other not-yet-identified compounds in beer likely play a role, too.

Ferreira’s previous research found that beer marinades effectively reduce levels of another group of carcinogens called heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which form when amino acids, sugars, and creatine in meats react at high temperatures.

You can easily put these findings into practice by creating a marinade that combines a dark beer and various herbs and spices such as basil, cardamom, cinnamon, oregano, and rosemary—all of which have been recognized for their anti-cancer properties, says Deborah Levy, RD, health and nutrition consultant for Carrington Farms.

“I love this recipe because it includes three important anti-cancer ingredients, along with other ingredients that have their own important properties for good health,” says Levy. Simply whisk the following ingredients together in a bowl, marinate your meat, and get grilling.

½ c olive oil
1 c dark beer
¼ c lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 ½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme