Marinating steak in beer or wine before cooking it dramatically reduces levels of chemicals that can cause cancer. Beer is more effective than wine at lowering the cancer-forming chemicals (and also apparently often makes for a better-looking and tastier meal.)
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Cooking food increases its levels of chemical compounds called heterocyclic amines (HA’s), which can cause cancerous tumors. Frying and grilling meat is particularly dangerous, because the intense heat turns sugars and amino acids into high levels of the compounds.
However, scientists are gathering increasing amounts of evidence to show that the levels of HA’s in cooked meat can be lowered by treating the food beforehand. Marinating steak in red wine or beer for six hours before frying can cut levels of two types of HA by up to 90 percent compared. Beer was also efficient at reducing a third type of HA, cutting levels significantly in just four hours.
Previous research has shown that a red wine marinade has a similar effect on HA levels in fried chicken. A sauce made of olive oil, lemon juice and garlic can also lower HA levels in grilled chicken by as much as 90 percent.
Cooking meat on lower heat and for a shorter period of time also prevents dangerous levels of HA’s from forming.