Marinating beef in red wine or beer may reduce the levels of potentially cancer-promoting compounds, according to a study from Portugal, reports According to University of Porto researchers, the beer or red wine marinade reduced levels of heterocyclic amines by up to 88%. Heterocyclic amines, formed during the frying or grilling of fish and meat, are reported to promote carcinogenesis in humans.

Reporting in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the researchers marinated eight beef samples in pilsner beer, eight in red wine, and kept four as control samples. The beef was marinated for different amounts of time, ranging from 1-6 hours, followed by frying.

All samples marinated in red wine or beer contained lower levels of heterocyclic amines than the control samples, the researchers reported. Carcinogenic compounds such as 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine and 2-amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline were reduced by 88% and 40%, respectively, after marinating for six hours.

Furthermore, the levels of 4,8-DiMeIQx, a compound with reported mutagenic properties, was reduced significantly when the beer marinade was used.

In taste-panel tests of pan-fried steak (control) or red wine- or beer-marinated steaks, no significant difference was found in the odor, color and overall quality of steaks marinated in beer and the control, non-marinated steaks. The marinade duration was limited to two hours as a longer marinade was reported to produce detrimental effects on odor, color and overall quality.
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