An article appearing in New Scientist reported researchers from the University of Porto in Portugal found that marinating steak for six hours in red wine or beer before frying or grilling it reduced levels of two types of heterocyclic amines (HCA) by up to 90 percent compared with untreated meat. Reportedly, beer was more effective than wine at reducing a third type of HCA, cutting levels significantly in just four hours.

Beer marinade cuts steak cancer risk

30 December 2008

A soak in beer may lower the risks of a grill becoming a health risk

IF YOU are frying a steak and mindful of your health, then marinate it in either beer or red wine. So say food scientists who measured amounts of a family of carcinogens found in fried steaks after steeping them in booze.

Cooking food increases levels of cancer-causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HAs). Fried and grilled meat are particularly high in these compounds, because fiery temperatures convert the sugars and amino acids in muscle tissue into HAs. Various substances can reduce HA content: an olive oil, lemon juice and garlic marinade cut HAs in grilled chicken by 90 per cent, while red wine reduced HAs in fried chicken.

Now Isabel Ferreira and colleagues at the University of Porto in Portugal have looked at the effects of beer and red wine marinades on fried steak. Six hours of marinating in beer or red wine slashed levels of two types of HA by up to 90 per cent compared with unmarinated steak (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, DOI: 10.1021/jf801837s).

For a third type of HA, beer was more efficient at reducing its content than wine, cutting levels significantly in 4 hours, while wine took 6. Beer contains more water-retaining sugars than wine and Ferreira says that may hinder the transport of water-soluble molecules to the steak's surface, where high heat converts them into HAs. Tasters also preferred the smell, taste and appearance of beer-marinated steak.

To read more reports on the topic, see the following links.

BBC News

Telegraph