Beer & Meat: A Surprisingly Healthy Combo

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_MG_5010Illustrated By Ruby Yeh.
A summer grilling session just isn’t the same without a cold one, right? While it’s practically sinful to pass up on drinking a beer while manning (er, wo-manning?) the grill, science says there’s a new, healthy reason to turn to your favorite brew.

A recently released study suggests we douse meat in beer before slapping it on the grill. Researchers found marinating meat in the bubbly stuff reduces polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) — the carcinogenic byproduct of grilling meats and fish at high temperatures over an open flame. (When fat and juices drip onto the fire, it ignites flames that contain PAHs and cause them to stick to meat.) The researchers marinated pork in pilsner, nonalcoholic pilsner, and black beer (a dark lager). The black beer was the most efficient reducer of PAH formation (by 53%), while the pilsners were also found to inhibit the carcinogens.

Human exposure to PAHs has long been linked to cancer. Research suggests breathing in the carcinogens, or consuming food affected by them, may increase the chances for tumor growth and could influence breast cancer development. Smoking and grilling meats produces high contamination levels of PAHs — though studies show charcoal fires expose foods to lower levels than wood fires. And, another thing — continuous grilling with the same charcoal actually contributes to higher formation of PAHs.

Rather than switch out your charcoal each time, or worse, cooking inside during the summer months (shudder), why not try a boozy marinade? If anything, it’ll make those ribs extra tasty. (Mother Jones)