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Marinating meat with beer or wine can help keep cancer at bay. According to nutritionists, soaking meat in alcohol for several hours can cut the high levels of carcinogenic compounds triggered by frying it. Beer was more effective than wine at lowering the cancer forming chemicals, and also made for a better-looking and tastier meal.

Cooking food increases its levels of chemical compounds called heterocyclic amines (HAs), frying and grilling meat is particularly dangerous, because the intense heat turns the sugars and Amino acids of muscle tissue into high levels of the compounds. “Beer is more efficient at reducing a third type of HA than wine, cutting levels significantly in four hours instead of six”.

A new scientist magazine, which reports the findings, stated: “if you are frying a steak and mindful of your health, then marinate it in either beer or red wine. “So says food scientists who measured the amounts of a family of carcinogens found in fried food after steeping them in booze”. They say gathering increasing amounts of evidence to show that the levels of HAs in cooked meat can be lowered by treating the food beforehand.

Isabel Ferreira and colleagues at the University of Porto in Portugal found that marinating steak in beer or red wine for six hours before frying cuts the levels of two types of HA by up to 90? Compared to untreated meat. It also makes the meat look, smell, and taste better than the wine-marinated steak. I do believe that the alcoholic sauce cuts levels of the carcinogen by acting as a barrier- preventing water – soluble molecules moving to the surface of the steak where they would be turned into HAs by the high temperature. “Beer contains more water- retaining sugars than wine and Ferreira says that it may hinder the transport of water- soluble molecules to the steak’s surface, where high heat converts them in HAs”.

Previous research has shown that a red wine marinade has a similar effect on HA levels in fried chicken, while a non- alcoholic version is also available. A sauce made of olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic lowered HA levels in grilled chicken by as much as 90?, a study found . Cooking meat on lower heat and for a shorter period of time also prevents dangerous levels of HAs forming. Research into reducing levels of HAs in cooked food comes after a series of studies have shown links between meat consumption and cancer. Last year a landmark report on the causes of the disease published by the world cancer research fund claimed that eating any processed meat, such as sausages, bacon, and ham, increases one’s chances of contracting bowel cancer.


Cooking with beer, wine, and liquors can offer you a whole range of flavor possibilities otherwise inaccessible. They can also accentuate alcohol- soluble flavor compounds in foods like tomatoes. One of the most effective ways to cook with beer, however, is to use it as a tenderizing marinade. Beer contains enzymes that help break down tough fibers in meat making it more tender and flavorful at the same time. The guide below outlines the steps in learning how to tenderize meat with beer.


  • Choose a beer to use as the marinade. All beers contain potentially tenderizing enzymes, but the style of beer you select will have a dramatic impact on your food’s flavor. Very light beers, such as pilsner, light lagers and some tend to add very little flavor to foods. Very intense beers, like porter and stout, tend to add an unpleasant bitter, smoky, or burnt taste to your dish.

  • Construct your meat marinade. You can simply soak the meat in beer alone to tenderize it. However, to further boost the flavor of your meat you can choose herbs, spices, and other flavorings to add to the beer marinade. You could use soy sauce and ginger for a good taste and aroma.

  • Place the meat and the beer marinade into a plastic bag. Zip-top plastic bags are ideal for marinating meat, because they allow you to push unnecessary air out and minimize the amount of marinade needed to contact the meat.

  • Begin by seasoning your meat with salt and black pepper, garlic and ginger paste, and then add it to the plastic bag. Pour your beer marinade carefully into the bag and over the meat.

  • Zip the plastic bag closed, pushing as much air out as possible before sealing it to ensure that the beer marinade is contacting the meat across its entire surface area.

  • Allow the beer to tenderize the meat. You will notice some improvement in the meat’s tenderness after only 15 minutes. If you have more time to prepare your dish, however, let the marinade soak for at least an hour. You can also allow the meat to marinate overnight, but be aware that very long marinade times tend to lend an unappealing gray color to the meat.

  • Cook the meat as desired. After marinating your meat in beer, you can cook it using any preparation. If sautéing or frying the meat, you may want to pat it dry before cooking to remove excess moisture. Adding moist meat to hot oil can cause dangerous and messy splatters.


                                 COMPILLED BY CHEF HENRY OSAPATI, MARASA


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