A few years ago, researchers hit upon very unfortunate evidence that grilling meat could be bad for you. Specifically, they found that meat cooked at high temperatures produces polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), substances that have been linked to cancer. So much for the sweet smell of summer.
Now comes some better news. Scientists have found that marinating pork in beer–yes, beer–can reduce the level of carcinogens. According to this study, black ale has the most beneficial qualities, reducing eight types of PAHs by 53%, compared to meat that hadn’t been soaked at all. Nonalcoholic Pilsner beer was also useful, showing a 25% reduction, followed by Pilsner (13%). Each piece of meat was marinated for four hours.
The study, led by Olga Vieges, at the University of Porto, in Portugal, appears in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. It notes that marinades containing onions, garlic, and spices have also been linked with lower PAH levels after cooking. No one knows exactly why beer would inhibit the formation of the PAHs (the paper speculates that the beer inhibits “free radical reaction pathways”). But for now, that’s okay. We can have meat, beer, and barbecue again, and not worry quite as much about ingesting carcinogens.