Marinating Meat Can Reduce Your Cancer Risk!

Marinating meat

We noted early that red and processed meat are really bad for you. What you might not know is that the grilling meat can further increase your cancer risk. When red meat, poultry or seafood is cooked under high temperatures carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) can form. HCAs are linked especially with stomach and colon cancer.


The Studies:

Studies have shown that marinating meat before cooking can reduce the formation of HCAs by up to 96%. In one study, 3 different marinades were used on beef round steaks 1 hour before grilling. The Caribbean marinade contained salt, sugar, caramel color, thyme, red pepper, black pepper, allspice, rosemary and chives. The Herb marinade contained salt, sugar, maltodextrin, modified corn starch, whey solids, soy protein, wheat gluten, calcium silicate, oregano, basil, garlic, onion, jalapeno pepper, parsley and red pepper. The Southwest marinade contained salt, sugar, maltodextrin, silicon dioxide, paprika, red pepper, oregano, thyme, black pepper, garlic and onion. All 3 marinades reduced HCAs in the beef (Caribbean by 88%; Herb by 72%; and Southwest by 57%). Subsequent studies have tried to pinpoint what marinades are the most successful, finding that antioxidants such as garlic, onions, turmeric, rosemary, fingerrootgrape seed extract, and green tea to be especially beneficial. More research needs to be done, though, to determine the ideal combination of ingredients.


Other Grilling Tips: 

  • Pre-cook in the oven to minimize the time on the grill.
  • Scrub down the grill.
  • Cook on a low flame.
  • Purchase lean meat or cut off excess fat to prevent dripping and flare ups.
  • Put tin foil between the meat and the flame.
  • Flip frequently to prevent charring.
  • Cook for less time (no more well done meat)
  • Finally, cut away any charred portions of meat you are served.



With some health habits you might face a trade-off between what is pleasurable and what is healthy. Not in this case. Marinating meat makes it taste better. So come up with a recipe that includes at least one of the antioxidants listed above. If you’re having trouble coming up with something, here’s a marinade recipe from the American Institute for Cancer Research:

Citrus Marinade
(Yield: 1.5 cups)

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. lemon-pepper seasoning

Mix all ingredients together in large, wide and shallow non-metal casserole dish or mixing bowl. Add food to be grilled and turn to coat all sides. Cover and refrigerate for 1-6 hours. When ready to grill, remove meat and discard marinade.