Natural seasoning can prevent charred-meat carcinogens

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Natural seasoning can prevent charred-meat carcinogens
A new study has found that natural seasonings like cinnamon, pineapple and green tea can significantly reduce the formation of cancer causing substances in well cooked meats. 

This week, Ming-fu Wang, associate professor at Hong Kong University’s School of Biological Sciences and leader of the research team, published research showing that some novel food components, along with the appropriate cooking method, will make a big dent in the development of carcinogens as a meat is being heated. 

Western tastes

"Western-style eating, which is becoming increasingly popular in Hong Kong, involves more meat dishes and barbecues cooked under high temperatures​," said Wang. 

In the past, many studies have shown that meat products, particularly barbecued foods, can contain carcinogens due to the formation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic amines under high-temperature food processing​.”

Heterocyclic amines form a class of polycyclic aromatic compounds commonly formed in animal protein-rich foods through the Maillard reaction. They are considered as highly mutagenic and carcinogenic.

Condiment complement

Wang’s study found that the selective use of natural condiments as meat seasoning will not only help reducing the formation of carcinogenic heterocyclic amines significantly, but together with the appropriate cooking method, such condiments can also lead to the formation of some novel food components that actually help preventing cancer. 

The use of some condiments, including grapefruit that contains narigenin, orange peel, tomato sauce, cinnamon with proanthocyanidin and green tea to complement such food, may help prevent cancer​,” Wang added.

The research has earned its author an Outstanding Young Researcher award from Hong Kong University for his exceptional achievements in his research area. Together with three other researchers from HKU, he will receive the prize later this week.

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