Grilling, Andrea_Nguyen, flickr, Creative Commons 2.0

Researchers have found that we can actually reduce our exposure to harmful carcinogens when we grill if we incorporate antioxidant-rich ingredients into the mix. A 2010 story in The Washington Times told us of a study where researchers looked at the power of spiced marinades in protecting us from cancer-causing compounds that can form in grilled foods. They found that marinades, along with other spices and antioxidant-boasting foods, are an effective way to help protect us from damage. Here are some useful cooking tips you can incorporate into your grilling this summer to boost the protective power of your foods.

It’s In The Spices

As researchers at the University of Western Ontario found in their 2010 study, prepared marinades can contain high amounts of antioxidants, depending on what spices and other ingredients are inside them. Antioxidants have been known to fight cardiovascular diseases, inflammation and diseases related with aging, and this study showed that even spices and herbs in prepared sauces and marinades can carryover those benefits to us.

Different spices, herbs and marinade ingredients add differing levels of protective compounds, and researchers note that it’s hard to gauge exact how much active “protective” power any one spice will have over another. But in their studies, jerk blends and sesame/ginger/teriyaki marinades were shown to outperform other blends.

Timing Is Everything

Interestingly enough, researchers also found that the longer a marinade sits on a food, the fewer antioxidants will remain in the food. Take-home lesson here: marinate for less time, or brush on extra spiced sauce just before serving.

Diversify Your Grilling Menu

Spices in your marinade are one way to boost your grilling menus with antioxidants. Another is by simply adding antioxidant-rich foods to the menu. Planning to grill a grass-fed steak or some marinated tofu? Why not add a broccoli-kale salad and fresh peach parfait to the menu?

If you’re ready to give a go at an antioxidant-rich grilling menu, give the following foods a shot–they’ve been documented to be high in antioxidants. (Bear in mind this is no exhaustive list, just one to get you started!)

Spices known to be high in antioxidants include (from Science Daily):

Herbs known to be high in antioxidants include (from Eating Well magazine):

Vegetables/plants known to be high in antioxidants include (from the National Cancer Institute):

Fruits known to be high in antioxidants include (from the National Cancer Institute):


Sources:

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/prevention/antioxidants

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/mar/24/study-marinades-help-prevent-cancer/?page=all

http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/top_fresh_and_dried_herbs_and_spices_for_antioxidants

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110810101607.htm

Image: Andrea_Nguyen