Articles by natural health author Tony Isaacs

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Enjoy Safer Grilling this Year with Rosemary and Cherries

by Tony Isaacs
author of
Cancer's Natural Enemy

(The Best Years in Life) For many of us, spring and summer are grilling seasons. Unfortunately, grilling meat and cooking meat at high temperatures result in the formation of chemical compounds which may increase the risk of cancer. This year, if you find the urge to fire up the barbecue irresistible, addition of either of a couple of common food items can greatly reduce the formation such dangerous compounds: rosemary or tart cherries.

Chief among the cancer causing compounds produced by cooking meats are heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which are classified by the National Toxicology Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as human carcinogens that increase the risk of cancer. Researchers at Kansas State University recently studied adding rosemary extract to ground beef. In addition to alcohol, the rosemary extracts contained a mixture of rosmarinic acid, carnosol, and carnosic acid. The researchers were not sure how or if the compounds worked but they found that adding the extracts reduced the HCA levels anywhere from 30 to 100 percent.

In another study published this month in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, researchers in Saudi Arabia found that the total amount of HCAs in grilled chicken was reduced seven-fold when 2% rosemary extract was added. The researchers also found that two other dangerous compounds created during cooking were inhibited to non-detectable levels.

Previously, researchers at Michigan State University added tissue of two varieties of tart cherries (Montmorency and Balaton) to ground beef patties and compared them to a control group of plain ground meat patties. In addition to studying fat content and formation of HCAs, the researchers also studied the levels of lipid oxidation during storage, which causes meat to become discolored, change texture and taste spoiled. The result was that the addition of the cherries reduced the formation of HCAs and also retarded lipid oxidation and spoilage.

"The fat contents of the cherry patties were, as expected, lower than that of the control patties, whereas the moisture contents were greater," said J. Ian Gray, PhD, Professor of Food Science at Michigan State. "Cherry tissue will not only slow down the oxidation deterioration of meat lipids, but will also substantially reduce the formation of heterocyclic aromatic amines."

In addition to cherries and rosemary, which are known for their anti-cancer properties and loaded with anti-oxidants, other food items have also been shown to have the ability to reduce the formation of cancer-causing compounds during cooking. Honey is excellent for marinades, providing great taste, browning and glaze formation. It also blocks the production of HCAs and other carcinogens during grilling. Other common food items which reduce cancer causing compounds include: basil, mint, sage, savory, marjoram, oregano, garlic and thyme.

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Here are some other ways to help reduce the risk of cancer from cooked meats:

* Cook at lower temperatures. The higher the temperature the more HCAs and other cancer causing compounds are formed.

* Bake whenever possible. With baking it is easier to control temperature and the highest amount of cancer causing compounds are produced by grilling, barbecuing and pan frying.

* Don't make gravy from meat drippings. The National Cancer Institute warns that meat drippings - even from meats cooked at lower temperatures - contain substantial amounts of HCAs.

* Limit consumption of meats, especially high-fat meats, reduce the portion sizes, select lean cuts and trim the fat on meats.

* Avoid charring meat and eating charred parts.

* Be sure to eat at least five servings a day of fruits and vegetables.

And be sure to get organic, additive free meats as much as possible - wild-caught, grass fed, cage free, etc.!

See also theses delicious meatless "burger" recipes:

http://www.tbyil.com/Tasty_Healthy_Meatless_Burgers.htm

Sources included:

http://www.cancer.org/docroot/NWS/content/NWS_1_1x_Cherry_Hamburgers_on_the_Grill.asp
http://www.newsmaxhealth.com/headline_health/rosemary_beef_cancer/2010/03/22/313795.html
http://www.informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/09637480903294953
http://www.gvnews.com/articles/2009/06/09/columns/7a%20pgr%20mcallist%2006%2010.txt

About the author

Tony Isaacs is a member of the National Health Federation and the American Botanical Council. He is a natural health advocate and researcher and the author of books and articles about natural health including "Cancer's Natural Enemy." Mr. Isaacs articles are featured at The Truth About Cancer, the Health Science Institute's Healthiertalk website, CureZone, the Crusador, Health Secrets, the Cancer Tutor, the Silver Bulletin, the New Zealand Journal of Natural Health, and several other venues. In addition, he hosts the Yahoo Oleandersoup Health group of over 3500 members and the CureZone Ask Tony Isaacs - Featuring Luella May forum. He is also the local moderator of the CureZone Cancer Alternatives forum. Tony and his partner Luella May host The Best Years in Life natural health website where their motto is "It's never too late or too early to begin living longer, healthier and happier lives."

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