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Rosemary on the Grill

Rosemary on the Grill

Our mothers passed on more than recipes when they taught us how to cook–even if they werenít aware of it themselves. Many traditional foods and food combinations have turned out to be based on something more fundamental than just eating habits.

Many spices (often ones traditionally used to season meat) have antibacterial properties; the lecithin in egg whites can mitigate the effects of the cholesterol in the yolk (which may be why your grandmother used two whites for every yolk in her scrammies); cooking tomatoes in olive oil renders the lycopene in the tomatoes more useful to the body; and science finally decided to back up generations of moms: Chicken soup really is good for a cold.

So, if you are a bit nervous about carcinogens in your grilled food when you crank up the barbecue this summer, hereís some useful information from generations of grandmothers, via the Food Safety Consortium project at Kansas State University: Putting a little rosemary on the meat when you grill it is a good idea. Hereís why: Rosemary can break up HCAs, heterocyclic amines, the potentially cancer-causing compounds produced when food is charred or meat is cooked at high temperatures (not only on the grill). Compounds in rosemary (rosmarinic acid, carnosol, and carnosic acid) block the formation of the HCAs. Grandma may not have been a chemist, but that didnít stop her from knowing the best way to cook meat.

Marinating meats with other herbs, such as basil, mint, savory, sage, marjoram, thyme, and oregano, seems to help as well. And of course, all these herbs are loaded with antioxidants and other micro-nutrients (both discovered and yet to be discovered) that aid our health in many ways.

We put these herbs on and in our food because they taste good. Perhaps we developed a taste for them (over millennia of cooking and eating) because they are good for us.

Read more: Blogs, Diet & Nutrition, Simply Healthy, ,

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Avery Hurt

Avery Hurt is a health and science journalist. Her work appears regularly in national publications such as Better Homes and Gardens, Newsweek, and The New Physician. She is author of Bullet With Your Name On It: What You Will Probably Die From And What You Can Do About It (Clerisy Press, 2007) and Donít Worry, Iím Not Contagious: Your Guide to Staying Healthy in an Infectious World, due out from Clerisy, fall 2008. She is at work on her third book, on alternative medicine.

6 comments

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7:51AM PST on Feb 21, 2013

thank you

7:50AM PST on Feb 21, 2013

thank you

2:33PM PDT on Sep 5, 2012

thanks

5:05AM PDT on Jun 15, 2009

thanks...
Kabin
Konteyner

10:26AM PDT on Jun 5, 2008

Such great and useful information! Thanks!

8:21AM PDT on Jun 2, 2008

Wow! That's such a great bit of info!! Thanks.

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