How To BBQ A Healthy Hamburger

06/04/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011
  • Robin Nixon LiveScience

Hankering after a juicy burger? Try an herbal topping and indulge guilt-free.

Studies show that herbs in the Lamiaceae family -- such as rosemary, sage, and oregano -- may keep meat from causing cancer. As part of an ongoing Food Safety Consortium project at Kansas State University, researchers found that burgers marinated with rosemary had 70 to 80 percent less heterocyclic amines (HCAs) than those bathed in a plain marinade. HCAs mutate DNA and are suspected carcinogens.

Researcher J. Scott Smith explains: When you throw a raw steak or patty on a hot grill, the meat's amino acids and sugars produce unstable compounds called free radicals. These radicals then react with beef's creatine to make HCAs.

Herbal antioxidants halt this process. They chemically soothe free radicals before they start creating mutagens all over your basic backyard burger or a beautiful Porterhouse steak.

While marinades are best because they cover the whole surface, simply shaking on dried herbs may reap the same health benefits.

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