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Summer Means BBQ, Spice Up Yours for Better Health

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Memorial Day kicks off summer in the U.S., and that means enjoying the great outdoors and for many people, pulling out the grill. After—rather than before—you throw those steaks on the grill, consider marinating them for health benefits.

Research led by University of Western Ontario biology and psychology postdoctoral fellow Raymond Thomas showed that common marinades may be more than just tasty sauces; some also provide a major source of natural antioxidants.

Foods rich in antioxidants play an essential role in preventing heart disease, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinson's Disease, inflammation and problems associated with aging skin.

Thomas showed for the first time the impact of marinating and cooking meat and the antioxidant status of seven different popular brands and flavors of marinade containing herbs and spices as primary ingredients. Each is readily available at local grocery stores and included jerk sauce, garlic and herb, honey garlic, roasted red pepper, lemon pepper garlic, sesame ginger teriyaki and green seasoning.

According to the research, all seven sauces contained very good quantities of antioxidants, but marinating meat prior to cooking reduced antioxidant levels by 45-70 percent. Of the seven sauces, Grace Jerk Sauce and Renée's Sesame Ginger Teriyaki outperformed the other five sauces tested before and after cooking because they contain substantial quantities of ingredients like hot peppers, allspice, sesame and ginger – all of which have high antioxidant properties.

Despite the high percentage of antioxidant loss following marinating and cooking, the sauces still provide benefits over cooking meat without them, the research said.

“Consumers can maximize their intake of the antioxidants available in marinades by choosing those with the highest antioxidant levels prior to marinating and cooking,” said Thomas. "Alternatively, you can brush the sauce on just before serving the meat, or consume it without cooking – like as a salad dressing – where it is permissible to do so.”

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