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Health Benefits of Marinating Meat, and How to Do It Safely

Why You Should Marinate Your Meat

Barbecue season is upon us, so let's celebrate by grilling, since it's an easy and low-fat way to cook. If you're grilling, protect your health by marinating your meat. Here's why marinating is good for your health and tips on how to keep it safe.

  1. Marinating meat, fish, and poultry significantly decreases the amount of carcinogenic heterocyclic amines (HCAs) produced when the meat is cooked at high temperatures, like in grilling. Marinades can reduce HCAs by as much as 99 percent. Adding rosemary to the marinade may even up the anticancer potential of your marinade even more. While research is unclear why marinades protect meat so much, the belief is that they act as a barrier against the high heat, or may reduce chemical precursors of carcinogens from the meat.
  2. The acid in marinades may slow the growth of harmful bacteria, like listeria.

Learn a few more tips about marinades after the break.

  1. Marinating meat with naturally acidic ingredients, like vinegar or citrus juices, tenderizes the meat, making your protein easier to digest. Plus marinades will help lock in moisture so your meat won't dry out and toughen up.
  2. To keep the calorie count down, only use a half-cup of marinade to every pound of meat. This will be enough to coat the meat, but cuts down on excess.
  3. Never marinate meat at room temperature. Although marinade can slow the growth of harmful bacteria, it cannot stop them completely, so marinate your meat in the fridge.
  4. Never reuse uncooked marinade. If you are making a sauce, boil leftover marinade to kill bacteria (your safest bet for sauce is to reserve a portion of marinade before you add the raw meat).
  5. According to the USDA, chicken and other poultry must be used within two days of marinating and beef and other types of meat should be used within five days.

Do you have a great marinade recipe? Share it in the comment section below.

Image Source: Thinkstock
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