Extra virgin olive oil reduces the risk of creating carcinogenic compounds when cooking meat at high temperatures.
European and American researchers have been studying the cancer risks associated with the way meat, fish and poultry are cooked for several years. Cooking these foods at high temperatures in grills and frying pans creates carcinogenic compounds that are harmful to health. Find out how the use of extra virgin olive oil and its antioxidant properties reduce the development of carcinogenic substances.
Research work on the link between cooking meat and the risk of cancer
A lot of research is being conducted on the link between cooking methods for meat, fish and poultry and the risk of cancer. The main studies are conducted in Europe by European Prospective Investigation in Cancer and Nutrition and in the United States by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), Harvard University, NIH-AARP (National Cancer Institute Food and Health), the Multiethnic Cohort, …
This work has shown that cooking meat at high temperatures in beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey and fish leads to the creation of carcinogenic compounds: heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). According to laboratory studies, these compounds are dangerous to our health because they are able to damage our DNA and increase the risk of cancer. However, studies have not proven that these substances cause cancer in the human body. Only experiments conducted on rodents have shown that animals nourished with a diet very rich in HCAs developed cancers of the colon, liver, breast, prostate, skin,… Rodents fed a diet of PAHs had leukaemia, gastrointestinal tract and lung cancers. According to the NIH (2017), “the doses of HCA and PAH used in these studies were very high, equivalent to thousands of the doses that a person would consume in a normal diet”.
The 5 recommendations published by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR)
Each year, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) warns consumers about the dangers of grilling and pan-frying at high temperatures and makes 5 recommendations.
- “Diets rich in red meat (beef, pork and lamb) carry an increased risk of colon cancer no matter how you cook it. It is advisable to mix meat, poultry and fish and add spices, herbs, chilli…
- Meat should be marinated in olive oil to reduce the effect of carcinogenic compounds.
- Partially cook the meat in the oven for example.
- Cook at low temperature
- Add vegetables (zucchini, eggplant, onions etc)
The advantages of extra virgin olive oil marinade to reduce the effect of carcinogenic substances
Marinating meat, fish and poultry in extra virgin olive oil for 30 minutes reduces the formation of HCAs. The extra virgin olive oil forms a protective barrier between the meat and the heat. Its oxidative stability contributes to the effectiveness of its preventive action. The antioxidants contained in extra virgin olive oil are assimilated by food. Moreover, extra virgin olive oil contains 30 phenolic compounds. Only extra virgin olive oil, which is cold pressed, retains the phenols during cooking because, unlike other oils, it has not been refined. However, the phenols contained in olive oil “stifle the formation of potentially carcinogenic compounds due to the antioxidant properties of its ingredients” according to the AICR (The New York Times, June 2019).