Adding rosemary to your hamburger could help prevent cancer

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Washington, May 24 : Apart from adding flavour to meat, there's another reason to use rosemary - cancer prevention.

Scientists have found that adding the seasoning to hamburgers and meat may protect against cancer onset.

J. Scott Smith, a KSU food science professor at Kansas State University has advised that applying rosemary seasoning to hamburgers can break up the potentially cancer-causing compounds formed when the meat is cooked.

"Put a little bit on the surface. Rosemary extracts shouldn't have much of an aroma to them. Most people don't want a rosemary-flavoured burger. So if you get the extract you don't really know it's there," he said.

Smith has been conducting studies into the carcinogenic compounds known as HCAs (heterocyclic amines). The presence of HCAs is a potential problem in cooked beef.

He and his colleagues looked into the commercial rosemary extracts' effect on stopping HCAs from forming in cooked beef patties. They found that the HCAs were reduced in levels ranging from 30 to 100 percent.

Rosemary contains phenolic compounds including rosmarinic acid, carnosol and carnosic acid block the HCAs before they can form during heating.

The present results are line with the previous findings from Smith's group, which showed that marinating steaks with certain herbs and spices also reduces HCAs.

Rosemary is among those herbs and spices with basil, mint, sage, savoury, marjoram, oregano and thyme, all rich in antioxidants.

"The industry is moving toward an extract that you can rub onto the surface, or a rub that you can mix into the power to get better flavour to the hamburger," he said.

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