A new study has shown that popular barbecue sauces could do more than just please the taste buds.
Raymond Thomas from the University of Western Ontario has found that common marinades and sauces that contain herbs and spices are good sources of antioxidants, which play a key role in preventing cardiovascular diseases, cancers, neurodegenerative diseases and inflammation.
"Herbs and spices are excellent sources of antioxidants, but estimating consumption rates can be difficult considering they are not generally consumed in large quantities, compared to fruits and vegetables," says Thomas.
"Instead, they are used in relatively small amounts as ingredients in recipes and formulations such as spice mixes and marinating sauces that enhance food flavour," he added.
Diverse processing methods during manufacture, length of marinating time and exposure to various modes of cooking can significantly alter the antioxidant status of these products and, consequently, the amount of antioxidants available to consumers.
Thomas was able to show for the first time the impact of marinating and cooking meat on the antioxidant status of seven different popular brands and flavours 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.
His research found very good quantities of antioxidants in all seven sauces, but that marinating meat prior to cooking reduced antioxidant levels by 45-70 percent.
Despite the high percentage of antioxidant loss following marinating and cooking, the sauces still provide benefits over cooking meat without them.
"Consumers can maximize their intake of the antioxidants available in these sauces by choosing those with the highest antioxidant levels prior to marinating and cooking," Thomas said.
"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," Thomas added.
The research has been published in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis.