Meat Science: To Cook or Not to Cook? The Raw Truth About Antioxidants in Raw and Cooked Meat and Fish.
|Image 1: Now, that we know that meat is not |
bad for you. Let's get to the meat of the matter:
Is raw meat better than cooked meat?
A recently published study by Serpen et al. (Serpen. 2011) showed that the total antioxidant capacity (TAC) of meat and fish actually peaked after brief (<5 min) heating at 180°C - intriguing, no?
The Turkish scientists had bought four samples of your favorite meats and fish - chicken (breast), pork (tenderloin), beef (tenderloin) and fish (Sea bream, fillet) - at a local market, determined the proximate composition (cf. fig 1) of the samples and cut identical cylindrical (5x2cm) slices from the samples.
|Figure 1: Composition of raw meat extracts (data adapted from Serpen. 2011)|
|Figure 2: Total antioxidant capacity (calculated average from ADPS and DPPH probes) of meat and fish samples after 0, 5, 10, 15 and 20 minutes of heating at 180°C (data calculated based on Serpen. 2011)|
- denaturation and exposure of reactive sites of proteins;
- thermoxidation and degradation of endogenous antioxidants;
- formation of antioxidant MRPs (Maillard Reaction Products)
Note for the non-Europeans: Just in case you did not see it on CNN - the EHEC bacteria that killed people in Germany and all over Europe did not come from raw meats, but from sprouts. And it was the prejudice that raw meat, dairy and eggs were the worst (if not only) offenders, when it comes to food poisoning, that significantly hindered the investigations into the roots of an infection that has killed 37 people (according to Bild.de, 07-02-2011) in Germany, alone, when the first patients were hospitalized a few weeks ago.Bottom line: While heating is obviously less detrimental to the overall antioxidant capacity of meat and fish, as some raw food eaters (and interestingly even the steam cooker faction) would have it, it remains questionable how you can reproduce the optimal fyring time of 5 minutes without immediately deep freezing your meat in a way, which would not leave you with your a steak that would be at least pretty rare. In turn, this means that a steak without a few drips of blood will not provide an optimal level of total antioxidants (TAC). Now, its up to you to decide whether a 2.3% decrease in mean TAC values are worth eating your steak rare - I would say no, but I don not love my steak rare, anyways, but I also read Sean Casey's formidable article on AGE formation, so if you cannot get over your socialized aversion against raw meat, dairy and eggs for what it does contain, i.e. antioxidants, then maybe for what it does not contain, which is advanced glycation end-products ;-)