Make Your Pork and Eggs Better for You
September 7, 2006—It’s not just for flavor any more—the sauce you use in your next pork dish could make the meat more healthful. Research from Taiwan, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, shows that cooking pork or eggs in a sugar- or soy-containing marinade makes them less likely to contribute to heart disease and cancer.
“Marinating [is] a traditional Chinese cooking method,” said Bing-Huei Chen, PhD, Professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at Fu Jen University in Taiwan and an author of the study. “[It] is often conducted by immersing the food items in a flavor-rich fluid (marinated juice) containing different kinds of ingredients such as soy sauce and sugar and heating at about 212°F (100°C) for an extensive period of time (1 hour or more) in a closed pan.”
Cooking and storing food is known to produce cholesterol oxidation products (COPs). COPs are part of the reason that cholesterol-rich foods can cause hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), and they are also considered cancer promoters.
The study authors developed a method to measure COPs and tested five different sauces to determine what effect, if any, cooking in these marinades would have on the production of seven different COPs. The marinade combinations were (1) soy sauce (10%) and water (90%); (2) sugar (1%) and water (99%); (3) soy sauce (1%) and water (99%); (4) sugar (10%) and water (90%); and (5) water alone.
Each juice was poured into a sauce pan preheated to 212°F (100°C, the boiling point of water). Ground pork or shelled eggs were then added to the pan separately and heated: 24 hours for pork and 10 hours for eggs. The experiments were repeated for a total of 20 heating treatments.
Longer cooking times were associated with greater formation of COPs. Cooking in sauces containing sugar (10%) and soy sauce (10%) significantly inhibited the formation of COPs in marinated eggs and pork. In both cases, sugar had a greater inhibitory effect than did soy sauce. According to Dr. Chen, “Both soy sauce and sugar can interact during heating to form browning reaction products, which may possess antioxidant activity and in turn inhibit COPs formation.”
The health benefit of eggs depends a great deal on how they are cooked: scrambled and fried eggs are more likely to contribute to heart disease since the cholesterol in the yolks is exposed to much heating, whereas poached and boiled eggs are a much more healthful alternative and a good protein and nutrient source. While the results of this study may not transform pork and eggs into “health foods,” they do suggest a way of cooking that might mitigate some of their unhealthful effects.
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(J Food Agric Chem 2006;54:4873–9)
Jeremy Appleton, ND, CNS, is a licensed naturopathic physician, certified nutrition specialist, and published author. Dr. Appleton was the Nutrition Department Chair at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, has served on the faculty at Bastyr University of Natural Health Sciences, and is a former Healthnotes Senior Science Editor and a founding contributor to Healthnotes Newswire. He has worked extensively in scientific and regulatory affairs in the supplement industry and is now a consultant through his company Praxis Natural Products Consulting and Wellness Services.
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