Better BurgersApril 27, 2012 Written by JP [Font too small?]
The other night we had dinner at a restaurant where you build your own burger. Diners choose the type of meat they’d prefer, an extensive array of toppings and whether they want their burger on a bun or a bed of organic lettuce. You’re even in luck if you have special dietary needs as they offer gluten-free buns and vegetarian patties. These types of options are becoming more and more common these days as restaurateurs hope to reinvent hamburgers in a creative and, sometimes, healthier way. The latest trend in the attempt to “healthify” burgers is to add certain unexpected and, often, undetectable ingredients to the ground meat itself.
Presently, researchers at the University of Aberdeen are testing the effects of adding powdered beetroot to turkey burgers in order to make them healthier. Their hypothesis is that the antioxidants in beets will protect against some of the oxidation that occurs during the normal digestive process. According to Dr. Garry Duthie, a principal researcher in the ongoing experiment, “When we eat a fatty food, a process called oxidation occurs in our stomachs, where fats are transformed into potentially toxic compounds and absorbed into the body. These compounds are linked to cancer and heart disease”.
Fruit extracts or purees can also be used to improve the nutritional qualities of hamburgers. Recent experiments reveal that blueberries, cherries and even dried plums or prunes in small quantities (about 5%) can be added to ground meat to increase its antioxidant content. What’s more, these fruits impart flavor, moisture and significantly reduce the levels of probable carcinogens (heterocyclic aromatic amines) formed during the cooking process. Including savory spices in hamburgers such as garlic, oregano and paprika is another technique that can be employed. A study appearing in the May 2010 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that burgers with supplemental spices protected against oxidative stress in both the ground meat patties and in the group of participants that ate them.
As it turns out, phytochemicals present in both culinary spices and so-called “super fruits” preserve meat while being stored, during the cooking process and once the finished product is processed in the body. The plant-based chemicals in question carry exotic names such as catechins, proanthocyanidins, and rosmarinic acid. But, how they function and what they accomplish is quite straightforward. And, as a bonus, when they’re included in prepared meals, these non-traditional ingredients may also support health by attenuating post meal changes in insulin and triglycerides. Now, all you have to do is add them to your recipes and spread the word in time for this year’s barbecue season. Together, we can make burgers healthier!
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:
Study 1 – Could Beetroot Be the Key to a Healthy Burger? (link)
Study 2 – Cherry Hamburgers Lower In Suspected Carcinogens (link)
Study 3 – Burger of the Future? Add Blueberries … (link)
Study 4 – Antioxidant-Rich Spice Added to Hamburger Meat During … (link)
Study 5 – A High Antioxidant Spice Blend Attenuates Postprandial Insulin … (link)
Study 6 – Antioxidant Activity and Phenolic Content of Betalain Extracts … (link)
Study 7 – Survey of Antioxidant Capacity and Phenolic Composition of … (link)
Study 8 – Comparative Study of Phenolic Compounds and Antioxidant Activity … (link)
Study 9 – Characterization and Antioxidative Properties of Oligomeric … (link)
Study 10 – Oxidative Stability of Cooked, Frozen, Reheated Beef Patties … (link)
Adding Spices to Ground Meat Reduces Oxidation (MDA) In Vivo
Source: Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 May;91(5):1180-4. (link)
Tags: Blueberries, Cherries, Prunes
Posted in Food and Drink, Heart Health, Nutrition