Do The Jerk

As if people who love to grill using marinades and barbecue sauces need another reason to continue this popular pastime, researchers at the University of Western Ontario in London have obliged them.

A new study published recently in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis has found that sauces and marinades are a rich source of antioxidants (cancer-fighting agents) if they contain spices and herbs.

The Canadian researchers tested seven popular brands and flavors of marinade containing herbs and spices as the main ingredients. These included jerk sauce, garlic and herb, honey garlic, roasted red pepper, lemon pepper garlic, sesame ginger teriyaki and green seasoning.

The study found two varieties contained the most antioxidants. The jerk and sesame/ginger/teriyaki combination outperformed the other five sauces tested because they contain substantial quantities of ingredients such as hot peppers, allspice, sesame and ginger.

The researchers did offer one caveat, though: Marinating meat before cooking reduces antioxidant levels by 45 percent to 70 percent. But the lead study author says despite the antioxidant loss after marinating and cooking, the sauces still provide benefits.

The researchers offered a couple of ways to get around losing some of effects of the antioxidants — choosing sauces with the highest antioxidant levels before marinating and cooking, brushing the sauce on just before serving the meat or consuming it without cooking. They also said some marinades can be used as a salad dressing.

Besides their cancer-fighting properties, antioxidants also play a huge role in preventing cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, inflammation and problems associated with aging.

Following is a grilled chicken recipe that fits right in with study’s findings. And not a bad way to start the grilling season, I might add.

Grilled Island-Style Chicken
1½ cups Jerk Marinade (see recipe)
1 3½-pound) broiler fryer, cut into serving pieces (or 3 pounds breast, leg and thigh pieces)
Discard excess fat from chicken and put pieces in a large, self-sealing food storage bag. Pour on 1 cup marinade and rub it in, lifting the skin and pushing marinade under where possible. (If you have sensitive skin, wear rubber gloves.) Seal and refrigerate at least 2 hours and as long as 24 hours, turning occasionally.
Heat grill to medium-high; oil the grates. Lift chicken from marinade, letting excess drip off (discard marinade). Place on grill and cover. Cook, turning occasionally, until chicken is blackened in spots, about 10 minutes.
Move chicken to a cooler part of the grill. Grill, covered, basting from time to time with remaining ½ cup marinade, until chicken is cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes more.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 649 calories, 62 percent of calories from fat, 39 grams fat (9 grams saturated), 167 milligrams cholesterol, 40 grams protein, 5 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 420 milligrams sodium.

Jerk Marinade
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon dry leaf thyme (not powdered)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 inches fresh ginger, washed and cut into chunks
½ Scotch bonnet pepper or 3 or more jalapenos, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 small bunch scallions, trimmed and coarsely chopped
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
Yield: About 1½ cups.