Black pepper has been found effective in neutralizing compounds that have been identified as carcinogens that develop while barbecuing meats.
Researchers at Kansas State University black pepper applied before grilling nearly eliminates the creation of heterocyclic amines (HCAs).
HCAs have been identified as carcinogens by the World Heath Organization and a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
HCAs begin forming at about 300 degrees Fahrenheit (150 C) and develop even more at 350 F (177 C) degrees and higher, researchers found.
One part of the study found that mixing one gram of black pepper with 100 grams of ground beef was highly effective in inhibiting HCAs, but the pepper flavour was overpowering.
KSU Professor J. Scott Smith said an equally effective choice may involve blending pepper with other spices such as oregano, garlic and members of the mint family like basil, marjoram, rosemary, sage and thyme.
The research also showed that spices such as cloves and allspice provide similar anti-HCA protection, as did using the right amount of marinade and herbs in preparing the meat for grilling, although the effectiveness against the creation of HCAs deteriorated the longer the mixture was on the meat.