A recent study has determined that not only do spice rubs enhance flavour of grilled meat but they actually keep you healthy too.

Professor J Scott Smith of Kansas State University found that black pepper in particular almost entirely eradicates the formation of carcinogens called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) which can form on the surface of meat when it is cooked at high temperatures. According to the National Cancer Institute, HCAs have been found to cause changes in DNA that may increase the risk of cancer.

Smith found that blending black pepper with other spices could limit the formation of HCAs.”Blending pepper with antioxidant-rich spices works so well in ground beef patties and on steaks that the spice formulation eliminates nearly 100 per cent of HCAs,” Smith writes in Science Daily. “In these cases, the spices are added at a level that is quite practical, so the result is flavorful and healthy.”

Smith also found that herbs and marinades are beneficial in reducing HCAs. He stresses that marinades should only be done for a couple of hours because “marinating too long has the opposite effect because it can cause the antioxidants in the sauce to decompose”.