Beef, pork, chicken, and other meats contain meat-specific antioxidants

New antioxidants in beef, chicken and pork

Beef, pork, chicken, and other meats contain meat-specific antioxidants, useful against oxidative stress-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

A new study by the research team led by Professor Hideshi Ihara of Osaka Metropolitan University in Japan found the presence of new antioxidants in beef, chicken and pork. It is an innovative and sensational discovery, published in the Antioxidants journal, as it is the first time that meat-specific antioxidants, the 2-oxo-imidazole-containing dipeptides (2-oxo-IDP), a type of antioxidants with high activity because have one more oxygen atom than normal imidazole-containing dipeptide (IDPs).

IDPs are endogenous dipeptides composed of histidine or its methylated derivatives produced in the body of various vertebrate animals, including humans. They are abundant in skeletal muscle, brain, and other tissues, such as the heart, kidneys, and liver, and act as important functional molecules. The researchers determined their abundance in meat and fish for the first time, and their physiological mechanism, which exhibits much higher antioxidant activity, is effective in relieving fatigue and preventing various pathologies, such as dementia.

In fact, among their important biochemical functions are pH-buffering, heavy metal chelation and detoxification, antioxidant activity, and protective effects against various oxidative stress-related diseases, such as diabetes, ischemia, cancer, ageing and neurodegenerative diseases. To detect the presence of these very important substances, the study used HPLC, High-Performance Liquid Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry, a highly sensitive, selective and absolute quantitative analytical method to detect five IDPs and five types of 2-oxo-IDPs.

Beef, #pork, #chicken and other #meats contain specific #antioxidants. Not only #IDPs, but also a variety of different 2-oxo-IDPs, with greater antioxidant capacity. Click To Tweet

Using this method, it was possible to successfully determine for the first time that beef, pork, chicken and other meats of different vertebrates contain meat-specific antioxidants, not only IDPs such as carnosine, anserine, balenine, homocarnosine and homoserine, but also a variety of several 2-oxo-IDPs, such as 2-oxo-carnosine, 2-oxo-anserine, 2-oxo-homocarnosine, and 2-oxo-homoanserine, with a higher antioxidant capacity than the corresponding IDPs. This highly sensitive detection technique allows capturing traces of minor constituents of meat never detected before, such as 2-oxo-IDPs, contributing to understanding their biological importance, as they are highly functional in small amounts.

“We wish that this research method, allowing advanced analysis of 2-oxo-IDPs, will be applied to biology, medicine, agriculture, livestock farming and pharmacology to help improve people’s health and prevent disease”, Professor Ihara, author of the study, comments. These results underline the potential of bioactive substances in meat for developing preventive and therapeutic strategies for oxidative stress-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Thanks to new studies of the highest scientific quality and reliable and effective methods of new conception, meat is increasingly proving to be a nutritionally superior food, beneficial and protective for health. Indeed, as the research goes on, there is always further confirmation that meat is a complex matrix whose benefits are greater than the sum of its nutrients and bioactive components. We too hope that, as research progresses, it will finally be possible to evaluate meat with new criteria and thus give it the right properties it deserves.


Agronomist, nutritional consultant and scientific writer, author and co-author of 11 scientific publications and numerous articles on human nutrition and its impact on health and environment. In 2010 she received the title of Doctor Europaeus and PhD in Animal Production, Health and Food Hygiene in countries with a Mediterranean climate.