Cancer-causing Heterocyclic Amines (HCA) form when meats and animal products (not fruits or vegetables) are heated at high temps that result in browning and charring (the “desired” crispiness of grilling).
Animal proteins react with the naturally occurring sugar molecules in the meat to produce HCA compounds. Once ingested, your body’s enzymes activate HCA into compounds that have the potential to mutate DNA within cells (and potentially lead to cancer).
Note that HCA forms from all charred meats, including those cooked indoors.
How to Reduce the Formation of HCA:
- Cook over lower temps to avoid charring
- Remove any burned areas before eating
- Marinate meats in acid overnight prior to cooking to reduce cooking times
- Add antioxidant-rich diced cherries to ground meats (dried cherries can be used)
- And most importantly, serve with salads made with beautiful cruciferous vegetables like purple cabbage shown above: all brassica/cruciferous vegetables (like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, horseradish, kale, and radishes) contain compounds that enhance our natural ability to detoxify HCA
Photo by CARE Photography Intern Abbey Casserly; follow Abbey on Instagram @the_peachy_avocado