Debra Lynn Dadd

High heat cooking


I have read that cooking food at high heat produces carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic amines (HAs) that are said to form with high heat cooking.

Is this true with grilling and roasting vegetables?

Also, I always like to toast my bread. Is this safe? I am not sure if toasting falls into the same category.

Lastly, I typically don't grill meat as much as broil. I actually prefer chicken not to be moist. So I will cook it for an hour with 20-30 minutes of the toaster oven set at 450 (or broil). Is this ok since it is not bbq? The meat is typically fish or chicken breasts.

POSTED BY RS :: IL USA :: 06/09/2008 10:40 AM


First, for those of you who are not familiar with this issue, read this excellent summary from the National Cancer Institute: Heterocyclic Amines in Cooked Meats

Now, to answer your questions...

Only meats produce heterocyclic amines. It's fine to grill and roast vegetables. Likewise toasting bread.

I've been following this issue for years. In my book Home Safe Home I wrote:

One of my favorite foods is good barbecued anything, and broiling just isn't the same. Besides, humans have been cooking over fire for millennia, so I don't think a few barbecued steaks are a major cause of cancer. Univeristy of Hawaii researchers have found you can reduce the danger of carcinogens in grilled meat by eating lots of green vegetables--the chlorophyll is vegetables binds with the carcinogns during digestion, limiting their absorption. My personal solution: We have a barbecue every couple of weeks in the summer months and include a big green salad.

Note too that grilling meat is fast and hot, real barbeque is low and slow. So actual barbeque at low temperatures may be one of the best ways to cook meat after all (the article linked above says "barbeque is high temperature"--I think they meant grilling).

Debra :-)


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