Heterocyclic Aromatic Amines … Oh My!

I hope everyone had a nice Father’s Day!

I know I did!

* I enjoyed some nice family time paired with delicious pizza from Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria.

* I introduced my mom to their vegan “Asante” pizza, which she became absolutely obsessed with!

* And I made a very refreshing “fruit-infused-jasmine-green-sun-tea-cooler” with my dad. A recipe I will share with you all tomorrow!!

But as promised, today, I will be sharing my knowledge on the toxicity of …

Heterocyclic Aromatic Amines (HAs)

Brace yourselves… this is a long one!

As I mentioned before, HAs are toxins (potent mutagens) generated in muscle (not organ) meats when cooked at normal “home-cooking” temperatures. What I mean by “home-cooking” temperatures, is that HA exposure is most prevalent in home cooked meats. On average we intake about 26 ng/kg body weight/day … which is a lot considering that 17 different HAs may pose a human cancer risk.

There are four main factors that influence HA formation.

1. Cooking Temperature

2. Cooking Time

3. Cooking Method

4. The Food Being Cooked

The food toxicology lecture slide below displays how different cooking temperatures and cooking times can make a great difference in the formation of HAs.

Furthermore, as you can see by the other food toxicology lecture slide (below) cooking methods also make a difference in the formation of HAs.

Frying, broiling, and barbequeing produce that largest amounts of HAs (see the food toxicology lecture slide below).

There are also two types of HAs.

1. 2-Aminoimidazole type (IQ-Type)– formed in muscle meat when amino acids react with creatine (a protein found in muscle meats) at high temperatures.

2. 2-Aminopryridine type (Non-IQ-Type)– formed from the decomposition of protein at high temperatures.

Long story short, the IQ-Types seem to be more carcinogenic because California Prop 65 lists IQ, MeIQ, MeIQx, and PhIP (all IQ-Type HAs) as carcinogens.

Hang in there, I’m almost done with all this science talk …


HAs are mutagenic. They tend to be potent liver carcinogens in rats and mice and are thought to be responsible for a great deal of the intestinal cancer in humans.

HAs are activated in our bodies by cytochrome P450 enzymes and are detoxified by our glucuronoyltrasferase and sulfotransferase enzymes.

And thankfully, we have these detoxifying enzymes to help us metabolize daily dietary toxins! But remember, MODERATION and COMBINATION is key! Moderate your intake of these dietary toxins and combine them with antioxidant rich fruit to help induce your detox enzymes!

And lastly, just as a recap from my previous post, if you microwave your meat for 2 minutes, before cooking, you can remove HA precursors and sequentially get rid of 90% of HA content.

Have a great day!!! And happy summer!!!!

Stay tuned for the delicious and refreshing jasmine-green-sun-tea recipe!!!
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3 thoughts on “Heterocyclic Aromatic Amines … Oh My!

  1. I don’t know how I accidentally tripped across your site but I love, love, love it … I have subscribed to your blog feed & I’m nominating you for MY Food Stories Award for Excellence in Storytelling. I know some bloggers don’t participate in blog awards but I hope you’ll at least check it out because mine is unique in the fact that it is only is given to food sites and all the nominees are in the running for the monthly award and prize. If you’re interested, you can check out the details at my site … http://foodstoriesblog.com/food-stories-award/ … Either way, love your site and I hope you’re having a great foodie day!

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