Heterocyclic amines are carcinogenic compounds that can be found in cooked meat. They seem to be produced by the high temperatures (e.g. roasting). Can heterocyclic amines also be found in cooked vegetables? In other words, are vegans virtually immune from the carcinogenic risk represented by the heterocyclic amines?

1 Answer 1


Heterocylic amines specifically are only created by cooking muscle meat at high temperature. The formation requires creatine, which is not found in vegetables and so cooked veggies can't form heterocylic amines.

However, charred vegetables may have different carcinogens to be aware of.

HCAs are the result of a specific recipe of amino acids and creatine, a combination you won't find in any vegetables, says Karen Collins, M.S., R.D., a nutrition expert for the American Institute for Cancer Research. "However, burning vegetables can form carcinogens like benzopyrene...."

Men's Health: Do charred vegetables contain the same carcinogens as burned meat?

  • 5
    To add to the answer, it is not only vegetables that produce carcinogens when burnt. Basically, anything charred, burnt and otherwise overly treated with fire is likely to contain some of these. Feb 15, 2017 at 19:57

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