The HCA, from English Hetero Cyclic Amine, or heterocyclic amines are chemical compounds containing at least one heterocyclic ring and at least one amino group.

Some HCA have the biological function of vitamins, while others are carcinogenic. Heterocyclic amines carcinogens are created, for example, from meat and fish cooked at high temperatures. The HCA are formed when amino acids and creatine, the muscle tissue, react at high cooking temperatures.
If cooking is performed at very high temperatures, above 200 or 300 ° C, and long, over the 20 minutes, but even if the firing temperature is not constant, typical conditions of grilling and frying, some precursors present in the meat and fish give rise to the HCA.

The HCA concern the cooking of beef, pork, poultry and fish, while offal, such as the liver, have little or no content of HCA both naturally and as a result of cooking.
Avoid grilling hot dogs and other processed meats, as these seem to be the most harmful products: chemicals used to preserve meat increase the production of carcinogenic compounds. Avoid charring meat and do not eat the blackened parts.

Researchers have identified 17 different HCAs resulting from the cooking of meats and fish carcinogenic to humans. They have been identified by scientific studies correlations between the consumption of well-cooked meat and the risk of stomach cancer and colon / rectum.

The HCAs are able to alter the DNA structure, triggering processes that can lead to transformation of cells to tumor cells. Not only that, recent studies have shown a possible correlation between cardiovascular risk and heterocyclic amines.

Research has shown that a marinade with olive oil, lemon juice and garlic reduce levels of HCAs in meat up to 90%.

However the best way to reduce risk is to minimize fish and meat cooked at high temperatures (grill / frying), and limit consumption of red meat in general.