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Ask Tufts Experts January 2009 Issue

Q: I know it can be harmful to eat charred, blackened meat. Is the same true of overtoasted nuts, burnt potatoes and the like?

Answer :  A We posed this question to Rashmi Sinha, PhD, senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute and a leading expert on carcinogens in charred foods. His answer might be characterized as good news, bad news: Unlike blackened meat, charred vegetables do not have one group of carcinogenic compounds, heterocyclic aromatic amines. But they probably do contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon compounds that have also been linked with cancers in animals. So to be on the safe side, trim any burnt edges and discard badly charred vegetables.

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