Meat in the hot seat

Published: June, 2007

Cooking meat at high temperatures produces cancer-causing chemicals, but grilling can be made safer.

When we eat meat or fish, we're eating muscle tissue — mainly muscle cells, some collagen that makes up connective tissue (the more collagen, the tougher the meat), and fat. Cooking turns the tissue pleasantly firm and juicy by altering protein inside the muscle cells so it gets more compact and squeezes out water, according to On Food and Cooking, Harold McGee's classic book on food science.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »