Richie, Eat Your Crust


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"Eat your crust sweetie, it's good for you!" It seems as if my blogs all start off with things that my mother told me when I was younger; but you've got to admit, one of the most pressing dilemmas during childhood (at least when lunchtime rolled around) was that ring of yucky crust surrounding your otherwise delectable peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Oh, you'd try to get Mommy to cut it off, and if you were lucky she obliged, but usually your inquiry was met with this response: "eat your crust sweetie, it's the most important part! It has lots of vitamins  that are good for you!"


So now that I'm all grown up and attending college, Mommy can't make me lunch anymore (heartbreaking, I know). As I sat down in the commons to eat my pre-non-mom-made peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I remembered that I should eat my crust-and then had a thought. What is so special about the crust anyway? What is it in that baked outer-shell of bread that makes it so much better for your health? Is it really that detrimental?
Well, it turns out that there is more than just a crumb of truth behind this little piece of advice (ha, ha, ha). I found several articles and blog posts online, such as 
this one, that all referenced an experiment done by researchers at the German Research Center of Food Chemistry in Garching, Germany. Apparently, they found that there is a chemical reaction that occurs as the bread is baking that causes the outer layer to develop a certain antioxidant that has been linked to fighting cancer. According to Science Daily, the scientists tested out a conventional bread mixture containing rye and wheat flour, and analyzed the crust, crumbs (of the soft inside of the bread), and flour for antioxidant content and activity. They found that the process of baking the bread produced  an antioxidant called pronyl-lysine, and that it was eight times more abundant in the crust than in the crumb, and not found at all in the flour. 

So what causes this reaction? Well, according to Discovery Health, when the bread bakes, the addition of heat causes carbon found in the carbohydrates of the bread to combine with the amino acids of the proteins, resulting in a browning on the surface of the bread. This is known as the Maillard reaction, and until recent years, was only attributed to the browning of the bread. Now, however, scientists also credit this reaction with producing antioxidants that are beneficial to those who eat the bread crust. Just don't over-cook the bread! In fact, burning bread too far can have the opposite effect: it can reduce the amount of antioxidants in the bread and even create cancer-causing carcinogens (we'll save that for another blog entry).

Well this is great and all, but I'm still not a very big crust fan, so I was a bit skeptical. How do we know that pronyl-lysine fights cancer? Well a study done by scientists from Annamalai University in Indiana indicates that it does. Rats were separated into different groups that received different dosages of the antioxidant (some were not given any), after being given dimethylhydrazine to induce colonic premalignant lesions. It turns out that the rats that were given the antioxidant had significantly less pre-malignant lesions. 

So yes, it seems as if all those years of being forced to eat my crust may have paid off. You got me this time, Mom. However, I wonder if anything further can be done with this anti-oxidant. The researchers supplemented the rats every day with pronyl-lysine, and I feel like that would be a lot of bread crust to be eating every day. Are there pronyl-lysine supplements available for people to take in order to prevent cancer? And if not, and if this is such a good way to prevent cancer, why isn't there one out there? I'll leave you with that food for thought. Bottom line though: eat your crust. At the very least, you won't end up like poor Richie and his parents.


5 Comments

Its nice to know that bread can prevent cancers. I was intrigued and also found that darker breads such as pumpernickel or whole wheat actually contain a greater amount of pronyl-lysine, which are more healtheir options of bread to consume.

Perhaps they do have supplements out there, but since there have been yet to be human clinical trials, maybe this can't prevent cancer and if it does, to what extent does it prevent it? How much would we have to take to be safe from cancer?

As far as I know, people have been consuming bread (with the crusts) for a long while, but cancer rates don't seem to be going down at an alarming rate.

Perhaps there is another variable in the whole cancer debate...

That was exactly my thought process when I wrote this blog. There seem to be so many reports out there about foods rich in antioxidants or vitamins that could possibly help prevent cancer, but very little seems to be known about them. The is always further research that has to be done, and it seems that we know very little. I'm curious as to why there hasn't been further, more intense research on these foods (or is there has, I have yet to find it).

That was exactly my thought process when I wrote this blog. There seem to be so many reports out there about foods rich in antioxidants or vitamins that could possibly help prevent cancer, but very little seems to be known about them. The is always further research that has to be done, and it seems that we know very little. I'm curious as to why there hasn't been further, more intense research on these foods (or is there has, I have yet to find it).

That was exactly my thought process when I wrote this blog. There seem to be so many reports out there about foods rich in antioxidants or vitamins that could possibly help prevent cancer, but very little seems to be known about them. The is always further research that has to be done, and it seems that we know very little. I'm curious as to why there hasn't been further, more intense research on these foods (or is there has, I have yet to find it).

That was exactly my thought process when I wrote this blog. There seem to be so many reports out there about foods rich in antioxidants or vitamins that could possibly help prevent cancer, but very little seems to be known about them. The is always further research that has to be done, and it seems that we know very little. I'm curious as to why there hasn't been further, more intense research on these foods (or is there has, I have yet to find it).

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