How do you have your toast in the morning? From warm bread (pointless in my eyes!) to disintegration on touch? On the above picture I prefer a 4-5, so you get a decent crunch but when you are slurping your morning brew whilst trying to clean up milk spills and Weetabix whilst getting school shoes on (and that’s just for me!) you ignore the smell of burning and are prepared to butter whatever pops out of the toaster.
So following yesterday’s report by the Foods Standards Agency we might have to re-think the colour of our morning toast due to concerns about a possible carcinogen (something that may cause cancer) that is created when bread is heated to a high temperature, i’e’ it goes brown. In fact it’s not just toast, it’s all ‘starchy’ foods so potatoes are another food to watch out for.
The culprit is called Acrylamide. When we toast, bake, fry or roast starchy foods, acrylamide is naturally produced as a by-product of the browning reaction. Animal studies have shown that high levels cause cancer (think Rats and chips) and although this doesn’t mean the same will happen in humans there is a definite air of caution. There simply isn’t enough evidence to prove it doesn’t cause cancer in humans. So is it worth the risk, even though we might be looking at regular and prolonged consumption of burnt foods? Not in my book!
So keep an eye on your food when cooking and as the FSA have recommended – Go for Gold instead.
Acrylamide has nothing to do with your spuds going green by the way. Although it’s also not advisable to eat green and sprouting potatoes as they are likely to have higher levels of other harmful toxins.
Another handy tip is keep you spuds at room temperature (in a dark cupboard or in the garage or porch where temperatures stay above 6°C). Storing them in the fridge (in colder temperatures) encourages them to produce more free sugars (sometimes referred to as ‘cold sweetening’). It’s these sugars that caramelise and go brown when heated and thus generate more acrylamide when heated above 120°C .
The final point I want to make is that this report does NOT mean you shouldn’t eat any starchy foods either! Having a balanced diet with a good variety of carbohydrate / starchy based foods is essential in maintaining our energy levels, providing fibre and B vitamins. Probably what is much more harmful is a diet with too much reliance on processed foods like cakes, biscuits, crisps and processed meats!
So as they say, everything in MODERATION 🙂