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Ask Tufts Experts January 2011 Issue

Q: My usual breakfast includes two slices of whole-wheat toast. I am told by friends that toasting the bread diminishes the nutritional value of the whole wheat. Would you ad- vise that I change my breakfast routine?

Answer :  A Cynthia Harriman, director of Food and Nutrition Strategies for the Whole Grains Council, responds: “Two things happen when you toast bread. First, it browns, which may slightly reduce the digestibility and quality of proteins, according to a 2006 study of young males. Second, the amount of acrylamide (a possible carcinogen) increases. Are you going to die if you eat toast? Not at all. Maillard reaction prod- ucts and acrylamides are in many of the foods we eat, and the levels of both in toast are very low and likely insignifcant. But to be a stickler, yes, eating bread instead of toast is probably a fraction healthier. (Maybe that explains why I like my toast on the light side, in contrast to my husband who loves it practically burnt!)”

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