Eat up your crusts, they really are good for you

They certainly can't make your hair curl - but there may be more than a crumb of truth in the claim that bread crusts are good for you.

Scientists say a chemical released during the baking process can protect against bowel cancer. The antioxidant prevents changes in the body that can lead to a tumour. The chemical only develops as a result of a chemical reaction during cooking, and is eight times more abundant in the crust than the rest of the loaf.

Experiments with animals showed regular intake of the chemical, pronyl-lysine, appears to halt the development of pre-cancerous lesions in the colon. Researchers said it is too early to say how much crust needs to be eaten to reap the full benefit. But their results suggest the body needs daily doses of the disease-busting antioxidant in order to protect against cancer.

Bowel tumours are the third most common cancer in the UK, killing around 16,000 people a year. Nine of out ten tumours can be successfully treated if they are detected early but often patients do not report symptoms until the disease is well established. The main warning signs include bleeding, changes in toilet habits and abdominal pain.

Good diet is thought to help protect against the disease. Experts recommend eating high-fibre foods, such as wholemeal bread, to reduce the risks. But the latest study, published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, suggests it may be the crusts, rather than the fibre in bread, that offer the greatest benefit.

Their cancer-fighting potential was first discovered in 2002, when German scientists found the chemical reaction that produces the hard brown crust - known as the Maillard reaction - also triggers the release of powerful antioxidants. Now a team of scientists at Annamalai University in India have tested the effects of pronyl-lysine on rats.

Source - Daily Mail

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