When a slice of bread is heated on both sides, it becomes toast. Toasted bread is the result of the transformation that has taken place due to the evaporation of moisture from the fresh bread. While toasted bread appears different from fresh bread, there is little change in its nutritional value.
When fresh bread is heated, a number of biochemical reactions take place. As bread heats, firstly the moisture evaporates and a chemical reaction turns the surface brown. Also, since the water has evaporated, the slice of bread will become slightly lighter. This chemical reaction that browns the bread is known as the Maillard Reaction. In this chemical reaction, the carbohydrates react with the amino acids (present on the exterior of the bread slice), causing it to become brown. The reaction also causes a change in flavor and texture of the toasted bread – it becomes crunchy and tastes different from the fresh bread. Many include toast in their breakfast when trying to lose weight.
Nutritional Value of Toasted Bread
Those of you who thought toasted bread would aid weight loss efforts by cutting the calories are sadly mistaken. Contrary to popular belief, the nutritional value of toasted bread remains the same as the slice of fresh bread. A slice of bread contains 65 calories while toasted bread has 64.9 calories, only a miniscule difference. That is because the bread has only turned brown due to its exposure to the heat source. Also, toasting bread does not “kill” the nutrients as some people might think, although degradation of the nutrients would have already happened during the baking process.
Acrylamide – a byproduct of the Maillard Reaction in Toasted Bread
Acrylamide is a compound that forms as a byproduct during the chemical reaction between the carbohydrates and amino acids at the time of the cooking process. This chemical compound when consumed in high quantities might be a cause for cancer. The quantum of acrylamide increases when foods are cooked at high temperature for a longer period of time. Burnt toast would therefore contain high level of acrylamide. However, there is hardly any research to prove that people eating a lot of burnt toast are at risk for developing cancer.
So, although the nutritional values of toasted bread and fresh bread may only be slightly different, toast does contain acrylamide which is not quite good for you. While toasting bread, ensure that it is only lightly browned, just enough to make it crunchy. To be on the safe side, avoid eating the burnt edges to minimize your exposure to harmful chemicals formed as a result of overheating the foodstuff. Burnt toast is best thrown away.
Whole grain or white bread is certainly different in appearance as compared to toasted bread. Considering the facts above, there is no particular reason why toasted bread is better than fresh bread in terms of nutrition. It is just a matter of preference – if you prefer the crunchiness or taste of toasted bread, go ahead and pop a couple of slices into the toaster to make that perfect piece of toast!
And if you’re wondering, here’s how to portion your bread properly.