A recent campaign from the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) issued a warning about eating starchy foods, such as potatoes, bread, pasta, rice and cereals, that are too brown or crispy. Basically anything that has been toasted, roasted, baked, fried or grilled at high temperatures for a long period is not good for you! I wanted to know why I was told I should no longer enjoy having crispy roast potatoes or browned toast, when there are probably a lot more dangerous health hazards I should be worried about.
The chemical reaction that occurs when we cook our food is called the Maillard Reaction; named after the scientist that first described this reaction in 1912. As we cook or heat our food, the aroma and colour change, or browning, of the food is due to some of the Maillard reaction products (MRP).
The MRP also have beneficial effects on our health included antioxidants, that help prevent damage to cells, and bactericidal, preventing the growth of bacteria.
Unfortunately, the MRP can lead to the production of acrylamide. Acrylamide is a known carcinogen, which means that exposure to this chemical can lead and contribute to an increased risk to cancer.
The FSA's slogan “Go for Gold” tell us what we should aim for. So instead of roasting your potatoes etc. until they are crispy and browned, go for a light gold colour. After all, it is the colour of champions! But if that’s the only way you will have them, enjoy them in moderation.