View Full Version : Nutritional Value of Bread Crust

Hungry Boy
04-09-2000, 02:52 PM
As I was making my five-year-old's lunch, I was informed that I was no longer required to disect his sandwiches into six equal seeming portions or to reconstruct it into something that approximated a weather-beaten sailboat. "Now that I eat crusts," he informed me, "I want it in one big piece." When I asked about the onset of his crust-eating proclivities, he told me that his change of diet was brought on by a kindergarten discussion concerning the nutritional value of bread crust. At that, I remembered my own mother telling me: "That's where all the vitamins are." My pride turned quickly to confusion when I thought about the veracity of this statement.

How could the crust have more vitamins, nutrients, or anything than the insides of the bread, if it's all made of the same stuff?

PS If this crust thing does turn out to be a hoax, I promise not to tell the kiddies.

04-09-2000, 02:54 PM
Well, yeah. Just look at it. The crust is brown and hard(er than the rest), and the inside is white and soft. It HAS to have the nutrients!

I sold my soul to Satan for a dollar. I got it in the mail.

04-09-2000, 03:48 PM
There are health-food nuts who will tell you never to eat the crust. It's supposed to be "carmelized", which is to say there was a chemical reaction between the sugars and proteins that makes it dangerous to eat. Don't ask me what's so dangerous about that. I eat carmel all the time, but the only health problem I've had is that I don't have any teeth left.

04-09-2000, 04:42 PM
Speaking as a bread-baker:

The nutritional value of the crust is exactly the same as the inside of the loaf. However, people have been telling kids for generations, "Eat the crust, it'll make your hair curly."

I have no idea why.

People have been eating caramel for generations, with no negative results other than holes in your teeth. AFAIK, caramelization is just a simple carbonizing process--the sugar gets hot enough that some of the sugar molecules turn to carbon. The longer you cook it, the darker (i.e. more carbonized) it gets. If you cook it long enough, it gets totally black, i.e. 100% carbon, and you have to throw away the pot. I don't think it has anything to do with proteins--sugar doesn't have any protein, it's just "sugar", sucrose or whatever.

Maybe those health food people are talking about something else, some other food substance? Then again, maybe they're just looking for yet another, superficially plausible reason to keep people from eating sugar.

"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast!" - the White Queen

Green Bean
04-09-2000, 04:57 PM
I don't know if you were being facetious, or not, Surgoshan, but I'll bet that there is a lot of truth in what you said.

Maybe the idea that the crusts have more nutrients comes from the idea (fact?) that fruit and vegetable peels have more vitamins. In other words, people could have applied the fruit/vegetable standard to bread.

A third theory is that parents made that up to keep the kids from wasting bread.

Now you have me all curious...

04-09-2000, 05:21 PM
Actually, now that I sit here and think about it, I do have a theory as to why people urge children to eat the crust, and think of powerful reasons why ("it'll make your hair curly", "that's where the vitamins are")

Waste not, want not.
Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.
A penny saved is a penny earned.

In other words, in earlier, more thrifty eras, in less prosperous times, food was never wasted. Bread baked in an old-fashioned oven, the kind where you build a fire to heat it and then rake the burning coals out and then put in the loaves of bread, can sometimes be rather nasty on the outside, what with ashes and stuff. So children had to be encouraged to eat the outside parts, because "we don't waste food". Rural families could of course put the inedible bread crusts in the pig's bucket, but suburban families didn't have that option. The children of the urban poor, too, I should imagine, would have been strongly urged not to waste food, and if it was stale or moldy bread, they'd have to have a powerful incentive, such as "that's the most nutritious part".

So maybe now all we remember is "eat the crusts", but we don't remember why.

"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast!" - the White Queen

04-09-2000, 10:32 PM
In speaking of a combination of protein and sugar, I was referring to the Maillard reaction, which I didn't realize is not the same as true caramelization. In either case, the result is similar. True caramelization occurs at higher temperatures and involves sugar alone. Both processes are important in explaining why bread crusts are brown.

04-09-2000, 11:53 PM
I agree with what was said above. Whether you're making toast or baking bread, the brown color comes from the same source: glucose molecules binding to proteins. It's neither harmful nor beneficial. The health food nuts are, in a word, nuts. :D


A lovely little thinker but a bugger when he's pissed.

04-10-2000, 01:18 AM
WAG Alert!

If anything, I would think that the crust would be less nutritious. That is, if you are counting vitamins. Any vitamins on the surface of the bread are going to be exposed to two things: heat and oxygen. This combination would tend to oxidize the vitamins, thereby turning them into... well... not vitamins.

Things are random only insofar as we donít understand them.

Nu Vo Da Da
04-10-2000, 02:18 AM
I can't see the whole thing as being anything other than an attempt to get kids to eat their bread crusts. (Think about it, even if the strong practical reasons to eat them(lack of food) aren't there any more, it's still easier to have a kid that eats the crusts rather than cutting them off....)

And on a side note, what my parents did was always act happy when I didn't eat the crusts on my bread-they then proceeded to eat them themselves, claiming they were the best part. I'm pretty sure they wanted me to believe them on that and eat the things myself, didn't work though(I was just too nice as a kid to deny them something they so obviously liked :D )