Your Parents Lied: Bread Crust Isn't Healthier Than the Rest of the Slice

Call your parents right now: An opportunity to prove them wrong like this only comes around once a decade. It turns out bread crust isn't any healthier than the rest of the slice.

If you have no idea what we're talking about here, it's a belief widely held around kitchen tables that children ought to eat their crust because that's where the nutrients are. But CNN recently asked Wesley Delbridge, a registered dietitian nutritionist and media spokesman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, whether leaving the crust on makes a difference. He replied in the negative.

"I would say the answer is not necessarily," he said. "If you ask parents, a large percentage will say the bread crust is healthier... but it's a pretty common myth."

It turns out the main nutritional difference between the crust and the rest is the presence of a compound called pronyl-lysine -- an antioxidant thought to fight cancer. But that antioxidant is more or less canceled out by the carcinogen acrylamide, which can occur as the crust is being formed.

Both the antioxidant and the carcinogen come from the Maillard reaction, a product of the high heat applied to the crust while baking. To be clear though, this doesn't mean bread crust is actively giving you cancer. It just means the scientific community's verdict on the matter is mixed.

"Within the bread crust, there are cancer promoters and cancer fighters," Delbridge told CNN. "It's like there's a battle going on. Who is winning the battle? I'm not sure. But anything happening or reacting is completely marginal." 

Ultimately, if you're a parent and looking to maximize the health benefits of that PB & J, buy whole grain/multi-grain and let your kids express themselves through their crust preference. And if you don't want to just throw it out, maybe encourage them to creatively use the crusts as a fake mustache or something. 

h/t CNN, Food Beast

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James Chrisman is a News Writer at Thrillist. Send news tips to and follow him on Twitter @james_chrisman2.