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Page 176 of 212

HEALTHY POTATOES Fermented Potatoes Show Promise for Health Benefits Words by Kathleen Mills In 2002, food chemistry journals were abuzz with news that some baked and fried foods contained the chemical, acrylamide. Widely recognized as a potential carcinogen and neurotoxin, manufacturers used acrylamide to create plastics. It was never, however, used in the production, preparation, or preservation of food. How then had a variety of foods --cookies, cake, bread, toasted nuts, potato chips, French fries, baked beans, asparagus, and more-- become infected with acrylamide? Chemists around the globe raced to their laboratories. Within a short time, the universal conclusion was that acrylamide was created during the cooking process. Dark brown bread crust or toast, the result of the Maillard Reaction (the natural browning of foods as ancient as fire) led to a discovery. Two culprits, asparagine, an amino acid, and reducing sugars, such as glucose and fructose were shown to react in high-heat conditions when baked or fried. The result: Acrylamide. Shock waves swept through the food industry, restaurants, and home kitchens. Beloved crispy hash browns, golden-brown toast, and Boston baked beans were suddenly viewed as potential toxins. The next research wave focused on how best to neutralize the amino acid, asparagine. Exotic extracts were created: bamboo and mushroom protein, fruit polyphenol, penicillium, and aspergillus. All failed. The stakes were high, climbing with each failure. A successful patent was worth billions of dollars.

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