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Have you had your 2 serves of fish this week?

10 Apr

Hello everyone ūüôā

I’m back! Hope you all are well.

Today, I’m going to update you about fish. no- not about the fish that I have in the tank. but the fish that was on my dinner table tonight.


This post will be based on a Melbourne study, published in the Dietitians Association of Australia’s journal of Nutrient & Dietetics.¬†see reference for the article.

The study compared two groups. one group simply ate two x 150g fresh salmon per week, and the other group took 2 fish oil capsules 6 days a week. Both group did it for 12 weeks. Both group also had wash out period, meaning they went back to their usual diet (no supplementation) before swapping across to the other treatment for a further 12 weeks.

This study’s paricipants were 11 patients with existing heart disease, and mostly working-age males with no smoking history and a moderate alcohol intake.

The researcher, Catherine Itsiopoulos concluded that fresh fish intake may have extra heart health benefits over fish oil capsules for people with heart disease. This may occur because fresh fish does not only provide us with omega-3 fats but also other nutrients like taurine and selenium. Also, by including 2x fresh fish in our weekly food intake, it reduces the chances of having less healthy foods.

Including 2 serves of fish in a week is in line with our Australian Healthy Eating Guidelines. I always recommend my clients to have at least 2 nights of fish, 2 nights of lean red meat and 1 night of vegetarian dish in their weekly diet. By doing that, it help in balancing our diet. There is no need to avoid one particular food (except if you’re allergic or intolerant to it) because every food has different characteristic that provides unique health benefit. Also, if you can’t fit in fresh fish, you can try having tinned fish (tuna, salmon, sardines) in your sandwich for lunch. Again, increases your omega 3 intake and reduces the chances of choosing less healthy foods (bacon/sausages/ham in your sandwich). I’m not saying that you can’t have them, however try to alternate your lean ham/grilled chicken sandwich with tuna sandwich. It’s about balance!

Oh my gosh, I can keep talking and talking about this all day.

Anyway, that was my update for the day. I hope you find it interesting!

Take care ūüôā



Australian guidelines recommend healthy adults eat 500mg/day long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCn3PUFA), and for people with heart disease, this rises to 1,000mg/day. But the last National Nutrition Survey suggests Australians do not meet the recommended intake, with an average intake of 246mg/day.

Brazionis L, Ting E, Itsiopoulos C, Wilson A, Hodge A. The effects of fish or fish oil on the omega-3 index. Nutr Diet 2012;69:5-12.

Wiley Press Release. 2014.


how toxic is Gillespie’s new book- Toxic Oil?

6 Mar

Hi everyone!

Hope you’re doing well.

Today, I want to share with you my take on David Gillespie’s new book: Toxic Oil, which was recently published in Australia.

Gillespie is a corporate lawyer turned into an author ( His first book is Sweet Poison Why Sugar Makes Us Fat.


It has brought so much controversy as he is neither a dietitian/nutritionist nor a health professional nevertheless saying that sugar is poisonous. (and i’m thinking- where did all these come from!)

Today, we won’t be talking about his first book but his latest one- Toxic Oil: Why vegetable oil will kill you and how to save yourself.

Toxic Oil

Before we start, I just want to make myself clear that I am just lining out the position statement on this book by Heart Foundation, released in February 2013. I have no interest or association with anyone or any food industry. I am here, as a dietitian, to reach out and inform the evidence surrounding this book. Why did I do it? Just because it is my interest to get the right message out to consumers and public. Because it bothers me that someone can publish a book based on theory which is against the national guideline, against the scientific evidence.

This is what the description of the book- from Itunes Books:

Everything you believe about fat is wrong.

Polyunsaturated oil ‚Äď everyone knows it’s good for you, right? Wrong! And we all know artery-clogging, cholesterol-forming saturated fat is bad for you, don’t we? Wrong again! In his previous book¬†Big Fat Lies, David Gillespie showed that these ‘truths’ are in fact myths, based on poor research and bad evidence.

‘Vegetable oil’, which isn’t made from vegetables at all, but manufactured from seeds, has systematically replaced saturated fats in our diets over the past one hundred years, but our rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer are higher than ever.

There have been many studies done in the past. All chronic diseases, including heart disease, are not caused by only one particular thing. There are always a few factors affecting heart disease in an individual. Take Mr.A- he is a successful businessman, a smoker, exercise everyday, eat quite healthily with occasional junk food. Can he have a heart disease? Maybe. And if he did have a heart disease, could we really pinpoint the cause? Is it the smoking? Is it the occasional junk food? or is it the stress? or perhaps the combination of everything? It’s really complex and it’s difficult to determine a single cause.

Literatures show that replacing saturated fat in your diet with unsaturated fat, in particular polyunsaturated fat, reduce your heart disease risk. This is in contrary to what Gillespie says in his book. The Heart Foundation believes that the claim in his book is dangerous, misleading and wrong (quoted from the position statement by Heart Foundation). If you follow such advice, it could lead to the rapid development of serious health conditions.

This position statement regarding unsaturated fats and heart disease risk is not only by Heart Foundation, but also by the worlds leading health organizations, such as World Health Organisation, British Heart Foundation and American Heart Association. On national level, this is supported by Dietitians Association of Australia and National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC- contributor of our Australian Guide to Healthy Eating).

So, now you see what I meant- how could a lawyer give such advice- not to mention advice against world leading health organization?

The Heart Foundation, like other health organizations, is committed to helping Australians lead a healthy lifestyle by recommending advice based on good quality, strong scientific evidence and is continually reviewing the evidence.

To cut the story short- everyone,¬†don’t be afraid of healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats).¬†

Image from

Evidence shows that omega-6 polyunsaturated fats reduce your bad or LDL cholesterol and increase the good HDL cholesterol, which helps to lower the risk of heart disease.

and what about saturated fats? until this date, the literatures still strongly stand that¬†saturated fats and trans fat are unhealthy fats.¬†too much of it increases cholesterol and over the time causes the build up of fatty material on the inside of your blood vessels. These material blocks the blood flowing through the blood vessels and is a major cause of heart disease (stroke or heart attack). If you can imagine, you’re watering the garden with your water hose. If we are being slack and say- there is soil and dirt built up on the inside of the water hose, over the time the water flow is reduced and eventually blocked completely. no water coming out of the other side of the water hose=no blood flow which means no oxygen to the heart and brain thus stroke or heart attack occur.

Image from

the last thing I want to talk about is margarine. there is a claim that margarine and some oils are unhealthy because they undergo industrial process and have trans fats.

this was true a gazillion years ago. margarine in history (this was years and years and years ago) did contain trans fat due to the hydrogenation process (converting oil to a solid spreadable margarine).

However, Australian margarine nowadays are made from locally grown polyunsaturated and monounsaturated plant seed oils, water, milk and salt to taste. The most important thing is hydrogenation is no longer used in margarines and polyunsaturated oils on the supermarket shelf contain negligible trans fats. 

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If you see preservatives on the label- it is often citric acid or lemon juice and is put to keep the spread tasting fresh. And what about carotenoids? it is there for colour.

I hope I’m not confusing anybody here! What you have to remember from this rather-long-post are:

  1. there is no reason to be scared of polyunsaturated oils.¬†use them wisely, i’m not saying that you should drizzle generously, but there is absolutely no harm in using polyunsaturated oils.
  2. saturated fats and trans fats are unhealthy fats. they can be found in butter, processed foods, junk foods, biscuits and cookies, etc. we should minimize them in our diet. 
  3. Australian margarines contains almost no trans fat.¬†if there is, it would be¬†negligible and we shouldn’t need to worry!
  4. I would never recommend anyone to buy this book. waste of money for incorrect information. head over to a trustworthy website such as Heart Foundation website, DAA website, etc. even better, find an Accredited Practising Dietitian near you, if you need help! we are here to help!
  5. pass this message to your friends and family! we want everyone to get the right, evidence-based information. 

If you need more information on Heart Foundation’s statement on Gillespie’s book Toxic Oil, please click Heart Foundation statement – Toxic Oil – David Gillespie Feb 2013 (1)¬†for the complete statement.

For more information about the Heart Foundation position on healthier fats, click here.

For more information about the Heart Foundation position on saturated fats, click here.

For more information about the Heart Foundation position on sugar, click here.

If you want to know what Paula Goodyer of Sydney Morning Herald has to say about Gillespie’s¬†Toxic Oil,¬†click here. I was really glad when she stated “I’m inclined to take dietary advice from respected nutritionists, rather than lawyers.”


Heart Foundation. 2013. Heart foundation response to claims in David Gillespie’s Toxic Oil.¬†

Images of Gillespie’s Toxic Oil book and its description are from iTunes- Books website¬†

Image of Gillespie’s Sweet Poison book is from iTunes- Books website¬†

Disclaimer: this post is intended only for education and is based on Heart Foundation’s statement which you can find on the references or Heart Foundation website. I am not associated with any industry or organization. and I did not receive any monetary reimbursement for this post.¬†

white chocolate oh white chocolate. you’re not as chocolate as I would like you to be.

9 Apr

this is a super-random post ūüėõ

but don’t worry because I’m sure you’ll learn something after you read this post ūüôā

White chocolate is technically not considered as chocolate.

It is not recognized as chocolate by FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) because of its composition. White chocolate is made of sugar, cocoa butter, milk, natural flavour, lecithin and vanillin.

Interestingly, if the white chocolate doesn’t contain cocoa butter, it will be called white coating or¬†confectionery¬†coating.


BROWN, A. 2004. Understanding Food Principles and Preparation, Thomson Wadsworth.

why are cookies not soft like cakes?

19 Mar

Shout out to all cookies and cakes eaters :p

Have you ever wondered why cookies are not soft like cakes? or.. why cookies are crunchy and crispy?


Cookies are crunchy and crispy because there is no (or little, if any) starch gelatinization or gluten formation. Cookies contains high concentration of sugar and fat which stop the gluten formation. Also, there is not enough water available for the gluten to develop in cookies.

Furthermore, since there is not enough water for the sugar to dissolve, the sugar is then responsible to the cookies’ shiny and glossy appearance.

Hooray to cookies!


BROWN, A. 2004. Understanding Food Principles and Preparation, Thomson Wadsworth.

what is cream of tartar doing in angel food cakes?

8 Mar

Hey everyone!

Have you had an angel food cake before?

Angel food cake is a cake made of egg white, sugar and flour. The egg whites are beaten until stiff foam is formed. Sugar is added not only for the sweetness of the cake but also to stabilize the foam by incorporating air into the mixture. Nonetheless, adding too much sugar could cause the cake to collapse.

In order to get the optimal tender texture of the cake (fine grain, light spongy texture and high volume), the ingredients must be at room-temperature. The egg white must be beaten in a non-greasy and dry mixing bowl (metal bowl is preferred).

Cream of tartar is routinely added to an angel food cake. Cream of tartar is an acid which strengthens the egg white foam.

It strengthens the foam by denaturing the protein in egg white and therefore stabilizing the air cell structure.

The acidic nature of cream of tartar also contribute to the softness and white colour in the angel food cake by whitening the flour’s natural yellowish, anthoxanthin pigments.


BROWN, A. 2004. Understanding Food Principles and Preparation, Thomson Wadsworth.

why is sourdough bread ‘sour’

8 Mar

hey everyone ūüôā

does anyone know why sourdough bread is sour? or what makes it different to regular bread?

In addition to yeast (Saccharomyces), sourdough bread also uses¬†Lactobacillus plantarum which results in a pleasantly sour taste. The lactic acid (formed by Lactobacillus plantarum)¬†also lower the pH (in other word- makes it more acidic), which inhibits the amylase enzyme in the flour from breaking down starch into the sweeter-tasting maltose. That’s why it is less sweet ūüôā


BROWN, A. 2004. Understanding Food Principles and Preparation, Thomson Wadsworth.

Brewer’s yeast vs. Baker’s yeast vs. Nutritional yeast. are they different?

8 Mar

Another random post hit ;p

Are brewer’s, baker’s, nutritional yeast different?

Yes, they are different!

Brewer’s yeast is a brewery-by-product, which is made from the pulverized (ground to very small particles) cells of¬†Saccharomyces cerevisiae (yeast) and dried at high temperatures. Brewer’s yeast do not contribute to leavening because the yeast had been killed.

It is bitter in taste and normally used as a nutrient supplement as it is a source of B-complex vitamins, amino acids, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, chromium, and other nutrients.

On the other hand, baker’s yeast is dried at low temperatures so the yeast are not killed. It is used for leavening bread and other baked goods. The yeast species vary from¬†Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Candida milleri¬†to¬†Lactobacillus sanfrancisco (which is normally for sourdough breads).

And what about nutritional yeast? It is yeast which specifically grown for supplement. The form could be in powder or flake. It is sweet, nutty and cheesy because it is grown on a molasses solution (concentrated extracted juices of sugar cane and/or sugar beets). Nutritional yeast is close to brewer’s yeast, as it is also dried at high temperature, resulting in inactive yeast. It also has similar nutrient profile to brewer’s yeast, however more than 3tbsp/day may raise uric acid levels.

Australian Vegemite is a concentrated yeast extract. I couldn’t find anywhere on its website if it’s brewer’s or nutritional yeast. Vegemite contains rich sources of thiamine, 25% RDI of riboflavin and niacin, 50%RDI of folate. It is suitable for vegetarian and kosher. It is also halal-certified. For further information, you could check out Kraft Vegemite website.


BROWN, A. 2004. Understanding Food Principles and Preparation, Thomson Wadsworth.

why don’t some popcorn kernels pop?

8 Mar


this is just a random post. random and interesting.

and hopefully you’ll learn something from this.

so. why don’t some popcorn kernels pop?

This happens because those kernels contain leaks or hollows that allow the steam (during popping time) to escape.

Is there anything we can do to stop this?

Yes! You could store the popcorn kernels in an airtight container (and refrigerate, if you’re in warmer country). It can reduce the number of UPK’s (Unpopped Popcorn Kernels)!

Popcorn Kernels - free high resolution photo


BROWN, A. 2004. Understanding Food Principles and Preparation, Thomson Wadsworth.

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