Pecan vs Walnut

Pecan VS Walnut Differences Explained

Pecan versus walnut, which to choose? Pecans and Walnuts are from the same Hickory fruit family and thus often mistaken for each other. Pecans are more popular, probably because they are generally cheaper, sweeter, and smaller. In some ways walnuts are more nutritious, but they’re bitterer and less versatile. Here’s how these two nuts compare in calories, nutrients, taste, and origin:

Pecan VS Walnut Taste

Pecans have a rich, creamy flavour whilst walnuts taste fruity, with a bitter edge. Both are usually cooked (toasted or roasted) before sale to reduce bitterness, kill fungus, and enhance their natural nutty flavours. The milder taste of pecans makes them ideal for sweet desserts, whilst walnuts do better in muesli and savoury dishes. Both walnuts and pecans taste less bitter when their brown skin is removed. A recent poll in Box Hill North, Melbourne found that most people prefer the taste of pecans over walnuts.

Benutzung eines Nussknackers

Pecan VS Walnut Nutrition and Calories

Pecans and walnuts have a similar amount of calories. Depending on the way each has been processed, any given batch of walnuts might have a higher calorie count than an equivalent batch of pecans, and vice-versa. The difference depends on water content (the drier the nut, the more calories by weight it has). For the most popular types of walnut and pecan sold in Australia, pecans have 712 calories (2980kJ) per 100g, whilst walnuts have 717 calories (3000kJ).

Of course, being nuts (or more correctly nut-like stone fruit seeds), both walnuts and pecans are high calorie foods. You can read about why that is so here, in our post about cashew nuts. In a nutshell, they contain lots of oil/fat.

Protein is the Difference

Walnuts have 50% more protein than pecans (15g/100g compared to 10g/100g). Pecans on the other hand have less saturated fat (5g/100g) than walnuts (7g/100g). Both walnuts and pecans contain a massive 72 grams of fat in total per 100 grams. Pecans have more sugar (4g compared to 2g), perhaps explaining why they are sweeter.

Micronutrient Dense

Both Pecans and walnuts are packed with micronutrients, especially B vitamins and magnesium, zinc, copper, phosphorous, and iron. Walnuts tend to have more than twice the folate and Vitamin B6 than pecans, whilst the reverse is true in the case of Vitamin A and E. In either case, 100 grams covers just about the entire daily recommended dosage of B vitamins and magnesium, copper, and zinc.

They both also contain phytochemicals like polyphenols which may have health benefits like cancer prevention. It is a good idea to include phytochemical-rich foods in the diet, in moderation. Whilst there are many benefits to eating them, too-high concentrations of specific compounds may interfere with hormonal balance.

Pecan compared to Walnut

Pecan VS Walnut Colour and Appearance

Whole walnuts are generally bigger than pecans. They’re also rounder, paler, and shaped more like a brain. Overall, walnuts appear wilder, with fractal protuberances on the surface. Pecans have a distinct straight ridge running down their middle.  Even though they look quite different in raw form, pecans and walnuts are often confused for each other when chopped up in a salad or baked in a pastry. When shelled, both have a bumpy surface covered in a smooth, thin brown skin which can be peeled off. Pecan skins are usually of a darker hue than walnuts.

pecan and walnut tree

Pecan VS Walnut Tree

Pecans and walnuts are the inner parts of the seed of different varieties of Hickory fruits. This means that neither walnuts nor pecans are true botanical nuts, even though some experts choose to disagree. To the layperson, pecan and walnut Hickory trees are virtually identical until they start producing fruit. Both grow to a height of about 40 metres and lose their leaves in autumn.

Technically, both walnut and pecan husks develop from the bracts and bracteoles, but walnut husks also grow from the sepals, or sometimes the sepals only. Enough to say that you’d have to be a botanist to figure out the exact differences between the two trees.

Pecans VS Walnuts in Baking

Given their similar origin, fat and water content, and nutritional profile, it is perfectly safe to substitute pecans for walnuts and vice versa in any recipe. Walnuts, being less sweet, may require slightly more sweetener. Their higher protein content may make for a chewier bake than a pecan variant. Walnuts are also bitterer, hence the vastly greater popularity of pecan in baked goods compared to walnut pie. Walnuts tend to be folded into breads or dispersed throughout cake or muffin batter, rather than concentrated in pie filling or tart topping in the the way pecans are.


The choice between pecans and walnuts comes down to two things: personal taste and protein. If you are keen to get as much protein as you can from the nut component of your diet, chose walnuts. Otherwise, choose whichever tickles your tastebuds more. Either way, you will be eating a high-calorie, nutritious, Hickory fruit seed packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.

Freemans Organic Farm

Calories in Freemans Organic Farm Produce

Freemans Organic Farm, located in Queensland’s Currumbin Valley deep in the Gold Coast Hinterland is nothing short of a national treasure. The farm has been growing some of the finest fruit and vegetables in the country for generations (since 1915 in fact!).

Organic produce, unlike the regular type, is produced according to certified standards of practice involving the cycling of resources, promoting ecological balance, and conserving biodiversity. In Australia, the NASAA standards apply.

All well and good, but what sort of calorie counts do organic fruit and veg of the type produced by the Freeman’s have? After calculating your calorie deficit, you will want to know how much of this good stuff you can eat per day. Use the calcount Food Search Box or take a quick look at this table:

ProduceCalories per 100 grams
Bananas – New Guinea Cavendish92 Calories (385kJ)
Bananas – Lady Fingers113 Calories (474kJ)
Avocados207 Calories (867kJ)
Kale26 Calories (109kJ)
Carrots31 Calories (133kJ)
Capsicums21 Calories (92kJ)
Sweet potato70 Calories (297kJ)
Mandarins45 Calories (191kJ)
Onions – Brown28 Calories (120kJ)
Broccoli31 Calories (131kJ)
Zucchini 14 Calories (61kJ)
Silverbeet17 Calories (72kJ)
Tomatoes17 Calories (73kJ)
Beans31 Calories (130kJ)
Squash26 Calories (110kJ)
Eggplant21 Calories (89kJ)
Paw Paw / Papaya33 Calories (142kJ)
Pumpkin44 Calories (186kJ)
Click the Food Name to see Nutrition Facts

As expected, the calcount database holds that organic fruit and vegetables are low in calories and nutrient rich. One expects that the depth of micro-nutrients found in organically grown produce exceeds that of “regular” produce. In the case of Freeman’s farm, the highly arable volcanic soil undoubtedly transfers a plethora of minerals into the product of their sustainable labour.

The next time you are up Tomewin Mountain Road, why not stop over at this magnificent 25 acre organic farm and sample some of the produce? The crew at Freemans Organic Farm have been conducting guided tours and manning their stall for years. Head on over to their website for more information!

Overcooked Bacon

Overcooked Bacon, don’t Toss it Out!

Overcooked bacon might not be appetising, but there’s an overwhelmingly good reason you should prefer it to perfectly done bacon. And don’t be put off by its appearance, there are ways to make it look and taste better.

Bacon Calories

There’s no way to sugar-coat it (although sugar-coated bacon is a thing): bacon is a staggeringly high-calorie food. One single 28 gram rasher of untrimmed raw middle bacon contains a heart-stopping 87 calories! That’s one reason why a burger with bacon packs way more calories than one without. In our view, anything you can do to reduce the calories in bacon (assuming you cannot resist eating it) is a good thing!

Raw Bacon has more fat

Cooked Bacon has Fewer Calories

So things can get confusing when you look at nutrition data for cooked and uncooked versions of the same food. On a weight-for weight basis, cooked bacon has far more calories than uncooked bacon. 100 grams of cooked bacon has 432 calories, whilst 100 grams of raw bacon has “just” 312. This is true, however for practical purposes misleading. Since most people do not eat raw bacon, we need to compare calorie values for cooked versus uncooked weight. Bacon loses 60% of its weight when “cooked to perfection”, so the 100 gram raw bacon (312kcal) becomes 40 grams of cooked bacon worth 172 calories!

cooking renders fat

In the example of a single 28 gram (raw weight) rasher, the calorie count drops from 87 calories to 48 calories in an 11 gram cooked rasher. The cooked bacon has lost water and oil through the cooking process, making it more concentrated nutritionally, but with fewer calories overall thanks to the reduced fat content.

Raw bacon is 60% heavier

Overcooked bacon has even Fewer Calories!

The more you cook bacon, the more fat is rendered, until you are left with nothing but the bits that don’t melt. If you cook it really slowly, the bacon will not burn to an inedible crisp of carbon, even if by most accounts it will be overcooked. That is the one overwhelmingly good reason to prefer overcooked bacon to the normal version. Each gram of lost weight through cooking results in a calorie lessening at the rate of more than 2 per gram. There’s probably a loss curve with diminishing returns, but you get the point.

Just remember that the calories have not disappeared, they are simply in the pan grease. Make your cooked bacon even less calorific by blotting it with a paper towel before tucking in!

2 calories per gram

Overcooked Bacon is Better

Overcooked bacon does not have to be tossed out. Unless it is properly burned to an acrid crunch, you will enjoy the extra crispiness and it is not in any way “bad” for you. There is some research which indicates that any sort of charred meat should be eaten sparingly, but the jury is still out. Best of all, you can crush it to make “bacon bits” which infuse anything with that distinctive bacon flavour and aroma.

Calories in Cream

What is Double Cream?

What is double cream? Here’s your answer:

Cream is Fatty Milk

In the past, cream was “made” by skimming the top off milk which had been allowed to settle. Since unhomogenised milk is an imperfect emulsion of water and oil, much of the fat separates and, being less dense, rises to the surface. This top layer of fat/oil mixed with other milk solids and water is what we call “cream”. Hence, the expression “the cream always rises to the top”.

Cream comes from Milk

Today, dairy processors make cream by combining standardised amounts of dairy fat with standardised ratios of pasteurised, homogenised milk. The amount of fat in the cream determines its type.

Manufacturers make sour cream, crème fraiche, and other such tangy cream products by adding lactic acid to different types of cream.

Not Thickened Cream

Thickened cream is made from milk and thickeners, food stabilisers and emulsifiers. The “thickness” in thickened cream comes from the food additives, more than the fat. Double cream’s thickness comes from the extra dairy fat (a.k.a. butter) in it.

In Australia, thickened cream may contain between 18% to 36.5% fat, compared to double cream which must have a minimum of 48% fat. The heavier Australian double creams can contain up to 60% fat. Make your own at home by simply mixing melted butter into regular cream.

Double Cream Yoghurt has no Double Cream

“Double Cream” has recently become the go-to marketing phrase for manufacturers who want to level-up the perceived decadent indulgence of their products. We thus have double cream Greek yoghurts, soft cheeses and ice-creams.

In most cases, the name is not being used to indicate its use as an ingredient, it is just marketing. The products are not necessarily made with the eponymous ingredient, but they do have a significantly higher fat content than the “regular fat” products.

Use the calcount Food Search Box to find examples and compare brands.

What is Double Cream

What use is Double Cream?

Whipped toppings, coffee whitening, desserts, and creamy curries are some of the things you can use double cream for. It is exactly like normal cream, only more so. Richer, heavier, fatter, and much more calorific. It has many, many more calories. Refer to our helpful infographic comparing creams to see just how chest-tighteningly energy-dense it is:

Cream Calories Compared

Calories in Pizza Hut

Calories in 28 Pizza Hut Pizzas (with pictures)

Here, we riffle through the Pizza Hut menu to find out how many calories there are in their large pizzas. You might have read our post on calories in generic pizza by the slice and wondered how Pizza Hut compares. Well, read on to find out!

Pizza Hut was born in a Hut

It is called Pizza Hut because the very first Pizza Hut was established by two Uni-student brothers in 1958, in a small cottage-like “hut” located in Wichita Kansas, USA. Whilst it has gone through a rocky patch over here in Australia, Pizza Hut is still the world’s largest pizza chain by number of locations.

Pizza Hut first location

Calories in Pizza Hut Pizzas

Any way you slice it, pizza is a high-calorie food. You cannot expect anything less than lots of calories when you combine lots of dense bread with lots of processed cheese. Pizza from big pizza-chains is also notoriously high in sodium. To make matters worse, chains like Pizza Hut offer endless “extras” like “stuffed crusts”, extra cheese, extra meat, the addition of which quickly transforms a reasonable meal into a calorific monster.

That said, there is nothing wrong with enjoying pizza from Pizza Hut on occasion. Read this list of Pizza Hut large pizzas, ranked from lowest calories to highest, so that you make an informed choice the next time you order online. Note that these are the regular large pizza options, not including any extras. The full pizza values are given, so divide by eight or use our Food Search Box to get nutrition information by the slice or gram:

Pizza Hut Vegan Margherita Pizza

Pizza Hut Vegan Margherita Pizza

One light and breezy Vegan Margherita pizza contains 6009 kilojoules, equal to 1436 calories. The whole pizza has 67 grams of protein and 39 grams of fat.

Pizza Hut Vegan Deluxe Pizza

The Vegan Deluxe from Pizza Hut has 6091kJ, or 1456 calories including 68g protein and 39g fat.

Calories in Pizza Hut Vegan Cheese Lovers Pizza

A full Vegan Cheese Lovers pizza totals 6203 kilojoules/1483 calories, with 66g protein and 45g fat. Pizza Hut uses “cheese” made from soy for this pizza, which allows it to have 40% less calories than the original Cheese Lovers pizza (look further down this list to see the original).

Pizza Hut Vegan Mediterranean Pizza

Pizza Hut’s Vegan Mediterranean pizza has 6308kJ, equivalent to 1508 calories, with 68g protein and 47g fat.

Pizza Hut Margherita Pizza

The least calorific non-vegan pizza sold by Pizza Hut is the Margherita, with 6793kJ (1624 calories) and 91g protein and 51g fat.

Pizza Hut Americano Pizza

Americano pizzas have 7088 kilojoules, or 1694 calories each. A whole Americano has 94g protein and 61g fat.

Calories in Pizza Hut Hot And Spicy Veg Pizza

With 7218 kilojoules, or 1725 calories per pizza, the Hot and Spicy Veg from Pizza Hut is one of their least calorific. Each pizza contains 92g protein and 59g fat.

Pizza Hut Ham Lovers Pizza

Pizza Hut Ham Lovers pizza has 7256kJ, or 1734 calories per pizza, along with 106g protein and 59g fat.

Pizza Hut Garlic Prawn Pizza

The Garlic Prawn Pizza contains 7308 kilojoules, equal to 1747 calories, and 108g protein with 57g fat.

Pizza Hut Hawaiian Pizza

One whole Hawaiian pizza has 7391kJ/1766b calories, with 102g protein and 58g fat.

Pizza Hut Surf and Turf Pizza

A single large Surf and Turf pizza contains 7388 kilojoules, which is equal to  1766 calories. It also has 114g protein and 57 grams of fat.

Pizza Hut Chicken Supreme Pizza

The Chicken Supreme pizza has 7468 kilojoules, or 1785 calories and 109 grams protein with 59g fat.

Calories in Pizza Hut Epic Pepperoni Pizza

A full Epic Pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut has 7535kJ, 1801 calories, and 98g protein with 72g fat.

Pizza Hut BBQ Chicken Pizza

One BBQ Chicken pizza has 7587 kilojoules, or 1813 calories, and 75 grams of protein with 64 grams of fat.

Pizza Hut BBQ Beef Pizza

Pizza Hut’s BBQ Beef pizza contains 7607 kilojoules, equal to 1818 calories, with 71g protein and 72g fat.

Pizza Hut Creamy Chicken & Bacon Pizza

The Creamy Chicken and Bacon pizza has 7628kJ, 1823 calories and includes 90g protein with 80g fat.

Pizza Hut Hot And Spicy Chicken Pizza

A large Hot and Spicy Chicken pizza contains 7676kJ, or 1835 calories, with 108 grams protein and 64g fat.

Pizza Hut Super Supreme Pizza

One of Pizza Hut’s Super Supreme pizzas is worth 7990kJ (1909 calories), 111g protein, and 74g fat.

Pizza Hut Smoky Chicken And Bacon Pizza

The Smoky Chicken and Bacon pizza has 8145 kilojoules, or 1947 calories, including 116 grams of protein and 72 grams of fat.

Calories in Pizza Hut Pepperoni Pizza

Calories in Pizza Hut Pepperoni Lovers Pizza

Pizza Hut’s Pepperoni Lovers pizza contains 8153kJ, 1949 calories and 104g protein with 86g fat.

Pizza Hut Ultimate Hot & Spicy Pizza

One Ultimate Hot and Spicy pizza has 8205kJ, equivalent to 1961 calories. The pizza contains 108 grams of protein and 80 grams of fat.

Pizza Hut BBQ Meatlovers Pizza

The BBQ Meatlovers pizza packs 8411 kilojoules (equal to 2010 calories), 82g protein and 89g fat.

Pizza Hut Creamy Garlic Prawn Pizza

One large Creamy Garlic Prawn pizza has 8424kJ, equivalent to 2013 calories, and 89g protein with 80g fat.

Calories in Pizza Hut BBQ Cheeseburger Pizza

Pizza Hut BBQ Cheeseburger Pizza

Pizza Hut’s BBQ Cheeseburger pizza contains 8421 kilojoules, or 2013 calories. The pizza has 89 grams of protein and 80 grams of fat.

Pizza Hut Veggie Sensation Pizza

A whole Veggie Sensation pizza contains 8423kJ (2013 calories), and 109g protein, and 84g fat.

Pizza Hut BBQ Mega Meatlovers Pizza

The BBQ Mega Meatlovers pizza from Pizza Hut has 8702 kilojoules, equal to 2080 calories, 94g protein and 90g fat.

Pizza Hut Butchers Block Pizza

The infamous Butchers Block pizza contains 9242 kilojoules, or 2209 calories, and has 95g protein with 104g fat.

Calories in Pizza Hut Cheese Lovers Pizza

Calories in Pizza Hut Cheese Lovers Pizza

The big Cheese Lovers pizza from Pizza Hut contains a chest-tightening 9909kJ, equal to 2368 calories, and 144 grams of protein with 114 grams of fat.

Finger Limes

Finger Limes Demystified

Finger limes are becoming “a thing” now, but not many people know much about them. Read this to surprise your friends and family with an in-depth understanding of Australia’s own Bush Caviar!

Unique Looks

Unopened finger limes are roughly the size (3-12cm long) and shape of… you guessed it, human fingers. At first glance, you probably would not associate this fruit with oranges and lemons, but it is a bona fide native citrus (Citrus Australasica). The citrusy skin, coloured in green, brown, and red shades gives the game away.

Finger Limes look like Caviar

So, externally quite dull. But the fun starts when you break a ripe one open. Small, colourful, shiny, juice-filled, caviar-like blobs ooze out. These globular blobs are the finger lime’s juice vesicles, and like pomelo vesicles they don’t pop without a fight. To understand the growing appeal of finger lime, you must see these fascinating jewel-like vesicles up close.

Where does Finger Lime Come From?

People have been eating finger limes in Australia for thousands of years, from the very beginning of people in Australia. The trees grow wild in native coastal bushland on the border of NSW and Queensland. Being a significantly sized tree (they grow up to 8 metres tall), many were cleared and forgotten by early settlers. Back then, few people were concerned about how pretty the “caviar” would look on flambeed oysters. Besides, there were other, juicier, more useful, bush citruses like the Desert Lime readily available.

Bush Tucker Finger Lime map

Like so many of the hundreds of other half-remembered native Bush Tucker plants, finger limes languished untasted in protected areas for decades. Then, beginning in the 1980s, the Australian Native Plants Society (Australia) (ANPSA), that veritable populariser of native flora, began talking about them. Their legendary Study Groups, peopled by enthusiastic amateur botanists, spread the word until it reached the ears of sensation-hungry gourmet chefs in the 1990s. Finger limes were a hit in the “fancy restaurant dinner” market and now they are breaking into the mass market.

Finger lime cultivation is a hot export-led growth opportunity, with some growers having planted orchards with thousands of trees.

Fancy restaurant

What use are Finger Limes?

Finger limes are best used for their visual effect in garnishes. Unlike a “regular” lime, slicing a cross-section will yield little flavour, and squeezing will give you a bunch of intact vesicles and little juice. For best results, add the juice vesicles to desserts and salad to generate an interesting sour pop mouth experience. You can place a dollop of the “caviar” on shellfish and white fish fillets for the eye-candy effect, but also squeeze some “regular” lime juice over it if you want the flavour to penetrate.

Finger limes are also used to impart “fanciness” to expensive marmalades and other products which would otherwise use regular lime flavours.

Finger Lime Nutrition

There are no nutrition surprises when it comes to finger limes – they pretty much follow the pattern of other limes. Apart from significant levels of Vitamin C (30mg/100g) and a wide array of phytochemicals (polyphenols and terpenes), they are low in nutrients. 100g of finger limes have 10g carbs, 30 calories (126kJ), and 2.8g dietary fibre.

Types of Finger Limes

As is the way with other unusual food which gets “buzz”, there is much misinformation as to the types and claimed benefits of finger limes. There are more than 40 different cultivars (varieties) of finger lime available, and each variety may have a hundred different shades of colour. The colour of citrus flesh is determined by a family of chemicals called cyanins. Different types of cyanins make different colours, and different growing and ripening conditions determine the cyanins. Depending on the temperature, water, and soil chemistry, it is possible to get different coloured finger limes picked from the same tree at different times.

That said, the top three types of finger lime cultivars are:

  1. Pink Ice, which has pink juice vesicles and brown rind
  2. Crimson Tide, with red juice vesicles and brown rind
  3. Chartreuse, a green-skinned fruit with yellow juice vesicles

In general, there is not much point in worrying about which type of finger lime is best – nutritionally they are much of a muchness. The flavour of finger lime is more determined by growing conditions than colour (the colours taste the same).

Finger Lime Tree


In addition to the regular cultivars, agriculturists are experimenting with hybrids of finger lime and other citrus fruits. An example is the finger lime/mandarin hybrid fruit developed by the CSIRO.

Where can YOU get them?

Finger limes have not yet made it to the produce section of bug supermarkets. However, they can be found online from distributors and at local farmers markets. Bear in mind that online, all-year-round stores are possibly selling defrosted fruit which has likely lost its snap. Fresh ripe finger limes are broken with a snap and ooze vesicles, kind of like fresh green beans. Old and thawed finger limes bend without breaking, and their juice vesicles must be carefully scooped out after cutting.

Finger Limes spoilage

Keeping Finger Limes

If you are keen to experience finger limes, then you will probably want to plant your own tree. Freshly picked finger limes spoil fast (unless they have been chemically “enhanced”) and it is a rare week-old finger lime that has not developed patches of mould. This rapid spoilage, and the export market demand, is the main reason that finger limes are so expensive.

It is not especially difficult to grow and nurture a finger lime tree like these from your local Bunnings.  The tree develops excellent citrus blossoms in late summer and fruit in winter or early spring.


471 and Every Other Coded Emulsifier in Food

Emulsifier is a word you will see on many different food labels, but what does it mean exactly? What are the emulsifiers represented by codes 471, 322, 491, and 433 made of? Unlike, say, sugar, you simply cannot avoid emulsifiers in processed foods because they are literally in everything. Are emulsifiers bad for your health? Let’s get some answers!


To emulsify means to successfully mix liquids which don’t usually mix. The obvious example is water and oil. Usually, oil just sits on top of water when it is poured in, stubbornly refusing to mix. However, give it a good stir or shake and the oil breaks up into dispersed globules.

How Emulsification Works

The small globules spread evenly throughout the water before floating back to the surface and re-forming a single oil layer. In the mixed state, the water and oil are said to be emulsified.

They form an emulsion through emulsification, a process sometimes enabled by an emulsifier.

The word “emulsion” means “to milk” in Latin, referencing milk, perhaps the world’s most common emulsion of oil and water.

Emulsified Food is High Calorie

Emulsions are common in naturally found, home-prepared, and industrially manufactured foods – a simple emulsion is vinaigrette prepared by simply whisking oil and vinegar together. By far, the most common type of emulsion includes oil, for example milk, mayonnaise, ice-cream, cake batter, peanut butter, margarine, and mashed potato. Thus, since oil/fat is calorie-dense, emulsified foods tend to be almost universally high in calories.

What do Emulsifiers Do?

In the case of our homemade vinaigrette, the emulsion is unstable and will soon separate. To make the oil and vinegar stay mixed, you can add a chemical which prevents the two constituents from going their separate ways. Such a chemical is known as an emulsifier. A common emulsifier in every kitchen is lecithin, found in egg-yolk. Whisking an egg yolk along with the oil and vinegar turns unstable vinaigrette into sturdy mayonnaise, courtesy of the lecithin.

milk is an emulsion

Different emulsifiers work in several alternative ways. Some physically link oil globules to their surroundings by “holding on”. Others break surface tension to allow things in water to get “wet” (soap is an emulsifier). Yet others form barriers around oil globules, so the water and oil don’t contact each other. Depending on the use case, certain emulsifiers work better than others.

Emulsifiers and Health

In the realm of processed foods, emulsifiers are food additives. As such, they must be clearly labelled, and only statutorily approved types may be used. At an industrial scale, simple unprocessed emulsifiers like whole raw egg-yolks are very rarely used. Instead, emulsifiers are the result of multi-step, sometimes proprietary chemical processes.

Some industrial emulsifiers have been linked to adverse health effects. Studies indicate that chemicals like carboxymethylcellulose, polysorbate, and carrageenan cause a significant immune system response resulting in inflammation of the gut. It is the sort of problem that does not usually land a sufferer at the doctor’s office, it is just a niggling discomfort which can gradually build up over time. More disturbingly, some research implicates certain emulsifiers with an increased cancer risk.

Pie filling is emulsified

Thickeners, Stabilizers, or Emulsifiers?

In the world of industrial food additives, thickening, stabilising, and emulsifying are defined differently. However, the lines between the three are blurred because many substances perform all three roles while thickening, stabilising, or emulsifying. For example, Xanthan gum is classed as a stabiliser even when it effectively emulsifies the ingredients in pie filling. Is it an emulsifier stabiliser which thickens, or it is a stabilising thickener which emulsifies? For everyday laypeople like us, all three types of food additives can be usefully grouped together.

Commercial Emulsifiers and their Codes

The emulsifier codes on food labels are useful only if you know which chemicals they signify, and what those chemicals do. These codes are almost universally recognised around the globe and are preceded by an “E” in products sold in Europe. Here is the list of common emulsifiers by code:

322: Lecithin

Lecithin is the name given to any naturally occurring yellowish-coloured fatty substance which attracts both water and oil. An example is the phosphatidylcholine in egg yolk, but there are many different lecithins in a wide range of plants and animals. Much of the lecithin additive in food today is processed from soybeans.

lecithin in egg yolk

Lecithin is added to an enormous number of different foods, including margarine, chocolate, and cooking oil, which means that it ends up in everything made with these basic ingredients.

Lecithin is used as a dietary supplement to deliver the essential nutrient choline and potentially benefit acne sufferers. Some research indicates that eating too much soy lecithin can cause depression.

400, 401, 402, 403, 404, 405: Alginic Acid

Alginic acid is extracted from brown seaweed and used in drinks, ice cream, jellies, and weight-loss supplements. It is also used in the cosmetics, textiles, paper, and fireproofing industries. It absorbs water quickly and is used in anti-acid reflux medications like Gaviscon. The codes 401-405 are different chemical configurations of Alginic Acid.

406: Agar

Agar is a type of jelly processed from red algae. It was discovered by a Japanese innkeeper in 1658 when he tossed out some old seaweed soup then noticed that it had transformed to jelly the next day. It contains a massive 80% dietary fibre and is used to bulk foods up without increasing calories. If you like the “pearls” in bubble tea, you like agar.

algae makes emulsifiers

407, 407a: Carrageenan

Carrageenan is a gel extracted from red seaweed. It forms powerful bonds with food proteins and is widely used in meat and dairy processing. Most carrageenan is made in the Philippines and China, where the seaweed is treated with hot alkali (potassium hydroxide) and concentrated by evaporation.

In addition to widespread use in the meat and dairy industry, carrageenan is also used in toothpaste, beer, soy milk, shampoo, and personal lubricants. Baby formula, shoe polish, diet soft drinks, pet food, sauces, and vegetarian “meats” are also use cases.

Carrageenan is one of the potentially risky emulsifiers we mentioned earlier on in this article. It has been linked to gut inflammation and colon cancer in some studies.

seaweed makes emulsifiers

409: Arabinogalactan

Arabinogalactan is a common plant gum which can be extracted from many common plants and microbes. Its use in nature is to glue damaged plant tissue (if you’ve ever seen gum oozing from a cut in tree bark you get the idea). It is used in many foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, animal feeds, and construction materials.

410: Locust Bean Gum

Locust Bean Gum, also known as LBG, carob gum, carob bean gum, or carobin is a gum derived from the seeds of the carob tree. Most LBG comes from Portugal and Italy. The carob bean pod is known in some circles as the poor man’s chocolate because it is sweet and has a taste reminiscent of cocoa. The LBG itself is produced from the seeds of the pod, and used in various foods as well as insecticides, paper, mining products, and cigarettes.

412: Guar Gum

Guar gum, also known as guaran, is a product of guar beans from India and Pakistan. The process of extracting guar gum from the beans is a multi-stage manufacture which sometimes includes modification by enzymes. Guar gum is extensively used in the hydraulic fracturing industry (“oil fracking”), as well as foods and explosives. When used in food, it has eight times the thickening power of starch. Guar gum is the main ingredient in many brands of laxative.

413: Tragacanth

Tragacanth is a simple plant gum taken from the sap of the Goat’s Thorn weed. It is also known as Shiraz gum, or gum dragon. In the Middle East, tragacanth is a traditional medicine used to treat diarrhea and coughs.

India has natural emulsifiers

414: Acacia Gum

Acacia gum come from the sap of acacia trees. It is also known as gum Arabic, Senegal gum, and gum Sudani, amongst other localised names. Originating from Africa, acacia gum has been used by humans for thousands of years. It is widely used in the food industry, most notably in chewing gum, lollies and confectionery, and pie fillings. A natural prebiotic, acacia gum is fermented in the gut by “good” bacteria. Excessive consumption causes flatulence.

415: Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum is one of the few foods in the English language starting with the letter X. First discovered by the US Department of Agriculture in the 1960s, it is produced by Xanthomonas bacteria on an industrial scale. Xanthan gum is widely used in the food, oil-drilling, and cosmetics industry. It is an added to dressings, sauces, spices, beverages, meat, baked goods, confectionery, and many other processed foods.

Xanthan gum has been linked to respiratory problems in adults and necrotizing enterocolitis in infants.

bacteria made emulsifiers

416: Karaya Gum

Karaya gum is like tragacanth (code 413), in that it is a natural vegetable gum simply extracted from a tree sap in India.

417: Tara Gum

Tara gum comes from the seeds of the Tara tree from South America. It is used as a more “natural” alternative in processed foods like ice-cream, baked goods, and confectionery. In Peru, Tara tree pods are used as traditional medicine for stomach aches and fever.

418: Gellan Gum

Gellan gum, like xanthan gum, is derived from a US-scientist-discovered bacterial product. The bacteria in question, Sphingomonas, was found growing on a lily pad in a random pond. Gellan gum is widely used as a substitute for gelatine in confectionery, flavoured milk, and ice cream. Unlike gelatine, it remains jelly even after heating and churning. If you have tried “flaming ice cream” at a fancy restaurant, it is thanks to the gellan gum added to it.

419: Gum Ghatti

Also known as Indian gum, gum Ghatti is yet another tree-sap derived natural gum which has been used for thousands of years. The tree is the Axlewood, or Bakli tree native to India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar.

420: Sorbitol

Sorbitol is a type of sweet alcohol, usually manufactured from corn starch, which the human body metabolises very slowly. In syrup form, sorbitol is a common emulsifier and humectant (moisturiser) added to peanut butter, biscuits, bread, and jam. Sorbitol has a laxative effect, to learn more read our post on prunes.

424: Curdlan

Curdlan is a gel produced by Agrobacterium bacteria which were initially discovered in human faeces.

425, 425i, 425ii: Konjac

Konjac, also known as devil’s tongue, voodoo lily, snake palm, and elephant yam, is derived from the corm or tuber of the Konjac plant. It has been eaten in Japan since the sixth century. As a food additive, it is an ingredient in weight-loss products, jelly-like confectionery, and vegan “seafood”.

432, 433, 434, 435, 436: Polysorbate

Polysorbates are made industrially through a chemical reaction between sorbitol (see code 420) and ethylene oxides. They are a chemical step further from sorbitol than sorbitan (see codes 491-495). Polysorbates have a bewildering range of uses in the food, cosmetics, medical, elastomer, nanotech, and biotech industries.

polysorbate emulsifier

This class of emulsifier is versatile because their molecules form chain networks which smoothen textures and spread ingredients evenly. Polysorbate is particularly useful in foods with artificial flavours because it is a wetting agent which helps the flavours to spread in the mouth during chewing. It also makes temperature-sensitive ingredients less prone to melt.

Polysorbates have been linked with gut inflammation and cancer in mice.

440: Pectin

Pectin is a naturally occurring dietary fibre found in many plants (apples are a rich source). At an industrial level, pectin is extracted from citrus fruits. Pectin is used extensively as a food additive, notably in jams, sauces, as it has been used for hundreds of years.

441: Gelatin

Gelatine is a gel derived from the collagen in animal tissue. It has been used as a food additive for thousands of years.

gelatin emulsifier

442: Ammonium Phosphatides

Made from glycerol and vegetable oil, ammonium phosphatides is used as an alternative to lecithin in the chocolate industry.

443: Brominated Vegetable Oil

Brominated vegetable oil, usually styled BVO, is made from vegetable oil and bromine, a halogen chemical element. BVO is used as an emulsifier in the food industry and a flame retardant in the plastics industry. It has been used in soft drinks since 1931, despite the clear and universally accepted understanding that excess consumption leads to bromism.

Bromism is a debilitating health condition caused by bromine. Bromine damages nerve structure and poisons the brain. Symptoms include restlessness, confusion, psychosis, ataxia, hallucinations, weakness and in some cases, coma. Some sufferers report nausea, anorexia, constipation, and vomiting. Headache, fatigue, memory loss and skin rashes are common misdiagnosed early symptoms.

BVO emulsifier

444: Sucrose Acetate Isobutyrate

Sucrose acetate isobutyrate is made by a chemical reaction involving sugar, vinegar, and the acid found in rancid butter. It is a non-bromide alternative to BVO (see code 443).

445: Glycerol Esters of Wood Rosins

Made by chemically reacting crude turpentine with glycerol/glycerine, glycerol esters of wood rosin is used in soft drinks in place of, or in combination with, BVO (see code 443). Crude turpentine, also known as wood rosin, is a by-product of the lumber industry.  

450, 450i, 450ii, 450iii, 450iv, 450v, 450vi, 450vii: Diphosphates

Also known as pyrophosphates, diphosphates are dissolvable metal salts which are used in many processed foods including whipped cream. Studies like this one show that diphosphates cause kidney damage.

Diphosphate Emulsifier

451i, 450ii, 450iii, 450iv, 450v: Triphosphates

2 million tonnes of triphosphates are made each year through the industrial process of heating disodium phosphate and monosodium phosphate together. Triphosphates are used to make detergents and emulsify foods which need to retain moisture. High levels of triphosphates in the blood are a recognised predictor of heart attacks and early death.

452i, 452ii, 452iii, 452iv, 452v: Polyphosphates

Polyphosphates are produced through a complicated industrial chemical process which involves carefully controlled reactions amongst a plethora of complex chemicals. According to the US FDA, the EU Scientific Committee on Food and others, they might not cause heart attacks and bone degradation if less than 40mg is consumed per day. But maybe they will. And please try not to eat more than 40mg per day.

459: Beta-Cyclodextrin

Beta-cyclodextrin is a massive sugar molecule made by the action of enzymes on starch. They work as emulsifiers by linking to both oil and water at the same time, thus preventing an oil/water mixture from separating. Beta-cyclodextrin may damage kidneys in mice and cause hearing loss in humans.

460, 460i, 460ii, 461, 462, 463, 464, 465, 466, 467, 468, 469: Cellulose

Probably the oldest, safest, most widespread emulsifier in the world, cellulose is the main structural material used by plants. Think wood, the fibres in spinach, and the chewy parts of celery. Cellulose in its pure form and in several variations with chemical tweaks is used to emulsify a wide range of processed foods. Yes, sawdust is an emulsifying food additive.

470a, 470b: Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, and Magnesium Salts of Fatty Acids

This group of “salts of fatty acids”, also known as soap, are emulsifier food additives. Yup, it is safe to add tiny amounts of soap to food for emulsification purposes. Straight-up stearate (stearic acid, the grandaddy of soaps) is also a food additive, code 570.

471: Mono and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids

“Mono and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids” is a different way of saying “oil”. The only difference between the bottle of vegetable oil in your kitchen and a bottle of Emulsifier 471 is that your kitchen oil is mostly triglycerides, and the 471 is mostly monoglycerides and diglycerides.

To make 471, put some specific enzymes to work on regular triglyceride oil.

Monoglycerides and Diglycerides are more hydrophobic than triglycerides – meaning they mix with water even less. Things coated with them become “waterproof” so that they can remain in mixture without dissolving, reacting, or separating, in other words they emulsify.

Emulsifier 471

Unlike most of the other emulsifier food additives on this page, 471 covers a huge range of substances. There are about 50 different types of oil commercially used to make mono and diglycerides of fatty acids, each with an unlimited combination of mono, di, and polyglycerides.

Therein lies one of the main health concerns with 471: you don’t know what you’re getting. The 471 could be made from pork fat or olive oil. It could be 20% coconut oil from a stinking 30-year-old vat, mixed in with the by-product of a tanning factory. All you will see on the label is: emulsifier (471).

Since 471 is simply oil, there is no limit to how much manufacturers can use in their recipes. Weight for weight, mono and diglycerides have about half the calories of regular triglyceride oil, but they still pack a hefty amount of food energy. The 471-coated fruit lumps in your cute pot of pink sweetened yoghurt might be delivering a quite different nutritional load from what you expect!

472a, 472b, 472c, 472d, 472e, 472f, 472g: Esters of Mono and Diglycerdides of Fatty Acids

Esters of mono and diglycerides of fatty acids is the result of a chemical reaction between food additive code 471 and an acid (for example, citric acid produces 472c). These different esters perform similarly to 471, but with more specialised function. For example, 472e (mono and diacetyl tartaric acid esters of mono and diglycerides of fatty acids, better known as DATEM) is used to emulsify bread dough because it enhances gluten.

473, 474, 475, 476, 477, 478, 479b: Products of Fatty Acids

This group of emulsifiers are the result of chemical reactions involving “regular” oil (not mono and diglycerides of fatty acids). For example, 473 is made from sugar (sucrose) and oil (usually vegetable oil). 477 is a combination of propane (yes, barbecue gas) and oil. These lab-born emulsifiers are formulated to perform specialised, multi-objective tasks in processed foods and other industries.

Emulsifier in Cola

480: Dioctyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate

Additive 480 was born in 1937 as an aerosol detergent. Better known as Docusate, dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate is a salt often added to cheese spreads, carbonated soft drinks, and salad dressings. It has a strong laxative effect and long term consumption causes poor bowel function.

481, 482: Stearoyl-2-Lactylate

481 and 482 (commonly known as SSL and CSL) are stearoyl-2-lactylates of sodium and calcium, respectively. Lactylates are a family of chemicals developed in the 1950s for the specific purpose of increasing the shelf life of bread. The recommended safe daily consumption of 481 and 482 is 22.1mg/kg of body weight.

483: Stearyl Tartrate

Stearyl tartrate is a deceptive food additive in that it could be any or all of three different esters (distearyl tartrate, dipalmityl tartrate, and stearyl palmityl tartrate). It is not approved in Australia due to concerns that it may be a carcinogen (causes cancer). Check the label on imported foods, and when you are overseas!

487: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Usually, the prime lathering ingredient of shampoo and handwash, sodium lauryl sulphate sometimes spelled sulphate and called sodium dodecyl sulfate or SLS) is also an emulsifying food additive.

490, 1520: Propane-1, 2-diol

Also known as propylene glycol, propane-1,2-diol is produced in the millions of tonnes each year from petroleum. It is mainly used to make plastics, but it has many other industrial uses, including as an emulsifying food additive. It is also an indirect food additive when used for its solvent and antifreeze properties in mass food processing.

Propane emulsifier

491, 492, 493, 494, 495: Sorbitan

This group of emulsifiers are compounds of sorbitan, which like polysorbate (see codes 432-436) is a derivation of sorbitol (code 420). Sorbitan widely used, particularly 492 (sorbitan tristearate) sold under brand names like Alkest, Span, and Canarcel.

499: Stigmasterol-Rich Plant Sterols

Stigmasterol-rich plant sterols, like all phytosterols, are in the group of chemicals which functionally mimic cholesterol in humans. It is not a “pure” chemical, rather a mixture of at least four different phytosterols. Used in frozen foods, it is extracted from soybeans at an industrial level. Some research shows that elevated levels of plant sterols increases the risk of heart disease.

Flour in Australia

Flour in Australia Q & A

In Australia we often come across recipes, food labels, and informative articles about flour which make us go hmmmm? Flour is different around the world, so finding the right nutrition information can be a challenge. Let’s try to clear some confusion with a quick flour Q&A:

Q: What is Cornstarch?

A: Grind the starchy part of corn (maize) kernels to make cornstarch. In Australia, we usually call corn starch “cornflour”. Cornstarch and Cornflour are the same thing. Confusingly, “corn flour” sold in Australia used to be made from wheat, rather than corn. Today, however, popular corn-flour/corn-starch products are in fact made from corn, as you can see from this ingredient list. Corn starch often serves to thicken sauces, soups, gravies, and casseroles. Corn flour added to cakes lightens their texture (by reducing the protein level, see cake flour question below). Feel free to make a straight swap of cornflour for cornstarch, available from supermarkets like Woolworths and Coles!

Cornstarch Cornflour in Australia

There are 365 calories, or 1529 kilojoules, in 100g of corn flour.

Q: What is All Purpose Flour called in Australia?

A: Call All Purpose Flour “Plain Flour” in Australia and you will be talking about the same thing. It is the basic, go-to flour for use with most simple recipes which call for “all-purpose” or just plain “flour”. Some people call All Purpose, or Plain Flour, “AP Flour”. Plain flour is a blend of fine ground wheat endosperm. It can be used for just about any purpose flour is usually called for, including bread, cakes, cookies, thickening, and so on. The fact that it is a general, or all-purpose, flour means that it is not a great “specialist flour”, for example its coarser grind makes it less suitable than cornflour for thickening.

All Purpose Flour Plan Flour in Australia

There are 357 calories, or 1498kJ per 100 grams of plain flour.

Q: What is Bakers Flour in Australia?

A: Bakers Flour is a hard flour, also known as Bread Flour, so called because it is good for making bread, pizza bases, and other chewy baked goods. Baker’s Flour is sometimes called High Protein Flour in Australia. Manufacturers blend wheat flour which has a high (11%-16%) protein content to make baker’s flour. The proteins (a.k.a. gluten) form a network of strands, especially when the baker’s flour dough is kneaded, to make the product stretchy and chewy. You can use baker’s or bread flour instead of plain flour, but not for cakes or anything less hefty than a slice of focaccia. Chewy cake is not cake. Plain flour can be substituted for baker’s flour, but the resultant food will be less flexible and durable.

Bakers Flour in Australia

There are 356 calories (1490kJ) in each 100g of baker’s flour.

Q: What is Self Raising Flour in Australia?

A: Self-raising flour is plain flour with leavening (or raising) agents like baking powder added. Outside of Australia, Self-Raising Flour is often called Self-Rising Flour. The actual raising agents used in self-raising flour vary by manufacturer, so sometimes different brands produce different results for the same recipe. You should not swap self raising flour for plain flour in a recipe which does not include the addition of baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, bicarbonate of soda, yeast, or any other raising agent. If the recipe does include baking soda or such, you can make the switch, but do not add the required raising agent. If you use plain flour instead of self-raising flour, you will need to mix two teaspoons of baking powder into each cup of flour.

You cannot use self-raising flour to successfully make bread the traditional yeast-leavened way. If you add yeast to self raising flour, your bread is likely to flop into itself due to over-proofing.

There are 353 calories in 100g of Self Raising Flour (1479kJ/100g).

Q: Is Cornmeal the same as Polenta?

A: Yes, cornmeal is the same as polenta, but it’s a bit complicated. Whilst polenta is simply whole corn kernels which have been ground into a coarse flour, in some parts of the world “polenta” is taken to be the product of cornmeal. Polenta is usually cooked by boiling one-part cornmeal with four parts water to make a porridge. The porridge can be eaten as-is or left to cool into a polenta loaf. Once cooled, the solid polenta can be cut into slices and fried or baked. Thus, polenta is corn meal to some people, yet to others polenta is what you make with cornmeal. In a pinch, you can substitute semolina for polenta, but your finished product will be stickier and smoother.

Polenta Cornmeal in Australia

There are 335 calories, or 1406 kilojoules per 100g of polenta.

Q: Can you buy Cake Flour in Australia?

A: Yes, you can, cake flour is available from most major grocery shops. However, cake flour is not usually called so in this country (see the calorie link below for an example). The only difference between cake flour and plain flour is that cake flour has a lower protein value. Cake Flour is also known as Soft Flour in Australia, because it is made with a blend of low protein/gluten wheat which results in a less structured bake. Read the section on Baker’s Flour to understand how the protein in flour makes for a chewy bite. Most people prefer their cake to break easily in a delicate crumble, hence the use of low protein flour.

You can make your own cake flour by adding two tablespoons of cornflour to one cup of plain flour. The resultant mix has a wheat protein level comparable to that of commercially available cake flour and will make less dense cakes than pure plain flour.

Cake Flour Australia

There are 370 calories (1552kJ) in 100g of cake flour.

Q: What can be used as a flour alternative?

A: Nothing can substitute flour because flour is the only flour there is. Any alternative to flour must be like flour, so it is flour. Make flour by milling any food to a dry powder. This includes grains like wheat and corn, nuts like almond, rhizomes like arrowroot, and seeds like amaranth and quinoa. Any flour can be used for baking, thickening, frying, boiling, and steaming, but of course the results will vary depending on the type of flour used. For best results, follow a good recipe, or just have fun experimenting. Anyone for coconut flour banana bread?

Now, see 8 Substitutes for Vegetable Oil!

Trout VS Tuna VS Salmon

Trout VS Salmon VS Tuna

Trout VS Salmon VS Tuna means calories and nutrition in trout, compared to salmon, compared to tuna, let’s go! You might have read our post on the best 3 fish you can eat and thought: “How does salmon compare to trout and tuna?”. It is a natural question, considering that salmon and trout are sometimes mistaken for one another, and tuna shares a lot of the characteristics of both. Well, read on to see how these three popular fish stack up nutritionally.

Calories in Trout, Salmon, and Tuna

The calorie differences between these three species proves that fish are not food equivalent to one another. Salmon has 209 calories per 100 grams, whilst Trout has 154, and Tuna 103. Putting those numbers into perspective, you can eat more than twice as much tuna as salmon for the same calories! Trout has about 35% fewer calories than salmon, and about 50% more calories than tuna.  The big takeaway here is that if you are strictly counting your calories and choosing between equal weights of tuna and salmon, take the tuna.

Trout VS Salmon Nutrition

Tuna, Trout, and Salmon Protein

Fish is an excellent source of protein, but which fish out of tuna, salmon, and trout has more? It turns out that they are much of a muchness in this case. Tuna leads with 23g protein per 100g, followed by salmon with 21g/100g, and trout with 20g/100g. The protein difference on a weight-for-weight basis between tuna and trout is just 15%, in tuna’s favour. If you are targeting protein and need to make a fish choice for dinner, just follow your tastebuds.

Fat Content of Salmon, Trout, and Tuna

The fat from fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation and may help heart health. Here, there is a stark difference between trout, tuna, and salmon. Salmon, at 14g per 100g, leads in fat content. Trout follows with 42% less fat (8g/100g), whilst tuna lags with a skinny 1g of fat per 100g of edible weight. Tuna is much leaner than salmon and trout. You would have to eat 14 times more tuna than salmon to get the same amount of fat!

Is Trout healthier than Salmon?

In a word, no. Trout is not healthier than salmon because it typically contains less of the valuable omega-3 fatty acids found in the fat of both salmon and trout. Bear in mind that the words “salmon” and “trout” are not scientific classifications. What we call Rainbow Trout and Pink Salmon are actually in the same genus (family) called Oncorhynchus. Brown Trout and Atlantic Salmon, on the other hand, are both in the genus called Salmo. As with so many other fish, the names get confused and swapped around depending on time and location. For example, in China all trout are called salmon.

Mercury in Fish like Salmon

Tuna VS Salmon VS Trout Mercury

Tuna, salmon, and trout all accumulate heavy metals like mercury from the food they eat. Being near the top of their food chains, they are the second last stop for mercury as it passes from plankton to predator from its starting point in volcanoes and geothermal vents. Mercury concentration is measured in PPM (Parts-Per-Million). Tuna, with 0.391PPM, contains far more mercury than either salmon or trout. Trout has 0.071PPM, whilst salmon has 0.014PPM. Whilst it is generally accepted that the benefits of eating fish outweighs the risk of mercury poisoning, studies like this one show that there is no healthy level of mercury for humans. Given a choice between these three fish, choose salmon to reduce your mercury intake.

What Tastes Better, Salmon, Trout, or Tuna?

When it comes to taste, in our opinion, salmon wins hands down. It is a versatile fish which can be prepared successfully in so many ways, from pan-searing, to baking, to grilling and even steaming. The problem with tuna is that it can dry out quickly when cooking, due to the low-fat content. Tuna tastes “cleaner” than salmon and trout, but it can be chewy when overcooked (it is easily overcooked). Trout, on the other hand, can have an inconsistent texture and flavour, depending on its growth environment. Maybe we have just had one too many muddy-tasting trout to be convinced that it can hold a candle to salmon.

Salmon tastes better than Tuna and Trout

That said, choice cuts from all three fish make excellent sashimi and sushi. They’re also not bad in canned form. Use our Food Search Box to compare brands!

Calories in Porridge

Calories in Porridge (made 7 ways)

Everyone says it is good for you, but how about the calories in porridge? Porridge has been our food since cavemen, and it is not going away anytime soon, but is it really a good option? Let’s take a closer look at porridge nutrition to see how many calories there are in your morning bowlful. Skip straight to the porridges to see quick calorie counts or read all about porridge first.

What is Porridge, exactly?

Boil starchy plants in water or milk so that some or all the starch breaks off into the liquid to thicken the mixture and thus make porridge. This post sticks with porridge made from oats specifically, because that’s the type we usually mean when we say “porridge”. You can use the calcount Food Search Box to find nutrition information for other types of porridge, like Congee for example.

Ancient Origins

Someone in the Middle East ate the first bowl of oatmeal porridge more than 10,000 years ago. Oats are a grass grain, like wheat, but smaller. Cultivated oats probably began as a “weed” crop in fields of wheat when humans first began farming. Thus, the humble oat is one of the first grains to be cultivated. Even before farming began, we can imagine our ancient hunter-gatherer ancestors boiling up a steaming concoction of wild oat seeds which we would recognise even today as breakfast. 

Oats Ancient Grain

The Oats in Porridge

Compared to wheat, oat grains have several disadvantages. They’re smaller, less starchy, more difficult to harvest, take longer to cook, and they go bad (rancid) more easily. Perhaps that is why oats were historically used as horse fodder rather than human food in much of Europe. Scotland has always been the exception because oats grow better than wheat in the poorer soils of the Scottish Highlands. It is from Scotland that our modern concept of Porridge comes.

Manufacturers crush the oat grains (groats) under rollers, then steam them until partly cooked. This process extends their shelf-life and makes them much easier and quicker to cook. Unrolled oats (either steel-cut or whole groats), are a lot harder to cook. They’re also much rougher in texture than rolled oats. The pre-cooking process makes the porridge taste a bit nutty.

Porridge Nutrition

The nutrition value of a bowl of porridge depends mainly on what other ingredients have been added to the oats. Typically, porridge is just 15% oats by volume, so the other ingredients have a huge impact on the porridge’s nutrition. When made with water alone, porridge is 12% carbohydrate, 2% dietary fibre, 1.5% fat, and 0.3% sugar. Besides manganese (0.6mg), there are no significant quantities of vitamins and minerals in plain porridge. The biggest “special” benefit of oats porridge is that it contains beta-glucan. This is a type of plant fibre which may lower cholesterol. Oats’ relatively poor nutrition profile encourages some porridge manufacturers to fortify their product with vitamins and minerals, so always read the label before purchase and choose wisely.

Cook oats in microwave

How to Make Porridge

The simplest method to make porridge is first to empty a sachet of “instant” oats into a bowl. Next, add milk or water. Then, microwave on high for 90 seconds, stirring halfway through. The artisan way is to formulate your own unique recipe where you soak organic single-source groats in buttermilk for two days before blending in exotic spices and spring water and simmering over low heat for a couple of hours (carefully stirring and chanting Gaelic aphorisms throughout). Both methods result in a starchy, lumpy, slightly sticky porridge to which you can add sweeteners, flavours, fruit, and nuts.

The porridges featured in this post are the basic type, made with common rolled oats.

Does Porridge make you Gain Weight?

Porridge is not a low-calorie food, especially when ingredients like nuts, dried fruit, cream, butter, sugar, and coconut are added. As you can see from the list below, the non-oat ingredients in porridge quickly ratchet up the calorie count. No doubt, a “fully loaded” bowl of porridge is certainly fattening. However, oats alone are an excellent choice for breakfast, because their high-fibre content and sustained-release carbohydrates make you feel fuller for longer. Eat a warm bowl of porridge, wash it down with a mug of tea or coffee, it will sit in your belly like a concrete block for a couple of hours, during which time you will not be tempted to snack.

Calories in Porridge made with Water

Calories in Porridge made with Water

There are 68 calories in 100 grams of porridge, made with water. If we take a single serving to be 130g, then a bowl of plain unsweetened porridge made with water contains 88 calories. Very few people make and eat plain, unflavoured porridge made with water (unless there’s no other choice!), so this porridge is probably just a theoretical variant. This type of porridge looks, feels, and tastes like wallpaper paste.

Calories in Porridge made with Regular Milk

Unsweetened porridge made with regular milk has 128 calories in each 100 grams. This means that a 130g bowl of unsweetened milky porridge has 167 calories in it. Make this porridge with just two ingredients: rolled oats and regular (3.5% fat) milk in the ratio of 1:3. It is more appetising than the watery variant, but this unsweetened, unsalted milky porridge is probably still far too bland for most people’s taste.

Calories in Porridge with Milk

Calories in Porridge made with Skimmed Milk

There are 95 calories in 100 grams of porridge made with skim milk, so a 130g bowl contains 124 calories. Porridge made with skimmed milk is less of a lumpy slurry than water-only porridge, despite the lack of fat, on account of the binding properties of protein. The good thing about skimmed milk is that it contains far fewer calories than regular milk, albeit at the expense of taste. If you have not already done so, check out our post on the differences between skimmed, lite, and regular milk.

Calories in Porridge made with Reduced Fat Milk

A 130g bowl of porridge made with reduced fat milk has 140 calories in it. There are 108 calories per 100 grams in this lighter than regular milk/heavier than skimmed milk porridge option. Again, this is an “entry-level” plain and bland porridge which will flatten the bushiest of tails in the morning.

Calories in Porridge made with Soy Milk

Soy milk can have a slight beany flavour which might enhance the slight nuttiness of rolled oats. Porridge made with regular soy milk and nothing else has 112 calories per 100 grams, or 146 calories per 130g serving. Combine 1 part rolled oats to 3 parts soy milk to make an insipid soy-flavoured porridge which will not win any gastronomic awards.

Calories in Porridge made with Milk and Water

There are 96 calories in 100 grams of porridge, prepared with regular milk and water. The milk and water are combined in equal parts. A 130g bowl of this porridge contains 125 calories, which is about the same as porridge made with skim milk. If you cannot decide if it is better to make porridge with water or milk, this could be the porridge for you.

Calories in Porridge with Honey

Calories in Porridge made with Honey or Sugar

Most people make their porridge with milk and sweeten it with sugar or honey, so this is probably the porridge which applies to you. A 130g serving of sweetened porridge contains 172 calories, because there are 132 calories in each 100 grams. The calorie difference between sweetened and unsweetened porridge made with regular milk is just 4 calories per 100g. The taste difference is immeasurable, because porridge is bland, and sugar/honey tastes good. So go ahead, add a squirt of honey or syrup or a level spoon of sugar to your bowl!