Are you a sucker or a chewer?

By James Davidson and Pamela Tyers

How do you eat your Easter chocolate? Do you suck it or chew it? Does your tongue smear the inside of your mouth as the chocolate melts, or does it get chomped by your back teeth then sent down your throat?

It’s true, some of us suck and some of us chew. Whichever process we use to break down food in our mouth, it affects the taste sensation.

Flavour is released through the movement and time taken for taste components to hit our taste buds. Those taste components include salt, sugar and fat. If we know how to place those tasty bits into foods so that they achieve maximum delicious flavour before we digest the food, we then know how to use less of the unhealthy ingredients because our inefficient chewing means that we don’t taste much of them anyway.

For example, bread would taste unappetising if too much salt was removed out of it, but science can help us understand how to remove some of the less healthy components out of foods while retaining their familiar, delicious taste.

The life and times of a creme egg. How do you eat yours?

The life and times of a creme egg. How do you eat yours? Image: Flickr/Mark Seton

Enter our new 3D dynamic virtual mouth – the world’s first – which is helping our researchers understand how foods break down in the mouth, as well as how the food components are transported around the mouth, and how we perceive flavours. Using a nifty technique called smooth particle hydrodynamics, we can model the chewing process on specific foods and gather valuable data about how components such as salt, sugar and fat are distributed and interact with our mouths at the microscopic level.

We’re using it to make food products with less salt, sugar and fat and incorporate more wholegrains, fibre and nutrients without affecting the taste.

It’s part of research that will help us understand how we can modify and develop particular food products with more efficient release of the flavour, aroma and taste of our everyday foods.

And it’s good news for all of us. Eighty percent of our daily diet is processed foods – think breakfast cereals, sliced meats, pasta, sauces, bread and more. So, creating healthier processed foods will help tackle widespread issues such as obesity and chronic lifestyle diseases.

In fact, our scientific and nutritional advice to government and industry has so far helped remove 2,200 tons of salt from the Australian food supply, and reduced our population’s salt consumption by 4 per cent.

Oh…and we’ve also used the virtual mouth to model just how we break down our Easter chocolate.

As the teeth crush the egg, the chocolate fractures and releases the caramel. The chocolate coating collapses further and the tongue moves to reposition the food between the teeth for the next chewing cycle. The caramel then pours out of the chocolate into the mouth cavity.

With this virtual mouth, variations to thickness of chocolate, chocolate texture, caramel viscosity, and sugar, salt and fat concentrations and locations can all be modified simply and quickly to test the effects on how the flavours are released.

Now that’s something to chew on. Happy Easter!

Media contact: James Davidson, 03 9545 2185,

Fibre-packed Bircher muesli

A few weeks ago we put out a call to join our Great Fibre-Off recipe contest. We asked you to create a delicious high fibre meal that’s healthy and good for your guts. After much deliberation, we have a winner!  A big congrats goes to Donna from Victoria – you are Australia’s official gut-lovin’ queen.

Donna sent in her family recipe for natural Bircher muesli. It’s packed full of oats, bran, nuts and seeds and topped with fresh fruit and natural yoghurt. Try it for breakfast and let us know what you think!

Bonus tip: You can adapt the recipe to suit your tastes or whatever your have lurking in the pantry. Replace the apple juice with orange or pineapple juice, or add milk for a dose of calcium.

Check out our health bites series on Pinterest for more tasty recipes and nutrition tips.

Teriyaki pork & stir-fried greens

Get some pork on your fork with this tasty Asian-inspired dish from our new Diabetes recipe book.


Talkin’ Turkey (in July)

Merry Winter! It’s that time of year where we try and survive the cold, rain and snow by eating, drinking and gift giving. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas (in July). CSIRO_HealthBites_Infographic_02_Turkey_FINAL

Healthy living with a little pizzazz

Recipes on a budget: the latest from our Total Wellbeing Diet series.

Recipes on a budget: the latest from the Total Wellbeing Diet series.

We’re big on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a nutritionally balanced diet. The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet lets you do this with a little pizzazz. It’s nutritious, delicious, high in protein and facilitates sustainable weight loss. Our latest book, Recipes on a Budget, shows how you can eat well without breaking the bank or compromising on quality or nutrition. It’s packed with more than 135 new recipes that use inexpensive cuts of meats, use leftovers in clever ways and show how to make your own dips, spice mixes and dressings.

Here’s a sneak peek that’s perfect for winter.


Super ‘shrooms

Give yourself a vitamin boost with the goodness of mushrooms. Mushies certainly punch above their weight, packed with essential nutrients and naturally low in fat and salt. We’re dialing up their vitamin D content for an extra boost.

High fibre ANZAC biscuits

Looking for a healthier take on the traditional ANZAC biscuit? Try this yummy high fibre recipe made with cereal containing our BARLEYmax grain. But remember, biscuits are a sometimes food!


Have your chocolate & eat it too

Enjoy in moderation this weekend.


Chicken, Korean kimchi style

It’s super easy, super quick and gets the nod of approval from our scientists since we’ve taken it straight out of our Total Wellbeing Diet: Fast and Fresh Recipes book.


Infographic with recipe for Korean chicken with kimchi

What the GI?

Are you riding the GI roller coaster?

Infographic about GI

Love your guts!

It’s time for heart-shaped chocolates, red roses and declarations of a lifetime of love. It’s all very… nice. But spare a thought for your guts. Yes, people, YOUR GUTS. Isn’t it time you showed them a little bit of love?

Bowel health infographic

What are you doing on Australia Day?

Are the friends and family gathering? We think we’ve got a pretty great roast lamb recipe for you from our Total Wellbeing series.

Roast lamb recipe

Be food safe

Food safety infographic

The lowdown on cholesterol

Show some love to your arteries…

Facts about cholesterol

Strawberry and banana popsicles

An easy and healthy treat for the little ones.

Strawberry and banana popsicles recipe


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