New expert advice on meat, dairy and eggs
UNFLAVOURED full-fat milk, yoghurt and cheese are now options for healthy Australians, while the limit has lifted on the number of eggs that can be eaten per week in a heart-healthy diet.
The Heart Foundation says many Australians still need to rethink how much red meat they're eating, as evidence indicates it increases risks for heart disease and stroke and may lead to weight gain.
It has introduced a recommended limit of less than 350 grams a week for unprocessed beef, lamb, pork and veal which equates to one to three lean red-meat meals a week, like a Sunday roast and a beef stir-fry.
"Processed or deli meats should be limited, as they have been consistently linked to a higher risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions," Heart Foundation chief medical advisor and cardiologist Professor Jennings said.
People should get most of their heart-healthy protein from plant sources such as beans, lentils (legumes) and tofu, as well as fish and seafood, with a smaller amount from eggs and lean poultry.
But Professor Jennings warned that limits apply to the new advice around dairy and eggs.
"For people who suffer high cholesterol or heart disease, we recommend unflavoured reduced-fat milk, yoghurt and cheese and eating less than seven eggs per week," Prof Jennings said.
"Butter, cream, ice-cream and dairy-based desserts are not recommended as heart-healthy, as they contain higher fat and sugar levels and less protein. Evidence found the dairy fat in milk, cheese and yoghurt does not raise bad LDL cholesterol levels as much as butter or other dairy products.
"We now advise people with Type 2 Diabetes to eat fewer than seven eggs per week, as growing evidence suggests an increased risk with eating more eggs.
"Type 2 Diabetes, along with high cholesterol and high blood pressure, are risks for heart disease and stroke that we can all take steps to avoid through diet and lifestyle changes," Professor Jennings said.
Heart Foundation dietitian Sian Armstrong said when it comes to eating, the big picture matters, and choosing a variety of healthy foods, regularly over time, is key.
"Eating more plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits and wholegrains, and healthy proteins like fish and seafood with smaller amounts of animal-based foods, while cutting down on highly processed junk foods is key to good heart health," she said.
"To be heart-healthy, it's also important to be smoke-free, limit alcohol intake, maintain a healthy weight and get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on five days a week."
For information on healthy eating and to download recipes, go to heartfoundation.org.au or phone the Helpline on 131 112.