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New Recommendations for Meat, Dairy and Eggs

This August (2019) The Heart Foundation (THF) released updated advice on dairy, meat & eggs for promoting heart health & preventing/managing Type 2 Diabetes!

You may have seen news articles promoting these new guidelines as – ‘you can now eat as much butter as you want!’ – which is a huge misinterpretation of these guidelines. Because of this, we thought we’d have a read through them, and summarise the key messages for you below.

If you’re concerned about promoting heart health, have a heart condition or T2DM (or want to know if you can eat as much butter as you want), this one is for you!

Choosing your protein source:

  • For optimum heart health, THF recommends choosing seafood, legumes, nuts & seeds as your main source of protein. Practically – this would look like some ‘meatless meals’ that include legumes, upping your fish intake and snacking on nuts/seeds.
  • Choosing small amounts of eggs and lean poultry is safe, with a neutral effect on heart health – no risk, but no benefit for heart health either.
  • Limiting red meat to <350g week is a key message within these new guidelines – more than this is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke. If you choose to eat red meat – this might look like 1-3 small red meat meals.
  • Processed meat should be limited/avoided, as it is known to increase risk of colorectal cancer, with likely risk to heart health.

Choosing dietary fats:

  • Replacing saturated fat (e.g. meat fat, butter, fried food) with polyunsaturated fat (PUFA e.g. fish), monounsaturated fat (MUFA e.g. canola oil, olive oil, nuts/seeds) and wholegrains lowers risk of heart disease.
  • Consume nuts, seeds, olives and their oils daily to reduce CVD/stroke risk. Simply put – cook with olive oil, snack on nuts/seeds and add them to meals!
  • Aim for 250-500mg omega-3/day to reduce risk of CVD/stroke. This looks like 2-3 x seafood meals/week.
  • Adding 2-3g plant sterols from fortified products can lower ‘bad’ cholesterol if this is a problem for you. You can find these in certain cereals, margarines and milks (e.g. ProActiv, certain Weet-Bix).
  • And…. there is no evidence to support the use of coconut oil for heart health (it actually raises ‘bad’ cholesterol).

Eggs:

  • There is now no limit on egg intake for healthy people! BUT..
  • For people who could benefit from lowering ‘bad’ cholesterol, or for type-2 diabetics, THF recommends limiting egg intake to <7/week.

Dairy

  • THF has found there is no evidence to recommend reduced fat over full fat dairy for healthy people. You can now enjoy your full-cream coffee in peace! But..
  • For those with high ‘bad’ cholesterol they do recommend continuing to choose reduced fat.
  • AND it is not a free for all with the butter. THF recommends continuing to avoid/limit butter, ice-cream, cream and dairy based desserts – as these dairy products continue to pose a risk of CVD not found with other full fat dairy products.