Last week, the Australian Heart Foundation issued new advice on meat, dairy and egg consumption.
The updated advice recommends Australians limit unprocessed red meat consumption to less than 350g per week. It also removes restrictions on eating full-fat milk, cheese and yoghurt for healthy people (while people with heart disease are still encouraged to choose reduced-fat options). And the Australian Heart Foundation advises people with type-2 diabetes to eat no more than seven eggs per week.
In a press release, the Foundation says: “This updated advice on meat, dairy and eggs is based on a substantial review of current evidence”.
So, what about New Zealand? The Australian and New Zealand Heart Foundations generally have fairly aligned advice on what constitutes heart-healthy eating and activity.
But a statement from the New Zealand Heart Foundation, responding to the new advice, shows our organisation has a more nuanced approached.
Heart Foundation food and nutrition manager Dave Monro says: “Both organisations are aligned on the fundamentals of a heart healthy diet – that is eating mainly plant-based foods (like vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds) and reducing the intake of processed foods.
“People often want black and white advice about single foods – but we don’t just eat one food – we eat a combination of foods. What’s most important is the quality of your overall diet.”
The New Zealand Heart Foundation still recommends choosing reduced-fat dairy as a “useful way to reduce your saturated fat intake, particularly if you regularly eat dairy”. Many Kiwis eat more saturated fat than is ideal, so reducing our overall intake is a healthy idea.
The organisation acknowledges evidence saturated fat in dairy products, such as cheese, milk and yoghurt, may be ‘neutral’ when it comes to heart disease, but points out there is also good evidence replacing dairy fat with healthier fats, such as olive oil, oily fish, avocado, nuts and seeds, actually may help reduce heart disease risk.
As for red meat, Mr Monro says there are many types of healthy diet and some of those include eating small amounts of meat, poultry and fish.
“Whatever diet you choose, we recommend loading up your plate with plant foods like vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds and making them the hero of your meals and snacks,” he says.
As for eggs, New Zealand Heart Foundation advice is healthy people have no need to restrict them, while people with increased heart disease risk are advised to keep to no more than six eggs per week. Being mindful of how the eggs are prepared and what they are served with is also a consideration.
For more ways to keep your heart healthy, check this out.