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Updated Guidelines on Eggs, Meat and Milk

In August the Heart Foundation updated its guidelines for healthy eating specifically around the consumption of meat, dairy and eggs. We take a look at the advice and explain how it relates to you.

 

Meat

 

A limit of less than 350 grams a week of lean meats has been introduced, and processed or deli meats should be limited, as they have been consistently linked to a higher risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions.

 

The Heart Foundation recommendations suggests people "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".  Based on this new advice a typical week of evening meals for someone that consumes meat would be one to three lean meat dishes (e.g. stir-fry or roast) with the remaining meals based on heart-healthy protein sources such as fish and legumes.

 

Examples of lean meats and heart healthy protein sources

 

Lean Meats Heart-Healthy Protein Sources
Skinless chicken breast Beans and lentils
Fresh turkey breast Tofu
Lean roast beef Fish and seafood

 

Dairy

 

Previously all Australians over two years of age were recommended to choose reduced-fat products to protect against cardio vascular disease (CVD) risk. However the updated guidelines advise healthy Australians to choose full fat varieties of cheese, yoghurt and unflavoured milk.  Observational studies carried out over a long period have found that full fat products have a neutral effect on increasing cardiovascular risk and overall evidence to support increases of LDL (bad cholesterol) is mixed. Due to this, the recommendations have changed for healthy people to help increase intake of dairy products. While full fat products are considered acceptable, butter and dairy-based dessert products such as custard, flavoured milk and ice-cream are not recommended as they contain very high levels of fat and sugar levels. For more on dairy follow this link.

 

Eggs

 

The Dietitians Association of Australia report eggs being a nutrient-rich food containing good quality protein along with vitamins such as A, E and B12 plus the minerals iron and selenium. This supports the recent lift on the limit of eggs per week recommended by the Heart Foundation when consumed as a part of a healthy, balanced diet. For people living with type 2 diabetes however the recommendation remains at less than seven eggs per week due to evidence suggesting exceeding this increases the risk of CVD events.

 

"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," says Professor Jennings from the Heart Foundation.

 

 

What do these new guidelines mean for people living with diabetes?

 

You may be aware that diabetes puts you at greater risk of heart disease, even if you have 'normal' looking cholesterol and no symptoms.  Heart attacks and strokes are up to four times more likely in people with diabetes secondary to the damage that persistent high blood glucose levels can have on your blood vessels.

 

The guidelines for all people diagnosed with diabetes, heart conditions or high cholesterol is still to choose reduced fat dairy products over full fat varieties. This is to reduce the risk of increasing LDLs (bad cholesterol) in the higher fat products, which could negatively affect cardiovascular health.  It is best to choose low fat milk, low fat yoghurts or skim dairy products and alternatives to help maintain good heart health.  In regard to meat the recent recommendations to limit meat to less than 350 grams a week applies to all Australians regardless of whether they are living with diabetes or not.  Although eggs are a nutrient rich food that provide a range of health benefits growing evidence suggests that eggs should be limited to less than seven per week for those living type 2 diabetes.

 

For ongoing support see your GP for a health check and for further nutrition advice seek assistance from an Accredited Practising Dietitian. Alternatively you can call the Diabetes Queensland Helpline on 1300 136 588 for advice from a health professional.

 

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