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The Heart Foundation Australia has reviewed the evidence surrounding eggs, dairy and meat consumption, releasing three new position papers and updating their nutrition guidelines on heart healthy eating patterns.
The nutrition guidelines express that the entire eating pattern is important for promoting cardiovascular health as opposed to simply altering one nutrient or food. This reflects the broader shift from nutrient to food-based advice for public health. The guidelines also recognise the importance the social determinants of health and have considered cultural experience, food supply and policy context to form the position statement.
The notable changes to the guidelines include:
Limit red meat
“If choosing red meat, make sure the meat is lean and limit to 1-3 times a week. Include up to 350g (cooked weight) per week”
The guidelines emphasize consumption of beans, legumes and nuts, fish, some poultry and limited meat products due to a moderately adverse relationship between unprocessed red meat consumption and CVD.
Whole milk OK
Unflavoured whole milk, yoghurt and cheese get the go-ahead except for those people with high blood cholesterol who are advised to choose reduced fat versions. “Unflavoured” milk and yoghurt are specified because of lower kilojoules content.
The guidelines explain that whole dairy foods can feature as long as the diet includes fish, olives, seeds, nuts and unsaturated oils as the main sources of fat, and the evidence shows dairy foods have a neutral relationship with cardiovascular health. Butter is not included within the dairy group as it increases LDL cholesterol, and it is classified as a discretionary food.
No limit for eggs
The Position Paper on eggs suggest eggs have a neutral relationship with heart health and an unlimited number can be consumed as part of a heart healthy pattern.
However, for people with high LDL cholesterol, less than seven eggs per week is recommended. For those with type 2 diabetes, a maximum of seven eggs per week is recommended, because there is evidence of risk association.
In publishing this new dietary advice, the Heart Foundation has added its voice to the chorus calling for a government-led National Nutrition Strategy and for an adequately skilled nutrition and health workforce, such as dietitians, to identify and support people with CVD and those at risk to make healthy eating changes.
You can access these position papers and others here.