New dietary advice causes rethink of dairy, eggs, meat

Evelyn Lewin

21/08/2019 3:20:30 PM

Full-fat dairy and eggs are back on the table, but Australians have been urged to rethink their red-meat intake.

Couple selecting milk
Restrictions on eating full-fat dairy and eggs have been removed, while Australians are urged to cut back on red-meat intake.

For years, Australians were encouraged to opt for low-fat dairy foods, while limiting their intake of eggs and regularly enjoying lean red meat.
While some of that thinking has changed in recent years, new advice from the Heart Foundation offers a further rethink of all three food groups.
The new advice puts full-fat dairy back on Australia’s table, removing restrictions for healthy people on eating full-fat unflavoured milk, cheese and yoghurt.
It also lifts the limit on the number of eggs that can be consumed.
People are not given the green light on all food groups, however, with the new advice recommending a reduction in red meat intake to fewer than 350 g of unprocessed beef, lamb, pork or veal per week.
For context, Heart Foundation Chief Medical Advisor, cardiologist Professor Garry Jennings, said that is around one to three lean red-meat meals a week, ‘like a Sunday roast and a beef stir-fry’.
Cardiologist Dr Monique Watts, from the Women’s Heart Clinic, applauds all aspects of this new advice.
‘Diet is such a modifiable risk factor when it comes to heart disease, it’s great to have some clarification around how to go about heart-healthy eating,’ she told newsGP.
‘My general dietary advice to cardiac patients is to look for plant-based source of protein, limit red meat and minimise processed foods.
‘The advice we’ve received from the Heart Foundation today supports this.’

Women-s-heart-clinic-Monique-Watts-Hero.jpg‘It’s great to have some clarification around how to go about heart-healthy eating,’ cardiologist Dr Monique Watts said.
Dr Watts said there are pros and cons of consuming foods such as full-fat dairy and eggs, but notes there is no compelling evidence to support restricting intake of such foods in a healthy population.
Professor Jennings echoed this sentiment.
‘While the evidence was mixed, this type of dairy was found to have a neutral effect, in that it doesn’t increase or decrease your risks for heart disease or stroke,’ he said.
‘Given this, we believe there is not enough evidence to support a restriction on full-fat milk, yoghurt and cheese for a healthy person, as they also provide healthy nutrients like calcium.’
Professor Jennings went on to say processed or deli meats should still be limited, due to their consistent links to higher risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions.
‘Instead, we suggest 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.’
According to Professor Jennings, however, it is important to note these guideline changes are for healthy Australians.
For people who experience high cholesterol or heart disease, he said, unflavoured reduced-fat milk, yoghurt and cheese are still recommended, as is eating fewer than seven eggs per week.
That limit on eggs is also recommended for people with type 2 diabetes.
Professor Mark Harris is a GP and the main author of the RACGP’s SNAP (smoking, nutrition, alcohol and physical activity) guide.
He told newsGP this new advice is ‘pretty consistent’ with recent overall dietary advice, especially when it comes to egg and red meat intake.
Cutting back on red meat, he said, ties in with evidence that shows a reduction in risk factors for cardiovascular disease, stroke, heart disease and cancer when limiting meat intake.
But one piece of advice about which he is not sure is the recommendation regarding full-fat dairy.
‘I’m still a little bit anxious about that,’ he said.
‘I think the problem that’s occurred with the low-fat dairy has been partly that there’s been a shift to replace the fat with sugar, particularly fructose, to give it a better flavour.’
Professor Harris believes that if people reduce the amount of saturated fat from meat intake, then they can be ‘more relaxed’ about increasing such fat intake through dairy.
Rather than focusing too much on individual food groups, Professor Harris said it is also important to consider total caloric intake.
‘In the ’90s we got obsessed with everything having to be low fat. One of the consequences of that was that we increased our sugar intake and the harmful effects of that contributed to obesity, which itself is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease,’ he said.
Overall diet is also a key consideration.
‘What’s important is the dietary pattern rather than individual foods,’ Professor Harris said.
‘So we need to look at the whole of the dietary pattern, not just single nutrients or singles foods.’
Professor Jennings agreed.
‘Heart-healthy eating is more about the combination of foods, eaten regularly over time,’ he said.

dairy diet eggs Heart Foundation heart health red meat

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