(Australian Associated Press)
Healthy Australians can indulge in the joy of full-fat milk, cheese and yoghurt without increasing their risk of heart disease or stroke.
But they should limit how much red meat they eat to about three meals a week if they want to keep their heart in good shape.
The Heart Foundation has made the declarations in its latest advice on meat, dairy and eggs, which follows a major review of Australian and international research.
The authority has hosed down concerns about full-fat dairy products, finding they ultimately have a neutral effect on a person’s risk of heart disease or stroke.
As a result, there’s not enough evidence to suggest restricting them is necessary for healthy people.
The foundation previously recommended everyone stick with reduced-fat dairy products, but now says that’s only necessary for those with high cholesterol, heart disease or type two diabetes.
For the first time, it is also encouraging all Australians to restrict their consumption of unprocessed beef, lamb, pork and veal to 350 grams a week, equating to about three lean red-meat meals.
Processed or deli meats should be limited, as they have been consistently linked to a higher risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions.
On eggs, the foundation has lifted the weekly limit that healthy people should eat.
But it says people with type two diabetes should stick to seven eggs a week or fewer, as eating more has been linked to a higher rate of heart disease and stroke.
The same is true for people already experiencing heart disease.
Heart Foundation Dietician Sian Armstrong says protecting your heart is about more than focusing on any one food.
“For heart-healthy eating it’s not just about how many eggs you have a week, or whether you have reduced or full-fat milk. It’s about the whole eating pattern,” she told AAP.
“So we’re really encouraging people to look at not just one different food, but what they’re eating over days, weeks and even months.”
The Heart Foundation ultimately hopes Australians will eat plenty of plant-based foods.
That includes lots of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, along with proteins such as beans, lentils and tofu, as well as some fish and seafood.