Heart Health - What's new?

You may have seen that the Heart Foundation have recently revised their nutrition guidelines and I for one am very pleased with the new recommendations which reflect a much more wholefood approach to nutrition which is what Body Good Food is all about.

The new guidelines include:

  • Full fat dairy such as unflavoured milk, yoghurt and cheese can feature in a healthy eating pattern as long as foods such as fish, olives, seeds, nuts (and oils made from these) are the primary sources of fat. Those with high blood cholesterol should choose reduced fat varieties. Butter, cream, ice-cream and dairy-based desserts are not recommended as heart-healthy, as they contain higher fat and sugar levels and less protein. Fermented dairy products are different again from milk itself and seem to offer extra benefits.

  • Red meat: 350g per week, across 1-3 meals, when eaten with vegetables and wholegrains and when healthy oils are used. Per meal, this would amount to 100-170g of unprocessed red meat or the equivalent of a small scotch fillet, 2 lamb chops, a medium veal steak, or a medium pork loin steak included 2-3 times per week. Larger amounts of unprocessed red meat, for example mince, leg or shoulder roasts, rump or T-bone steaks can be served in smaller portions across the week, or in a larger portion (<350g) less frequently (e.g. once per week).

  • Other unprocessed meat, including chicken can be included, along with other sources of healthy proteins as part of a healthy eating pattern but preference is for fish and legumes as the beneficial sources of protein.

  • Processed meat products are consistently linked to adverse health outcomes and are not included in a heart healthy eating pattern. Their intake should be avoided.

  • Eggs can be consumed as part of a heart healthy eating pattern that includes vegetables, fruits, legumes, wholegrains, fish, olives, seeds, nuts (and oils made from these). The only case where there is a limit on egg consumption is people with type 2 diabetes mellitus; where a maximum of 7 eggs per week is recommended.

The full Heart Healthy Eating Principles by the Heart Foundation are :

  1. Plenty of vegetables, fruits and wholegrains.

  2. A variety of healthy protein sources especially fish and seafood, legumes (such as beans and lentils), nuts and seeds. Smaller amounts of eggs and lean poultry can also be included in a heart healthy diet. If choosing red meat, make sure the meat is lean and limit to 1-3 times a week.

  3. Unflavoured milk, yoghurt and cheese. Those with high blood cholesterol should choose reduced fat varieties.

  4. Healthy fat choices with nuts, seeds, avocados, olives and their oils for cooking.

  5. Herbs and spices to flavour foods, instead of adding salt.

What these guidelines reflect is that is it not sound enough to consider nutrients in isolation (ie. saturated fat) because all foods exist in a ‘food matrix’. This means that each food product is a complex structure which can determine the functionality and effect it has on the body through to digestion and absorption. Dairy is a great example because it contains saturated fat which some studies is shown to have a negative association with health, but dairy products also contain calcium, protein and in some cases active cultures which allows these foods to have a neutral or possibly beneficial effect on health.

So cheers to wholefoods and balance!