I am
Show me:
Show me:
New diet recommendations matter to your heart
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

New diet recommendations matter to your heart

Heart-healthy eating is not about one specific food or nutrient; it’s about regularly eating a variety of healthy foods over time.

Key takeaways

  • Plant foods should make up most of your plate; be sure to include lots of vegetables, fruits and wholegrain cereals, as well as legumes (chickpeas, beans and lentils)
  • Fish and seafood are also great choices
  • You can add smaller servings of other animal-based products, such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, eggs, poultry and lean meat
3 min read

Go online, read a magazine, flick through your Instagram feed, and you might find the latest advice covering healthy eating, superfoods or celebrity diets. So, how do you make sense of it all, especially if you want to eat well for your heart?

For example, how much red meat can you eat, are eggs in or out, what about diary, and is butter OK?

The Heart Foundation has just reviewed the latest evidence covering how certain foods impact heart disease risk, and we have tweaked some of our recommendations.

Our key message is that heart-healthy eating is not about one specific food or nutrient; it’s about regularly eating a variety of healthy foods over time.

What does heart-healthy eating look like?

  • Plant foods should make up most of your plate; be sure to include lots of vegetables, fruits and wholegrain cereals, as well as legumes (chickpeas, beans and lentils)
  • Fish and seafood are also great choices
  • You can add smaller servings of other animal-based products, such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, eggs, poultry and lean meat

This way of eating is naturally low in saturated fat, added sugars and salt but high in fibre, vitamins and minerals. Make sure to keep junk foods and take-aways to a minimum and cook at home more often.

Meat

Many of us love a great steak, but eating too much red meat increases your risk of heart disease and your waistline.

How much meat should you eat?

The link between red meat and cardiovascular disease (leading to a narrowing or blockage of blood vessels and can lead to a heart attack or stroke) means you should limit the amount of red meat you eat.

Across your week you should eat less than 350g of unprocessed red meat (such as beef, pork or lamb)

This means you can have about 1-3 red meat-based meals each week, but eat this together with vegetables, wholegrains and healthy cooking oils (see below).

While you can eat some red meat, you should try to avoid sausages and salamis. Eating processed meats is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and other health conditions.

Eating poultry doesn’t seem to increase or decrease your risk of heart disease; it can be enjoyed as part of a heart-healthy diet.

Eggs

The link between eating eggs and cardiovascular health is a widely discussed topic. While eggs are a source of cholesterol, the latest evidence shows that eating them as part of a heart-healthy dietary pattern does not affect the risk of developing heart disease for healthy people.

How many eggs should you eat?

The Heart Foundation no longer recommends a limit on the number of eggs healthy Australians can eat. What you eat them with is important, though. When enjoying eggs, add some mushrooms and avocado, but skip the bacon.

Some people should limit the number of eggs they eat. If you have type 2 diabetes, you should eat no more than seven eggs a week. This is because the evidence shows a link between eating more than seven eggs a week and increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease in people with type 2 diabetes

Dairy

We know that the fat in dairy foods can raise blood cholesterol, however new evidence shows that the effect depends on the type of dairy product you eat or drink.

How much dairy should you eat?

For healthy individuals, the risk of developing heart disease is not significantly increased by eating and consuming unflavoured milk, cheese and yoghurt as part of a heart-healthy diet. This means that you can choose between full-fat or reduced-fat varieties. However, if you have existing heart disease or have high cholesterol, we recommend you choose low-fat milk, yoghurt and cheese. Low-fat dairy foods are usually lower in kilojoules too.

The recommendation for milk, yoghurt and cheese does not extend to cream, butter and ice cream; these foods are not part of a heart-healthy eating pattern. This means you should avoid eating or cooking with butter. There are preferred options, such as olive oil, avocado, tahini and nut butters.

You might also be interested in

Five foods to help lower blood pressure

Five foods to help lower blood pressure

Five foods to help lower blood pressure

One the easiest steps you can take to prevent high blood pressure is choosing healthy foods....

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Sign up now and discover delicious, easy to follow dinner recipes. Plus shopping lists, tips and other helpful information to make healthy eating easy. ...

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

Getting the right balance of fats in your diet can improve your heart health....

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Search all of our heart healthy recipes ...

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Eating healthy foods can help you recover and reduce your risk of more heart problems. ...

Five ways to lower cholesterol

Five ways to lower cholesterol

Five ways to lower cholesterol

Lower your cholesterol, whether you're eating breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert or even a snack....

Nutrition action plan

Nutrition action plan

Dairy and your heart health

Dairy and your heart health

Dairy and your heart health

Not all dairy products are equal. Discover different types of dairy foods and their impact on heart health....

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Check out our recipe categories to find your next heart healthy meal....

Nutrition after a heart attack

Nutrition after a heart attack

Nutrition after a heart attack

Discover key information on heart-healthy eating and drinking....

Should you be cooking with coconut oil?

Should you be cooking with coconut oil?

Should you be cooking with coconut oil?

25 June 2018...

Sodium and salt converter

Sodium and salt converter

Convert the sodium listed on food products into grams of salt or vice versa. ...

Fats, oils and heart health

Fats, oils and heart health

Fats, oils and heart health

Get the right balance of healthy fats in your diet ...

Sorting fat from fiction

Sorting fat from fiction

Sorting fat from fiction

It seems when healthy eating is the subject, everyone wants to talk about fat. It can be a confusing and polarising topic....

Reading food labels

Reading food labels

Reading food labels

Nutrition information panels and ingredients lists are a good way of comparing similar foods so you can choose the healthiest option....

Spring back to heart-healthy eating with these delicious tips

Spring back to heart-healthy eating with these delicious tips

Spring back to heart-healthy eating with these delicious tips

With spring sprung, now is the time to get back to heart-healthy eating. ...

Fruit, vegetables and heart health

Fruit, vegetables and heart health

Fruit, vegetables and heart health

How to boost your fruit and vegetable intake to help protect your heart. ...

Why are you playing this game? It’s putting your heart at risk.

Why are you playing this game? It’s putting your heart at risk.

Why are you playing this game? It’s putting your heart at risk.

The game is “hide and seek”. You play it without even realising. The shock is that when you play this game, you could be placing your heart health at risk....

What is a healthy body weight?

What is a healthy body weight?

What is a healthy body weight?

Find out what a healthy body weight is and the steps you can take to achieve it. ...

You’ll love our heart-healthy winter recipes

You’ll love our heart-healthy winter recipes

You’ll love our heart-healthy winter recipes

Healthy eating to protect your heart

Healthy eating to protect your heart

Healthy eating to protect your heart

What does a heart-friendly diet look like?...

9 food and heart health myths, busted

9 food and heart health myths, busted

9 food and heart health myths, busted

Let’s dive into nine common food and health myths and the facts behind them....

Heart-healthy drinks

Heart-healthy drinks

Heart-healthy drinks

While water is clearly the most heart-healthy drink, there are ther drinks that can be enjoyed in moderation. ...

How to make healthier meals at home

How to make healthier meals at home

How to make healthier meals at home

Cooking at home is often healthier than eating out....

Protein and heart health

Protein and heart health

Protein and heart health

What are the best sources of protein when it come to your heart health...

Is salt bad for your heart?

Is salt bad for your heart?

Is salt bad for your heart?

Most Australians are eating more than the recommended amounts and this can cause health problems....

What waist measurements mean for your heart

What waist measurements mean for your heart

What waist measurements mean for your heart

How your waist measurement contributes to your heart health...

Wholegrains and heart health

Wholegrains and heart health

Wholegrains and heart health

All you need to know about wholegrains to put you on the right track...

Support and resources for health care professionals

Support and resources for health care professionals

Support and resources for health care professionals

Our range of clinical and patient support resources are available for you to use in your daily practice....

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Join the Heart Foundation community. Together, we can make a real difference for Australian hearts. ...

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

There is no single cause for any one heart condition, but there are risk factors that increase your chance of developing one. ...

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Full list of clinical guidlines and references for CVD, heart failure, ACS, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, SCAD and RHD...

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

The fundraising race where you set the pace. Run, jog or walk MyMarathon at your own pace during October....

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Join the fight against Australia’s biggest killer by supporting the Heart Foundation.  ...

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Sign up now and discover delicious, easy to follow dinner recipes. Plus shopping lists, tips and other helpful information to make healthy eating easy. ...

Diabetes and heart disease

Diabetes and heart disease

Diabetes and heart disease

Diabetes is an ongoing health condition where your body’s usual ways of controlling your blood sugar, or blood glucose levels, don’t work properly. ...

Cardiomyopathy; another health curveball for Ange

Cardiomyopathy; another health curveball for Ange

Cardiomyopathy; another health curveball for Ange

A story from Ange Foster ...

Donate to the Heart Foundation

Donate to the Heart Foundation

Donate to the Heart Foundation

Every dollar that you donate will help fund research, support and programs that help save lives....

Key Statistics: Heart attack

Key Statistics: Heart attack

Register your cardiac service with the Heart Foundation

Register your cardiac service with the Heart Foundation

This cardiac services directory presents information on cardiac rehab programs offered across Australia....

What is cardiac rehab?

What is cardiac rehab?

What is cardiac rehab?

Cardiac rehab is proven to keep you out of hospital and reduce your risk of death from heart conditions....

Dinner recipes

Dinner recipes

Dinner recipes

Search our heart healthy dinner recipes for tonights main meal...

Heart Foundation delivers $17.2 million for cutting-edge heart research in a challenging year

Heart Foundation delivers $17.2 million for cutting-edge heart research in a challenging year

Heart Foundation delivers $17.2 million for cutting-edge heart research in a challenging year

Media Release 20 October 2020...

Reading food labels

Reading food labels

Reading food labels

Nutrition information panels and ingredients lists are a good way of comparing similar foods so you can choose the healthiest option....

Join Kate in making a difference to future generations

Join Kate in making a difference to future generations

Join Kate in making a difference to future generations

Kate wanted to find a way she could make a difference to future generations...

Staying active for better heart health

Staying active for better heart health

Staying active for better heart health

Moving more every day is one of the best habits you can have....

Heart Foundation Research Award Recipients

Heart Foundation Research Award Recipients

Explore our research award recipients and projects...

WEBINAR | Supporting young hearts: Ask a Cardiologist

WEBINAR | Supporting young hearts: Ask a Cardiologist

WEBINAR | Supporting young hearts: Ask a Cardiologist

Sat Oct 17 2020
Free

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Explore our guide for driving and heart attack recovery. ...

How a pacemaker at 34 saved my life

How a pacemaker at 34 saved my life

How a pacemaker at 34 saved my life

Kim shares the emotional and physical upheaval experienced on her journey to diagnosis and recovery....

Keeping your heart healthy

Keeping your heart healthy

Keeping your heart healthy

Keeping your heart healthy is something you can work on every day. ...

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Join the fight against heart disease....

Stay informed about COVID-19

Stay informed about COVID-19

Stay informed about COVID-19

If you have heart disease, you are more vulnerable to severe complications....

Hypertension clinical information and guidelines

Hypertension clinical information and guidelines

Clinical information for diagnosis and management of hypertension....

For professionals: Heart Health Checks

For professionals: Heart Health Checks

Heart Health Checks have been supported by Medicare since April 2019....

Our supporters 

Our supporters 

Our supporters 

Working together to save Australian hearts...

Encouraging cardiovascular research excellence in NSW

Encouraging cardiovascular research excellence in NSW

Encouraging cardiovascular research excellence in NSW

A ground-breaking collaboration bringing together for the first time the state’s most eminent cardiovascular researchers...

Cardiac arrest at 33: the challenges of restarting your life

Cardiac arrest at 33: the challenges of restarting your life

Cardiac arrest at 33: the challenges of restarting your life

Emma shares her story and opens up about her emotional struggles....