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Meat and poultry

Choose lean meat and poultry.

Lean meat is a good source of protein, and vitamins and minerals such as iron, selenium, zinc, and B vitamins. It is also one of the main sources of vitamin B12. 

Poultry – like chicken, turkey, duck and other birds – is also a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals. 

What to choose

Choose lean meat trimmed of all visible fat. Lean beef, lamb, mutton, veal, pork, venison, rabbit, emu, kangaroo, buffalo and goat are all good choices.

Select poultry trimmed of visible fat and without the skin. Choose chicken, turkey, duck or other wild birds.

Choosing lean cuts of meat and poultry helps to reduce the total amount of saturated fat in your diet. Eating a lot of saturated fat increases your cholesterol, and your risk of heart disease.

Processed meats

Avoid processed meats like sausages and deli meats like salami. If you do wish to choose deli meats or sausages, choose ones with the Heart Foundation Tick where available as this identifies healthier products compared to similar products.

Processed meats are higher in salt and saturated fat than lean, unprocessed products. Saturated fat and salt can increase the risk of heart disease and processed meats have been linked to some cancers. These foods should be chosen only occasionally and eaten in small amounts.

How much to eat

Meat and poultry are protein foods. Aim for 1–3 serves of protein foods each day (lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds or legumes). Find out more about serves of protein foods

A serve of meat is about 65 g cooked, and a serve of poultry is about 80 g cooked.

These sizes may seem small, but you can adjust the amount you have at one meal, if you keep in mind the number of serves across the week and the variety of other foods to include in a healthy diet.

For example, you could have 130 g of cooked lean meat in your main meal 3 times a week. Then in the rest of the week you could include a variety of other foods like fish, chicken, eggs and non-meat options like legumes, nuts and seeds.

Eating more than 455 g per week of red meat is linked with a higher risk of some cancers (Australian Dietary Guidelines). That’s why it’s important to include a variety of other protein foods.

Healthy heart tips for eating meat and poultry

  • Trim the visible fat off meat and remove skin from chicken.
  • Be sure to serve plenty of vegetables with meat dishes.
  • Try adding different herbs and spices or lemon juice or zest to different meats to enhance the flavours without using salt or butter.
  • Add legumes (beans, peas or lentils) to stews, curries or casseroles to stretch out the meat or poultry. It’s also a way of adding more vegetables to your main meal.

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