Meat, poultry and seafood
Meat poultry and seafood are great protein sources. Discover what makes up a serve and how to keep your cuts healthy when preparing meals and cooking.
Australians eat a lot of meat and poultry. And while we love our seafood, it's important that we're eating enough of it to balance out how much meat we eat. But the most important thing is to make sure your serves are healthy.
To do this, trim off the visible fat when preparing your cuts of meat for cooking. This helps to make it as lean as possible.
Remember that for your meals to be healthy, how you cook your food matters and so is what you add to it.
Add legumes (beans, peas or lentils) to stews, curries or casseroles to stretch out the meat or poultry. It’s also a good way of adding more vegetables to your main meal and costs less.
Meats are a good source of protein and vitamins and minerals such as iron, selenium, zinc, and B vitamins. They're also one of the main sources of vitamin B12. One serve of meat is about 65 g cooked (90–100 g raw).
The kind of meat you eat isn't as important as how lean it is. However, kangaroo is a very lean option for a main meal. Pork is also a good option.
Processed and deli meats
Avoid processed meats like sausages and salami. Salt gets added to sausages as they're made and rubbed into the skin to preserve products like ham, prosciutto and salami. These meats are much higher in salt and saturated fat than lean, unprocessed products. Eating too much saturated fat and salt can increase your heart disease risk. Processed meats can also increase cancer risk too.
For poultry to be lean there's another step to follow after trimming the fat: removing the skin. This applies to all types of poultry. Chicken, turkey, duck and other birds are healthy poultry options and are also a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals. One serve of poultry is about 80 g cooked (100 g raw).
It’s a good idea to include more seafood to your eating pattern. This adds more variety to your protein intake across the week. Eat fish and seafood two to three times a week as part of a heart-healthy diet. One serve of fish is about 100 g cooked (115 g raw) or one small can.
People who regularly eat fish tend to have a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Fish and seafood provide protein, selenium, zinc, iodine and vitamins A and D as well as omega-3 fats.
Fish and seafood contain omega-3 fats which help to maintain good general health and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Oily fish is particularly rich in omega-3. Types of oily fish include anchovies, tuna, Atlantic salmon, trout, trevally, sardines, whiting and snapper.
Healthy seafood ideas
Try these tips for a healthy meal:
- Wrap fillets of fish in individual foil parcels with lemon slices, and crushed garlic. Sprinkle them with herbs and spices and place into the oven for a few minutes until soft. Serve with salad.
- Steam fish with ginger, garlic, shallots and little sesame oil.
- Mash sardines in a bowl with a little vinegar, and serve on toast with sliced tomato and cracked pepper.
- Add canned tuna to a mixed salad for a quick, healthy lunch or to one cup of cooked penne pasta and your favourite veggies for a quick supper or pasta salad.
Get our healthy fish and seafood recipes.
Mercury in fish
Mercury in the environment accumulates in the fish and seafood we then eat. Generally, the benefits of eating fish and seafood far outweigh the risk of the small amounts of mercury consumed. Food standards Australia has specific recommendations for children and pregnant women.
Planning your meals
The above serve sizes may seem small, but you can adjust the amount you have at each meal throughout the week. Remember, it's best to think about your whole eating pattern - not just one meal.
By doing this you are creating your own healthy eating plan.
For example, you could have 130 g of cooked lean meat in your main meal three times a week. Then eat a variety of fish, chicken, eggs and non-animal options like legumes, tofu, nuts and seeds for the rest of the week.
Learn more about simple steps you can take to eat healthily.