Meat, poultry and seafood
Australians eat a lot of meat and poultry – in fact we are amongst the highest meat eaters in the world. Fish, seafood and legumes are preferable, however that doesnt mean you need to cut out meat entirely – read on to work out how to put a healthier balance into your meals.
A heart healthy eating pattern means making vegetables, fruits and wholegrains the stars. In fact, these foods should make up about three quarters of your plate – half for vegetables and fruit and a quarter for wholegrains. Healthy protein foods can then be added in smaller amounts.
Use herbs and spices, lemon juice or zest. This is a great way to enhance 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 good way to cut costs.
Fish and seafood
Enjoy fish and seafood two to three times a week as part of a heart-healthy diet. One serve of fish is about 150 g (about the size of your whole hand) or one small can.
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. Try to choose sustainably-sourced fish and seafoods. Good choices are anchovies, tuna, Australian wild-caught salmon, mackerel, Australian prawns, calamari, crabs, trout, trevally, sardines and whiting..
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.
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 100 g (about the size of your palm)
Meats are a good source of protein and vitamins and minerals however higher intakes are associated with a moderate increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease, in particular stroke. The average intake is Australia is 560g a week – but we should be eating no more than 350g a week. This means limiting lean trimmed red meat to 1-3 meals a week. A serving of red meat is about 100g (about the size of your palm or a small fillet steak.)
Processed and deli meats
Avoid processed meats like sausages, ham 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, additives and saturated fat than lean, unprocessed meat. and they can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Planning your meals
Remember, it's best to think about your whole eating pattern - not just one meal. For example, you could have 100 g of cooked lean meat in your main meal one to three times a week. Chicken and egg-based dishes could then make up another 2 to 3 meals a week each. Then eat a variety of fish, seafood and plant-based proteins like legumes, tofu, nuts and seeds for the rest of the week.
Learn more about simple steps you can take to eat healthily.