I am
New advice from the Heart Foundation on meat, dairy and eggs
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

New advice from the Heart Foundation on meat, dairy and eggs

Media Release - 21 August 2019

Unflavoured full-fat milk, yogurt and cheese are now an option for healthy Australians. The limit has lifted on the number of eggs that can be eaten per week in a heart-healthy diet. Many Australians need to rethink how much red meat they’re eating, as evidence indicates it increases risks for heart disease and stroke

Heart Foundation Chief Medical Advisor, cardiologist Professor Garry Jennings, said, “We have introduced a limit of less than 350 grams a week for unprocessed beef, lamb, pork and veal. That’s around one to three lean red-meat meals a week, like a Sunday roast and a beef stir-fry.

“Processed or deli meats should be limited, as they have been consistently linked to a higher risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions,” Professor Jennings said.

“Instead, we suggest people should get most of their heart-healthy protein from plant sources such as beans, lentils (legumes) and tofu, as well as fish and seafood, with a smaller amount from eggs and lean poultry. Heart-healthy eating is more about the combination of foods, eaten regularly over time.

We have removed our restriction for healthy Australians on eating full-fat milk, cheese and yogurt. While the evidence was mixed, this type of dairy was found to have a neutral effect, in that it doesn’t increase or decrease your risks for heart disease or stroke.

“Given this, we believe there is not enough evidence to support a restriction on full-fat milk, yogurt and cheese for a healthy person, as they also provide healthy nutrients like calcium.”

But Professor Jennings warned that limits apply to the new advice around dairy and eggs.

“For people who suffer high cholesterol or heart disease, we recommend unflavoured reduced-fat milk, yogurt and cheese and eating less than seven eggs per week.

“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. Evidence found the dairy fat in milk, cheese and yogurt does not raise bad LDL cholesterol levels as much as butter or other dairy products.

We now advise people with Type 2 Diabetes to eat fewer than seven eggs per week, as growing evidence suggests an increased risk with eating more eggs.

“Type 2 Diabetes, along with high cholesterol and high blood pressure, are risks for heart disease and stroke that we can all take steps to avoid through diet and lifestyle changes,” Professor Jennings said.

Poor diet is the leading contributor to heart disease, accounting for 65.5 per cent of the total burden of disease. Yet if Australians ate the recommended daily intake of vegetables, it would reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by approximately 16.6% and save $1.4 billion in health spending, based on 2015-16 estimates.

Heart Foundation Director of Prevention, Julie Anne Mitchell, said healthy eating advice should reflect new evidence.  

“Over time, the Heart Foundation’s advice for heart-healthy eating has shifted with the evidence to downplay individual nutrients and look more closely at whole foods and patterns of eating. What matters now is the combination of healthy foods and how regularly people eat them,” Ms Mitchell said.

“The increase in availability and promotion of highly processed foods at the expense of healthy foods has meant that too many Australian adults get more than a third of their total daily energy from high-kilojoule, nutrient-poor junk foods like cakes, muffins, pastries, alcohol and soft drinks.

“Our focus needs to be squarely on promoting healthy foods over unhealthy foods, with a comprehensive national approach, grounded in evidence, that helps make the healthy choice the easy choice.”

Heart Foundation dietitian Sian Armstrong said when it comes to eating, the big picture matters, and choosing a variety of healthy foods, regularly over time, is key.

Eating more plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits and wholegrains, and healthy proteins like fish and seafood with smaller amounts of animal-based foods, while cutting down on highly processed junk foods is key to good heart health.

"To be heart-healthy, it’s also important to be smoke-free, limit alcohol intake, maintain a healthy weight and get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on five days a week."

This updated advice on meat, dairy and eggs is based on a substantial review of current evidence. The Heart Foundation commissioned the Sax Institute to investigate the scientific evidence regarding unprocessed red meat, poultry and heart health. Heart Foundation policy and nutrition staff reviewed scientific evidence into dairy and eggs. The Heart Foundation convened an advisory group of cardiology and nutrition experts to discuss this evidence and advise on a final position.

Media enquiries

Debora McInnes, Senior National Media Advisor - Nutrition
M: 0423 827 697 E: debora.mcinnes@heartfoundation.org.au

Fleur Jacobs, Senior National Media Advisor
M: 0427 591 638 E: fleur.jacobs@heartfoundation.org.au

Environment, climate change and heart health

Environment, climate change and heart health

Environment, climate change and heart health

Information on how air pollution, heatwaves and bushfires can impact heart health, and what you can do to look after yourself. ...

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Could you be at risk of heart disease? Get your estimated heart age now....

Heart health information in your language

Heart health information in your language

A selection of heart health information brochures in a range languages...

Strawberry fields oats

Strawberry fields oats

Strawberry fields oats

10 minutes
Serves 2

Philanthropic investments

Philanthropic investments

Philanthropic investments

Making philanthropic investments through the Heart Foundation can transform Australians’ health. ...

2022 Postdoctoral Fellowship

2022 Postdoctoral Fellowship

The Postdoctoral Fellowship aims to identify the best and brightest (recent) PhD graduates, give them a boost to their research career and enhance their ability to attract and secure future funding....

What is heart valve disease?

What is heart valve disease?

What is heart valve disease?

Heart valve disease means that your heart valve or valves don't open or close properly....

For professionals: Heart Health Checks

For professionals: Heart Health Checks

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

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?...

Vegetarian recipes

Vegetarian recipes

Vegetarian recipes

Search through our vegetarian recipes...

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Information to help you adjust to what could be the 'new normal'...

Supporting Your Emotional Wellbeing: An Online Forum for Young Heart Patients

Supporting Your Emotional Wellbeing: An Online Forum for Young Heart Patients

Supporting Your Emotional Wellbeing: An Online Forum for Young Heart Patients

NSW Cardiovascular Research Network

NSW Cardiovascular Research Network

NSW Cardiovascular Research Network

Encouraging cardiovascular research excellence in NSW ...

Research Directory

Research Directory

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

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

Salmon Tikka Parcels with Rice Salad

Salmon Tikka Parcels with Rice Salad

Salmon Tikka Parcels with Rice Salad

15 minutes
Serves 2

Your heart medicines

Your heart medicines

Your heart medicines

Information about commonly prescribed heart medicines. ...

Physical activity and your heart health

Physical activity and your heart health

Physical activity and your heart health

Physical activity and exercise can benefit your heart, body and mind....

For professionals: Heart failure tools and resources

For professionals: Heart failure tools and resources

Resources for healthcare professionals on the management of patients with heart failure ...

Leaving a gift in your Will: A lasting legacy

Leaving a gift in your Will: A lasting legacy

Leaving a gift in your Will: A lasting legacy

One of the most powerful ways to help support a future without heart disease is to include a gift to the Heart Foundation in your Will...

Building physical activity into urban planning and design

Building physical activity into urban planning and design

Building physical activity into urban planning and design

Resources available for built environment professionals to help guide in the development of active outdoor and indoor spaces....

Personal Walking Plan

Personal Walking Plan

Personal Walking Plan

Feel healthier and happier in six weeks with a free Personal Walking Plan...

Support after a heart attack

Support after a heart attack

Support after a heart attack

Many different thoughts may go through your head after a heart attack and you may be presented with complicated medical info. Know where to get support. ...

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 ...

What is heart failure?

What is heart failure?

What is heart failure?

Heart failure is a condition where your heart isn’t pumping as well as it should be....

Loaded veggie shepherds pie

Loaded veggie shepherds pie

Loaded veggie shepherds pie

1 hour
Serves Serves 4 (as a main meal)

COVID-19 info & FAQs

COVID-19 info & FAQs

COVID-19 info & FAQs

Information and FAQs about COVID-19 and heart disease....

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...

Sit less, move more

Sit less, move more

Sit less, move more

You may be surprised to know that on average, adults sit for nine hours a day....