A hard-to-swallow menu - ruminate first!

'Lean' meat advice - is it outdated?

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Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

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Can you really just subsititute in a meat alternative and expect to get the same level of nutrition?

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For those who have not browsed through the Healthy Eating Guidelines for a while, one interesting thing you may notice is that tofu and pulses are in the same category as meat (which includes "lean" meats, poultry, seafood and eggs), and it says to include "lean" meats, or meat alternatives, in at least one meal a day.

There are two things here that probably need further investigation.

Firstly, can you really just subsititute in a meat alternative and expect to get the same level of nutrition?

And secondly, why is there still such a focus on "lean" meats?

The 2014 research paper "Should animal fats be back on the table? A critical review of the human health effects of animal fat", published on CSIRO Publishing looks at fat's role in human metabolism, and is one of an increasing number of studies that questions if we need more natural fats in our diet.

This is contrary to dietary guidelines of recent decades and raises the question as to why the guidelines retain such an emphasis on "lean" meats.

While just one paper, its findings support animal fats in the human diet and it states:

"Due to high levels of oleic acid, a low n-6:n-3 fatty acid ratio in some groups, and the presence of specific micronutrients including vitamins and essential fatty acids, animal fats are of benefit in human nutrition. Animal fats can be obtained in minimally processed form making them a convenient source of energy and micronutrients."

Also read:

Research builds pointing to health drawbacks of a vegan diet

Red meat's 65gm-a-day limit under scrutiny

It also highlights the shift that we've all been hearing more of in recent years, that being:

"Prominent medical professionals are starting to say that it is better to control sugar, especially fructose and thereby sucrose, and that controlling dietary saturated fat is irrelevant, so it may be that the wheel has started to turn. Animal industries should be aware of these trends and need to take advantage of them when they arise, because changing selection goals or production practises do not occur overnight. More emphasis should be placed on healthy fat from animals, not just from fish, but also from livestock of all kinds".

The Land is far from being an expert source of information on healthy eating, and while you probably shouldn't base your shopping list around what we say, the disparity between certain modern research and the focus of parts of the guidelines does provide some food for thought.

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