Lean meats and alternatives food group mythbusters

Read through the statements on this page to discover how various myths about lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans are debunked with scientific evidence.

Myth

Red meat causes cancer.

Busted

No evidence has been found linking cancer with the consumption of the recommended daily intake of red meat. Consumption of lean red meat should follow the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommendations. Red meat is an important part of a healthy balanced diet, providing a package of nutrients, including iron and zinc, vitamin B12 and essential fatty acids.1,2

Myth

Hormone-use in poultry production poses a health risk to consumers.

Busted

Australian chickens are not fed hormones or administered hormones in any way. Independent tests by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, as a part of the National Residue Survey, confirm that Australian chicken meat is free of added hormones. All living organisms contain hormones and therefore cannot be hormone-free, but no hormones are added to poultry or their feed – this practice is banned in Australia.3

Myth

Eating too many eggs increases cholesterol levels.

Busted

Eggs contain good quality protein, 11 vitamins and minerals and are a source of healthy fats including omega-3. Eggs are recommended as part of a balanced diet and eating up to six eggs each week will not raise cholesterol levels or increase your risk of heart disease.4

Myth

Avoid seafood because of mercury.

Busted

Mercury is a naturally occurring element that is found in air, water and food. Fish take up mercury from streams and oceans as they feed and, as such, mercury levels differ from one species of fish to the next. Fish is an important part of a healthy diet, providing good quality protein and healthy omega 3 fatty acids. Our body can, and does, get rid of mercury over time, however, pregnant women, women planning a pregnancy and young children (up to six years) should avoid consumption of fish that contain high levels of mercury.5

Myth

Nuts are fattening.

Busted

A small handful of nuts (30–50g) each day is not associated with a weight gain, and may also help reduce the risk of obesity. The healthy fats in nuts can help you feel fuller, which helps to control appetite. And since some fat is trapped in the fibrous structure of the nut, it passes through the body rather than being digested.

Nuts can be part of a healthy diet to maintain or even lose weight, as long as your overall kilojoule intake does not increase. Eating a handful of nuts as a substitute for less healthy foods such as muffins, biscuits, cakes, chips, chocolate and so on.6




1 Cancer Council NSW. Meat and cancer [Internet]. Cancer Council NSW, Woolloomooloo, 2015. Available: http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/21639/cancer-information/cancer-risk-and-prevention/healthy-weight-diet-and-exercise/meat-and-cancer/

2 National Health and Medical Research Council. Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans [Internet]. Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2015. Available: https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/five-food-groups/lean-meat-and-poultry-fish-eggs-tofu-nuts-and-seeds-and

3 Australia Chicken Meat Federation (ACMF) Inc. Some frequently asked questions. ACMF, North Sydney. Available: http://www.chicken.org.au/files/_system/document/faq.pdf

4 The Heart Foundation. Eggs [Internet]. The Heart Foundation, Phillip. Available: http://heartfoundation.org.au/healthy-eating/food-and-nutrition/protein-foods/eggs

5 Better Health Channel. Mercury in fish [Internet]. Victoria State Government, Health and Human Services, Melbourne, 2013. Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/mercury-in-fish

6 Nutrition Australia. Nuts and health [Internet]. Nutrition Australia, 2014. Available: http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/frequently-asked-questions/general-nutrition/nuts-and-health