Nutrition headlines never cease to draw interest and boost readership. After all, we are all food consumers and want to know what’s hot and what’s not. Read on for our commentary of the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s new advice for healthy eating and saturated fat, and the World Health Organization’s hot off the press research release on processed meat.
A recent study published in the British Medical Journal questions the effect of saturated fat on heart disease. The study also showed that there is a clear relationship between trans fats and heart health problems. Although more work needs to be done, what we see is that saturated fats (which are found naturally in red meat, dairy products and certain vegetable oils) may not be as bad for heart health as we thought. However, trans fats, which are often found in processed or fried foods should be limited in the diet.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada suggests that if you eat a “balanced diet you don’t have to worry as much about intake of saturated fat.” The Foundation also issued a statement “advocating for moderation and choosing whole foods instead of processed ones.”
Another statement recently released by the World Health Organization (WHO) points to processed and red meat consumption as a risk factor for cancer. The WHO media release states: “The experts concluded that each 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%”. While these numbers sound dramatic, food and nutrition experts caution that they need to be taken in context.
As registered dietitians we closely follow the research, the evidence and the headlines and will elaborate on the key issues in our future programs and newsletters. For now we recommend you consider the big picture of an overall healthy dietary pattern with our top 3 tips below:
- Vary your daily protein choices.
- Include lean meats, poultry and fish (in smaller amounts) along with plant based meat alternatives such as beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.
- Dietitians of Canada recommends limiting processed meat consumption, in part due to the association with cancer risk as well as the high levels of sodium in these meats.