The New Dietary Guidelines – Lean Meats

Schools News


And it continues……….for those who have been following our e-newsletters this year, we have been providing you with and in depth look at the new Australian Dietary Guidelines and Australian Guide to Healthy eating for school aged children. This edition……drum roll please…….

Lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans

More specifically, this group includes;

  • Lean meats – Beef, lamb, veal, pork, kangaroo
  • Poultry – Chicken, Turkey, duck, emu, goose, bush birds
  • Fish and Seafood – Fish, prawns, crab, lobster, mussels, oysters, scallops, clams
  • Eggs – chicken eggs, duck eggs
  • Nuts and Seeds – Almonds, pine nuts, walnut, macadamia, hazelnut, cashew, peanut, nut spreads, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, brazil nuts
  • Legumes/beans – All beans, lentils, chick peas, split peas and tofu.

There is quite a range of foods considered as part of this group and one of the key nutrients these have in common, is that they are all important sources of protein. In Australia, we typically enjoy consuming foods from this group and generally most individuals consume adequate protein in their daily diets. In addition to providing protein, this group also provides us with a range of important nutrients including iron, zinc, iodine, vitamin B12 and essential fatty acids. Following the recent review of the Australian Dietary Guidelines, it would seem that Australian adult males tend to eat more red meat than they need and many children and some women need to eat more than they currently do.

When it comes to iron, lean red meats tend to be the riches and most well absorbed source. While the iron (and zinc) found in animal foods tend to be better absorbed than those found in the plant varieties including nuts, seeds and legumes, it should be noted that the other nutrients such as vitamin C found in fruit and vegetables, often consumed with these foods, does assist with the absorption of iron.

You may have noticed that legumes/beans appear in this group as well as the vegetable group. While these foods are certainly considered vegetables, they also provide some of the same nutrients as lean meats, poultry, seafood and eggs. For vegetarians, these foods are a key source of nutrients, particularly protein and must be consumed in order to balance their diet.

Serve Sizes:

What was a serve 2003?

One Serve=

  •   65-100g cooked meat
  •   80-120g cooked fish fillet
  •   2 small eggs
  •   1/3 Cup cooked dried beans, lentils, chick   peas, split peas or canned beans
  •   1/3 cup peanuts/almonds

What is a serve in 2013?


One Serve =

  •   65g cooked lean red meats such as beef, lamb,   veal, pork, goat or kangaroo (90-100g raw)
  •   80g cooked lean poultry such as chicken or   turkey (100g raw)
  •   100g cooked fish fillet (about 115g raw) or   one small can fish
  •   2 large (120g) eggs
  •   1 cup (150g) cooked or canned legumes/beans   such as lentils, chick peas or split peas (preferably with no added salt)
  •   170g tofu
  •   30g nuts, seeds, peanut or almond butter or   tahini or other nut or seed paste (no added salt)*

*only to be used occasionally as a substitute for other foods in the   group.


So how much should school aged children be eating and has this changed since the 2003 Guidelines?


2003 Core Food Group Requirements

Age Number of Serves required/day
4-7yrs 0.5
8-11 yrs 1
12-18 yrs 1


2013 Core Food Group Requirements

Age Number of Serves/day  –  Boys Number of Serves/day –  Girls
2-3yrs 1 1
4-8 yrs 1.5 1.5
9-11yrs 2.5 2.5
12-13yrs 2.5 2.5
14-18yrs 2.5 2.5


Key Messages

  1. Key nutrients provided by this group include protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B12. Protein is important for the growth and repair of tissues and iron plays a crucial role in the transport of oxygen in the blood around the body. Enjoy a wide variety of choices from this food group to maximise nutrient intake.
  2. To ensure adequate amounts of iron and zinc, about half of the daily required amounts should come from lean meat options in this group.
  3. For those who don’t eat animal foods, but who do consume milk products and eggs in addition to nuts/seeds, legumes/beans, can get all the necessary nutrients for this group from their diet.
  4. The 2013 guidelines give users a little more detail on what range of foods are included as part of this group. This can be seen in particular with the options provided in “what is a serve” section. Users are given more detailed about raw vs cooked weights and there are now no longer ranges for serve sizes. E.g. where one serve of meat was previously 65-100g, it is now simply 65g.  As a result, it can be interpreted that the serve size has reduced overall.
  5. Daily serve size requirements have increased for all children, even in light of what is considered a serve size decreasing.
  6. Where relevant, serve group sizes are listed as both weight (grams) measures and cup measures.
  7. Serve size for legumes when considered as an alternative to meat in this group are increased from ½ to 1 Cup cooked. This amount is required for legumes to be used more suitably as an alternative to meat.
  8. Tofu has been included as an alternative in the new guidelines.
  9. A serve of egg has been increased from 2 small eggs previously, to 2 large eggs currently.



All information and images relating to The Australian Dietary Guidelines and the Australian Dietary Guidelines in this article are used by permission of the National Health and Medical Research Council.