Chemical in red meat damages heart
A new study published in the journal Nature Medicine reveals why eating red meat appears to raise cholesterol levels and heart disease risk. The culprit is a chemical called carnitine, which occurs naturally in red meat products and is sometimes sold on its own as a supplement.
In a study with mice, researchers observed that the carnitine in red meat is broken down in the stomach into a gas. This gas is then converted in the liver to a chemical called TMAO. TMAO is often dismissed in studies as a waste product of digestion, but this study found a strong link between TMAO and the buildup of fat deposits in the blood vessels, which is a hallmark symptom of heart disease.
Some researchers suggest that eating probiotic yogurt to balance out the bacteria in the stomach could theoretically lower the risk of heart disease by reducing the number of bacteria that feed on the carnitine. But, above all, the findings provide a solid reason behind the observed link between red meat consumption and heart disease risk. Researchers recommend that people limit their consumption of red meat and avoid any supplements that contain carnitine.