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Chemical in red meat increases heart disease risk

Published on 12/04/2013

A chemical found in red meat increases the risk of heart disease by producing higher levels of cholesterol, according to US scientists.

A chemical found in red meat causes heart disease

The chemical L-carnitine can be found in red meat and consuming too much has an adverse effect on the heart, researchers found.

The study from the journal Nature Medicine explained that L-cartinine is broken down by bacteria in the gut, kicking off a reaction that leads to increased levels of cholesterol and an alleviated chance of heart disease.

Historically it was thought that too much red meat in a healthy diet was detrimental due to the levels of saturated fat and the production methods of processed meat. This is the first study to suggest that it could be other factors that make eating high quantities of red meat dangerous.

Another by-product of the body digesting L-carnitine was the potentially dangerous compound trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO).

High TMAO levels are thought to cause artery damage which contributes to an increased risk of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.

In the past it was thought that the nutrient L-carnitine could help with fat burning, muscle building and even heart protection itself. At the moment the nutrient is a popular supplement and this is the first study to suggest otherwise.

Dr Stanley Hazen, who led the study at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, said: “Discovery of a link between L-carnitine ingestion, gut microbiota metabolism and CVD (cardiovascular disease) risk has broad health-related implications.”

There are still health benefits from eating red meat and a recent Australian study last year found that eating red meat decreased the risks of depression.

Victoria Taylor, the senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation, said: "These scientists have served up a good reminder for us to think about alternative sources of protein if we regularly eat a lot of red or processed meats.”

Dr Hazen suggested using a probiotic yogurt to alter the balance of bacteria in the gut and explained that in theory reducing the number of bacteria that feed on carnitine could reduce the risks of red meat.

Maintaining a healthy diet by following the recommended dietary guidelines is one way you could save money on your health insurance premiums.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2013

Categories:  Health
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