December 12, 2018

Red Meat and Heart Disease

I talked in an earlier post about how over 25,000 women were studied and it was found that there is a significant reduction in risk factors of heart disease with the Mediterranean diet. If you have cardiovascular issues in your family history or are exhibiting some of the warning signs, that is a meal plan that you should definitely take a look at.

On the other side of the equation, new research has indicated a culprit that can increase your risk of heart disease. I’m talking about red meat. I love a nice lean steak just like most people, but apparently, it should be enjoyed in moderation if you want to keep your risk factors of cardiovascular issues low. Let’s get into what the new study reveals.

Red Meat Increases Risk of Heart Disease

The main culprit behind this increased risk is a compound called TMAO. Two recent studies that were published this week examined people who were vegetarians, individuals who only eat white meat like poultry, and people who consumed red meat. It was found that the former two groups (vegetarians and white meat eaters) had much lower production of TMAO. Furthermore, it was found that once consumption of red meat was stopped, your body stops making this unhealthy compound.

Not only does this compound have an effect on your cardiovascular system, but it also showed a dramatic effect on kidney function. According to a researcher, it actually changes the function of the kidney.

TMAO, which is short for trimethylamine N-oxide, is produced by bacteria in the gut when food is digested. This is particularly true when eating red meat, which causes the gut bacteria to produce a precursor that is then metabolized into TMAO. There are a number of kinds of bacteria that boost production of TMAO, all of which are prominently found in red meat as well as eggs and dairy products.

studies find link between red meat and heart disease

This compound can lead to blood clots, which are associated with heart attacks and strokes. Furthermore, it can also raise the risk of colorectal cancer and early death.

The good news is that, while TMAO levels spike with the consumption of red meat, these levels can be normalized again after discontinuation of eating this type of protein for four weeks.

My Takeaway


Surely, not many of us have the discipline to cut out red meat from our diet altogether. The article that I read on this topic didn’t have any conclusion on what is a healthy amount, rather it cites examples of individuals who have cut it out of their diet altogether. I’m not sure that I could do that. There has to be a healthy level that doesn’t spike your TMAO levels too much.

It goes without saying, watch what you eat. Follow a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat foods, proteins from plant sources, and limit your red meat according to these studies. Also, while supplements are great, it is best to get your nutrients through your regular diet by eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals.

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About 

T.J. LaPanta is a Florida based aspiring comedian and health nut.
When he's not trying to hack his way through a post-graduate degree, he's slaving away in the kitchen, working out, or trying to score a date.

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