The chemical present in red meat has helped explain the reasons why excessive consumption of red meat is bad for the heart. According to a study published in the journal Nature Medicine, carnitine in red meat interferes with the action of bacteria in the gut.
A study published in the journal Nature Medicine shows that carnitine, which is found in red meat, breaks down bacteria in the gut. This triggers a chain of events that manifests itself in higher cholesterol levels and an increased risk of developing various heart diseases.
Saturated fats and the way processed meat is preserved are factors that contribute to heart problems. However, this is far from all. “Cholesterol and saturated lean red meat fats are not so high; something else contributes to the increase in cardiovascular risk,” the head of the study, Dr. Stanley Hazen
Experiments on mice and humans have shown that bacteria in the gut can break down carnitine. This produced a gas that the liver converted into a chemical called TMAO. In research, however, the chemical is closely linked to the accumulation of fatty deposits in blood vessels, which can lead to heart disease and even death.
Dr. Hazen noted that the chemical TMAO is often overlooked: “It may be a waste product, but it has a significant effect on cholesterol metabolism and cholesterol accumulation.” He adds that the findings support the idea that it is better to eat less red meat and continues: “I myself have often eaten red meat in the past – as many as five times a week. Now I have reduced its intake and eat it only once every two weeks. . “
The research also highlights the idea that it would make sense to regulate the balance of bacteria in the gut with probiotic yogurts. Reducing the number of bacteria that feed on carnitine, in theory, also means less risk when eating red meat.
Catherine Collins, a dietitian at St George’s Hospital, said: “This is a very convincing argument, but we know that eating two servings of red meat a week does not affect the development of cardiovascular disease.” She added that it is not necessary to change your eating habits if your meals are varied and contain such modest portions of meat, fish, milk and dairy products, legumes, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and once unsaturated (monounsaturated) fat. However, he warns that frequent consumption of red meat and concomitant use of the dietary supplement L-carnitine or lecithin is not recommended, as this combination could cause more harm than good.
Vegetarians and vegans have fewer bacteria that can break down carnitine and are therefore less prone to cardiovascular disease.
However, many studies in the past have shown that regular consumption of red meat can be harmful to health. In the UK, for example, the government recommends up to 70 grams of red or processed meat a day, which is equivalent to two slices of bacon.