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Saturday, Sep 25, 2021

Chemical found in red meat kills

As someone who only regularly started eating red meat when I got to college, I was brought up with the mantra that I shouldn’t eat red meat because it was going to give me high blood pressure. While this is true, I didn’t understand why. In fact, a lot of people didn’t understand why this was the case.
Turns out, there is a recently found chemical that exists in red meat that explains why eating so much is bad for the heart.
Carnitine, in red meat, was discovered during a study found in the journal of Natural Medicine. This chemical is broken down by naturally occurring bacteria in the gut which in turn causes a chain reaction that results in higher levels of cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease.
This one chemical causes all of the chaos. I find red meat delicious. Although I do know a lot of people who don’t eat it or their bodies can’t process it. Maybe it’s a good thing that they stay away from it. Personally, I come from a family with a history of heart problems so it would probably be in my best interest to stay away from red meat.
However, carnitine isn’t just found in red meat. There are people out there taking carnitine supplements. These people are just as much at risk for heart disease for those who ingest the chemical through more natural sources.
The UK government recommends eating no more than the red or processed meat equivalent of two slices of bacon a day. Maybe that’s why Europeans live so much longer than Americans. They also weigh a whole lot less than Americans, on average. We have things such as the baconator from Wendy’s that features at least six pieces of bacon, and two hamburger patties. While delicious, it’s practically a heart attack wrapped in a greasy piece of paper.
Previously, saturated fats were thought to contribute to heart problems. While that is partly true, it isn’t completely at fault. Lead researcher Dr. Stanley Hazen told the BBC, “The cholesterol and saturated fat content of lean red meat is not that high, there’s something else contributing to increases in cardiovascular risk.”
Dr. Hazen explained the process of carnitine being broken down into a gas, which is then converted by the liver into a chemical called TMAO. TMAO was strongly linked to the build-up of unwanted fatty deposits in blood vessels, which can ultimately lead to heart disease.
Previous studies have often avoided TMAO, which have led to the misconception of saturated fats being mostly at fault for heart disease from red meat.
The findings of Dr. Hazen’s study have supported the idea of “less red meat is better.”
A possible solution to the problem of carnitine being broken down that is in the process of being studied is the addition of probiotic yogurt to one’s diet in order to change the current balance of bacteria found in the gut. In theory, the smaller the number of bacteria that feed on carnitine, the lower the health risk from eating red meat.
Of course, these findings, won’t necessarily change what people recommend is healthy to eat. However, this study does serve as a good reminder for the fact that we should look towards alternative sources of protein for those of us who regularly eat a lot of red meat. All in all, we should only eat red meat in moderation.


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