Why red meat increases the risk of cardiovascular disease – healing practice

Link between meat and cardiovascular disease

The consumption of red meat increases the content of metabolic products, which are produced by intestinal bacteria from the nutrients contained. This seems to be at least part of the explanation for why red meat is at higher risk for developing cardiovascular diseases connected is.

In a new study involving experts from Tufts University correlations between the consumption of foods of animal origin and the occurrence of atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases were investigated. The results can be found in the journal Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.

How do cardiovascular diseases develop?

cardiovascular diseases are the worldwide most common cause of death. On the one hand, increasing age increases the risk of these types of diseases, which also include strokes and heart attacks, but on the other hand there are numerous risk factors that are influenced by lifestyle.

According to the team, previous studies have already found that certain By-products of food digestion (so-called metabolites) are associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

One such metabolite produced by gut bacteria when red meat is digested is Trimethylamin-N-Oxid (TMAO). Trimethylamine N-oxide contains large amounts of L-Carnitine.

Health risks from trimethylamine N-oxide

When people have higher levels of trimethylamine N-oxide in their blood, they are at greater risk of developing cardiovascular diseaseschronic kidney diseases and Typ-2-Diabetes tied together.

So far, however, it has remained unclear whether trimethylamine-N-oxide and related L-carnitine-derived metabolites provide an explanation for this cardiovascular risk by eating red meat could be, the researchers explain.

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Red meat, the intestinal flora and cardiovascular risk

To clarify the question of whether meat over the Gut microbiota affects the cardiovascular risk, the researchers evaluated the data from 3.931 People from which already between 1989 and 1990 for the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS) were recruited.

At the beginning of the study, the participants did not suffer from any clinical cardiovascular diseases. The average age of the participants when they entered the study was 73 years and almost two thirds of the participants were female.

All participants were averaged for a period of 12.5 years medically monitored and in some cases medical follow-up continued for up to 26 years, the team said.

Measurement of blood biomarkers made

Already at the beginning of the study, various blood biomarkers measured. This happened again in 1996 and 1997. The frozen fasting blood samples were analyzed for the content of various metabolites Gut microbiota investigated that are associated with red meat consumption, including trimethylamine N-oxide, gamma-butyrobetaine and crotonobetaine.

In addition, all participants filled out two validated ones at the beginning of the study and then again in the period between 1995 and 1996 questionnaires about their usual eating habits out.

In their analysis, the researchers then compared the risk of cardiovascular disease in participants who consumed different amounts of foods from animal sources (i.e. red meat, processed meat, fish, chicken and eggs).

Meat increases risk of cardiovascular disease

The team found that eating more meat, especially red meat and processed meatis associated with a higher risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

According to the experts, however, the observed increase in trimethylamine N-oxide and related metabolites in the blood can only be approximate a tenth explain the increased risk. Furthermore, the effects of meat consumption on the blood sugar and general inflammatory processes a possible explanation for the links between red meat consumption and cardiovascular disease.

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According to the results of the study, blood sugar and inflammation are more important in the link between red meat consumption and cardiovascular disease than mechanisms linked to cholesterol levels or blood pressure, say the research team.

In the study, the consumption of other animal-based foods such as fish, poultry and eggs did not significantly increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases caused.

Setting a new focus in research

Most of the attention that has been given to red meat consumption and health has focused on saturated fat and blood cholesterol levels‘ reports the author of the study Dr. Meng Wang in a press release American Heart Association (AHA).

Further research efforts are now better understand the potential health effects of L-carnitine and other substances in red meat, such as heme iron, which have been linked to type 2 diabetes, rather than just focusing on saturated fats“, adds Dr. Money added.

The current study also suggests that interventions targeting the interactions between red meat and the gut microbiome could help reduce cardiovascular risk.

For your own reduce cardiovascular risk, according to the researchers, the consumption of fruit, vegetables and other healthy foods, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, a healthy body weight, not smoking and normal blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels are still crucial factors. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of medical specialist literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.


  • Meng Wang, Zeneng Wang, Yujin Lee, Heidi T.M. Lai, Marcia C. de Oliveira Otto, et al.: Dietary Meat, Trimethylamine N-Oxide-Related Metabolites, and Incident Cardiovascular Disease Among Older Adults: The Cardiovascular Health Study; in: Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology (veröffentlicht 01.08.2022), Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology
  • American Heart Association: Increased heart disease risk from red meat may stem from gut microbe response to digestion (veröffentlicht 01.08.2022), AHA
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Important NOTE:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.



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