Eating Red Meat Every Day Increases the Risk of Heart Disease

By | 8 April 2021

Eating Red Meat Every Day Increases the Risk of Heart Disease

Although red meat is a very valuable food source with protein, iron, zinc, and B12 content and Eating Red Meat Every Day Increases the Risk of Heart Disease consuming it in abundance can threaten your health. Studies on the relationship between red meat consumption and heart health have been recommending reducing red meat consumption for a healthier cardiovascular system.

New studies are continuing to reveal the details of the effects of excessive red meat consumption on the body, and in one of the recent studies on the subject, results that will reinforce this opinion have been obtained.
While it has long been known that high levels of saturated fat in red meat raise cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease, there is now a new culprit. Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO).

Trimethylamine N-oxide increases cholesterol accumulation in the arterial wall. Also, it interacts with platelets (blood cells that provide clotting), promoting clotting, and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The effect of the foods we eat on our body starts in the intestine. Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) is a metabolic byproduct created by intestinal bacteria during digestion. Intestinal bacteria produce a compound called trimethylamine N-oxide while digesting choline, lecithin, carnitine, which are abundant in the composition of red meat, liver, or other animal products.

The mechanism of action of TMAO on cardiovascular diseases is complex. Past research has shown that TMAO increases cholesterol accumulation in the artery wall. It is also known to interact with platelets (blood cells that provide clotting), promoting clotting and increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Head of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Stanley L. Hazen, and his team conducted a study to investigate the effects of dietary protein on TMAO production. The results of the study were published on December 10, 2018, in the European Heart Journal.

According to the results of the study, it was observed that eating red meat every day tripled the blood TMAO levels.
For the study, 3 different nutrition programs were applied randomly to 113 healthy male and female participants. All participants were given meals containing equal calories. In all 3 programs, 25% of the total calories were made from protein. The first group received protein from red meat, the second group from white meat (chicken and fish), and the third group from protein sources other than meat.

At the end of the first month, it was observed that the TMAO level in the blood of the participants in the group consuming red meat was 3 times higher than the participants in the other two groups. The good news is that this effect was reversible. When the group consuming red meat stopped eating red meat for the next month, TMAO levels were seen to drop again.

Also, another effect of red meat consumption was related to kidney function. Regular consumption of red meat every day not only increased TMAO levels but also slowed the elimination of TMAO from the kidneys.

Carnitine took as a supplement also caused TMAO to be produced in the intestines. There was no TMAO production in the intestines of vegetarians and vegans, despite carnitine supplementation at first. However, TMAO production was observed in them for a few weeks in the same way.

These findings support the dietary recommendations limiting red meat. In the future, personalized diets suitable for TMAO profiles of people may play an important role in reducing the risk of heart disease. Also, the TMAO levels of people can be monitored, just like cholesterol measurement. Based on these findings, the researchers began to conduct studies for a treatment aimed at lowering the TMAO level.

How Much Should I Consume Red Meat?

A healthy person’s red meat consumption should be 350g-500g per week and should not be exceeded. This amount should be further reduced in people with arteriosclerosis, high cholesterol, and heart disease.

Instead of intense red meat consumption, you can add options such as poultry or fish to your meals. Low-fat dairy products also increase the amount of protein you take. Whole grains and legumes are vegetable protein sources. Including more vegetables and fruits in your diet will provide a more balanced diet by creating a variety.