Scientists discover potential culprit for red meat heart risk

15 04 2013

The way a certain nutrient reacts with bacteria could explain why eating too much red meat might be bad for your heart, according to new research.

Scientists have found that nutrient l-carnitine, found in red meat and used as a dietary supplement, is associated with heart and circulatory disease. They also found that the nutrient required further metabolism by bacteria in the gut to promote atherosclerosis – the build-up of fatty material in coronary arteries – and subsequently raise heart risk.

Victoria Taylor, Senior Dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This is certainly an interesting discovery and sheds some light on why red meat might have an impact on heart health.

“While the findings won’t necessarily mean a change to existing recommendations, these scientists have served up a good reminder for us to think about alternative sources of protein if we regularly eat a lot of red or processed meats.

“The odd meat-free day isn’t such a bad thing and eating less meat automatically leaves room in your diet for other foods high in protein like fish, pulses, nuts and eggs, all of which should be part of a nutritious and varied diet.

“Unless told otherwise by a doctor or qualified health professional, we should be able to get all the nutrients we need from a healthy, balanced diet without additional supplements.”

For tips on how to eat a healthy, balanced diet, visit The study was published in the Nature Medicine journal.




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