While red meat never really had a good reputation as a health food, new studies have given us more reasons to be worried. (In case you are fond of red meat.)
Doctors have always been vocal about overconsumption of red meat leading to cholesterol problems. However, the new study finds an additional concern that links it to heart attacks and strokes. This new link comes from a compound called, TMAO. The compound is formed by gut microbes during digestion.
“Individuals who eat a diet that’s rich in red meat, have a significant elevation in their TMAO level, about two- to three-fold above those who eat either a white meat for the protein source vs. a non-meat, which is predominantly a vegetable source, or a plant-based protein source,” said Dr. Stanley Hazen.
For the purpose of the research, participants were asked to eat three specific protein diets in random order for one month each. Hazen, the lead researcher had already expected to see raised TMAO levels but was surprised to see just how much.
As expected, the participants who were on the red meat diet had a higher level of TMAO. But additionally, their kidneys were less efficient at eliminating compounds as well.
Thankfully, the study also observed the participant’s TMAO levels came down to normal within three to four weeks once they stopped eating red meat. The study also found that the participants who ate a white meat or plant-based protein diet actually had suppressed formation of TMAO.