Red meat is undoubtedly the ultimate form of delicacy for any meat-lover, but it has often been linked to several health diseases, especially heart-related risks. But what is it about red meat that makes it so unpopular among health experts? A new study seems to have the answer. According to research by the University of Colorado Boulder, a compound is produced in our stomach when we eat red meat and that is said to play a role in damaging the arteries. This compound is also touted to play a key role in accelerating heart-related risks as we age. The findings were published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.
"Our work shows for the first time that not only is this compound directly impairing artery function, it may also help explain the damage to the cardiovascular system that naturally occurs with age," said first author Vienna Brunt, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Integrative Physiology.
The study experimented on the blood and arterial health of 101 older adults and 22 young adults. They found that with age, there is a significant rise in TMAO levels in human beings. For the unversed, TMAO (or an organic compound called Trimethylamine N-oxide) is formed in our body upon consumption of foods like red meat. For example, whenever we eat a slab of mutton steak or any mutton dish, our gut bacteria instantly break it down, which further gets converted to TMAO.
Hence, it is said that the consumption of red meat may increase the level of TMAO in our blood, which further leads to increased risk of cardiovascular diseases in older adults.
Researcher Brunt further noted, "Everyone -- even a young vegan -- produces some TMAO. But over time, eating a lot of animal products may take a toll."
"The more red meat you eat, the more you are feeding those bacteria that produce it," she added.
As per the researchers, though the study needs further exploration, it is suggested that artery damage and heart-health risks may be prevented or reversed with some dietary changes in our lifestyle. For now, they said, a plant-based diet may also keep levels in check.
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