Gut Bacteria A Likely Accomplice In Red Meat’s Heart Risk

Oct 20, 2022

By Julie Corliss

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Eating red meat has long been linked to a higher risk of heart disease. New evidence suggests that breakdown products created by gut bacteria when people eat red meat may contribute to this heightened risk.

The results were gleaned from years of data from nearly 4,000 people ages 65 and older. All were part of a study begun in 1989 to look at risk factors for heart disease; the follow-up lasted a median of 12.5 years. Fish, poultry, and eggs were not associated with an elevated risk of heart disease. But every 1.1 servings of red meat per day was linked to a 22% higher risk of heart disease.

About 10% of this added risk was explained by increased levels of three metabolites — called TMAO, gamma-butyrobetaine, and crotonobetaine — made by gut bacteria from nutrients abundant in meat, say the study authors, who reported their results in the September 2022 issue of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.


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