The risk of suffering a cardiovascular disease in older people is increased by a 22 percent For each daily ration of red meat. This is shown by the results of an investigation carried out by the Friedman School of Nutrition Sciences and Policies of Tufts University (United States) and the Lerner Research Institute of the Cleveland Clinic, who have also deciphered the biological grounds causing this increased risk.
According to peer-reviewed research published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology (ATVB)the higher level of exposure to the different cardiovascular diseases is explained by an increase in the levels of three metabolites produced by intestinal bacteria from the digestion of abundant nutrients from meat. Increased risks and interrelationships with intestinal bacterial metabolites were found for red meat, but not for poultry, eggs, or fish.
Study participants included nearly 4,000 of the 5,888 over the age of 65 initially recruited between 1989 and 1990 for the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS). They were followed for a mean of 12.5 years and at the time of the trial the patients had a mean age of 73 years.
“Several blood biomarkers were measured at baseline and again during follow-up, including levels of trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) generated by the gut microbiome and two of its key brokers, gamma-butyrobetaine and crotonobetaine, derived from L-carnitineabundant in red meat”, they explain in the investigation.
Why does the risk increase?
According to the authors, the increased TMAO and metabolites that are found in the blood explains approximately a tenth of this elevated risk. They also noticed that the sugar in the blood and general pathways inflammation may help explain the links between red meat consumption and cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, both factors also appear to be more important in linking red meat consumption and cardiovascular disease than pathways related to blood cholesterol or blood pressure.
“Interestingly, we identified three main roads that help explain the links between red and processed meat and cardiovascular disease (microbiome-related metabolites like TMAO, blood glucose levels, and general inflammation), and each of these seemed more important than cholesterol-related pathways in blood or blood pressure,” says co-lead author Dariush Mozaffarian.
A new way to reduce cardiovascular diseases
For Mozaffarian this suggests that when choosing foods of animal origin it is “less important” to focus on differences in total fat, saturated fat or cholesterol, and “more important to better understand the health effects of other components of these foods, as the L-carnitine and heme iron”.
In addition, according to the authors of the study, this discovery represents a new dietary therapeutic route to reduce the risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases. “Interactions between red meat, our gut microbiome, and the bioactive metabolites they generate appear to be a major pathway of risk, creating a new target for potential interventions to reduce heart disease”, say the researchers.
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