Unless you live in a cave somewhere, I am sure you have heard many reports about red meat causing hardening of the arteries and heart attacks. This has been based on the saturated fat content of red meat. However, according to research by Stan Hazen, MD, PhD, from the Heart and Vascular Institute, and other doctors at the Cleveland Clinic, carnitine may be a culprit for additional risks. Carnitine is abundant in red meat and is present at significantly lower levels in other forms of meat and dairy products. Carnitine is also a nutrient that may increase energy if taken short-term. It is also found in some diet products. However, the new studies suggest that long-term exposure to carnitine may lead to increased hardening of blood vessel walls.
Here is the reason why. There are microbes called microbiome that live in your gut. Trillions of bacteria live in your intestines and aid in the digestion of food. Dr. Hazen’s study suggests that when you eat red meat regularly (or carnitine), it can shift the composition of the microbes within your gut. Bacteria that like carnitine appear to generate a metabolite that promotes heart disease. When they studied the microbiomes of people who ate meat as well as vegetables, they contained much more of a substance that deposits LDL cholesterol in the artery walls that leads to coronary artery disease, compared with vegans and vegetarians.
This new study further substantiates epidemiologic data previously published indicating that eating red meat more than once a week is associated with increased stroke as well as other aging processes like dementia, wrinkling, impotence and heart attacks. For this reason, they recommend limiting your red meat intake to less than 4 ounces per week.