If you listen to, watch, or read the news, you probably have seen the most current breaking news about red meat. Over the weekend, my friend Michelle, sent me an article about the new findings on red meat and it’s connection to heart disease. Over the next couple of days I read about it and saw it on every news broadcast. So maybe it’s not just the fat and cholesterol that are the problem as new studies find red meat, when eaten, produces carnitine, which is basically a digestive enzyme made when we eat protein. But for some reason when it is made from eating red meat, it forms a secondary chemical, in the liver, called TMAO. It is this TMAO which researchers are linking to higher risks of heart disease. Without going into all the details of the studies what was found is that TMAO “enables cholesterol to get into the artery walls and also prevent the body from excreting excess cholesterol.” Additionally, carnitine is often added to energy drinks and workout supplement shakes. There is a theory that more carnitine in the diet will help build bigger, stronger muscles, increase energy and help rev the metabolism . Since most carnitine is derived from red meat, we must wonder if these drinks might be adding to high cholesterol and heart disease as well.
This research is not at all fly by night. Dr. Stanley Hazen of the the Cleveland Clinic, who led this study, began his research 5 years ago and have followed about 10,000 people. When speaking with people, I notice that everyone has a different perception of how much meat is too much. For the record, Dr. Hazen says he likes a good steak but while he used to eat a hearty 12 ounce serving several times a week he now limits it to a 4 to 5 ounce steak about twice a month. Ironically, when vegans agreed to eat a steak for the purpose of the study, they did NOT form TMAO in their systems at all.
Want to improve your heart health this week? Say no to the red stuff and to those energy drinks, too. 30 years in the gym business. I NEVER trusted those energy drinks!