Chemicals produced by microbes in the digestive tract may be partly responsible for the increased heart disease risk associated with higher consumption of red meats such as beef and pork, a new study suggests, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
Cardiovascular disease – which includes heart attacks and strokes – is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and around the world. As people age, their cardiovascular disease risk increases.
But risks can be lowered by eating a diet emphasizing fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, lean protein and fish, staying physically active, getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy body weight, not smoking and properly managing blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
“Most of the focus on red meat intake and health has been around dietary saturated fat and blood cholesterol levels,” study co-author Meng Wang said in a news release. Wang is a postdoctoral fellow at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston.
“Based on our findings, novel interventions may be helpful to target the interactions between red meat and the gut microbiome to help us find ways to reduce cardiovascular risk,” she said.