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A Dietary Compound Abundant in Red Meat and Used as a Supplement in Energy Drinks

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Core Tip: A dietary compound abundant in red meat and used as a supplement in energy drinks, energy pills and some weight-loss treatments has been found to promote

A dietary compound abundant in red meat and used as a supplement in energy drinks, energy pills and some weight-loss treatments has been found to promote hardening of the arteries, according to a study released Sunday by a research group at the Cleveland Clinic.

The finding may help explain why some people, even when they get their cholesterol under control, still suffer ill effects from a diet high in meats such as beef, venison, lamb, duck and pork.

The research group, led by Dr. Stanley Hazen, section head of preventive cardiology and rehabilitation, has been investigating the link between heart disease and foods, the bacteria in the intestine that digest them, and the substances these bacteria create in the digestion process.

In 2011, the group connected the dietary nutrient lecithin, found naturally in animal products, to heart disease through a byproduct of its metabolism in the gut called TMAO. In those studies TMAO, or trimethylamine N-oxide, proved to be a 10-fold stronger predictor of heart disease than cholesterol, a relationship that has held up in more recent work.

Now Hazens group has found a similar relationship between TMAO and carnitine, a substance that is found in abundance in red meat and is needed in the body for the production of energy. When carnitine is digested, it drives up TMAO, and TMAO leads to increased plaque buildup in the arteries.

Compound in Red Meat, Energy Drinks Linked to Heart Disease

 
 
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