The Dangerous Side Effect of Eating Red Meat, New Research Suggests

There are numerous reasons to consider cutting back on beef, pork, and other types of meat. Doing so could help alleviate joint pain, decrease inflammation, and lower your risk of fatty liver disease. Now, new research links a nutrient in red meat to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, meaning cutting back on this food may also have a vital impact on heart health.

In the study, published in the journal Nature Microbiology, researchers from the Cleveland Clinic, a non-profit medical center, looked at how the consumption of L-carnitine, a chemical in red meat, contributes to the formation of trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), which is linked to a range of different cardiovascular problems.

Upon examining plasma from nearly 3,000 participants, along with a range of fecal samples, researchers found that when molecules from red meat combined with certain gut bacteria, the substances were more likely to form TMAO, leading to health risks. (RELATED: The 100 Unhealthiest Foods On the Planet)

Previous studies have linked TMAO to increased cholesterol in the arteries. Thus, it may not only increase your risk of cardiovascular disease risk but also your risk of stroke.

If you’re a fan of red meat who’s interested in cutting back but are struggling with the idea of completely eliminating it from your diet, consider starting small, Elena Paravantes-Hargitt, RDN, founder of Mediterranean diet resource OliveTomato and author of The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Beginners, tells Eat This, Not That! an interview.

“Instead of going cold turkey, you can start by reducing the portion sizes,” she suggests. “[You can also] choose a meatless day. Meatless Monday is a great campaign that provides ideas and support on cutting down on meat.”

Related: What Eating Red Meat Every Day Does to Your Body

As an added bonus, committing to going meatless Mondays would

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