A nutrient found in red meat which has been promoted for fat burning, muscle building and even heart protection, has now been linked to damaging the heart.
Image courtesy of Takoyaki King / flickr
L-carnitine is thought to cause damage when it is broken down in the gut to produce a potentially dangerous compound, trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). High levels of TMAO can lead to artery damage, which can cause heart disease, attacks and strokes. The new study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, is the first to link L-carnitine to heart problems and was researched by scientists at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
Nutrition expert Professor Brian Ratcliffe, from Robert Gordon University in Scotland, believes the study provides one of the missing links between red meat and heart disease. He said: “This study provides another piece in the jigsaw puzzle showing the links between atherosclerosis and diet and lifestyle.” Victoria Taylor, senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation, said: “While the findings won’t necessarily mean a change to existing recommendations, these scientists have served up a good reminder for us to think about alternative sources of protein if we regularly eat a lot of red or processed meats.”