For most people, red meat usually tastes great during a meal. It’s what happens when it hits the digestive tract that may be not so good.
Recent findings by Tufts University researchers shed new light on the chemical reaction by gut microbes after red meat is eaten. That association may help to partially explain the higher risk of cardiovascular disease that has been linked to red meat consumption.
The researchers say the findings are important for several reasons. Traditionally, research on red meat consumption has focused on the cholesterol and saturated fat that can potentially harm the body. Now, knowing more about the relationship between red meat and the gut microbiome may lead to interventions that reduce cardiovascular disease risks.
Specifically, the findings center on the chemical byproducts of food digestion. One such chemical byproduct produced by gut bacteria to help digest red meat has been implicated in higher risk for kidney disease and Type 2 diabetes and may play a role in cardiovascular problems.
The researchers followed the eating habits, blood chemistry and medical histories of nearly 4,000 people for an average of more than 12 years. Those who ate more red meat such as beef, pork, bison and venison were at higher risk of cardiovascular disease stemming from a buildup of fat and cholesterol in the arteries. For each daily serving of red or processed meat, that risk increased by 22%.
The researchers ultimately traced some of that increased cardiovascular disease risk back to the chemical byproducts created by digesting red meat.
So, remember that while your taste buds may love red meat, your digestive tract might prefer something a little lighter.