Vegan Eats Steak, Shows Why Going Meatless is Good For You

Red meat has not exactly been on the A-list of healthy foods for a long time as it’s been linked to an increased risk for cancer and heart disease. New research in the journal Nature Medicine suggests that eating even lean steak that is low in fat and cholesterol can be bad for your heart. The reason is that a chemical found in red meat, trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO), can actually “encourage” the growth of fatty deposits on the walls of the arteries.

However, a vegan who was a participant in the study did not show the same spike in levels of TMAO — which changes the very metabolism of cholesterol and slows the removal of it from the arteries’ walls — after eating a 200-gram sirloin steak.

Dr. Stanley Hazen, head of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, and his colleagues made this discovery while conducting a series of experiments to find out why red meat consumptions has been linked to heart disease. They first gave 77 participants (26 of whom were vegans or vegetarians) the nutrient carnitine, which is found in meat and dairy products.

Taking carnitine, which is also taken as a supplement to improve athletic performance and for weight loss and which is found in energy drinks, increased the volunteers’ levels of TMAO. But the vegans and vegetarians produced far less TMAO after taking carnitine supplements. Analysis showed that they indeed had “very different types of bacteria in their guts” than did those who ate meat.

From this, Dr. Hazen concluded that eating meat regularly promotes the growth of intestinal bacteria that then turns the carnitine in red meat into TMAO. The researchers confirmed their findings by checking carnitine levels in people who were having voluntary heart check-ups. Carnitine on its own was not linked to heart disease but, when combined with TMAO, it turned people into “prime targets for heart disease.”

“Bacterial Alchemy” At Work in Our Intestines

It’s not carnitine alone that increases your risk for heart disease, but what Nature.com refers to as “bacterial alchemy.” If you’re regularly eating meat, you are setting in motion a process in which intestinal bacteria feed on the carnitine from a steak, burger, etc. and produce TMAO. Over time, your risk for heart disease rises.

Carnitine is also found in chicken, fish and dairy products, but in far smaller amounts than in red meat. It had not previously been connected to an increased risk of heart disesase, Gina Kolata notes in the New York Times.

As a result of the study, Dr. Hazen — once a routine consumer of red meat — has himself lowered his consumption of it, to once every two weeks. The study also indirectly offers more evidence of why foregoing meat has its pluses. The vegan who ate the sirloin steak in the study was indeed found to have “virtually no TMAO” in his or her blood — a suggestion of why not eating meat can do your heart good (and then some).

 

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Photo from Thinkstock

629 comments

Jerome S
Jerome S2 months ago

thanks

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Jerome S
Jerome S2 months ago

thanks

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a year ago

thanks for sharing.

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Gary Loewenthal
Gary Loewenthal3 years ago

The slower absorption of plant iron may be an advantage, as iron is an oxidant and there is some speculation (admittedly not rock solid) that very high levels of iron are detrimental to overall health and longevity. Levels of anemia among vegans are roughly the same as that of the general population. Adding a vitamin C source, e.g. adding lemon to broccoli, enhances absorption of iron.

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MarilynBusy WITHCHARITIES
3 years ago

Jeaneen...that just goes to show that we are all different and have different requirements. I get anemic when I don't eat enough beef, but I only need a small portion about 3 or 4 times a year.

Plant based iron is not absorbed as well as iron from meat in general and you have to eat a lot more of it to get the same amount...if that's even possible.

I've never known anyone who ate rare steak 3 times a day...that's pretty excessive. Maybe that was her problem.

Perhaps she needed to pay more attention to her diet in the first place and the other changes she made may have helped more than she knew.

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Jeaneen A.
Past Member 3 years ago

A friend of mine, who eats meat, went to her doctor and found out she is anemic. Now this girl eats steak for breakfast and supper, rare steak at that. She went to a specialist to get a second opinion and yes she is definitely anemic. Her doctor put her on a Vegan diet, which amazed her, he told her that meats fat can keep the iron from being absorbed. Well, that was 6 months ago and she is now fine. Gloria, is just amazed, she is not only feeling better, but her blood pressure has come done from 180/80 to 130/60 her cholesterol has come down from 250 to 140. She is now a forever Vegan. I myself have been Vegan for 26 years and feel wonderful.

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Chaaht Aggarwal
Chaaht Aggarwal3 years ago

yea w shudnt eat meat , it is also beneficial fr the animals as well as us

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L and P.
Linda N3 years ago

Michael T says: “Spending the amount of time necessary to research the number of people who gave you green stars who list their food preferences speaks of an ego that sounds lacking and empty and in need of propping up”.

Rudeness noted.


I have personally met individuals and families who became vegan and vegetarian through reading CARE2 threads.

By researching and discovering that a number of meat-eaters are grateful for the vegan-related information I offer, I am assured that it is worthwhile continuing to provide information to them.

With Easter just around the corner, they may like to check out the vegan hot cross bun recipe at this link:

http://www.food.com/recipe/hot-cross-buns-gluten-dairy-and-egg-free-122238

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