the way we digest it can increase the risk of heart attack


  • Cardiovascular diseases are the second leading cause of death in France.
  • In 2020, a French person ate an average of 84.5 kg of meat, compared to 86 kg in 2019.

Essential in French kitchens, red meat is a food very appreciated by consumers. Rich in protein, iron or even zinc, it is essential in the development of red blood cells. However, a new study shows the disadvantages of this food.

3,931 volunteers

Published in the journal American Heart Association, studies have confirmed that red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. To reach this conclusion, the scientists collected information from 3,931 participants over the age of 65. Almost two-thirds of the participants were women and none of the volunteers had cardiovascular disease. The aim was to examine their usual consumption of red meat, fish, poultry and eggs. As part of the study, fasting blood samples were taken and sent for analysis.

The team found that high meat consumption significantly increased the risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, which presents as a buildup of fatty (cholesterol) deposits on the walls of arteries. “Eating more meat, especially red meat and processed meat, is linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, even later in life,” reported Meng Wang, co-author of the study.

The metabolites in question?

For scientists, metabolites, organic compounds from metabolism, could be the cause of higher risks of cardiovascular disease. “Metabolites generated by our gut microbes from nutrients (found) in red meat, along with blood sugar and general inflammation, seem to account for much of this elevated risk, more than the effects of blood cholesterol or arterial pressure”, added Meng Wang.

For his part, Dariush Mozaffarian, dean at the Friedman School and co-lead author of the study, explained how cardiovascular risks increase. “We have identified three main pathways that help explain the links between red and processed meat and cardiovascular disease, microbiome-related metabolites like TMAO (liver-derived oxidation product), blood sugar and general inflammation, and each of these seemed to be more important than pathways related to blood cholesterol or blood pressure.”

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