Misguided scientists declare all-natural amino acid compound in red meat to be 'bad for the heart'

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: l-carnitine, TMAO, red meat consumption

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(NaturalNews) The anti-meat segment of the mainstream scientific community has come out with yet another new study condemning meat as damaging to human health, this time claiming that an all-natural, amino acid-producing substance naturally found in red meat causes heart damage. Demonstrating a complete lack of scientific rigor (which is increasingly typical of corporate-funded research these days), the new study essentially declares that l-carnitine must be responsible for an all-around increase in heart disease because saturated fat is clearly not responsible, according to the data.

Published in the journal Nature Medicine, the study found that the body converts l-carnitine, which is produced by the metabolism of both lysine and methionine, into a substance known as trimethylamine-N-oxide, or TMAO, which researchers believe may promote the growth of artery-clogging plaques. Though they technically have no concrete evidence that TMAO is an actual cause of such arterial buildup, or that meat consumption produces excess amounts of it, the researchers involved personally believe it is, and are now decrying red meat consumption as dangerous to health.

Even though l-carnitine is found in all sorts of foods, including popular vegetarian foodstuffs like soybeans, potatoes, peas, and mushrooms, the researchers from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio for some reason decided to pick specifically on red meat. As it turns out, fish, which is often praised as a food that helps improve markers of heart health, contains up to 100 times more TMAO than red meat. And yet the researchers involved with the study chose to ignore fish, as well as all other sources of TMAO, and instead focus solely on red meat.

What this all suggests is that the researchers involved with this failed study had no real intention of coming to factual conclusions about meat consumption and heart disease, but rather approached the issue with an agenda to further paint red meat in a negative light. And to those who do not know any better, the study's erroneous conclusions will actually have an influence on their meat-eating habits, even though such conclusions are patently wrong and could cause more harm to their health.

Most other foods in general produce more TMAO than red meat, data reveals

An interesting aspect to this whole issue is the fact that red meat really is not that high in TMAO-producing l-carnitine. In fact, consuming an eight-ounce steak produces less TMAO than virtually all other known foods, including fruits, vegetables, and legumes. As explained in a thorough and highly-informative rebuttal to the study written for the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF), author Chris Masterjohn explains how data from both the study and elsewhere shows that vegetarians and vegans may be equally or even more likely to have excess TMAO levels than meat-eaters.

"[T]he popular interpretation of this study as an indictment of red meat makes no sense," explains Masterjohn. "Even if physiological levels of TMAO contribute to heart disease in humans (which is a big "if" at this point) and even if red meat were to raise TMAO substantially more than most other foods (which appears to be false), it wouldn't in any way whatsoever follow that eating red meat causes heart disease."

"The biological effects of a food cannot possibly be reduced to one of the biological effects of one of the food's components," he adds. "Believing such a thing would require believing not only that the particular component has no other relevant biological effects, but that there are no relevant biological effects of any of the other tens of thousands of components of that food."

It is important to note, however, that red meat from grass-fed, pastured animals is different in composition than red meat from animals raised in concentrated animal feeding operations, also known as CAFOs. The former contains high levels of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and healthy saturated fats, while the latter is unnaturally high in omega-6 fatty acids, as well as excess hormones, antibiotics, and other potentially-harmful chemicals.

Be sure to read Masterjohn's full rebuttal here:

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