MAP dismisses findings into red meat and heart disease
Published:  05 November, 2014

The Meat Advisory Panel (MAP) has refuted suggestions in a recent report that red meat causes heart disease.

Researchers at the Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic in Ohio reported that the consumption of red meat can trigger a chemical reaction when gut bacteria meets ‘L-carnitine’, which is present in red meat.

The chemical reaction creates dangerous metabolites, namely gamma-butyrobetaine, which hardens and narrows arteries, causing heart disease. The metabolites contribute to the condition called atherosclerosis and causes fatty substances such as chloresterol to clog arteries.

Dr Hazen said the research would allow scientists to develop ways to combat atherosclerosis which could mean consumers could “have their steak and eat it too”.

However, the results of the study, have been brought into question by Dr Carrie Ruxton, dietician and member of the MAP, who said the preliminary research cannot be used to advise on meat consumption.

Dr Ruxton said the benefits of red meat to heart health should not be overlooked: “Red meat makes a vital contribution to intakes of heart health nutrients, such as B vitamins, selenium and vitamin D.
“This study was conducted at cellular level and has no relevance to normal meat-eating in people.
“It certainly cannot inform ‘strategies for safeguarding individuals’ cardiovascular health’ as claimed by the authors – for this you would need randomised controlled trials.

She added: “L-carnitine is a compound produced naturally in our liver and kidneys from the essential amino acid, lysine.
“It plays an essential role in transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria (or energy producing compartment) of the body’s cells. L-carnitine is found in the diet in meat (both red and white), dairy foods, L-carnitine supplements for athletes, and, to a lesser extent, vegetables.”