Is lean steak – high in protein, low in fat & cholesterol – heart healthy? The answer surprising …
Intuition would elude one to believe lean steak to be a healthier red meat option especially when it comes to maintaining top notch cardiac functions. With specs of high protein, low fat and low cholesterol, how have researchers rendered our quandary false?
The protagonist of our story is John. John likes to eat beef. One day after working out at the gym John heads home and prepares himself a lean medium rare steak with a side of greens. He takes seat at the table and begins to eat. This is where our antagonist enters the picture. As John is eating his beef, and kick starting the digestive process, bacteria found in the gut are interacting with the beef and breaking it down. How are our symbiotic gut inhabitants antagonistic? The interactions they have with the beef generate molecules that may speed up the build-up of plaque in arteries thus bringing us full circle to the falsehood.
The premise of our little scenario has been brought forth by results published in Nature Medicine in an article titled: Intestinal microbiota metabolism of L-carnitine, a nutrient in red meat, promotes atherosclerosis1.
Chris Woolston of Nature News has summarized the findings in his article2 which mentions consumption of red meat including leaner options have been found to elevate risk of death due to heart disease3. The links are imbedded for those curious about the scientific details and methodology behind the findings.
How does this affect the future you?
Is there family history of heart disease from your maternal or paternal side? A family history of heart disease poses a hereditary health risk on proceeding generations. Those with heart disease in the family need to be diligent about minimizing their inherited risk by making positive lifestyle changes. Check out theHeart and Stroke Foundationfor ways to keep your heart happy and pumping to its best rhythm.
There are great interactive tools available online to help you organize and make better, more informed decisions about your healthcare options.
Systematic assessment of your family’s medical history in a way similar to creating a family tree can help you to organize your thoughts and reveal patterns disease that may have escaped your attention. Based on the health statuses of the different branches of your family, the tool can generate potential predispositions to hereditary conditions such as heart disease and can direct you to informative links on where to get more information based on your results.
If you are interested in getting more quantitative results that also provide you with other useful diagnostic information, getting a genetic test done is a recently emerging option. There are novel tools that may help you to track your cholesterol levels, which changes with every meal, and monitor your physical activity through fitness apps. Genetics and monitoring a healthy active lifestyle in sync to help you to improve your health and enjoy life for many years to come!
For an extended look at alcohol-induced heart damage, read the Ultimate Guide to Alcohol-Induced Heart Damage by Paul at Rehab Recovery.
- Koeth, R. A. et al. Nature Med. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nm.3145 (2013).
- Woolston, C. Nature News. http://www.nature.com/news/red-meat-wrong-bacteria-bad-news-for-hearts-1.12746#/b1 (2013).
- Pan, A. et al. Arch. Intern. Med. 172, 555–563 (2012).