The bacteria in our guts turn compounds commonly found in eggs and meats (specifically liver, beef, and pork) into a dangerous compound that raises the risk of heart disease, according a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on April 25.
What researchers found was that a compound called lecithin found in these foods is turned into the dangerous compound trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) by gut bacteria.
The group published an earlier study, out in the journal Nature Medicine, which indicated that gut bacteria also turn the compound L-carnitine into TMAO — which is what makes red meat unhealthy, because it promotes plaque build up in the arteries.
Researchers still need to figure out how TMAO is linked to heart disease.
People with high levels of TMAO are at a greater risk of heart disease. Confusingly, these foods also contain compounds that lower your risk for heart disease, like vitamins b12 and 3, riboflavin, and folate.
Though we’ve discovered how these foods are bad for you, the researchers are recommending removing them completely from our diet, according to the LA Times:
Stanley Hazen, researcher on the new study, reportedly is not recommending “dietary restrictions of entire food groups.” Eggs, meat and other animal products are “integral,” he noted, to most people’s diet.
They do recommend limiting meat intake to a few times a week.
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