Scientists have reported a breakthrough in the discovery of a pill which could prevent red meat from causing heart disease.
Most people are aware that red meat is known for the promotion of serious heart conditions, like atherosclerosis, which is when the arteries become clogged with substances similar to plaque. The accumulation of plaque causes narrowing and hardening of the arteries, thus restricting blood flow, which can cause damage to the organs and prevent effective functioning. If these plaques rupture, it could cause the person to suffer a stroke or a heart attack.
Previously, it was believed that the main culprit for this was the saturated fat found in meat.
However, scientists based at the Lerner Research Institute in American have found that a chemical reaction is triggered when bacteria in the stomach meets up with ‘L-carnitine’, a nutrient which can be found in red meat.
This interaction results in the production of a small molecule, called gamma-butyrobetaine, which boosts the accumulation of plaque faster than any other known substance.
During last year, the team found that the same process also triggers another chemical reaction, called trimethylamine-N-oxide, which is a molecule known for its promotion of fatty deposits in the arteries, but in lower amounts.
The researchers have suggested that a probiotic or drug be developed to adjust the bacteria in the stomach which will stop the molecules from forming.
The lead author of the study, Dr Stanley Hazen, said their findings have identified the participants and pathways clearly and this could aid in identifying targets for therapies to prevent or block the development of heart disease.
He said this may only happen in the future, but these studies could aid in the development of a treatment which would allow people to eat red meat again.
It is estimated that around 124000 deaths occur in England and Wales annually, due to cardiovascular disease.