If You Must Eat Red Meat, Consider Adding Red Wine
In recent years, evidence that red meat isn’t the healthiest source of protein has mounted. Numerous studies have concluded recently that higher red meat consumption is linked to a significantly greater risk of death from a variety of causes, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and all causes. Commenting on the results of a large study published last year, in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Harvard-based investigators wrote, “We...estimated that 9.3% of deaths in men and 7.6% in women...could be prevented at the end of follow-up if all the individuals consumed fewer than 0.5 servings per day [about one-and-a-half ounces] of red meat.”
Another recent study proposed a previously undetected mechanism by which red meat consumption affects overall health. Scientists at the renowned Cleveland Clinic showed that the amino acid, carnitine, which is present in high amounts in red meat, can affect the mix of bacteria living in a person’s gut. Certain types of bacteria thrive on carnitine, and produce chemicals that may promote atherosclerosis. In other words, eating red meat encourages heart disease.
But if you insist on eating red meat, say some experts, there may be ways to limit the damage. Number one is “coconsumption with red wine”. Writing in the Archives of Internal Medicine, a group of doctors noted recently that they have shown that drinking wine with a meal that includes red meat can reduce some of the oxidative stress caused by the digestion of red meat. They credit red wine’s potent polyphenol antioxidants with reducing the negative effects of red meat consumption.
Koeth RA, Wang Z, Levison BS, Buffa JA, Org E, Sheehy BT, et al. Intestinal microbiota metabolism of L-carnitine, a nutrient in red meat, promotes atherosclerosis. Nat Med. 2013 May;19(5):576-85. doi: 10.1038/nm.3145. Epub 2013 Apr 7.
Pan A, Sun Q, Bernstein AM, Schulze MB, Manson JE, Stampfer MJ, et al. Red meat consumption and mortality: results from 2 prospective cohort studies. Arch Intern Med. 2012 Apr 9;172(7):555-63. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2011.2287. Epub 2012 Mar 12.
Pan A, Sun Q, Bernstein AM, Manson JE, Willett WC, Hu FB. Changes in Red Meat Consumption and Subsequent Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Three Cohorts of US Men and Women. JAMA Intern Med. 2013 Jun 17:1-8. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.6633. [Epub ahead of print]