Call it the revenge of the slaughtered. A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that a byproduct of dietary choline, a component abundantly present in animal products, can lead to greater risk of heart attack, stroke and death in humans.
The study, conducted this year and titled “Intestinal microbial metabolism of phosphatidylcholine and cardiovascular risk (Tang WHW, Wang Z, Levison BS),” was also the basis for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)’s printed article titled “Component of Animal Products Increases Risk of Heart Disease,” issued April 26.
For the study, researchers followed 4,007 participants and found that those who had the highest levels of these byproducts were 2.5 times more likely to suffer from an adverse cardiovascular event, compared with those who had the lowest levels.
The authors pointed out that a vegetarian or high-fiber diet can reduce choline intake and modulate the risk for heart disease. Another recent study showed a similar mechanism for carnitine-rich meat products and heart disease.
Heart disease can occur even at an early age. A meat-based diet (beef, pork, chicken, egg and dairy), smoking and a sedentary lifestyle can hasten the process.
“The three most important modifiable heart disease risk factors are cigarette smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol,” stressed preventive medicine expert Neil Nedley, MD.
PCRM pointed out that since our bodies produce cholesterol for our needs, we do not need external sources.
The committee revealed that cholesterol is found in all foods that come from animals: red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt and every other meat and dairy product.
According to PCRM, choosing lean cuts of meat does not spare anyone from cholesterol. In fact, cholesterol is found mainly in the lean portions. Chicken contains as much cholesterol as beef, as every four-ounce serving of beef or chicken contains 100 milligrams of cholesterol.
Meat eaters age worse
PCRM also reported on April 17, a 2013 study from the American Journal of Medicine (T. Akbaraly, S. Sabia, G. Hagger-Johnson, et al.) indicating that eating more meat, dairy and other unhealthful foods leads to worse aging.
After an average 16-year follow up, people who consumed a “Western-type” diet, which consists of high intakes of red and processed meats, whole dairy products, and fried foods, were more likely to die prematurely and to suffer from various chronic diseases including heart disease, stroke, cancer, and mental health disorders, compared with people who avoided such dietary patterns.
For alternative, nonanimal-based food sources, readers can visit www.happycow.net.