Quick Dose: Is Red Meat Bad for Your Heart?

Red meat is a great source of protein and has a host of nutrients such as iron, zinc and vitamin B. So just why has it become the “bad guy” when it comes to heart health?

The answer: saturated fat.

Red meat, such as beef, pork, lamb, veal and goat, contains high levels of saturated fat. When you eat saturated fat, your body converts it into “bad” cholesterol. Having high levels of bad cholesterol raises your risk for heart disease.

Recent studies also suggest another problem with red meat: carnitine. Red meat contains carnitine, and when you eat it, bacteria in your intestines convert it into trimethylamine-N-oxide (or TMAO). TMAO has been shown to cause hardening of your arteries, called atherosclerosis.

Steadfast carnivores, if you’re still going to eat red meat, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Limit portion size to three ounces, or the size of the palm of your hand
  • Opt for leaner cuts of meat or grass-fed beef
  • Trim as much fat off as possible
  • Avoid processed meats like bacon, sausage and hot dogs

For a healthier diet for your heart, opt for wholesome fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and skinless poultry. Here are other ways to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle.