Carnitine in red meat raises heart disease risk

April 8, 2013 8:52:29 AM PDT
Saturated fat and cholesterol in red meat may not be the only compounds which raise the risk of heart disease.

A study in the journal Nature Medicine points to another culprit: a compound abundant in red meat called carnitine, which is also sold as a dietary supplement and is found in some energy drinks.

Carnitine typically helps the body transport fatty acids into cells to be used as energy. But researchers have found that certain bacteria in the digestive tract convert carnitine to another compound, called TMAO, which promotes thickening of the arteries.

A new study finds the more carnitine in a person's blood, the higher the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, stroke and death.