Cardiovascular disease, also known as heart disease, typically refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, stroke, or chest pain. Cardiovascular disease accounts for about 1 in every 3 deaths in the United States. Every day, 2,300 Americans die of cardiovascular disease, which averages to 1 death every 38 seconds. These statistics are shocking because many forms of heart disease can easily be prevented or treated with simple, healthy lifestyle choices.

Eating red meat can raise your level of a heart disease-causing chemical by more than 10 times. The chemical is an organic compound called TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide). If you have a high level of TMAO, your risk for stroke, heart attacks, and premature death increases. Levels of TMAO will triple in just one month from eating red meat.

Luckily, there is a simple way to decrease your risk; cut out red meat from your diet. In a study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic Center for Microbiome and Human Health, red meat eating participants saw a decrease of TMAO after a month of removing red meat from their diets.

The study included 113 participants who ate meals consisting of either red meat, white meat, or non-meat protein. On average, the red meat eaters increased the levels of TMAO in their blood and urine by three times after one month of eating red meat. Some red meat eating participants saw over a tenfold rise.

What was surprising was that after the red meat eating participants stopped the red meat diet, TMAO levels fell back down over the following month. “This is the first study of our knowledge to show the kidneys can change how effectively they expel different compounds depending on the diet that one eats — other than salts and water,” said Dr. Stanley Hazen from the clinic.

“We know lifestyle factors are critical for cardiovascular health and these findings build upon our previous research on TMAO’s link with heart disease. They provide further evidence for how dietary interventions may be an effective treatment strategy to reduce TMAO levels and lower subsequent risk of heart disease.”

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