A byproduct of dietary choline, a component abundantly present in animal products, can lead to greater risk for heart attack, stroke, and death, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers followed 4,007 participants and found that those who had the highest levels of these byproducts were 2.5 times as likely to suffer from an adverse cardiovascular event, compared with those who had the lowest levels. The authors point 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.
- Tang WHW, Wang Z, Levison BS, et al. Intestinal microbial metabolism of phosphatidylcholine and cardiovascular risk. N Engl J Med. 2013;368:1575-1584.