Research Shows Allergen in Red Meat is Linked to Heart Disease

The study showed that a specific blood marker for red meat allergy is linked to fatty deposits on the inner artery linings.

A team of researchers has associated the plaque buildup in the arteries of the human heart sensitivity to an allergen that is found in red meat. Although it has been long known that high levels of saturated fat in red meat is responsible for heart diseases among people across the world, with this new finding, the research shows that some people can be at a higher risk due to the presence of these allergens in red meat.

This study was published in the journal ‘Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.’ Coleen McNamara, who is a professor of medicine at the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville sheds light on this finding, “This novel finding from a small group of subjects from Virginia raises the intriguing possibility that allergy to red meat may be an underrecognized factor in heart disease. These preliminary findings underscore the need for further clinical studies in larger populations from diverse geographic regions and additional laboratory work.”

According to the estimate of the researchers, approximately 1% of the population might be allergic to red meat, and as many as 20% might have an allergy to red meat without showing highly evident symptoms.

There has been a lot of research related to food allergies in the past. All of them relate the cause of food allergies to a lethal allergic reaction called anaphylaxis that is responsible for the constriction of the airways and causes a dangerously low drop in the blood pressure.

Research Shows Allergen in Red Meat is Linked to Heart Disease
Source: Courtesy of Angela Taylor, M.D., University of Virginia Health System

In this regard, another study published in 2017 revealed that the allergy occurs because of the presence of a sugar molecule known as alpha-gal, 3-galactose or galactose-α-1 that is most commonly found in pork, beef, lamb and other types of red meats.

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The scariest finding of the entire research was that unlike the other food allergies that happen almost immediately, the ones caused due to eating red meat could take anywhere between 3-6 hours of eating. This means that you will not immediately realize the effects of the allergy and hence, it might take time for you to combat it.

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The researchers linked to the study comment that detailed human and animal studies are on the horizon in order to verify and give more substance to their initial findings.

In this regard, a program director and medical officer in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Atherothrombosis & Coronary Artery Disease Branch said, "While more studies are needed, the current work provides a potential new approach or target for preventing or treating heart disease in a subgroup of people who are sensitized to red meat.”

It is clear from the research that the consumption of red meat can potentially be considered as a fundamental factor for the dietary risk of cardiometabolic diseases. The conditions might vary according to the extent of the meat processing, the preservation period and the types of preservatives used.

To be precise, the study has given a lot of perspective to red meat lovers.

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