Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Red Meat Kills... Again... or Does it?

Just to put the NY Times article on Red Meat, TMAO and Atherosclerosis into perspective... I'd suggest avoiding seafood, not red meat, if you're overly concerned with TMAO at all (the actual clinical "danger" of TMAO is debatable). For instance, Halibut produces 107 times as much TMAO in urine samples as beef after ingestion, and in general seafood as a group is significantly higher than red meat, Figure 1 and 2.

Figure 1: Urinary Levels of TMA+TMAO Following Ingestion of Various Seafoods

I don't know about you, but I'm not going to be removing seafood and fish from my diet anytime soon! And for the record, I won't be removing red meat either... or cow heart, one of many different pieces of offal we tried out during my cook-and-taste trials. Some things were good (heart, liver), some things took a bit of getting use to (tongue) and others I just wasn't a fan regardless of how it was prepared (kidney). Anyways, back to red meat, I might do a full post on offal sometime in the future!

Figure 2: Urinary Levels of TMA+TMAO Following Ingestion of Various Fish

Even more interesting is the amount of TMAO excreted in the urine from eating fruits and vegetables... you'd think there's no way fruits and vegetables could contain these substances in large quantities, but you'd be wrong (Figure 3). Guess we'd all better avoid peas and cauliflower too!

Figure 3: Urinary Levels of TMA+TMAO Following Ingestion of Various Fruits/Veg

Instead of belaboring the point further, and all joking aside, Chris Kresser does an excellent job summing up the different resources on the subject. For my favorite in-depth tear-down analysis of the research, check out Chris Masterjohn's amazing piece here, which incidentally is where I referenced the charts from.


  1. That would be awesome if you did an offal post. How is beef heart by the way? I tried to eat chicken liver pate but just couldn't get acquired to the taste. I can eat pounds of pork liverwurst though, although I think the liver content is like 30%?

  2. Cool, I'll see what I can put together in the future... as for beef heart, it was actually pretty good! I would describe it as "meatier" tasting than steak, but it's high in CoQ10, collogen, zinc, selenium, etc. and is a interesting change to add variety. Plus, it's cheap compared to steak, I think I bought that one for $3-4/lb (grass-fed).

    Liver is tricky, I find that if I marinate it in lemon juice first and then saute it with garlic, onions, mushrooms it's pretty good. Let me know if that helps!

  3. I'll try that with the liver. What kind of liver do you recommend and how long do you marinate it?

    1. I marinate the liver for about an hour, too long and it makes the meat tough... As for source, I'm partial to beef/bison liver, but your tastes may vary. Just avoid Polar Bear liver, haha.