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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Your Health

Energy Drinks May Lead to Heart Disease

A study released by the Cleveland Clinic uncovers a chemical that leads to clogged arteries.

According to a study published on Monday in the Natural Health Journal, scientists have discovered a new chemical that causes clogged arteries and eventual heart disease.

The chemical is found in red meat and is also used in energy drinks.

Monster Energy Drinks
Monster Energy Drinks

Prior to this report, it was widely believed that the sole contributors to heart disease were the fat and cholesterol found in red meat.  In this most recent report, however, the team of clinicians concluded that the compound is produced by bacteria within the body.

Carnitine is digested in the stomach and processed to create TMAO, a substance linked to clogged arteries.

Dr. Stanley Hazen of the clinic led the study, where participants ate eight ounce steaks and then had their blood drawn.

The bacteria that turns the carnitine into TMAO was found in the bodies of heavy meat-eaters. Vegetarians who ate red meat for the study did not show the same presence of TMAO after digestion.

Carnitine is added to energy drinks because the supplement is believed to increase energy and help burn fat.

The study concludes that the solution is not to avoid red meat altogether, but to measure red meat intake and read the ingredients of all energy drinks and supplements.

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