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Objective: The metabolic mechanism of harmful effects of red meat on the cardiovascular system is still unclear. The objective of the present study is to investigate the associations of self-reported red meat consumption with plasma metabolic markers, and of these markers with the risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Methods: Plasma samples of 4,778 participants (3,401 CVD cases and 1,377 controls) aged 30-79 selected from a nested case-control study based on the China Kadoorie Biobank were analyzed by using targeted nuclear magnetic resonance to quantify 225 metabolites or derived traits. Linear regression was conducted to evaluate the effects of self-reported red meat consumption on metabolic markers, which were further compared with the effects of these markers on CVD risk assessed by logistic regression. Results: Out of 225 metabolites, 46 were associated with red meat consumption. Positive associations were observed for intermediate-density lipoprotein (IDL), small high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and all sizes of low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Cholesterols, phospholipids, and apolipoproteins within various lipoproteins, as well as fatty acids, total choline, and total phosphoglycerides, were also positively associated with red meat consumption. Meanwhile, 29 out of 46 markers were associated with CVD risk. In general, the associations of metabolic markers with red meat consumption and of metabolic markers with CVD risk showed consistent direction. Conclusions: In the Chinese population, red meat consumption is associated with several metabolic markers, which may partially explain the harmful effect of red meat consumption on CVD.

Original publication




Journal article


Front Nutr

Publication Date





cardiovascular diseases, lipoproteins, metabolomics, processed meat, red meat