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High meat consumption increases the likelihood of hepatic steatosis

carne

People who eat a lot of animal protein are more likely to have excess fat in their liver and a higher risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) than people whose main source of protein is vegetables. This is suggested by a Dutch study from Erasmus MC University Medical Center published in the journal Gut.

Th e researchers, coordinated by hepatologist Sarwa Darwish Murad, examined data obtained from liver fat scans and questionnaires regarding the eating habits of 3,882 people, with an average age of 70 years: 34 percent (1,337) were found to have NAFLD, and among them, 1,205 were overweight.

Overweight people who consumed the most protein from foods of animal origin showed 54 percent greater odds of having fatty liver than people who consumed less meat.

The association,” Murad explained, “was maintained independent of other recognized risk factors for steatosis, such as metabolic and sociodemographic factors, lifestyle, and, especially relevant, even total caloric intake

Study participants without fatty liver consumed an average of 2,052 calories per day, compared with 1,996 calories per day for people with fatty liver; the latter also got a larger share of their total calories from protein. Vegetable consumption was similar in both groups, while meats accounted for the most noticeable difference in protein consumption.

The study has methodological limitations, acknowledged by the authors themselves, who also relied on questionnaires, which may be unreliable, to assess participants’ diets and caloric intake, and did not collect other data related to possible nondietary causes of fat accumulation in the liver, such as viral infections or taking certain medications.

But these findings add to other evidence confirming the potential of healthy eating habits to minimize the risk of steatosis, even when people have a genetic risk for the condition. Experts suggest that people should limit red and processed meat and follow a Mediterranean diet, rich in whole grains, vegetables and olive oil.

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