WELLINGTON, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- A healthy complement of vegetables can help the digestion of a steak or beef, and prevent illnesses that come with diet heavy in red meats, New Zealand scientists announced Wednesday.
Scientists with the government's Plant & Food Research institute investigated the effects of red meat consumption with and without fermentable carbohydrates on the large bowel health of rats.
The research, published in the Journal of Food Science, suggested that the impact of red meat consumption on bowel health could be reduced if it was eaten with fermentable dietary fiber, such as that found in potatoes.
Fermentable carbohydrates, including most fruits and vegetables, delivered a colonic energy source that produced less harmful by- products than the microbial breakdown of colonic protein for energy.
"The proteins we eat can influence the metabolism of microbiota in our gut and therefore our bowel heath," Plant & Food Research scientist Dr Chrissie Butts said in a statement.
"While most proteins are digested and absorbed by the small intestine, undigested protein reaching the large bowel is fermented and can result in potentially toxic compounds," she said.
"Our research showed that by delivering dietary constituents that supported beneficial bacteria and restricting the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the large bowel we were able to have positive effect on the host's health."
The eight-week study of a range of gut health indicators in rats fed diets containing cooked red meat showed that mixing red meat with potato fiber or potato-resistant starch had significant effects in the large bowel, including higher concentrations of beneficial bacteria.
Future studies were being planned to examine the efficacy of different types of non-digestible carbohydrates in maintaining colonic health during long-term consumption of high-protein diets.
The study helped provide the knowledge needed to make healthier food choices for large bowel health, and the future development of "functional red meat products" with fermentable dietary fiber could help promote a healthy and balanced macronutrient diet, said the statement.