Microbes in our gut help metabolize the foods we eat, which is good for our body. But a new study shows that the way gut microbes metabolize foods that are high in fat and cholesterol may play a role in the development of heart failure.

“Red meat, animal products, high-dairy products, egg yolk; these are the types of foods that we’re concerned about in terms of, not only contributing to the development of heart disease, but contributing to the development of heart failure and the long-term, adverse consequences of heart failure," said study co-author Dr. Stanley Hazen, section head of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic.

In a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Hazen and his team found that these high-fat, high-cholesterol foods put some people at higher risk of developing heart failure because of the microbes in their body that are part of the digestive process. People with these microbes may also be at risk for more severe consequences from heart failure, including death. Since people have different levels of these microbes, and the products they release into blood, Hazen said that a simple blood test may be able to tell us who’s at greater risk.

For now, it makes sense to simply watch what you eat, he said.

“Diet can be, we think, a big influence on slowing or halting the progression of heart failure beyond just simply cutting down on salt,” Hazen said.