A new study demonstrates the immediate negative effect on arteries of just one meal containing high levels of saturated fat.
Before you sink your teeth into that next sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich, give your arteries a thought. Researchers have demonstrated the immediate—and alarming—effect to our arteries of a single meal consisting of high amounts of saturated fat.
Dr. Anil Nigam, Director of Research at the Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Centre and associate professor at the University of Montreal’s Faculty of Medicine, recently led a team of researchers to look at the effects of a Mediterranean meal versus a junk food meal on the arteries. They published their findings in the current issue of the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.
Study examines endothelial function
In their study, researchers examined the endothelial function of 28 men who ate, in meals separated by one week, a Mediterranean-type meal first and then a junk food-type meal. The endothelium is the inner lining of blood vessels. When the endothelium functions correctly, among other things, it produces dilation or constriction of the blood vessels.
The researchers examined 28 nonsmoking men for their study. Before eating the first meal and after fasting for 12 hours, the men’s baseline endothelial function was measured.
The 28 men were then given the Mediterranean meal consisting of salmon, almonds, and vegetables cooked in olive oil. The total calories from fat (mostly monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats) was 51 percent.
Junk food meal
One week later the same men were given a sandwich made of sausage, an egg, a slice of cheese, and three hash browns for a total of 58 percent of total calories from fat (mostly saturated fatty acids and no omega-3s).
At two and then four hours after each of the meals, the men were tested to determine how the meals affected endothelial function:
Mediterranean meal: The arteries were found to dilate normally and maintain good blood flow.
Junk food meal: The arteries dilated 24 percent less than they did when measured after fasting.
According to Nigam, “These results will positively alter how we eat on a daily basis. Poor endothelial function is one of the most significant precursors of atherosclerosis. It is now something to think about at every meal.” How does that Sausage McMuffin sound now?
Try some alive Mediterranean recipes