If you believe that hitting a fast-food from time to time, binging with a junk food meal is an ok to do, you might want to think again. A newly published study suggests that even one single junk food meal is detrimental to the health of your arteries.
The study was conducted at the EPIC Center of the Montreal Heart Institute (University of Montreal), and presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress by Dr. Anil Nigam, Director of Research at the Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Centre (ÉPIC) and associate professor at the university's Faculty of Medicine.
Dr. Nigam undertook the study to compare the effects of a junk food meal (high in “bad” fats) and a healthy meal (high in “good” fats) on the vascular endothelium, which is the inner lining of the blood vessels.
By measuring endothelial function, it is possible to determine how easily the arteries will dilate after a temporary, five-minute occlusion, following the consumption of the two types of meals. This is a very interesting analysis for researchers to perform as endothelial function is closely linked to the long-term risk of developing coronary artery disease.
The results were established in 28 non-smoking men, who ate the healthy meal (labeled as “Mediterranean”) first, and then the junk food-type meal one week later.
Before beginning, the men underwent an ultrasound of the antecubital artery at the elbow crease after fasting for 12-hours to assess their baseline endothelial function.
The researchers then tested the effects of each meal.
The healthy one was composed of salmon, almonds, and vegetables cooked in olive oil, of which 51% of total calories came from fat (mostly monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats.)
The junk food meal consisted of a sandwich made of a sausage, an egg, and a slice of cheese, and three hash browns, for a total of 58% of total calories from fat: extremely rich in saturated fatty acids and containing no omega-3s.
At 2 hours and 4 hours after each meal, participants underwent further ultrasounds to assess how the food had impacted their endothelial function.
Dr. Nigam and his team found that after eating the junk food meal, the arteries of the study participants dilated 24% less than they did when in the fasting state.
In contrast, the arteries were found to dilate normally and maintain good blood flow after the healthy meal.
"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," Dr. Nigam said.
The conclusions reached by this study shed a new light on the idea that hitting a fast-food chain occasionally for a meal is an all right thing to do.
Even though I never eat at fast foods, I was too convinced that it was kind of an ok thing to do, every now and then. Well, I need to change that, as apparently even one single junk food meal is detrimental to our health!
The Iron You
The above story was reprinted from materials provided by University of Montreal, via Eurekalert!