New study reveals that every single junk food meal damages your arteries

October 30, 2012

A single junk food meal – composed mainly of saturated fat – is detrimental to the health of the arteries, while no damage occurs after consuming a Mediterranean meal rich in good fats such as mono-and polyunsaturated fatty acids, according to researchers at the University of Montreal-affiliated ÉPIC Center of the Montreal Heart Institute. The Mediterranean meal may even have a positive effect on the arteries. The findings are being presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, which runs in Toronto until Wednesday, by the head of the study, Dr. Anil Nigam, Director of Research at the Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Centre (ÉPIC) and associate professor at the university's Faculty of Medicine.

Bad fat vs. good fat

Dr. Nigam undertook the study to compare the effects of junk food and typical Mediterranean meal on the : the inner lining of the blood vessels. By measuring , 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 .

The study also revealed that participants with higher blood triglyceride levels seemed to benefit more from the healthy meals. Their arteries responded better to the Mediterranean meal compared to people with low triglyceride levels. "We believe that a Mediterranean-type diet may be particularly beneficial for individuals with high triglyceride levels, such as patients with , precisely because it could help keep arteries healthy," Dr. Nigam said.

Mediterranean meal vs. junk food meal

The results were established in 28 non-smoking men, who ate the Mediterranean-type meal 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 first 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 second 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 and containing no omega-3s. At two hours and four 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 meal, the arteries of the study participants dilated 24% less than they did when in the fasting state. In contrast, the were found to dilate normally and maintain good blood flow after the Mediterranean-type 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.

Explore further: Antioxidant spices reduce negative effects of high-fat meal

Related Stories

Antioxidant spices reduce negative effects of high-fat meal

August 10, 2011
Eating a diet rich in spices, like turmeric and cinnamon, reduces the body's negative responses to eating high-fat meals, according to Penn State researchers.

Mediterranean diet improves health

July 25, 2012
Associate Professor Catherine Itsiopoulos of the Centre for Dietetics at La Trobe University highlights the benefits of a Mediterranean diet and lifestyle in a new La Trobe University podcast.

Low-carb, higher-fat diets add no arterial health risks to obese people seeking to lose weight

June 1, 2011
Overweight and obese people looking to drop some pounds and considering one of the popular low-carbohydrate diets, along with moderate exercise, need not worry that the higher proportion of fat in such a program compared ...

Recommended for you

When traveling on public transport, you may want to cover your ears

November 22, 2017
The noise levels commuters are exposed to while using public transport or while biking, could induce hearing loss if experienced repeatedly and over long periods of time, according to a study published in the open access ...

Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses

November 22, 2017
Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses, but spirits are most frequently associated with feelings of aggression, suggests research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Air pollution linked to poorer quality sperm

November 22, 2017
Air pollution, particularly levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), is associated with poorer quality sperm, suggests research published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Sunrise and sunset guide daily activities of city-dwellers

November 21, 2017
Despite artificial lightning and social conventions, the dynamics of daylight still influence the daily activities of people living in modern, urban environments, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

Older men need more protein to maintain muscles

November 21, 2017
The amount of protein recommended by international guidelines is not sufficient to maintain muscle size and strength in older men, according to a new study.

Exercising and eating well are greater contributors to health than standing at work

November 21, 2017
By now you've probably heard the edict from the health community: Sitting is the new smoking. Perhaps you've converted to a standing desk, or maybe you have a reminder on your phone to get up once an hour and walk around ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.