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Fast Food Breakfast Hurt Arteries
Fast-food style breakfast found bad for artery health, versus a Mediterranean-style meal
The heart risks of saturated fat and cholesterol are routinely overblown.
Consumed n moderation, they aren't a problem for the vast majority.
The exceptions include highly sedentary people and those with adverse genetic profiles.
We've covered this topic, in “Sugar, not Fat, Affirmed as Top Heart-Attacker” and “Cholesterol Fiasco Undermines Accepted Theory”,which links to revealing New York Times reporting.
That said, balance is critical when it comes to daily and lifelong dietary decisions. It's clearly unwise to eat a diet low in fish and colorful plant foods but high in sugars, starches, and saturated animal fats.
We've addressed the risks of imbalanced diets in “High-Carb Foods Harm Hearts; Low-Carb “Green” Diet Helps” and “Fast Food Diet May Raise Alzheimer's Risk”.
A new study confirms that meals high in saturated fat exert bad effects on artery function … with negative implications for diets dominated by such fare.
The results aren't very surprising, but they reinforce the value of balanced diets, rich in fish and whole, unrefined plant foods.
Clinical study indicts excess reliance on fatty animal foods Researchers from the Montreal Heart Institute presented their findings last month, at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress.
Led by Dr. Anil Nigam, the Montreal team wanted to compare the artery effects of a meal composed mainly of saturated fats to those of a typical Mediterranean meal (Cantin J et al. 2012).
Specifically, they wanted to measure the two meals impacts on the inner lining of the volunteers' blood vessels, known medically as the vascular endothelium.
Good endothelial function promotes heathful artery dilation and blood flow after a meal, and is linked to substantially lower risks of coronary artery disease.
The High-Saturated-Fat (HSF) meal consisted of a fast-food-breakfast style sausage/egg/cheese sandwich and hash brown potatoes. About 58 percent of its calories came from fat – mostly saturated – and it contained no omega-3s.
The Mediterranean-style meal consisted of salmon, almonds, and vegetables cooked in olive oil. About 51 percent of its calories came from fat … mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
The study involved 28 non-smoking men, who ate the Mediterranean-type meal first and then the HFS meal one week later.
Before beginning, the men underwent an ultrasound of an elbow artery after fasting for 12 hours to reveal their normal endothelial function, unaffected by any food.
At two hours and four hours after each meal, the participants underwent further ultrasounds to assess how the food had impacted their endothelial function.
In short, the results showed that the HSF breakfast harmed artery health.
After eating the HSF meal, the arteries of study participants dilated (opened up) 24 percent less than they did when in the fasting state.
In contrast, the participants' arteries dilated normally and maintained good blood flow after they ate the Mediterranean-style meal.
Given the findings of many prior studies on Mediterranean-style meals, it's no surprise that it exerted positive effects on the participants' arteries.
“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 (UM 2012).
Also unsurprisingly, the participants with higher blood triglyceride levels seemed to benefit more from the Mediterranean meal.
  • Cantin J, Lacroix S, Tardif J, Nigam A. Does the Adherence to a Mediterranean Diet Influence Baseline and Postprandial Endothelial Function? Canadian Journal of Cardiology. Volume 28, Issue 5, Supplement, September–October 2012, Pages S245. Accessed at
  • University of Montreal (UM). New study reveals that every single junk food meal damages your arteries. October 30, 2012. Accessed at