Immediate Harm From One Fatty Meal
A study titled Post-prandial remnant lipids
impair arterial compliance by Paul
J. Nestel in the February 2001 issue Journal of the American College of
Cardiology found a 27% decrease in arterial compliance after a single
meal consisting of 67% of the calories as fat.1 The study
fed 16 subjects (with various initial cholesterol and triglyceride levels)
a meal consisting of a ham and cheese sandwich, buttered bread, whole
milk, and ice cream.
Their results were
compared to 20 subjects who ate a diet containing 10% of the calories as
fat (breads, breakfast cereal, fruit, low-fat milk, and spreads). No
impairment on arterial wall compliance was seen with the low-fat feeding.
The compliance was determined by ultrasound measurements over the
ascending aorta (large artery leading from the heart) and the right
carotid artery (neck). This single meal caused no significant change
in average blood cholesterol (total, LDL, or HDL).
Compliance of the blood vessel is the ease
with which the vessel wall expands with the change in blood pressure in
the artery as the heart beats. Stiff arteries cause the blood
pressure to rise and act as one mechanism causing hypertension.
The top number in a blood pressure reading (systolic pressure) is affected
more with impaired compliance than the bottom (diastolic) number.
Decreased compliance may also lead to permanent damage to the structural
components of the artery wall (fractures of the elastic lamellae).
Impaired compliance of the artery walls also predicts a greater risk of
carotid artery closure, stroke, and death from all causes.
By coincidence, that same
amount of fat (67% of the calories) was fed to people in different
experiments in the early 1950s.2 These researchers found
that fat caused the circulation to sludge. Before the fat feeding,
blood cells flowed easily through the blood vessels because their cell
surfaces naturally repelled each other. After the meal, the cell
surfaces became coated with fat, sticking the cells together and sludging
the blood to a halt. This resulted in a decrease in the oxygen
content of the blood by 20%. 3 These overall changes raise
blood pressure, cause chest pain in people with narrowed heart arteries,
and produce post-meal fatigue. Thus, here are two profound and
immediate adverse effects of a typical American meal on your blood vessels
and circulation. This news should make everyone pause and rethink
before planning a meal in or out of the home.
1. Nestel P. Post-prandial
remnant lipids impair arterial compliance. J Am Coll Cardiol
2. Friedman M.
Serum Lipids and conjunctival circulation after fat ingestion in men
exhibiting type-A behavior pattern. Circulation 29:874, 1964.
3. Kuo P. The
effect of lipemia upon coronary and peripheral arterial circulation in
patients with essential hyperlipemia. Am J Med 26:68, 1959.