Just one Egg McMuffin-style fast food meal can hurt your arteries' ability to increase blood flow under stress, researchers said in a new study.
Canadian researchers compared the effects of a junk-food meal and a typical Mediterranean meal on the inner lining of the blood vessels of 28 non-smoking men.
After the subjects ate a meal of salmon, almonds and vegetables cooked in olive oil (with just over half the calories from fat, mainly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), an ultrasound revealed that the arteries of the participants were functioning normally.
A week later, the men were fed a sausage sandwich, an egg, a slice of cheese and three hash browns (with 58 percent of total calories from fat, mostly saturated fatty acids). The ensuing ultrasound found that the arteries dilated 24 percent less.
How the inner lining of blood vessels works — endothelial function — is linked to long-term risk of developing coronary artery disease. The researchers noted that the men with higher blood triglyceride levels seemed to benefit more from the Mediterranean meals.
"We believe that a Mediterranean-type diet may be particularly beneficial for individuals with high triglyceride levels, such as patients with metabolic syndrome, precisely because it could help keep arteries healthy," study author Dr. Anil Nigam, Director of Research at the Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Center in Montreal, said in a statement.