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 vascular endothelium: 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 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 metabolic syndrome, precisely because it could help keep arteries healthy," Dr. Nigam said.
Mediterranean meal vs. junk food meal