It has been suggested that a single junk food meal can negatively affect arteries, specifically the vascular endothelium, the inner lining of blood vessels. This is important to investigate because endothelial functioning can predict the long-term risk of coronary artery disease.
A small Canadian study recently examined the acute effects of different styles of eating, and researchers reported that a Mediterranean diet-based meal had no such ill effects among the 28 non-smoking men in their study. In fact, the finding indicates that eating such a meal may actually benefit the arteries.
At the study’s outset, the participants fasted for 12 hours and had baseline ultrasound evaluations of the endothelial function of the antecubital artery at the elbow crease. The men were then asked to eat two different meals.
The first meal included salmon, almonds and vegetables cooked in olive oil. Here, 51 percent of the calories came from fat, mostly healthy monounsaturated fats. In the junk food meal, a sausage, egg and cheese sandwich plus hash browns, 58 percent of the calories came from fats, but none from omega-3 fatty acids.
At two and four hours after each meal, ultrasounds found that, following the junk food meal, the men’s arteries dilated 24 percent less than they had during the 12-hour fast; after the Mediterranean meal, their arteries dilated normally and maintained good blood flow.