As we look forward to the holidays many of us plan to indulge a bit from our regular diet, eating Mom’s amazing pecan pie, Aunt Betty’s delicious cobbler or Uncle Sam’s famous cheese ball. The holiday meals tend to be heavier in fat and calories then our typical meals but does that REALLY make a big difference?
In a recent small study it was found that one meal high in fats such as eggs, sausage and potatoes significantly changed the function of the cells lining the blood vessels. The comparison was made with an ultrasound of a main artery to obtain baseline function after 12 hours of fasting, and then compared it with results after eating the greasy meal and a meal of fish, vegetables and nuts.
‘The Mediterranean-style meal with vegetables and fish did not change how the artery operated from baseline, however, after the high fat meal the artery dilated 24% less than from the original test. The lack of function of these cells is not an indicator of disease but can be a predecessor to atherosclerosis, the accumulation of fat in the arterial walls.
So as you go through the holidays keep in mind that, YES, every meal does count. Making food choices to keep our blood vessels healthy is not as hard as it seems. Remember to eat lean proteins like chicken, turkey or fish that have been baked or grilled rather than fried, using oils such as olive or coconut. Choose whole grains like brown rice or quinoa instead of processed, refined grains. Add loads of lightly cooked vegetables or raw fruits to round out the meal and avoid highly processed sugars. This plan will keep your heart healthy in the short and long term and may just keep you from packing on those extra 5 pounds this year too!
J. Cantin, S. Lacroix, J. Tardif, A. Nigam. 390 Does the Adherence to a Mediterranean Diet Influence Baseline and Postprandial Endothelial Function? Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 2012; 28 (5): S245 DOI:10.1016/j.cjca.2012.07.367