Study Shows Fast Food May Have an Immediate Impact on Your Health

January 17, 2013

Must See Nutrition Videos

As an athlete, you already know that you're probably not ordering your most healthy meals from the driver's seat of your car. Yet when cravings hit, even nutrition junkies can find themselves saying things like "double cheese, double bacon and, yes, supersize that combo" to a drive-thru intercom.

As long as the rest of your diet is healthy, there's no harm in the occasional detour, right? What can a single order of fries hurt? According to a recent study published in The Canadian Journal of Cardiology, maybe more than you think.

According to findings from research done by Dr. Anil Nigam, Director of Research at the Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Centre (an affiliate of the University of Montreal), a single fast food meal high in saturated fat and sodium can almost immediately damage your arteries.

Nigam's study tested the effects of good fat versus bad fat on blood vessel lining by measuring the endothelial function (or the blood vessels' ability to dilate) after a high-fat meal. To do this, Nigam took 28 healthy men (18 to 50 years old) and fed them each two distinctly different meals after periods of 12-hour fasting.

The first meal was based on the Mediterranean diet and consisted of salmon, almonds and vegetables baked with olive oil. In the first meal, 51 percent of the calories came from monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats. Two hours later, Nigam and his colleagues tested artery dilations and found them all relatively normal. For the second meal, the men ate a typical fast-food breakfast sandwich of sausage, egg and cheese paired with three hash browns. The breakfast platter was high in saturated fat and contained no omega-3s. Fifty-eight percent of total calories came from fat. Two hours later, the team found the participants' arteries dilated 24 percent less than they were when fasting. Not good: high cholesterol and triglycerides levels can elevate blood pressure and lead to a heart attack.

"These results will positively alter how we eat on a daily basis," Dr. Nigam says.

Is that chicken nugget really worth being one step closer to a heart attack?  It's certainly something to keep in mind, especially next time a craving for something greasy hits.

Stuck eating at a fast food restaurant? Don't worry, view these STACK articles to guide your order:

Topics: NEWS
Samantha Jones
- Samantha Jones is a graduate of the University of Alabama, where she earned her bachelor's degree in communication and information sciences. Throughout her scholastic career,...
Samantha Jones
- Samantha Jones is a graduate of the University of Alabama, where she earned her bachelor's degree in communication and information sciences. Throughout her scholastic career,...
Must See
Michael Jordan: Mind of a Champion
Views: 546,272
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 4,779,213
Antonio Brown Juggles 3 Footballs
Views: 1,203,239

Featured Videos

A Day in the Life of NBA D-League Star Seth Curry Views: 66,647
Kevin Love's Cone Hop Basketball Shooting Drill Views: 5,931
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Views: 127,960
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,308,654
What Ryan Hall Eats for Breakfast
Views: 795,206
STACK Fitness Weekly: How To Do a Muscle-Up
Views: 778,612
Greg Nixon's Hill Training Program
Views: 705,718
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,559,831

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

To perform at their best athletes need to eat the right foods to fuel their workouts and rebuild muscle. However, most athletes tend to eat foods that...

10 Athlete-Approved, High-Protein Healthy Cereals

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

6 Healthy Foods You're Overeating

The Boston Cannons'

Why You Need Dietary Fiber

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

The Case for Red Meat

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

5 Simple Food Swaps That Make Eating Out Healthier

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Diner Menu

How Marc Gasol Got Better by Overhauling His Diet

The Grain Guide: How and Why to Use 8 Healthy Whole Grains

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

Small Change, Big Difference: 5 Foods You Should Buy Organic

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Why You Should Always Say No to Diet Foods

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler