Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How to Avoid the Artery-Clogging Effects of a High-Fat Meal

There are many different ways to prevent heart disease. If you want to avoid the atherogenic (artery clogging) effects of a high-fat meal, Dutch scientists say, the main thing to do is not to eat a second one, at least not within four hours. That is, if you're not diabetic. If you are diabetic, the secret is not to eat carbs and fat at the same time.

Medical researchers at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam tested the effects of eating a meal containing 50 grams of fat (about 450 calories from fat), 55 grams of carbohydrate (about 220 calories from carbs), and 30 grams of protein. Their test subjects were healthy men.

The first high-fat meal didn't have a big effect on blood flow, oxidation of LDL cholesterol (which changes it into the form that can "clog"), or blood glucose levels. A second consecutive high-fat meal, however, stiffened the brachial artery, increased the oxidation of LDL into atherogenic forms, and elevated blood sugar levels, even though the clinical study participants were not diabetic.

A single high-fat meal, spaced at least six hours from any other high-fat meals, however, may have a paradoxical effect. A research team at the same university found that in diabetic women, a high-fat meal actually lowered stress on the cardiovascular system, provided it was not accompanied by carbs. For diabetic women and possibly diabetics of both sexes, there's at least some recent evidence that the way to escape the artery-clogging effects of dietary fat is to avoid the carbs.

Recent reader questions:

Q. Can red pepper cure heart diseases?

A. By itself, no, although an Australian research study found that regular consumption of chili peppers by men resulting in measurably slower resting heart rate and seemed to increase the perfusion (spread of oxygen) through the heart. Eating chili sauce won't compensate for eating a basket of tortilla chips followed by the enchilada special.

Q. How does this relate to the benefits of walking with heart disease?

A. Walking long distances will burn fat, and the fewer carbohydrates you have to burn, the more fat your body will use. Real benefits of walking with heart disease kick in after about 90 minutes of walking, however.

Q. What is the best cheap cure for arteriosclerosis?

A. Well, avoiding arterial stress after high-fat meals is free, and a good place to start. But it's not a substitute for a doctor's care.


Tushuizen ME, Nieuwland R, Scheffer PG, Sturk A, Heine RJ, Diamant M. Two consecutive high-fat meals affect endothelial-dependent vasodilation, oxidative stress and cellular microparticles in healthy men. J Thromb Haemost. 2006 May;4(5):1003-10.

Schindhelm RK, Alssema M, Diamant M, Teerlink T, Dekker JM, Kok A, Kostense PJ, Nijpels G, Heine RJ, Scheffer PG. Comparison of two consecutive fat-rich and carbohydrate-rich meals on postprandial myeloperoxidase response in women with and without type 2 diabetes mellitus. Metabolism. 2008 Feb;57(2):262-7.


  1. what about diabetis type I?? what do I need to do?

  2. Hi, Richard. The same principles apply to type 1 diabetics. You may be following a relatively high-fat, high-protein diet to control your blood sugars. Just don't pile on the fats between meals, especially if you are having problems with high sugars. Robert