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Exercise – the solution for fatty meals

The problem with a fatty meal is that it prevents the arteries from expanding properly to any increase in blood flow. This effect appears to occur about four hours after the meal. At this moment the arteries look like those of a person with heart disease, just about the time you are getting ready for your next meal. If that meal is fatty too the process just continues and your health is constantly at risk.

However two studies, one by Indiana University and one by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology have both come to the same conclusion that just light exercise, a couple of hours after the meal can reverse this effect.

The study by of the American College of Cardiology found that eating just one piece of carrot cake high in saturated fat and drinking a milkshake can reduce the body’s ability to protect itself against heart disease.

The fat effect’s the good cholesterol (HDL – high density lipoprotein) from protecting the inner lining of the arteries from inflammatory substances that promote vessel-clogging plaque.

Janet P. Wallace, a professor of kinesiology at Indiana University did the following study. She took eight healthy 25 year olds and set up three different scenarios. Each of the participants — five men and three women — completed all three scenarios. They ate a low-fat breakfast. They ate a high-fat breakfast. And they ate a high-fat breakfast followed two hours later by a 45-minute walk on a treadmill at a moderate pace. The high-fat meal contained about 48 grams of fat and the low-fat one actually had no fat; each consisted of about 940 calories.

The researchers used a blood pressure cuff to measure blood flow in the brachial artery, located in the arm, before and after each scenario. “The brachial artery represents what is going on in the arteries of the heart,” Wallace said.

After the high-fat meal alone, the brachial artery dilation dropped from 6 percent to 4 percent, Wallace said. “The ideal range is about 6 to 10,” she said. “A range of 3 to 5 is not good.”

After the low-fat meal, dilation went from 6 percent to 6.5 percent, a slight improvement.

But, “after the high-fat meal and exercise, it went from 6 percent (before the meal) to 8 and a half percent,” she said.

“Exercise does great things, and this obviously shows exercise is very effective in counteracting that high-fat meal,” Wallace added.

The study results were published in the September issue of the European Journal of Applied Physiology.
But a word of caution is required before you go rushing out for your burger and chips in the believe that a bit of exercise will mean you will never have a heart attack no matter what you eat.

The study was a small study on young, healthy and active individuals and more research is needed to see if the same effects occur on the rest of the population. So do not use this as an excuse to indulge in fatty foods but use it more as a reason to exercise.

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