The Link Between Stress, Fatty Foods, and Cardiovascular Health: New Study Unveils Surprising Findings



Cardiovascular Health

In a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Birmingham, the connection between stress, dietary choices, and cardiovascular health has taken center stage. The findings reveal that consuming fatty foods during or before a stressful event can significantly worsen the impact on the brain, heart, and overall stress recovery process.

Fatty Foods Consumption And Cardiovascular Health

The study, led by researcher Rosalind Baynham, involved young and healthy adults who were given two butter croissants as breakfast before being subjected to a mental math task designed to simulate everyday stress at work or home.

The results were surprising, indicating that the consumption of fatty foods under stress reduced cardiovascular function by 1.7%. Importantly, this reduction persisted for an extended period, with the scientists detecting decreased artery elasticity up to 90 minutes after the stressful event.

Baynham explained, “When we get stressed, different things happen in the body, our heart rate and blood pressure go up, our blood vessels dilate and blood flow to the brain increases. We also know that the elasticity of our blood vessels – which is a measure of vascular function – declines following mental stress.”

Notably, a 1% reduction in cardiovascular function has been linked to a 13% increase in the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases, highlighting the significance of this study’s findings.

The impact of high-fat foods extended beyond cardiovascular function, affecting the flow of oxygen to the brain’s pre-frontal cortex by 39% during stress compared to a low-fat meal. Additionally, participants reported a negative impact on mood both during and after the stress episode when consuming fatty foods.

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, suggests that opting for low-fat food and drinks has a less detrimental effect on people’s recovery from stress. After consuming a low-fat meal, stress still led to a 1.2% decrease in cardiovascular functioning, but this decline returned to normal within 90 minutes after the stressful event.

Building on previous research by the same team, which highlighted the preventive effects of healthier food rich in polyphenols, such as cocoa, berries, grapes, apples, and other fruits and vegetables, the current study reinforces the importance of dietary choices in stress management.

Foods known to reduce the impact of stress on the body include complex carbs like whole-grain breads and cereals, omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish like salmon and tuna, and nuts such as almonds and pistachios. Fresh fruits and vegetables, especially those rich in polyphenols, emerge as a heart-healthy alternative for stress-induced eating.

Professor Jet Veldhuijzen van Zanten, Professor of Biological Psychology at the University of Birmingham, stressed the significance of these findings, particularly for individuals in high-stress jobs and those at risk of cardiovascular disease.

“We all deal with stress all the time, but especially for those of us in high-stress jobs and at risk of cardiovascular disease, these findings should be taken seriously,” said van Zanten. The study focused on healthy 18 to 30-year-olds, indicating that even in this age group, the impact of fatty foods on stress recovery was considerable.

In conclusion, the study emphasizes the intricate relationship between dietary choices, stress, and cardiovascular health. The impact of stress-eating on the body’s recovery process highlights the need for individuals, particularly those with increased cardiovascular risks, to be mindful of their food choices during stressful times.

By opting for heart-healthy alternatives, individuals can better support their overall well-being and stress resilience.

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Up Next

New Study Reveals Link Between Depression, Anorexia, and Gut Microbiota

Cardiovascular Health

A recent study published in BMC Psychiatry sheds light on a potential connection between major depressive disorder (MDD), anorexia, and gut microbiota. Led by researchers at the First Hospital of Shanxi Medical University, the study suggests that individuals with both depression and anorexia exhibit distinct patterns in their gut bacteria, particularly involving the presence of a specific bacterium called Blautia.

Depression, characterized by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in daily activities, affects millions worldwide and is often accompanied by a high risk of suicide. Anorexia, marked by reduced appetite and distorted body image, commonly co-occurs with depression, complicating treatment efforts.

Gut Bacteria’s Role in Depression and Anorexia

Up Next

Anxiety Alleviation: Dietitians Recommend 4 Drinks to Lower Anxiety

Cardiovascular Health

In a world where stress and anxiety are prevalent, with up to 19% of U.S. adults experiencing prolonged anxiety, the quest for effective coping mechanisms continues.

While traditional treatments like medication and therapy remain pillars of support, emerging research suggests that dietary choices, including hydration, might play a significant role in managing anxiety levels.

Drinks to Lower Anxiety You Must Know About

Here, we delve into the top drinks to lower anxiety recommended by dietitians –

1. Chamomile Tea: Renowned for its calming properties, chamomile tea contains apigenin, a flavonoid compound known for its anti-anxiety effects. Wan Na Chan, M.P.H., RD,

Up Next

Managing Autoimmune Disorders Through Yoga: Effective Practices to Consider

Cardiovascular Health

In recent years, the intersection between holistic practices like yoga and conventional medicine has garnered significant attention, particularly in the realm of managing autoimmune disorders.

A burgeoning body of research suggests that incorporating yoga into treatment plans can offer tangible benefits for individuals grappling with autoimmune conditions. From rheumatoid arthritis to lupus, yoga’s gentle yet powerful techniques hold promise in alleviating symptoms and improving overall quality of life.

Yoga, with its emphasis on mindful movement, breathwork, and relaxation, provides a multifaceted approach to managing autoimmune disorders. The practice not only addresses physical symptoms but also targets the underlying stress and inflammation that often exacerbate these conditions.

Up Next

Pregnancy Linked to Accelerated Aging Process in Women, Study Finds

Cardiovascular Health

In a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers shed light on a compelling connection between pregnancy and the aging process in women.

The study, led by Calen Ryan, an associate research scientist at the Columbia University Ageing Center, suggests that women who have experienced pregnancy may exhibit more signs of biological aging compared to those who haven’t. Intriguingly, the research also indicates that the aging process may accelerate with multiple pregnancies.

Ryan commented on the findings, stating, “We’re discovering that pregnancy leaves lasting effects on the body. While not all are negative, it appears to heighten the risk of certain diseases and overall mortality.”


Up Next

Unlocking Hoarding Disorder: Understanding, Support, and Effective Solutions

Cardiovascular Health

Hoarding disorder, a mental health condition characterized by persistent difficulty in parting with possessions and accumulating excessive clutter, affects millions of individuals worldwide. Here’s what you need to know about this often misunderstood disorder and how to support those who struggle with it.

Defining Hoarding Disorder:

Hoarding disorder is a complex mental health condition marked by a compulsive urge to accumulate possessions, leading to overwhelming clutter and difficulty discarding items.

According to experts like Brad Schmidt and Gregory Chasson, individuals with hoarding disorder often experience distress at the thought of parting with their belongings and may also have a strong desire to acquire new items.

Up Next

Understanding Cherophobia: Signs, Causes, and Coping Strategies

Cardiovascular Health

Cherophobia, a condition characterized by an aversion to happiness, has garnered attention for its impact on mental well-being.

Derived from the Greek word “Chairo,” meaning “I rejoice,” cherophobia manifests as an irrational fear of experiencing joy. Therapist Carolyn Rubenstein explains that this fear often stems from anxious thoughts associated with past trauma or childhood experiences linking happiness to negative outcomes.

Signs of Cherophobia

Recognizing the signs of cherophobia is crucial for identifying individuals who may be struggling with this condition:

Feelings of Guilt and Unworthiness: Those with cherophobia experience guilt and unwor

Up Next

Stress Can Lead to Cortisol Belly: Here’s How to Fix It

Cardiovascular Health

Stress can affect our lives in many ways, from our mental health to our relationships, but it can also lead to physical symptoms such as ‘cortisol belly’. Cortisol belly, named after the stress hormone, has been widely discussed on social platforms such as TikTok, with users and experts explaining how it occurs, and theorizing what could be done about it.

While you may not have heard of the term ‘cortisol belly’ before, you might have heard of stubborn belly fat or stress belly, which are essentially the same thing. This is because it refers to the accumulation of visceral adipose tissue around the stomach, which has been linked to prolonged exposure to elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.

What Is Cortisol Belly?

According to dietitian