Fast Food Breakfast Triggers Inflammation

High-Fat, High-Carb Breakfast May Raise Heart Risks

From the WebMD Archives

April 19, 2004 -- Eating breakfast on the run may be bad for your heart. A new study shows a typical high-fat, high-carbohydrate fast food breakfast can overwhelm the body's blood vessels and cause potentially dangerous inflammation.

Researchers found an egg muffin and hash brown breakfast dramatically raised inflammatory markers in the blood for up to four hours after eating the meal.

"People who experience repeated short-lived bouts of inflammation resulting from many such unhealthy meals can end up with blood vessels in a chronic state of inflammation, a primary factor in the development of atherosclerosis," says researcher Ahmad Aljada, PhD, research assistant professor at the University of Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, in a news release.

Atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries leads to clogged arteries and heart disease.

Fast Food Breakfast Bombards Blood Vessels

In the study, nine healthy adults ate a fast food breakfast consisting of an egg muffin, a sausage muffin, and two hash browns after not eating overnight. Then they had their blood analyzed. The fast food breakfast contained 910 calories, 81 grams of carbohydrates, 51 grams of fat, and 32 grams of protein.

Researchers found that levels of inflammatory markers increased significantly and remained elevated for three to four hours after eating the meal.

"Eating that 900-calorie, high-fat meal temporarily floods the blood stream with inflammatory components, overwhelming the body's natural inflammation-fighting mechanisms," says Aljada.

In addition free radicals increased by more than 100% and stayed elevated for more than three hours after eating the breakfast. Free radicals are destructive particles that have been linked to a higher risk of atherosclerosis.

The results of the study appear in the April issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Researchers say the influx of fat, calories, protein, and carbohydrates caused by eating a fast food breakfast may alter the behavior of cells and activate a mechanism that produces more powerful enzymes that are potentially damaging to the lining of blood vessels.

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on April 19, 2004


SOURCES: Aljada, A. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, April 2004; vol 79: pp 682-690. News release, University of Buffalo.

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