TORONTO - You may love fast-food breakfast sandwiches. But new Canadian research suggests your arteries do not.
A study done at the University of Calgary shows that even in healthy young volunteers, these high-fat meals have an almost immediate — though temporary — effect on the functioning of blood vessels.
Scientists at the Libin Cardiovascular Institute tested what they call the "happiness" of blood vessels after volunteers ate two breakfast sandwiches, comparing the results to controls who didn't have the meal.
They measured the velocity of blood flow to the subjects' arms before and after the volunteers ate breakfast sandwiches, and compared it to what they saw in subjects who didn't eat the breakfast.
The result? Arteries subjected to the fat in the breakfast sandwiches were not happy, said senior author Dr. Todd Anderson, director of the institute and head of cardiac science at the University of Calgary.
The flow was significantly reduced after the breakfast sandwich meal "which tells us the small vessels in the arm aren't able to dilate as much and therefore blood flow doesn't increase as much down the arm," said Anderson.
He wouldn't name the restaurant that was the source of the breakfast sandwiches, but described them as typical of that type of fast food.
The two combined contained about 900 calories and 50 grams of fat, and were high in sodium. The fat content was about the recommended daily limit for a person who weighs 70 kilograms, he said.
He suggested the findings don't mean people should never eat a breakfast sandwich. But it does show that every choice has an impact.
"This study reminds us that our behaviours are the backbone of preventing heart disease," Dr. Beth Abramson, a Toronto cardiologist and Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson, said in a press release.
"So consider all the choices and try to cut down on saturated and trans fats, calories and sodium. That's one of the keys to decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke.''
The primary scientist on the study was a student researcher, Vincent Lee, who did the work as his honours project for his bachelor of health sciences degree. The study was presented Tuesday to the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress.
Here are 10 ideas for breakfast in five minutes or less from registered dietitian Carol Harrison:
Two-minute scrambled eggs in a cup: Spray a mug with non-stick spray. Pour in 2 beaten eggs mixed with 30 ml (2 tbsp) milk. Cover with plastic wrap, leaving small gap for steam. Microwave on medium-high for 1 minute and 30 seconds to 1 minute and 45 seconds, stirring several times during cooking. Cover and let stand for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Serve with whole-grain toast and a pear or any fruit on hand.
Fruity smoothie in a vacuum flask; bagel with almond butter and apple slices.
Tuna salad made with sliced red grapes and chopped lettuce stuffed into 1/2 a whole-wheat pita plus yogurt.
Hard-boiled egg (they keep for a week in the refrigerator with the shell on), yogurt drink, fruit cup and bread sticks.
Use any fancy dessert cups. Toppings can include pecans, walnuts, dried cranberries, cherries or chopped apricots, raisins, vanilla, cinnamon, any chopped fresh, unsweetened frozen or canned fruit, dry whole-grain or high-fibre cereal, granola, coconut. Organize toppings the night before.
Canned baked beans served over toast with orange wedges.
Reheat and add a glass of milk and piece of fruit.
Defrost in the microwave or pop into the toaster. Heat frozen berries in the microwave with a little maple syrup for a fruity topping.
Add any leftover cooked meat, tofu or chicken, brown rice or a handful of frozen vegetables. Serve with whole-grain crackers and seasonal fruit.
Cheese, lettuce and tomato layered on a whole-wheat English muffin plus grapes and yogurt.