The benefits of eating good fats vanish when stress enters the picture, a new study claims
Researchers from The Ohio State University studied 58 women with an average age of 53.
The participants were given either a biscuits-and-gravy breakfast with eggs and turkey sausage made with saturated fat or monounsaturated sunflower oil. They then underwent blood tests, with scientists finding that if a woman had a stressful event before breakfast, any benefits of consuming a healthy fat were erased.
“It’s more evidence that stress matters,” said lead author Professor Jan Kiecolt-Glaser.
Going into the study, the researchers wanted to investigate how both diet and stress can alter inflammation in the body. It’s important because chronic inflammation is linked to a litany of health problems including heart disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
Stressors included having to clean up paint a child spilled all over the floor and struggling to help a parent with dementia who was resisting help.
“They’re not life-shattering events, but they’re not of the hangnail variety either,” said Professor Kiecolt-Glaser.
Thirty-one women had at least one recent stressor at one of the two visits, 21 had experienced stress before both visits and six of the women reported no significant stressful experiences prior to their visits.
In those women who had stressful days, the difference disappeared, and eating a breakfast with “bad fat” was just the same as eating one with “good fat.”
This study leaves open questions about the connections between stress, fat source and healthier meals higher in fibre and fruits and vegetables and lower in calories, researchers reported.
It’s believed that reduced inflammation could be the cornerstone of the benefits of eating healthier foods such as the Mediterranean diet – one that is high in oleic acid, usually from olive oil.
The study appears in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
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