Stress could cancel out the benefits of eating 'good fats': study

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Columbus, OH – Even if you choose to eat “good” fats as part of a healthy diet, stress can cancel out their benefits, according to research from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

For the study, 58 women, including 38 breast cancer survivors, visited the university on two days and were randomly assigned to eat one of two breakfasts within 20 minutes. One meal consisted of biscuits and gravy, which is high in saturated fat (so-called "bad fat"). The other meal consisted of eggs and turkey sausage, which is high in unsaturated fat. Monounsatured and polyunsaturated fats typically come from plant sources and are often called "good fats."

The women then answered questions about their previous day to determine if they experienced stress that stemmed from what was described as more than a minor irritant, such as cleaning up after a child spilled paint or trying to help an uncooperative parent with dementia. Thirty-one women said they experienced such an event once before their visits, and 21 said they had stress prior to both visits.

Blood was drawn from the women multiple times during their visits. Researchers examined two markers of inflammation and two markers that could predict a higher chance of plaque forming in the arteries.

Results showed all markers were higher following the meal of biscuits and gravy than the one of eggs and turkey sausage. However, among women who previously experienced stress, any differences vanished.

“It’s more evidence that stress matters,” Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, lead study author and a professor of psychiatry and psychology at the university, said in a press release.

The study was published Sept. 20 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

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