The Lasting Health Effects of the Breakfast Sandwich
People around this country love to eat their hot breakfast sandwiches like pork roll, sausage, or bacon, egg, and cheese on a bagel or hard roll. While very delicious and quite satisfying, the iconic breakfast sandwich is also laden with a tremendous amount of fat. According to the head of cardiac science at the University of Calgary, eating just one of these a day, and "your blood vessels become unhappy." Diets associated with high-fat meals are associated with atherosclerosis, the narrowing of the arteries over a lifetime. But the new research shows that the ill effects of a high fat breakfast can be felt well before lunchtime of that very day.
Experiments were set up in the laboratory of Dr. Todd Anderson, director of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta and head of cardiac science at the University of Calgary. They were led by student researcher, Vincent Lee. Elements of the experiment included breakfast sandwiches and a sampling of healthy, non-smoking college students.
They measured the "happiness" of the arteries, which was determined by the increase in blood flow through the arm in response to a brief interruption of blood flow. That brief interruption is caused by a blood pressure cuff being inflated. The measure of increased blood flow is termed the Velocity Time Integral (VTI).
"VTI tells us how much blood flow you can you get in your arm," says Dr. Anderson. The higher the VTI, the happier the artery.
The objective was to assess the acute effects of only one high-fat meal on a microvascular function, which is an indicator of overall health of the blood vessels.
The same students were examined twice, once on a day after eating a breakfast sandwich, and once on a day with no breakfast. The breakfast sandwiches were commercially available, 900 calorie, 50 grams of fat, sandwiches.
Their VTI was examined two hours after eating, and it showed a decrease of 15-20 percent after eating the sandwich. This shows that speed at which a high-fat breakfast can affect cardiovascular health. However, from just one meal, the results are not definitive, and the researchers won’t say never to eat a breakfast sandwich.
They do stress that a diet in which breakfast sandwiches are commonplace is not good and can lead to atherosclerosis, and in turn, heart disease, stroke, and even death.
"This study reminds us that our behaviours are the backbone of preventing heart disease," says Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson Dr. Beth Abramson. "Remember that whether you eat at home or go to a restaurant, you're still in charge of what you eat. 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."
Breakfast Sandwich image via Shutterstock