Are milkshakes good for your health

Does a fat sin harm the heart?

Serious treat: Even a single particularly high-fat meal can apparently have a negative impact on heart health, a study shows. In the experiment, consuming just one fattening milkshake in physically fit men led to harmful changes in blood and vessels. While healthy people may recover quickly from this effect, it could mean a great risk for people with previous illnesses, researchers report.

Whether butter, cream, croissant or bacon: Fatty foods are considered unhealthy - if they are eaten in large quantities. Because fat is an important nutritional component that the body needs in moderation. However, too much of it can be harmful in the long run. A high-fat diet promotes obesity, increases cholesterol levels and can thus promote cardiovascular heart diseases such as arteriosclerosis, one of the main risk factors for heart attacks and strokes. Products with a high proportion of saturated fatty acids have a particularly unfavorable effect.

A real fattening milkshake

We know the possible consequences of long-term high fat consumption. But a sin now and then can't do any harm, can it? Tyler Benson from Augusta University in the US state of Georgia and his colleagues have now investigated what a single fatty meal can do in the body - with terrifying results.

For their study, they gave five healthy men a real fattening milkshake with whole milk, whipped cream, ice cream and an energy content of 1,000 kilocalories. The drink contained an average of around 80 grams of fat, the exact amount was adjusted so that the test subjects each consumed the same proportion of fat in relation to their body weight. Five other men were served a meal that was just as high in calories but hardly contained any fat: sugary cornflakes with skimmed milk.

Altered red blood cells

How would the organism react? After the participants digested their meal four hours later, the researchers took the test. It turned out that not only were the levels of triglycerides, cholesterol and free fatty acids in the blood significantly increased in the milkshake group.

Even the structure of the red blood cells had visibly changed: "They were smaller and had a different shape," reports Benson's colleague Ryan Harris. According to this, strange jagged structures could now be seen on the cells, which, among other things, transport vital oxygen through the body. Does this change in shape have a negative impact on vascular health?

Impaired vessels

The scientists are not yet able to answer this question with certainty. But they also found other indications of the harmful effects of fat feasting. Studies have shown that the ability of the vessels to relax and expand was impaired as a result of the meal.

In addition, the enzyme myeloperoxidase (MPO) was increasingly found in the blood of the test subjects. Medical professionals have linked high levels of this substance to stiff blood vessels, oxidative stress, and heart attacks. If the enzyme gets into a diseased artery, it can destabilize plaque deposits there and thus lead to an emergency, the team reports. "The MPO concentration is directly related to heart attacks," says co-author Ben Weintraub.

Particular danger with previous illnesses

And the cereal group? These participants had certainly not eaten a healthy meal either - but apparently had less damage to their vascular health. In this way they did not experience negative changes in their blood, red blood cells or blood vessels. "We can clearly see here how a high-fat meal can have an effect," states Harris.

The team believes that the healthy subjects' blood and vessels will likely recover quickly. However, if you use the fat milkshake or burger more often, the observed effect can be increased. In the case of people with previous illnesses who, for example, already suffer from arteriosclerosis, a high-fat diet could mean a high risk even in the short term.

"Think twice about it"

According to the researchers, the results also help to explain a rare and puzzling phenomenon: that people suddenly die or have a heart attack immediately after eating a super-fat meal.

"We hope that people will use our study as an opportunity to think twice about their diet," says Weintraub. Healthy food and plenty of exercise are the most effective prevention against cardiovascular diseases. "Even people at high genetic risk for this condition can dramatically reduce that risk by making positive changes like this," he concludes. (Laboratory Investigation, 2018; doi: 10.1038 / s41374-018-0038-3)

(Augusta University, April 3rd, 2018 - DAL)

3rd April 2018