One milkshake could be all it takes to trigger heart disease, new research suggests.
Just four hours after indulging in the treat, which contains 1,000 calories, 80g of fat and is made from full-fat milk, whipped cream and ice cream, people’s blood vessels are less able to relax, a study found.
Stiff vessels raise the risk of high blood pressure, which makes people more likely to suffer heart attacks and failure.
The milky treat also increases blood’s fat and cholesterol levels, while changing the structure of cells that are linked to heart attacks, the research adds.
Researchers believe this may explain why some people die suddenly within hours of eating a fatty meal.
Study author Dr Neal Weintraub, from the Medical College of Georgia, said: ‘We see this hopefully as a public service to get people to think twice about eating this way.
‘Is this food worth your life?’
The American Heart Association recommends adults limit their fat intake to 20-to-35 percent of their daily calories.
One milkshake could be all it takes to trigger heart disease, new research suggests (stock)
ARE HEALTHY DIETS OR MEDICATION MORE EFFECTIVE AT LOWERING BLOOD PRESSURE?
Low-salt diets packed with fruit and vegetables lower blood pressure more than medication after just four weeks, a Harvard University study suggested in November 2017.
Cutting out salt and eating lots of fruit, vegetables and low-fat dairy, reduces people with high blood pressure’s results by an average of 21 mm Hg, the research adds.
To put that into context, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US’ drug-approving body, will not accept anti-hypertension medications unless they lower blood pressure by at least 3-4 mm Hg.
Most medications typically reduce hypertension readings by between 10 and 15 mm Hg, but come with side effects including fatigue, dizziness and headache.
Study author Dr Lawrence Appel said: ‘What we’re observing from the combined dietary intervention is a reduction in systolic blood pressure as high as, if not greater than, that achieved with prescription drugs.
‘It’s an important message to patients that they can get a lot of mileage out of adhering to a healthy and low-sodium diet.’
Around 32 percent of adults in the US, and one in four in the UK, have high blood pressure, which puts them at risk of heart disease and stroke.
The researchers analyzed 412 people with early-stage hypertension who were not taking high blood pressure medication.
Some of the study’s participants were fed a ‘DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet’, which includes lots of fruit, vegetables and low-fat dairy products, with minimal saturated fat.
The remaining participants ate a typical American diet.
All of the participants were fed different sodium levels equaling around 0.5, one or two teaspoons of salt a day over four weeks with five-day breaks in between.
How the research was carried out
The researchers analysed 10 healthy men.
Only men were included in the study due to oestrogen protecting against heart disease in healthy, premenopausal women.
Half of the men drank milkshakes containing around 80g of fat and 1,000 calories.
The remainder ate three big bowls of sugar-coated cereal flakes with zero-fat milk, which contained a similar number of calories as the milkshake but with very little fat.
All of the participants’ had blood samples taken four hours after eating the food.
Four hours is the approximate time it takes people to digest meals.
Changes linked to heart attacks occur within four hours
Results suggest four hours after drinking a milkshake people’s white blood cells, which are critical to immunity, produce an enzyme known as myeloperoxidase (MPO).
MPO has previously been linked to stiffened blood vessels, ‘internal’ stress and heart attacks.
Dr Weintraub said: ‘Myeloperoxidase levels in the blood are directly implicated in heart attacks.’
Certain white blood cells also become larger after consuming a fatty milkshake and become deposited in artery plaque, which suggests they play a role in high blood pressure.
Red blood cells, which transport oxygen around the body, also change after drinking calorie-laden milkshakes.
Dr Harris said: ‘They changed size, they changed shape, they got smaller.’
Although it is unclear if such alterations affect people’s health, red blood cells carry substances that affect blood vessel relaxation and cholesterol levels.
Fine to indulge occasionally
The researchers add animal studies suggest the impact of eating unhealthy food usually resolves around eight hours after its consumption.
Yet, such dietary choices may have a serious impact on people’s health if eaten regularly.
Study author Dr Julia Brittain said: ‘The take-home message is that your body can usually handle this if you don’t do it again at the next meal and the next and the next.’
The findings were published in the journal Laboratory Investigation.
Milkshakes make blood vessels less able to relax, raising the risk of heart attacks (stock)
People with strong handshakes are less likely to develop heart disease
This comes after research released earlier this month suggested people with strong handshakes may be less at risk of heart disease.
A study found people with weak handshakes are more likely to have enlarged, damaged hearts.
In contrast, a stronger grip is associated with more blood being pumped per heart beat, regardless of the organ’s size.
This suggests such an individual is not suffering from heart muscle reshaping, which can occur due to high blood pressure, and is associated with cardiovascular events, the research adds.
Study author Professor Steffen Petersen, from Queen Mary University of London, said: ‘Better handgrip strength is associated with having a healthier heart structure and function
‘Handgrip strength is an inexpensive, reproducible and easy to implement measure, and could become an important method for identifying those at a high risk of heart disease and preventing major life-changing events, such as heart attacks.’