If you thought that a couple of hash browns every morning wouldn’t hurt, you’re in for a surprise. A study featured on ScienceDaily.com has proven that each and every “junk food meal” you’ve eaten may damage your arteries.mJunk food meals that are high in saturated fat include chips and bacon.

According to Dr. Anil Nigam, Director of Research at the Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Centre (ÉPIC) and associate professor at the University of Montreal’s Faculty of Medicine, the health of your arteries may be determined by the kind of fat you usually take in.

Working with 28 healthy and non-smoking men, Dr. Nigam and his team had the participants eat two kinds of meals--a Mediterranean meal which consisted of almonds, salmons, and vegetables cooked in olive oil, and a junk food meal which consisted of a sausage-egg- and-cheese sandwich and three hash browns. The first had 51 percent of total calories coming mostly from monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats, while the second had its 58 percent of total calories coming from saturated fatty acids.

After consuming every meal, the function of each participant’s vascular endothelium (inner lining of blood vessels) was observed in order to measure the dilation of arteries. Researchers found that after eating the junk food meal, each participant’s arteries dilated 24 percent less than if they were fasting, while the Mediterranean meal promoted normal artery dilation and good blood flow.

Failure of arteries to properly dilate or open can cause atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of artery walls due to fat and cholesterol plaque. According to the US National Library of Medicine, once triggered, this condition cannot be reversed, only delayed. When left untreated, it can lead to aneurysm.

Now that the holiday season is here, this is definitely something to think about. Choose what kinds of fats you consume in order to keep your body healthy. Proper diet can promote good circulation, which you’ll definitely appreciate later on in life.

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(Photo by jeffreyw via Flickr Creative Commons)

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