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Saturated Fat: Even a Little Splurge May Be Too Much
Date:9/9/2007

Fatty meal has immediate, negative effect on heart health, research shows

SUNDAY, Sept. 9 (HealthDay News) -- How bad can it be to indulge in an occasional meal or snack loaded with saturated fat?

How about bad enough to diminish your body's ability to defend itself against heart disease.

A recent study by researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia found just that reaction after 14 trial participants, all healthy and between the ages of 18 and 40, ate just one piece of high-fat carrot cake and drank a milkshake.

That fat-laden feast compromised the ability of the participants' arteries to expand to increased blood flow, the researchers found. The sudden boost in what's known as saturated fat hampered the effects of so-called "good" cholesterol, the high-density lipoprotein or HDL, from doing its job -- to protect the inner lining of the arteries from inflammatory agents that promote the build-up of fatty plaques. It's this plaque that, over time, clogs blood vessels and causes heart disease.

"Saturated-fat meals might predispose to inflammation of, and plaque buildup in, the vessels," said study leader Dr. David Celermajer, Scandrett professor of cardiology at the Heart Research Institute and the Department of Cardiology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

Celermajer's team had the volunteers eat two meals, spaced one month apart. Each meal consisted of a slice of carrot cake and a milkshake. But, in one case the foods were made with saturated fat, and in the other case the meal was made with polyunsaturated safflower oil, a much healthier choice.

The high-fat meal, which contained about 90 percent saturated fat, had the equivalent of 68 grams of fat. In contrast, the meal made with polyunsaturated oil contained just 9 percent fat. The fat in the high-fat meal was equivalent to a 150-pound man or woman eating a double cheeseburger, a large order of french fries, and drinking a
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