Stress May Cancel Out Health Benefits of Eating Monounsaturated Fats

HealthDay News — Stressful events from the day before appear to eradicate any health benefits a person might have gained from choosing a breakfast rich in monounsaturated fats, as opposed to a breakfast loaded with saturated fats, according to research published online in Molecular Psychiatry.

Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine at The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, and colleagues recruited 58 healthy women to eat 2 separate breakfasts on 2 different days in their clinic. One meal was high in saturated fat; the other was a high oleic sunflower oil meal. The women also completed a standardized interview about events that had caused them stress the previous day.

Women free from stress tended to have C-reactive protein, serum amyloid A, intercellular adhesion molecule-1, and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 levels that were higher following the saturated fat meal than the high oleic sunflower oil meal. When women in the study had a stressful event before the breakfast test, the stress of the previous day appeared to erase any benefits linked to the healthy fat choice. Women with history of major depressive disorder had higher post-meal blood pressure responses than those without that history.

Dr Kiecolt-Glaser and her colleagues found that stress did not make the body’s response to a high-saturated fat breakfast even worse, as they had anticipated. “We expected we might see even greater adverse responses to the saturated fat meal, but we may have already maxed out,” she told HealthDay. “It may be when you overload the system that much, you may have a hard time seeing the real effects of stress.”

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  1. Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Fagundes CP, Andridge R, et al. Depression, daily stressors and inflammatory responses to high-fat meals: when stress overrides healthier food choices. Mol Psychiatry. 2016. doi:10.1038/mp.2016.149.