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Can One Breakfast Sandwich Damage Your Arteries?

Junk foods high in saturated fat can affect your heart health surprisingly quickly, according to new research.

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How many high-fat breakfast sandwiches does it take to damage your arteries and put you on the path toward heart disease?

The surprising answer is…just one.

That answer comes from two studies, presented recently at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, which point out the short-term (and eventually long-term) dangers of eating fatty junk foods. Both studies measured the artery health of volunteers before and after eating a high-fat breakfast sandwich.

Normally, blood vessels are able to change size quickly—a sign of good health—which allows them to adjust the body’s blood flow whenever needed. But the researchers found that people who ate a breakfast sandwich high in saturated fats (typical of fast food) saw a decrease in the flexibility of their arteries within hours of eating. And over the long-term, this type of damage to the blood vessels can put you at greater risk of heart disease and stroke.

So if you live for daily breakfast sandwiches, is it time to give them up—and suffer through a bland breakfast? Not just yet. With these tips, you can still find foods that are heart healthy and taste good.

  • Swap out the fast food breakfast sandwich for a healthy alternative, which is lower in saturated fats and loaded with nutrient-rich vegetables.
  • Try a Mediterranean breakfast. This flavorful diet emphasizes healthy fats like olive oil, includes more fruits and vegetables, and limits junk food. For example, have a slice of whole-grain toast topped with avocado and an egg whites, along with  a side of fruit and non-fat Greek yogurt.
  • Upgrade your oats. With their fiber, these whole grains are one of the heart healthiest breakfasts around. And if you use the right add-ins, your oatmeal can be just as delicous as it is nutritious too.

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