Benefits of ‘good’ fats disappear with stress

stress reduce

The benefits of consuming ‘good’ fats can be lost when people get stressed, according to a new US study.

In the study by the Institute for Behavioral Medicine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, women were given two breakfast options – one high in saturated, or ‘bad’ fat and one high in monounsaturated sunflower oil – a so-called ‘good’ fat.

Both were classed as unstressed during the initial test.

Impact on inflammation

The results showed the saturated fat breakfast produced more precursors to disease in the blood than the monounsaturated sunflower oil breakfast.

But if the women suffered a stressful event – like having to deal with a misbehaving child – before eating, the benefits of the good fat were removed, says Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, lead author of the study and a professor of psychiatry and psychology.

Both a bad diet and high stress can raise inflammation levels in the body. 

Chronic inflammation is linked to a number of health problems from heart disease and diabetes to rheumatoid arthritis.

Benefits of a Med diet

It's thought that reduced inflammation could be one of the benefits of eating healthier foods such as the Mediterranean diet.

While the stress raised levels of the harmful blood markers in the sunflower oil group, it didn’t affect the readings for those who ate saturated fat.

The research team warned that inflammation can escalate over time to contribute to disease. This means people shouldn’t just eat whatever they want when stressed, but rather they should eat healthier so that if they become stressed, the inflammation levels are at a lower starting point.

The research appears in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.


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