(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – A new study suggests that women do not benefit from eating healthier types of certain foods if they have high levels of stress the day before. Researchers fed two different meals to 58 women; one meal was high in saturated fats, the other was prepared with healthier high oleic sunflower oil.
After each meal, researchers conducted blood tests on the women and measured inflammation markers. As expected, after eating the meals high in saturated fat, inflammation levels were elevated and after the meal with fat, levels were lower.
Then researchers added stress to the equation.
“If women experienced a stressful situation the day before, it didn’t matter what type of meal they ate, their inflammation markers were high either way,” said Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, principal investigator of the study conducted at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and director of Ohio State’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine. “Stress was actually interacting with the meal they were eating, leading to real changes in their blood after the meal.”
This is the first study to show that stress can nullify the benefits of eating meals prepared with healthier, monounsaturated fats – like those found in sunflower, olive or peanut oils.
“We expected the healthier fats to temper or blunt some of the body’s responses to inflammation, but that simply wasn’t the case,” said Martha Belury, co-author of the study and a professor of human nutrition at The Ohio State University. “That’s important because these types of inflammation markers are associated with many serious conditions later in life, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer.”