We all know that crunchy, yummy French fries are loaded in fat. That’s why they taste so good! And it’s also why they're bad for you. But it's not just the fat in French fries that could do you in. The salt in French fries can damage your arteries in just 30 minutes.
A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
found that salt-heavy foods negatively impact the ability of your blood vessels to expand. This is true regardless of whether or not
you have a normal blood pressure. The lead researcher, Kacie M. Dickinson, from the Commonwealth Scientific And Industrial Research Organization in Australia said, “What surprised us, was that this is similar to responses seen after a meal high in saturated fats, which we know can be damaging to blood vessels in the long-term.”The salt study.
Researchers studied the effect of salty food in 16 healthy volunteers. Eight of the volunteers were given tomato soup that had low-salt content and the remaining eight received soup that had 10 times more salt. The serving size was one cup.
When they finished the soup, researchers checked the blood pressures of the volunteers. To do this they asked the volunteers to place their own arms in a blood pressure cuff, which was then inflated to temporarily cut off blood flow. As the cuff deflated, an ultrasound machine measured how much the arteries widened as normal blood flow was restored.
Then the experiment was repeated so that those who had salty soup consumed the lower salt version.
Each time the high-salt soup group showed arteries that widened only half as much as a group that ate the low-salt soup. After two hours, the effect of the salt on the arteries had passed.
Using the ultrasound enables scientists “to non-invasively detect changes in blood vessel function which is one of the earliest stages of atherosclerosis . . . which over time can lead to blockages in the blood vessels which causes heart attacks and strokes,” Dickinson said.Salt challenges the arterial walls.
Both salt and fat negatively affect the artery’s ability to widen because it hinders the function of the blood vessel lining. Normally, when blood is pumped through the arteries, nitric oxide is released, which makes the arterial walls relax. When this happens the blood vessels can expand and allow for easy blood flow. Now, scientists believe that salt and fat blocks the release of this nitric oxide. When the arterial wall is challenged in this way, it’s much easier for cholesterol to stick to the arteries.
Even though the negative effect of salt passes in just a couple of hours, over decades of eating salt you could very well be setting the stage for atherosclerosis.
So, let this be a reminder that salt is BAD FOR YOU! Not only does it lead to high blood pressure but it can increase your risk of atherosclerosis as well. As with most things in life, moderation is the key.