Study: Women's stress can offset benefits of healthier foods

A new study is out suggesting a powerful link in women between their food and their stress levels the previous day.

Researchers tested women after feeding them different meals, and found that the pressures in a woman's life might be more important than was what was on her plate.

For example, in an effort to keep her family fit, Joanne looks for healthier ingredients in food wherever she can. But a new study suggests in stressful situations that may not be as helpful as you might think.

"What this tells us is that stress really does interact with the type of food you're eating," says Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser. She led the study at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

To see how stress impacts diet, researchers fed 58 women two different meals.

"One was a meal that was high in saturated fat; another was high oleic sunflower oil. That's a healthier oil, obviously, than saturated fat," she explains.

After women ate the meal with saturated fat, blood tests showed their inflammation levels were higher. After the healthier meal, they were lower. But then, researchers added stress into the equation.

"To our surprise, if women had a stressor the day before their meal, the type of fat didn't matter," says Martha Belury, Ph.D., R.D. from Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.

In fact, healthier types of fat had no benefit for women who were stressed. Their inflammation markers remained elevated.

"That's important because those markers are associated with a variety of age-related diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes," says Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser.

And it’s even linked to some forms of cancer, too.

So, if you want to get the most out of a healthy diet, a key ingredient, experts say, is managing your stress.

This is the first study to show that stress can offset the benefits of healthier monounsaturated fats, like those found in sunflower, olive or peanut oil.


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