Eating Fatty Meals Stiffens Your Arteries
-- But Adding These Foods Prevents That
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November 26, 2017
By Susan Callahan, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Something remarkably bad happens to your arteries about
5 minutes after you digest a high fat meal --- they stiffen

Scientists have known about this post-meal effect for
decades.  After a fatty meal, the amount of blood fat called
"triglycerides" increases dramatically in the cells that line
the walls of each of your arteries. This prevents the release
of nitrous oxide, the same laughing gas that dentists use to
relax you. Nitrous oxide does to your arteries what it does
to you. It makes them relax, leaving your arteries elastic
and flexible, like a wet noodle, rather than stiff and hard
like frozen pasta.

Stiff arteries do not allow as much blood to flow through,
blood pressure rises and your heart works harder. You
know the rest. With rising blood pressure, your risk for
heart disease, stroke and many other chronic and
life-threatening conditions also rises.

Now, scientists have learned that eating peanuts or certain
other foods at the same time as the fatty meal blocks the
stiffening response.

Eating Peanuts Prevents Stiffening of Arteries After a Fatty

Scientists at Penn State University recruited 15 overweight
but otherwise healthy men to participate in a study on how
peanuts affect arterial stiffness. All of the man were fed a
fatty meal and then some were fed a control drink with 3
ounces of ground up unsalted peanuts. Using a ultrasound,
the scientists tested the blood flow 30 minutes after the
drink, and again 60 minutes, 90 minutes and 12 minutes

What they found was that the men who did not have the
peanuts experienced a rise in triglycerides after the fatty

However, the man who ate the peanuts with the fatty meal
did not experience the same rise in blood fat. Their
triglyceride levels were 32% lower than the men denied the

The peanuts blocked the rise of triglycerides, and this
prevented the stiffening of the arteries. The ultrasound
confirmed greater blood flow in the arteries of the men
who had the peanuts.

To add peanuts to your fatty meals, consider adding a
handful of nuts to salads, a spoon of peanut butter to
soups, eat a spoonful of peanut butter before yo eat
hamburgers or other meat.

Bearing in mind that the Peanut Institute partly funded this
study, we looked for other studies supporting the
conclusion that peanuts or nuts dilate your arteries.

Walnuts Dilate Arteries Your Even If You Make No Other
Dietary Changes

Many studies on nuts have found that only certain cuts
have the ability to dilate your arteries. Studies on pistachios
for example have not found any dilating effect. Stuides on
hazelnuts go in both directions, with some studies showing
a positive effect on arteries and other studies showing

But all studies on walnuts have found that adding walnuts
to your diet will dilate your arteries.

A 2012 study from Yale University, Griffin Prevention
Research Center, is one example. This study is useful to
look at because the 46 participants in the study had far
from  ideal health. They consisted of 28 women and 18
men; all of whom were overweight with a larger than
average waist circumference and at least one other sign of
metabolic syndrome (diabetes, high blood pressure).

The participants were allowed to eat s they wished, with
one simple modification --- they added 56 grams of walnuts
each day.

At the end of 8 weeks, arterial dilation improved by 1.4%,
which is a significant change. Surprisingly, no one gained
weight despite eating an additional calories in walnuts each

Walnuts Are Even Better Than Olive Oil in Opening Up and
relaxing Your Arteries

In 2006, scientists from Spain's Universitat Autònoma de
Barcelona conducted an experiment to compare the effects
of arteries of olive oil versus walnuts. The interest in tesing
olive oil stemmed from the belief that olive oil played a key
component of the heart-protective Mediterranean diet.

Twenty-four participants ate identical meals with oil that
consisted either of 24 grams of olive oil or 40 grams of

After the meals, arterial flow was tested. What they found
was that "flow-mediated dilation (FMD) was worse after
the olive oil meal than after the walnut meal." Adding
walnuts improves flow-mediated dilation even if the
participants ate a high-fat meal.

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