Posted on Jul 24, 2019, 5 p.m.
Processed fatty foods that are high in LDL cholesterol are known to cause arterial plaques and the onset of atherosclerosis.
University of Illinois research has shown that damage to arteries is almost instant at the cellular level; upon consumption of junk food including cakes, biscuits, pizza, oily chips, fries, and cheeseburgers the arteries begin to thicken immediately at the cellular level.
For this study artery cells were exposed to 2 forms of LDL, then state of the art microscopes were used to observe the arteries becoming more rigid.
Is that brief moment of bliss for the lips worth all the unseen effects at the cellular level that will become lifelong challenges for cells and arteries? With exposure and as LDL cholesterol levels increase the arteries will become stiffer and cell membranes harden, not attracting oxygen into the cells which will lead to increased risk of stroke and heart attack.
Not all cholesterol is bad, nor is cholesterol itself the enemy, a form is needed for constructing cellular membranes and for producing hormones. LDL carries cholesterol through the bloodstream, from the liver to the cells, HDL returns cholesterol to the liver. Certain medications try to suppress cholesterol levels but miss the important part of differentiating between the good and the bad, and managing healthy cholesterol levels through diet.
Mice were divided into 2 groups: one on a typical Western diet high in bad fats and LDL, and the other on a well balanced diet. Those on the Western diet quickly had stiffened arteries which was measured by thickness of LDLs and oxidized LDLS recorded and applied to proportionally cultured human endothelial cells. Tension in cell membranes and stiffness in structure of cells was measured using atomic force microscopy.
Individual cells inundated with LDLs and oxidized LDLs were found to have thicker cell membranes and increased tension; when the 2 groups of LDLs were combined the stiffness was found to become even worse, while endothelial cells not inundated with LDLs remained relaxed and flexible
“To our surprise, a very small amount of oxidized LDL dramatically changes the structure of the cell membrane for the worse,” said researcher Dr Manuela Ayee. “We think that the changes at the cell membrane level may allow the processes involved in atherosclerosis to begin.”
Greasy foods such as fries, sausage, pepperoni, cheeseburgers and cakes are common sources of LDLs, while oxidized LDLs are produced from free radical damage within the cells. Consuming a diet rich in antioxidants that can be found in plant based foods is important to protecting against this form of bad cholesterol. When levels of these LDLs increase plaques will start to form in the bloodstream and the arteries will begin to stiffen.
This study supports others recommending to include more fruits and vegetables in the diet and avoid greasy foods, underscoring the importance of ditching bad diet choices and eating a more healthy diet rich in plant based foods full of healthy fats and antioxidants.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.