Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have opined that consuming high-fat diets, even if only for a short time, inflames fat tissue surrounding blood vessels. This can lead to severe cases of cardiovascular disease.
For the study, Neal Weintraub, MD, and colleagues examined adipose tissue, or fat, surrounding the coronary arteries of humans.
And it was found that these fat cells were highly inflamed, indicating that they could trigger inflammation of the blood vessels, an important component of atherosclerosis.
Also, the researchers found that the inflammation of fat tissues around the arteries of mice is increased if the animals are fed a high-fat diet for just two weeks.
"This is independent of weight gain or blood lipids-cholesterol levels," said Weintraub.
He also said that high fat diets play a major role in the occurrence of atherosclerosis-or the hardening of arteries.
Weintraub said: "Elevated blood lipids-or cholesterol levels-can worsen with the intake of high fat diets, and this is known to contribute to atherosclerosis. However, many patients who consume high fat diets do not exhibit abnormal lipid profiles but still develop atherosclerosis nonetheless.
"These new findings suggest a direct link between poor dietary habits and inflammation of blood vessels, mediated by the fat cells surrounding the blood vessel wall."
He further added that the diet fed to the mouse models was not unlike the diets consumed by many Americans.
Weintraub said: "It produced striking abnormalities of the fat tissue surrounding blood vessels in a very short period of time. This is a warning to those who say there isn't a problem because their weight and cholesterol levels are under control. Lipid profiles don't hold all the answers.
"Bad dietary habits can lead to a number of problems, and this suggests that a high fat diet is detrimental in ways we didn't previously understand."
In his opinion, there is no real way to measure the effects of poor dietary habits on fat tissue surrounding blood vessels.
"We don't know why these cells are so responsive to high-fat diets. We must now conduct further experiments to answer these types of questions," he said.
The findings will be published in the latest edition of the American Heart Association journal Circulation Research.