Heart health and what fast foods do to your body


by Patti Kirkpatrick


Posted on March 23, 2011 at 2:45 PM

Updated Saturday, Oct 19 at 8:53 PM

PHOENIX - We all know by now that unhealthy eating habits can lead to obesity, diabetes, cancer and other maladies that make for lots of misery.  The food companies are becoming the new big tobacco.  While we’ve cut smoking by half in the last 30 years, at the same time, we’ve doubled the obesity rate.

What Fast/Chain Restaurant Food Does to Your Body
We wanted slam-dunk evidence of what just one of these high calorie-fat-sugar-salt meals does to your arteries and to your blood.  Photographer Chris Morice and I headed to the Arizona Heart Institute one recent morning for our first round of tests:  blood drawn and an ultrasound to get a picture of the health of our arteries. We both scored in the healthy range in all the tests.

Then, Lunch.  A Really BIG Lunch
Chris ordered an avocado wrap as an appetizer, fish and chips, then tiramisu for dessert.  I had chicken with biscuits and a massive slab of fudge cake...the kinds of foods the Center for Science in the Public Interest/a.k.a., the Food Police call “nutritional train wrecks.”  We were hungry, but as I prepared to chow down, I felt a distinct lack of appetite.  Actually, kind of grossed out.  It’s interesting what happens psychologically when required to eat 3,000 calories worth of lard-and-sugar-laden food.  It just wasn’t fun or even tasty and I love “bad food” as much as the next guy. 

Round Two Tests
So, back to the Heart Institute (though both Chris and I felt more like an Alka Seltzer and a nap) for another blood draw and ultrasound.  Chris’ blood showed the effects of all that fat, looking more crisco-y at the top.  You could also hear the difference in my ultrasound. It was louder and more sluggish. My heart had to work much harder after just one unhealthy meal. 

It Just Goes to Show
Dr. Grayson Wheatley at the Arizona Heart Institute told us meals like this eaten regularly do as much damage as smoking, and that each and every meal you eat is important to the health of your arteries, and, therefore, your heart.  Don’t give yourself a heart attack in slow motion by eating what is always the most tasty, convenient, and cheap.  It will cost you dearly in years and quality of life.

For more information contact the Arizona Heart Institute at 602-266-2200.