If your a.m. meal of choice is a high-fat breakfast sandwich, you may want to rethink your breakfast preference for the sake of your heart.
A new study presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress shows that eating just two of those typical high-fat sandwiches -- you know, processed cheese and some kind of meat nestled inside two halves of a bun -- in a day can take a real toll on your blood flow and blood pressure.
It can make "your blood vessels become unhappy," study researcher Dr. Todd Anderson, the director of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta, said in a statement.
For the study, Anderson examined college students to see how high-fat breakfast sandwiches affected their blood pressure, by seeing how much blood is able to flow in their arms -- a measurement called VTI, or velocity time integral. A VTI that is high is good, because that means the vessels are able to dilate as much as possible, allowing for the flow of blood through the vessels.
The participants had their VTI measured one day when they had no breakfast, and then on one day when they had two 900-calorie breakfast sandwiches that had 50 grams of fat.
Researchers found that the participants VTI were 15 to 20 percent lower -- which is a bad sign for blood flow -- two hours after they ate the breakfast sandwiches, compared with when they didn't eat breakfast.
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Oatmeal sure <em>sounds</em> healthy, but as <a href="http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/22/how-to-make-oatmeal-wrong/">New York Times' food columnist Mark Bittman points out</a>, the McD version is anything but: <blockquote>Incredibly, the McDonald's product contains more sugar than a Snickers bar and only 10 fewer calories than a McDonald's cheeseburger or Egg McMuffin. (Even without the brown sugar it has more calories than a McDonald's hamburger.) </blockquote>
Starbucks Spinach & Feta Breakfast Wrap
This seemingly healthy wrap sandwich advertises "cage free" eggs, but <a href="http://www.starbucks.com/menu/food/hot-breakfast/spinach-feta-and-cage-free-egg-white-breakfast-wrap">a quick glance at the ingredient list reveals</a> that the simple egg white is actually made from 12 ingredients: <blockquote>Cage free egg whites, whey powder, unmodified corn starch, nonfat dry milk, salt, butter flavor [sunflower oil, natural flavors, medium chain triglycerides, palm kernel oil], xantham gum, guar gum, liquid pepper extract</blockquote> See the <a href="http://www.starbucks.com/menu/food/hot-breakfast/spinach-feta-and-cage-free-egg-white-breakfast-wrap" target="_hplink">full information here</a>.
Chick-Fil-A Chicken, Egg & Cheese On Sunflower Multigrain Bagel
Fried chicken is obviously not a healthy breakfast option. But with its multigrain bagel, many consumers might consider it the better breakfast sandwich option. But the term "multigrain" is actually meaningless. <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/multigrain/AN02047">Explained the Mayo Clinic's Katherine Zeratsky</a>: <blockquote>Multigrain and whole grain are not interchangeable terms. Whole grain means that all parts of the grain kernel -- the bran, germ and endosperm -- are used. In contrast, multigrain means that a food contains more than one type of grain; it doesn't tell you whether they're whole or refined grains, or a mix of both.</blockquote> In other words, the bagel could be nutritionally interchangeable with a white bagel. What's more, <a href="http://www.chick-fil-a.com/Food/Menu-Detail/Chicken-Egg-Cheese-on-Sunflower-Multigrain-Bagel" target="_hplink">the sandwich provides 20 grams of fat</a> -- nearly two-thirds of the USDA's daily recommendation for most adults -- and 1,230 milligrams of sodium, more than half the recommended daily intake.
Burger King Breakfast Bowl
You might think you're doing yourself a favor by skipping the refined-wheat bun or butter-drenched biscuit. But <a href="http://www.bk.com/en/us/menu-nutrition/index.html" target="_hplink">with 42 grams of fat</a>, this scramble of eggs, veggies, sausage and cheese provides 120 percent of your daily fat, as recommended by the USDA's Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Dunkin Donuts Honey Bran Raisin Muffin
A bran muffin might sound like the healthiest option among the muffins on offer at Dunkin Donuts. But let's hope America doesn't run on these: while the honey bran raisin muffin <em>does</em> have five grams of fiber, it also contains 44 grams of sugar. That bears repeating: <a href="http://www.dunkindonuts.com/content/dunkindonuts/en/menu/muffins.html?DRP_FLAVOR=Honey+Bran+Raisin" target="_hplink">44 grams of sugar!</a> That's even more than the McDonald's Oatmeal. In fact, you might be better off ordering a doughnut, <a href="http://www.dunkindonuts.com/content/dunkindonuts/en/menu/donuts.html?DRP_FLAVOR=Glazed+Donut" target="_hplink">many of which have a fraction of the sugar content</a>.
Healthier Breakfast Options
Nutritionist Karen Graham gives you great ideas for a healthier breakfast.