Healthy food choices are good for your body but findings of a new research suggest that stress can undo the benefits provided by healthy meals.

The type of fat we include in our meals can influence our wellness or likelihood to get sick. Earlier studies have shown that diet high in saturated fat, which primarily comes from animal sources such as dairy products and meat, can increase inflammation in the body, which can lead to a range of diseases such as arthritis, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease.

Diets that are rich in unsaturated fat, which mainly comes from plants, are known to be beneficial to the heart. The Mediterranean diet, which is typically consist of fruits, vegetables, nuts, olive oil and fish is a good example of diet with good amount of unsaturated fat.

Studies have shown that this particular diet is good for cardiovascular health. A 2015 study also showed that in women, Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of uterine cancer by up to 57 percent.

Given the drawbacks of consuming food high in saturated fat, results of experiments conducted by researchers from The Ohio State University are not surprising. They found that women who ate breakfast with high amounts of saturated fat fared worse in blood tests that looked for disease precursors than their counterparts who consumed a similar breakfast but was made primarily with monounsaturated sunflower oil.

Stress, however, made things a little more complicated. The researchers found that when the women in the study experienced stressful event prior to the breakfast test, the stress and hardships they encountered the previous day appeared to erase the benefits associated with healthy fat choice.

Examples of these stressful events included cleaning up a paint that a child spilled over the floor and trying to help a parent suffering from dementia who did not want help.

"If a woman had prior day stressors, these meal-related differences disappeared — because the stressors heightened CRP, SAA, sICAM-1 and sVCAM-1 responses to the sunflower oil meal, making it look more like the responses to the saturated fat meal," the researchers reported.

The study, which was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry on Sept. 20 is the first to show that stress can potentially cancel out the benefit of choosing healthier fats.

As to why stress cancels out the benefits of a healthy meal, bad reaction to stress may overwhelm the benefits of a healthy meal. It is also possible that stress itself changes the way the body processes food.

"It's more evidence that stress matters," said study researcher Jan Kiecolt-Glaser.

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