Could Fatty Foods Help the Heart?

They could have one positive effect in reducing inflammation, rat study finds

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MONDAY, Oct. 10, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Even though eating hamburgers and French fries won't do the heart any favors, these kinds of fatty foods could help soothe inflammation over the short term, researchers report.

Eating stimulates cells in the small intestine to produce a hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK), which aids digestion and gut peristalsis, the motion that moves food through the digestive tract. CCK also triggers satiation -- the feeling of fullness that tells you to stop eating, according to Misha D. Luyer of the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands and colleagues.

This study in rats, published in the Oct. 17 issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine, found that fat-induced CCK dampens gut inflammation and prevents immune cells from attacking food as a foreign invader.

Rats fed a high-fat diet were protected against lethal bacteria-induced shock, but rats fed a low-fat diet didn't have the same protection.

In the rats that ate a high-fat diet, CCK sent out signals that prompted the release of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which bound to proteins on immune cells and switched them off, the researchers found.

This may explain why the immune systems of the rats on the high-fat diet didn't react to food proteins and normal gut bacteria as if they were foreign invaders, the study authors said. They also suggested that triggering this fat-induced action in patients may help reduce inflammation-related complications following surgery.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about immune response.

SOURCE: Journal of Experimental Medicine, news release, Oct. 10, 2005

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