Effect of dietary antioxidants on postprandial endothelial dysfunction induced by a high-fat meal in healthy subjects

Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Jan;77(1):139-43. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/77.1.139.


Background: Persons following current dietary guidelines have a lower risk of mortality from coronary heart disease.

Objective: The objective was to compare the short-term effect of a high-fat meal and a high-carbohydrate meal, with and without dietary antioxidants, on vasomotor, antiplatelet, and hemostatic functions of the endothelium in healthy subjects.

Design: In an observer-blinded, randomized crossover study, 25 (13 men and 12 women) healthy subjects were given each of 3 meals in random order at 1-wk intervals: a high-fat meal (760 kcal), an isoenergetic high-carbohydrate meal, and a high-fat meal with dietary antioxidants from vegetables (865 kcal). Endothelial functions, as assessed by hemodynamic and rheologic responses to L-arginine--the natural precursor of nitric oxide--were evaluated before and 4 h after each meal.

Results: Unlike the high-carbohydrate meal, the high-fat meal increased the plasma concentrations of triacylglycerol (P < 0.01); both meals activated hemostasis. The high-carbohydrate meal did not modify blood pressure, and platelet aggregation decreased in response to the L-arginine load (-7.1 +/- 2.3 mm Hg and -8.5 +/- 4.5%, respectively). After the high-fat meal, the decrease in blood pressure in response to L-arginine was reduced (-1 +/- 0.8 mm Hg), and platelet aggregation showed a paradoxical increase (4.1 +/- 2.1%; P < 0.01 compared with the high-carbohydrate meal). The high-fat meal with antioxidants partially restored the vascular response to L-arginine.

Conclusion: Compared with a high-carbohydrate meal, a high-fat meal can modify endothelial functions toward a more atherogenetic profile, which is partially prevented by dietary antioxidants.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Platelet Aggregation / drug effects
  • Postprandial Period


  • Antioxidants
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Cholesterol