Stress. A word we are all too familiar with and a feeling that we encounter all too often. While not all stress is bad, not all stress is good either. It is no surprise that stress can cause serious health problems, but did you know that stress can also undermine the benefits of a healthy diet?

Researchers at The Ohio State University recently conducted a study, published in Molecular Psychiatry, to understand the relationship among stress, diet and inflammation in the body. Lead author of the study and professor of psychiatry and psychology, Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, claimed the study is the first to reveal that stress potentially counteracts the benefits of eating healthy fats.

The research consisted of giving one group of women a breakfast high in unhealthy, saturated fats and another group a breakfast high in healthy, unsaturated fats. The women, average age of 53, took the Daily Inventory of Stressful Events questionnaire to determine if they were under stress from their experiences the previous day. During the study, the women’s blood was drawn several times, as researchers were looking for markers of inflammation.

What did they find? Well, those who ate the saturated fat meal had higher marks of inflammation than those who ate the unsaturated fat meal. The difference in inflammation marks, however, disappeared for the women who reported being under stress. Thus, eating a “bad fat” breakfast was just the same as eating a “good fat” breakfast for those who were stressed.

Overall, the study suggests that stress complicates the body’s processing of food and has the potential to neutralize the benefits that accompany a healthy meal. So, while you may be focused on your healthy diet, your stress has another agenda.

However, before splurging on ice cream, researchers suggest that eating a diet rich in monounsaturated fats (olive oil, nuts, or avocado) in order to give yourself a healthy starting point for when stress begins to creep up on you.

Managing your stress is just as important as eating healthy or exercising daily, as it can take a toll on your body and mind. A few good practices to regulate stress include getting a good night’s sleep, meditating, and setting aside time for activities you enjoy.

Originally published at on November 4, 2016.

Originally published at