The average American diet, heavy on fatty foods, is a major contributor to chronic or life-threatening illness, including diabetes and coronary heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. Eating too much food that contains saturated fat and high cholesterol obstructs your arteries, compromising your health and safety.
Growing, active children can expend as many fat calories as they burn, and they start out with clear arteries. They may be able to eat fatty foods without negative effects. The same is not true for sedentary children and older adults. In addition to arterial damage, an unhealthy diet will make these groups gain weight. If you're among them, you raise your risk for disease, impairment and an early demise.
Individuals with unhealthy diets and high cholesterol gradually contract atherosclerosis, or blocked arteries. The saturated and trans fats from foods build up as hard plaques inside the arteries, narrowing the space through which blood can flow. This makes the blood vessels more rigid and the plaques susceptible to bursting.
A rupture in a blood vessel may clot, further blocking blood flow or breaking away and threatening other areas of the body. To avoid this condition, you can increase dietary fiber and decrease fatty foods in your meals, or don't make a habit of eating too much of them in the first place.
The high cholesterol in an unhealthy diet also contributes to hypertension, or high blood pressure. When there is less space in the arteries for blood to flow, blood pressure will be higher. Hypertension is a dangerous disease because the body's blood pressure affects many mechanisms essential to life, including healthy kidney function.
Since the kidneys regulate waste removal, toxic shock and organ failure are possibilities. The symptoms of hypertension alone can be uncomfortable, such as angina, a painful condition that mimics a heart attack. A dependency on fatty foods in your diet, at minimum, can place you on blood pressure medication for the rest of your life.
Heart Attack and Stroke
Atherosclerosis and hypertension, repercussions of high cholesterol, pose further health risks. Hypertension, for instance, increases your chances of heart attack, stroke and kidney failure, all potentially life threatening medical emergencies. If weight gain from an unhealthy diet has led to type 2 diabetes, your risks are even greater.
Blood clots resulting from atherosclerosis that migrate and block arteries to the brain cause strokes, which can damage nerves and cause paralysis. Clots that clog the blood vessels in the heart region cause heart attacks, which can cause cardiovascular damage requiring surgery. Heart attacks and strokes can be fatal.