Effect of meal content on heart rate variability and cardiovascular reactivity to mental stress

Katherine A. Sauder, Elyse R. Johnston, Ann C. Skulas-Ray, Tavis S. Campbell, Sheila G. West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Little is known about transient effects of foods and nutrients on reactivity to mental stress. In a randomized crossover study of healthy adults (n=20), we measured heart rate variability (respiratory sinus arrhythmia), blood pressure, and other hemodynamic variables after three test meals varying in type and amount of fat. Measurements were collected at rest and during speech and cold pressor tasks. There were significant postmeal changes in resting diastolic blood pressure (-4%), cardiac output (+18%), total peripheral resistance (-17%), and interleukin-6 (-27%). Heart rate variability and hemodynamic reactivity to stress was not affected by meal content. We recommend that future studies control for time since last meal and continue to examine effects of meal content on heart rate variability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)470-477
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiovascular reactivity
  • Flax
  • Heart rate variability
  • Nutrition
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Psychological stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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