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Scottish scientists to study deep-fried Mars bar’s effect on blood flow

The iconic deep fried Mars bar isn’t exactly the healthiest of snacks. But now, scientists at the University of Glasgow are set to study the indulgence’s effects on the arteries and to see how it stacks up next to oatmeal, another Scottish staple.
The iconic deep fried Mars bar isn’t exactly the healthiest of snacks. But now, scientists at the University of Glasgow are set to study the indulgence’s effects on the arteries and to see how it stacks up next to oatmeal, another Scottish staple. Pawel Dwulit/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

TORONTO – It’s caramel and nougat, coated in chocolate, dredged in batter and deep fried until it’s unrecognizable.

The iconic deep-fried Mars bar isn’t exactly the healthiest of snacks. But now, scientists at the University of Glasgow are set to study the indulgence’s effects on the arteries and to see how it stacks up next to oatmeal, another Scottish staple.

The deep-fried Mars bar is widely available in Scottish chip shops, lead researcher Dr. Matthew Walters says. While its origins are British, the strange concoction is also within reach across Canada and the United States, especially at fairs and carnivals.

“As the deep fried Mars bar is cited as ‘everything that is wrong with the Scottish diet,’ we thought we’d… look at what effect these have on brain blood vessels,” Walters told Global News.

“Despite the snack’s reputation, no medical research has been performed to examine the effects of consuming a deep-fried chocolate bar on the human body. That is what we are going to do,” he told the Independent in the United Kingdom.

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Read more: Top 10: Some of the worst foods for your heart’s health

When asked if his results could break the hearts of millions of chocolate lovers, Walters told Global News, “If we show that deep fried Mars bars are bad for blood vessels, I guess it’s better to break hearts in an emotional sense than a medical sense.”

Walters is a stroke doctor in Glasgow, running a research program looking into using drugs to prevent stroke. He’s also a professor – short, simple clinical trials are how he engages with his undergraduate medical students.

Last year, they completed a small study comparing dark chocolate with milk chocolate. It was published in the journal Neurology.

Read more: Breakfast sandwich slows blood flow, hurts arteries: Canadian studies

This time, Walters and his team will study the blood vessels in the brain after subjects eat the fried chocolate and again after they eat porridge.

Right now, they’re looking for 24 healthy volunteers, under 40 years old with a BMI of between 18 and 30. This group will have to eat the two snacks on separate days and head to hospital for about 90 minutes so their blood flow can be monitored by ultrasound technology.

Walters says that chocolate has been linked to reduced stroke risk, meanwhile oatmeal has also helped cardiovascular health. It’s unclear how the two snacks affect the brain, though.

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Read more: Reality check: Does eating chocolate cut risk of stroke?

The Daily Mail reports that the deep-fried Mars bar made its way into Glasgow by 1995. A 2004 study, published in The Lancet, showed that 22 per cent of fish and chip shops in Scotland sold the deep-fried Mars bars.

The study is slated to wrap up next month.

Last October, Canadian researchers studied how breakfast sandwiches picked up at fast-food joints affected arteries.

In this case, University of Calgary scientists said that the bread, bacon, eggs and cheese combination hurts even healthy young consumers.

Two hours after eating breakfast sandwiches, the subjects’ blood flow had slowed by up to 20 per cent.

carmen.chai@globalnews.ca