Diet Can Ward Off Heart Disease

Diet Can Ward Off Heart Disease
Generous amounts of fruit and vegetable can protect you from heart diseases even when genetically the odds are stacked against you, according to a study published in the current issue of the journal PLoS Medicine.

An international team of scientists, led by researchers at McMaster and McGill universities, have discovered that the gene that is the strongest marker for heart disease can be subdued with proper diet.

"We know that 9p21 genetic variants increase the risk of heart disease for those that carry it," said Dr. Jamie Engert, joint principal investigator of the study, who is a researcher in cardiovascular diseases at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC). "But it was a surprise to find that a healthy diet could significantly weaken its effect."

Researchers analysed more than 27,000 individuals from five ethnicities – European, South Asian, Chinese, Latin American and Arab – during the study and observed the effect of their diets on the effect of the 9p21 gene.

The results suggest that individuals with the high risk genotype who consumed a prudent diet, composed mainly of raw vegetables, fruits and berries, had a similar risk of heart attack to those with the low risk genotype.

"We observed that the effect of a high-risk genotype can be mitigated by consuming a diet high in fruits and vegetables," said Sonia Anand, joint principal investigator of the study, and a researcher at the Population Health Research Institute and a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University. "Our results support the public health recommendation to consume more than five servings of fruits or vegetables as a way to promote good health."

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