Fruit and vegetable diet can help lower genetic heart disease risk

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 13th October 2011

An international team of scientists, led by researchers at McMaster and McGill universities, in Canada, has found that a diet containing plenty of fruit and raw vegetables could alter a gene that puts people at risk of heart disease.

The researchers said the study involved analysing more than 27,000 individuals from five ethnicities – European, South Asian, Chinese, Latin American and Arab – and the affect that their diets had on the effect of the ‘9p21’ gene. The ‘9p21’ gene is said to be the strongest marker for heart disease. The results of the study were published this week in the journal PLoS Medicine.

Sonia Anand, joint principal investigator of the study and a researcher at the Population Health Research Institute at Canada’s McMaster University, said the results suggest that individuals with the high-risk genotype who consumed a diet composed mainly of raw vegetables, fruits and berries, had a similar risk of heart attack to those with the low-risk genotype.

She said, “We know that 9p21 genetic variants increase the risk of heart disease for those that carry it but it was a surprise to find that a healthy diet could significantly weaken its effect.”

The study’s lead author Ron Do, from the Center for Human Genetics Research at the Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston said the research suggests there may be an important interplay between genes and diet in cardiovascular disease.