Can Vegetables Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease?
A new study showed eating fruits and vegetables may reduce the impact of a gene known to cause heart disease. The study was conducted by several researchers in Canada. Their study was one of the most significant looking into the relationship between genes and diet relating to cardiovascular disease.
Purpose of the Study
The study focused on the relationship between diet and the effects of the 9p21 gene. Previous studies determined that the 9p21 gene is correlated with cases of heart disease.
The study looked at 27,000 subjects from several different ethnic groups. In the study, the subjects who ate at least two servings of fruits and vegetables a day were significantly less likely to develop heart disease. Those subjects with two copies of the gene and a diet lacking in fruits and vegetables were twice as likely to develop a heart attack. The study argues that there may be an important relationship between genes and environment, at least insofar as cardiovascular diseases are concerned.
What the Study Means for People with the 9p21 Gene?
For years, the consensus of health professionals around the world has been that people should consume five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. This research supports that argument. The participants were most likely to benefit from eating vegetables that were either raw or lightly cooked.
Dr. Sonia Anand of the Population Health Research Institute at McMaster University was one of the coauthors of the study. Dr. Anand said the study suggests that people may actually be able to turn off the effects of the 9p21 gene through a controlled diet. The risk of those with the gene developing heart disease is approximately 30% greater than those without it. However, when combined with a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables, the risk was about the same as someone without the gene.
Although the study suggests people should eat a minimum of two servings a day, the researchers do not want them to limit themselves. Anand suggests that people with a history of heart disease in their family eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible.
Unfortunately, there were a few uncertainties in the study. In one of the studies, there were very few cases of heart disease among the subjects. Also, it is questionable how well the subjects were able to recall their diets. There were fewer subjects from Arab or Latin American descent in the study than other participants. Anand and her colleagues could not be sure how the smaller sample size in those groups would affect the results.