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Vegetable rich diet lowers heart disease risk

Yet another report has been filed extolling the health giving benefits of fruit and vegetable packet diet. UK newspaper, the Daily Express, has released a story, based on research carried out by Canadian McGill University.

The university findings suggest that heart disease is triggered by a number of variations in genetics, but that these can be offset by a vegetable rich diet.

The Daily Express may be overstating the situation somewhat, by terming vegetables a cure for heart disease, however, there are clear signs of the benefits presented by healthy eating.

The researchers assessed four different genetic variations (called single nucleotide polymorphisms SNPs) within the 9p21 chromosome region of DNA. They compared the genetic information of 3,820 participants who had had a non-fatal heart attack, with that of 4,294 healthy controls.

The main analysis of the INTERHEART data was in two parts. In the first part, the researchers looked at the effect of the four SNPs on the risk of heart attack. In the second, they looked at how this risk was influenced by environmental factors such as smoking, activity level and diet.

Diet was assessed by a short food frequency questionnaire of 19 food items. These were then grouped into three dietary categories the researchers called oriental (soy sauce, tofu, pickled foods, green leafy vegetables, eggs and low sugar), western (eggs, meats, fried and salty foods, sugar, nuts and desserts), and prudent (raw vegetables, fruits, green leafy vegetables, nuts, desserts and dairy products). For the prudent diet, fresh vegetables, fruits and berries made up the largest components of the score.

All four specific variations of the SNPs that were tested increased the risk of heart attack by about a fifth compared to other variations of the SNP.

An individual’s risk of heart attack was affected by whether or not they had a prudent diet pattern and which variant of the SNP they had. For example, those that carried a specific SNP variant called rs2383206, and who ate a diet poor in fruit and vegetables, had a higher risk of heart attack than those without the variant. However, carriers of rs2383206 who ate a prudent diet, had the same heart attack risk as those without the risk variant.

The influence of the prudent diet diminished when the researchers removed the influence of raw vegetable intake. This did not occur when other elements of the prudent diet were removed. This suggested raw vegetable intake is a key component of the influence.

The authors say they have demonstrated that different variants of 9p21 SNPs have a consistent effect on the risk of heart attack and CVD in people whose diet has only a low ‘prudent diet score’. The risk diminished the higher an individual’s prudent diet score was.


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