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Eat right to override genes

health and fitness Updated: Oct 16, 2011 00:40 IST
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It’s well established that a healthy diet can protect your heart against disease. Now, a new study shows that eating well can even mitigate risks for people whose genes put them at a higher than normal risk of heart problems.

Researcher Sonia S. Anand of McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, said that around 20% of people “carry at least one copy of the bad gene.” The researchers, using data from two prior large-scale studies, examined the effects of a healthy diet and an unhealthy diet on more than 27,000 people, some of whom had the high-risk genes. Subjects were of varying ethnicities.

While the two studies assessed “healthy” food in different ways, subjects who ate diets rich in vegetables and fruits were generally considered healthy eaters. Special points went to subjects who consumed plenty of raw vegetables in particular. “Risk” foods included fried foods, meat, and salty snacks.

The findings showed that those subjects with bad genes who consumed a lot of unhealthy foods increased their risk of heart attack by 30%, the researchers said. While the results don’t suggest that a healthy diet can overcome all variants, it does hold promise that people have more control over their heart health than they think.