Beat your “bad” genes

While heart-disease risk has a strong genetic component, a new study finds that certain foods can actually help cut the risk from “bad genes.”

I’ve been saying this for a long time. There’s no reason you can’t still live a long, healthy life–even if you’ve got heart disease in your family…if you follow a healthy diet, that is, and indulge in the foods Mother Nature intended you to enjoy. But it’s always nice to have scientific data to back me up.

In this latest study, a group of Canadian and Chinese researchers analyzed data from the INTERHEART study, an international study involving more than 27,000 people in 52 countries. Of those, 8,114 had genetic mutations linked with heart disease and heart attack.

They compared the data with the FINRISK Study, which included 19,129 Finnish individuals (1,014 with heart disease)–looking at who ate a “prudent diet” with lots of raw fruits and vegetables, and who didn’t. Researchers wanted to see exactly how a healthy diet played into heart disease risk.

And guess what? Those with the genetic mutation who ate a healthy diet had no increased risk of heart disease. Zip. Nada.  All because they ate their veggies.

On the flip side of that coin, people with the “bad genes” who ate the fewest fruits and vegetables had a two-fold increased risk of heart attack.

Of course, you might not know if you have “bad genes” or not.  If a close family member had an early heart attack, that’s one sign. But you can save yourself the time and just cut to the chase…because eating more fruits and vegetables just makes sense from a health standpoint–regardless of whether you have a genetic tendency towards heart disease.

Asparagus, arugula, artichoke hearts…berries of all sorts…endive, escarole…melons….shallots, spinach, sprouts… yard-long beans and zucchini… and everything in between.

They’ve all got something to offer. Experiment with ones you’ve never tried before, and eat even more of your old favorites. Your heart will thank you for it.