Wonder diet cures heart disease
Experts who carried out one of the largest diet and heart studies conducted, found the potent mixture of these everyday foods can have a major impact on long-term health.
Eating high levels of the combination daily has been shown to dramatically weaken the effects of a key gene in the body which is a big cause of heart disease. In a major breakthrough, their analysis found that those who ate a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables significantly reduced the influence of the gene, effectively protecting them from developing the killer disease.
Research co-author Professor Sonia Anand, from McMaster University in Canada, said last night: “We observed that the effect of a high-risk genotype can be mitigated by consuming a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
“Our results support the public health recommendation to consume more than five servings of fruits or vegetables as a way to promote good health.”
Experts have long known that genetic make-up can sometimes be used to identify risk of heart disease. It is also widely accepted that a healthy diet can slash the risk.
Researchers classed those who ate fresh vegetables, fruit and fresh or frozen berries at least once a day or several times a day as having a “high consumption”.
It was this group of people who saw the most benefit according to the findings, reported in the online journal Public Library of Science Medicine.
The study found that healthy foods appear to modify genetic code variants on the 9p21 chromosome which is known to increase heart disease risk.
The chromosome is one of the “packages” of DNA that exist in every cell and contain the genes.
Judy O’Sullivan, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This piece of research is an interesting and useful insight into how our risk of developing heart disease is influenced by a number of factors.
“It should serve as a reminder that while our lifestyle and genes can increase our risk, the way they interact with each other is also very important. The relationship between the two is often very complicated and we don’t have all the answers but the message appears to be very simple – eating lots of fruit and vegetables is great news for our heart health.”
Scientists analysed DNA from more than 27,000 people of European, South Asian, Chinese, Latin American and Arab ethnic backgrounds.
Participants were also questioned about their dietary habits.
Heart disease is one of the most common causes of death in the UK, claiming 200,000 lives a year.
A further 2.5 million people are living with the condition that can trigger heart attacks and strokes.
Research earlier this year found that people who eat eight portions of fruit and vegetables a day can cut the risk of dying from heart disease by a fifth.
The most health advice is to try to eat at least five portions a day, with one portion being equal to a medium-sized piece of fruit, such as an apple, or a small carrot.
Last year, experts at Oxford University said that switching to a healthier diet could save more than 30,000 lives each year in Britain, having a dramatic impact on deaths from heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Dr Peter Scarborough said that if everyone ate five portions of fruit and vegetables a day 15,000 lives a year would be saved.
If people ate the recommended 20 to 30 grams of fibre a day, it would prevent 4,000 more deaths.
A further 7,000 deaths would be spared if the public also watched their fat intake, reducing saturated fat to just 10 per cent of their total calories intake.
And 7,500 deaths would be avoided if people ate no more than six grams of salt a day.diet