The genetic variants called 9p21 make those individuals carrying it genetically predisposed to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. However, there is good news for those carrying these genes! A recent study states that those with a genetic anomaly towards heart attack or stroke can reduce their risk by having a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. As co-principal author Sonia Anand concludes, “you can actually turn off the bad genes by adopting healthy dietary patterns.”
In the study, the researchers analyzed the diets of five ethnicities: European, South Asian, Chinese, Latin American and Arab – for both those who carry the 9p21 variant and those who don’t. The study concluded that individuals with the genetic predisposition who consumed a prudent diet compose mainly of raw vegetables, fruits and berries had a similar risk of heart attack to those with a low risk genetic profile.
Dr. Anand speculates that “a diet high in fruits and vegetables, and all of the good things that are contained in them, somehow modifies the expression of a particular gene.” This is promising news for people with a family history for heart disease. It demonstrates that “healthy living with a healthy diet, in addition to other lifestyle changes such as exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight, can take away from the risk that genes give you.”
It is recommended that you consume ten servings of fruits and vegetables a day and also keep fat to a minimum. So what ways can you incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet?
Below is an ideal sample menu:
Breakfast: Add a piece of fruit to your morning meal. For example, you can top your cereal or oatmeal with a banana and/or berries. Alternatively, make a smoothie full of real and frozen fruits. Your morning juice counts as fruit too, just make sure it is low-sodium, unsweetened 100% fruit juice or vegetable juice. (1-3 servings)
Snacks: A snack is a great way to incorporate a fruit or vegetable serving into your day. Grab an apple, peach or some baby carrots, and voila – you have increased your fruit and vegetable intake. (1 – 2 servings)
Lunch: If you order a sandwich or wrap, make sure to load it with lots of vegetables. Add a small side salad or cup of vegetable soup to your sandwich to make it a meal. Or, you can order a salad, composed entirely of vegetables, fruits and proteins, which will offer more vegetable servings. If you order a salad, make sure to watch the calories that come in the salad dressing by asking for the dressing on the side. (2 –4 servings)
Dinner: Dinner vegetables are quick and easy! You can heat canned or frozen vegetables in the microwave or via boiling water. You can also add a side salad to your meal, or sauté special vegetables, like asparagus. Substitute multiple vegetables for a starch, like a potato or bread, to increase your vegetable serving intake and reduce calories. (1-3 servings)