Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) – diseases that affect the heart and/or the blood vessels – are a leading cause of illness and death worldwide. Environmental factors such as diet, exercise and smoking greatly influence a person’s risk of developing CVD. In addition, certain genes alter the risk of developing CVD and are passed from parent to child. A study recently published in PLoS Medicine investigated the association of a certain gene increasing the risk of CVD in people of different ethnicities and tested for an interaction between this gene and diet. The authors of the study found out that when people with the variants of the gene making them more prone to CVD ate a diet high in raw vegetables and fruit, they had a lower risk of developing the disease than people who didn’t. People eating a diet lacking raw fruit and vegetables had a two-fold increase in risk for CVD. These findings therefore suggest that gene-environment interactions are very important and a good, healthy diet based on plant foods can significantly improve your health.
Do, R., et al., 2011. The Effect of Chromosome 9p21 Variants on Cardiovascular Disease May Be Modified by Dietary Intake: Evidence from a Case/Control and a Prospective Study. PLoS Medicine. 9 (10) e1001106.