Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States. It is when small blood vessels become narrow and cut off the blood and oxygen supply to the body. This is due to the formation and buildup of plaque in the arteries. There are many risk factors that contribute to an individual’s chance of getting heart disease. Age, gender, ethnicity, smoking, diabetes, and other health conditions can all lead to the formation of plaque in the arteries. One of the main contributors to CHD is a person’s genes.
The gene 9p21 and its genetic variants have been known to increase the risk of heart disease. A gene-diet study was conducted by Dr. Jamie Engert to determine the relationship between altering 9p21 and heart disease. In the study, five different ethnicities (Arab, Chinese, European, Latin American, and South Asian) were observed. The subjects consumed a prudent diet, a western diet, and an oriental diet. The study started in February of 1999 and lasted until November of 2003. Questionnaires were filled out to record the subjects’ food intake and to determine a pattern. Results revealed that the prudent diet, which contained mostly raw fruits and vegetables, had a greater effect than the western and oriental diets. The researchers were able to see that a diet high in raw fruits and vegetables was able to reduce the risk of CHD in the subjects. The study truly gives insight into the suggestion by nutritionists that we should eat five or more servings of fruit and vegetables every day.
Let’s face it, not all of us have really taken into account the benefits of eating our fruits and vegetables every day. This study has placed an importance on the consumption of fruits and vegetables and how exactly they can contribute to our health. Understanding this gene-diet relationship would provide scientists with valuable information that could decrease the number of deaths caused by CHD. It could even become a preventative measure that many of us could benefit from. Researchers have yet to comprehend the mechanism of this incredible interaction. Further studies are still needed to fully understand this gene-diet relationship pertaining to 9p21 and coronary heart disease.