How genes and diet work together to influence your heart health

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Your Genes, Your Diet, and Your Heart

We all know that bad cholesterol is, well, bad for our hearts. But did you know that the food you eat might be good for some people and bad for others, all because of our genes?

A team of scientists from deCODE genetics, a branch of Amgen, along with experts from the Icelandic healthcare system and Copenhagen University, have delved into this complex topic.

The DNA-Alcohol Connection

For example, alcohol usually hikes up bad cholesterol levels, which isn’t great for your heart. But guess what? Some people have a special gene that slows down how their body processes alcohol.

These lucky folks are less likely to suffer from heart issues linked to drinking.

On the flip side, people with specific gene variants that are related to liver fat saw a spike in their bad cholesterol when they ate oily fish—a food often recommended for heart health!

Other Genetic Puzzles

That’s not all. The researchers also found that certain genetic markers, which normally protect against Alzheimer’s disease, don’t always protect against high levels of bad cholesterol.

These individuals have fewer particles carrying the cholesterol, but their risk of developing heart disease remains pretty much the same.

This suggests that the amount of bad cholesterol in your body is more important than the number of particles carrying it.

Additionally, your blood type might play a role. People with a specific blood type called “A1” didn’t show any cholesterol level changes based on their “secretor status” (a genetic trait that determines certain aspects of your blood).

But for people with other blood types, this secretor status did make a difference in their cholesterol levels and, possibly, their heart disease risk.

What Does All This Mean?

This research tells us that when it comes to our heart health, it’s not just a simple equation of “eat this, not that.”

Your genetic makeup interacts with your environment—including the foods you eat—in ways that can either protect you or make you more susceptible to heart issues.

So, if you’re trying to live a heart-healthy life, you may need to consider more than general dietary guidelines.

Your unique genetic makeup could be a big part of the puzzle, making the advice like “fish is good for your heart” not universal but rather personal.

This adds another layer to the already complex challenge of understanding heart disease and how to prevent it, showing us that we’re still learning how the pieces fit together.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and scientists find how COVID-19 damages the heart.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about Aspirin linked to higher risk of heart failure, and results showing this drug could reduce heart disease, fatty liver, obesity.

The research findings can be found in Cell.

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