Heart Disease

If I have a family history of heart disease, can diet reduce my risk?

A Answers (1)

  • AMichael Roizen, MD, Internal Medicine, answered
    One of the most common causes of inherited heart disease is a nasty gene called 9p21, and major recent research shows that if you have it, what you eat can prevent a heart attack.

    Just go to the grocery store and pile your cart with fresh vegetables and fruit. Something in fresh produce, especially veggies, turns this genetic bully into a wimp. What that something is isn't clear yet, but who cares? If heart disease runs in your family and 9p21 is why, eating lots of fresh veggies and fruit cuts your risk of the family heart attack so much that it's as if you didn't get the gene.

    Say you and your neighbor have the gene. You're not a nutritional saint (dessert happens) but your diet is also packed with carrots, broccoli, spinach, berries, apples, and artichokes. Your neighbor eats a typical American diet (meaty, sugary, salty, fatty). Your healthy eating lowers your heart attack risk. Your neighbor's? It doubles.

    Significantly reducing heart disease is not a far-fetched idea. If every American stopped smoking, started walking, managed stress, and ate a ton-o-veggies, heart disease could go extinct. Make it happen in your house.
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