A study of twins shows that even with genes that put them at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, eating a Mediterranean-style diet can improve heart function, according to research reported in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, an American Heart Association journal.
Using data from the Emory Twins Heart Study, researchers found that men eating a Mediterranean-style diet had greater heart rate variability (HRV) than those eating a Western-type diet. Heart rate variability refers to variation in the time interval between heart beats during everyday life – reduced HRV is a risk factor for coronary artery disease and sudden death.
“This means that the autonomic system controlling someone’s heart rate works better in people who eat a diet similar to a Mediterranean diet,” said Jun Dai, M.D., Ph.D., study author and assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Indiana University in Bloomington.
Eating a Mediterranean-style diet — one characterized by low saturated fats and high in fish, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, olive oil, cereals and moderate alcohol consumption — reduces a person’s heart disease risk. But until now, the way the diet helps reduce the risk of coronary disease remains unknown.
Dai and her colleagues analyzed dietary data obtained from a food frequency questionnaire and cardiac data results from 276 identical and fraternal male twins. They scored each participant on how closely his food intake correlated with the Mediterranean diet; the higher the score, the greater the similarity to a Mediterranean-style diet.
To measure HRV, participants had their heart’s electrical activity continuously measured and recorded with a Holter Monitor, a portable, battery operated electrocardiogram device.
Using twins allowed team members to assess the influence of the diet on HRV while controlling for genetic and other familial influence.
Among the study’s key findings:
- Measurements of HRV showed that the higher a person’s diet score, the more variable the heart beat-to-beat time interval — 10 percent to 58 percent (depending on the HRV measure considered) for men in the top Mediterranean diet score quarter compared to those in the lowest quarter; this equates to a 9 percent to 14 percent reduction in heart-related death.
- Genetic influence on HRV frequency ranged from 20 percent – 95 percent, depending on the HRV measure considered.
The study cannot be generalized to women or other ethnic groups because 94 percent of participants were non-Hispanic white males.
Co-authors are Rachel Lampert, M.D.; Peter W. Wilson, M.D.; Jack Goldberg, Ph.D.; Thomas R. Ziegler, M.D. and Viola Vaccarino, M.D., Ph.D., principal investigator of the Emory Twins Heart Study.
Individual author disclosures and funding sources are on the manuscript.
Statements and conclusions of study authors published in American Heart Association scientific journals are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the association’s policy or position. The association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at www.americanheart.org/corporatefunding.
NR10 – 1091 (Circ Q&O/Dai)
Resources:American Heart Association Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations
Tagni McRae | EurekAlert!
The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg
For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.
According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine
23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.01.2017 | Process Engineering