What’s the best diet for weight loss and cardiovascular wellness? When researchers compared four popular low-carb or low-fat diets, the results were puzzling. Over a 12-month period, some study participants lost 30 or more pounds on each of the diets, while others gained 10 pounds. What the researchers inadvertently proved was that the one-size-fits all approach doesn’t work for weight loss.
Similarly, studies of dietary approaches intended to reduce heart attack and stroke risk–such as the well-known Mediterranean-style diet–reveal striking individual differences in response. That’s prompted the American Heart Association to advise more emphasis on genetically based dietary recommendations. Here’s a look at how to personalize your eating plan for optimal cardiovascular health.
The BaleDoneen Method uses genetic tests to identify the best diet for each patient. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about the two tests discussed. For more information on using the BaleDoneen Method to take your lifestyle to the next level–and use leading-edge genetic insights to prevent heart disease, stroke and diabetes–read Beat the Heart Attack Gene, now available in paperback and Kindle editions.
Apo E Genotype
This test analyzes your Apolipoprotein E (Apo E) genotype, which influences both your lifetime risk for heart disease and the best diet to avoid it. The Apo E gene has three variants (E2, E3, and E4), resulting in 6 possible genotypes: Apo E 2/2, Apo E 2/3, Apo E 2/4, Apo E 3/3, Apo E 3/4 and Apo E 4/4.
People with Apo E 2/2 or 2/3 genotypes, which occur in 11% of the population, have the lowest risk for heart disease and do best with a diet containing 30% to 35% fat from heart-healthy sources, such as Omega-3 rich oily fish, nuts and olive oil.
Those with the 3/3 or 2/4 genotypes, which occur in 64% of the population, do best with the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes plant-based foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains, legumes, olive oil, nuts and moderate amounts of yogurt, cheese and wine. This diet should have 25% to 30% fat.
About 25% of people have the Apo E 3/4 or 4/4 genotypes, which are linked to the highest risk for heart disease. Their best bet for prevention to eat a very low-fat diet (less than 20% fat) and limit or avoid alcohol.
Following a diet based on your Apo E genotype fights the leading risk factor for heart attack and a major risk for stroke: abnormal lipid levels. Studies show that eating the right foods for your Apo E genotype helps raise levels of heart-protective HDL (good) cholesterol and lower levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
This blood test analyzes your haptoglobin (Hg) genotype, offering insight into your risk for heart disease and which diet and supplements would be most beneficial for you. If you have diabetes, you can not only find out if you have a genotype that raises heart disease risk as much as smoking does, but if you have this high-risk genotype, research suggests that you can almost entirely eliminate this excess risk by taking an inexpensive vitamin.
If you’re not diabetic, you can find out if you have a genotype linked to increased risk for intestinal, autoimmune and inflammatory disorders and if you’d benefit from a gluten-free diet and probiotics.
The Hg gene has two alleles (Hg 1 and Hg 2), resulting in 3 possible genotypes: Hg 1-1 (low risk), Hg 1-2 (intermediate risk) and Hg 2-2 (high risk). Diabetics with Hp 2-2 genotype are five times more likely to develop heart disease than those with the Hp 1-1 genotype! The good news, however, is that randomized studies show that taking 400 i.u. of vitamin E daily counteracts this increased risk in people with diabetes.
While you might wonder if all diabetics should take vitamin E–and skip the gene test–research shows that for most people, vitamin E supplements raise risk for heart attacks and early death from cardiovascular disease. The only people who benefit from this supplement are diabetics with the Hg 2-2 genotype.
There is also recent evidence that both diabetic and non-diabetic people with the Hp 1-2 or Hp 2-2 genotypes do best if they follow a gluten-free diet and take a daily probiotic supplement. Before taking any dietary supplement, discuss the pros and cons with your medical provider and ask if it’s appropriate for you.