Wondering if you should cut down on red meat and fat to lower your blood pressure? According to a new study, it could depend on your genes…
A recent study in the Journal of the American Heart Association illustrates the interaction between genetics and diet. The study looked at blood pressure measurements in twins on a higher carb diet vs a higher fat.
For the first six weeks of the study, the participants, who were non-obese twin pairs, ate a higher carb diet which consisted of 55% carbohydrates, 30% fat, and 15% protein. Blood pressure and other blood markers were measured at the end of the six weeks. For the second half of the study, the participants switched to a higher fat diet consisting of 40% carbohydrates, 45% fat, and 15% protein, with the fat mainly being saturated fat from red meat, sausage, bacon, and full-fat dairy.
The level of ACE, or angiotensin-converting enzyme, was measured. This enzyme controls blood pressure by constricting blood vessels. ACE inhibitors are a common type of blood pressure medication that works by decreasing or inhibiting the angiotensin-converting enzyme. The ACE gene has a common variant referred to as the ACE deletion/insertion.
Check your genetic data for rs4343 (23andMev4, v5; AncestryDNA):
- A/A: ACE insertion/insertion
- A/G: heterozygous – ACE deletion/insertion
- G/G: ACE deletion/deletion – increased blood pressure on a high-fat diet.
Members: Your genotype for rs4343 is —.
The study found that overall, ACE levels increased by about 15% on the higher fat diet, but it did not find a significant increase in blood pressure when looking at the group as a whole.
When segregating by ACE genotype, the study found that those with the G/G genotype (ACE deletion) had twice the average ACE increase on the higher fat diet, and they also had an increase in systolic blood pressure.
For those who have high blood pressure and ACE deletion (rs4343 G/G), this study indicates that eating a diet high in bacon, cheeseburgers, steaks, and ice cream may be the problem. Try switching to a low-fat diet and tracking your blood pressure for a few weeks to see if it helps.
Common sense caution: If you are on medication for high blood pressure, check in with your doctor and keep a close eye on your blood pressure to make sure it doesn’t go too low with a dietary change.
Previous studies have linked the ACE deletion to hypertension, autism, and Alzheimer’s. Not all studies, though, show the same results, and this may be due to interactions with diet. For example, if the population being studied normally at a low fat, more plant-based diet, the ACE deletion variant wouldn’t show a statistical link to hypertension.
Related Genes and Topics:
AGTR1 Gene and High Blood pressure
There are several causes of high blood pressure. Genetic variants in the AGTR1 gene are strongly linked with blood pressure — and there are specific lifestyle changes that should work to change your blood pressure if you carry the variants.
Your genes combine with your diet to influence your LDL cholesterol level. Learn more about why LDL cholesterol levels may matter in heart disease – and find out how your genes are important here.
Debbie Moon is the founder of Genetic Lifehacks. Fascinated by the connections between genes, diet, and health, her goal is to help you understand how to apply genetics to your diet and lifestyle decisions. Debbie has a BS in engineering and an MSc in biological sciences from Clemson University. Debbie combines an engineering mindset with a biological systems approach to help you understand how genetic differences impact your optimal health.