Interaction between high-fat diet, blood pressure, and your genes

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.

ACE and blood pressure:

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.


ACE Genotype Report:

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ACE gene:

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.

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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.


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About the Author:
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 also 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.