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.
One parameter that was measured was the level of ACE, or angiotensin-converting enzyme, which controls blood pressure via the constriction of blood vessels. ACE inhibitors are a common type of blood pressure medication which works by decreasing or inhibiting the angiotensin-converting enzyme. The ACE gene has a common variant referred to as the ACE deletion/insertion. T
Check your genetic data for rs4343 (23andMev4, v5; AncestryDNA):
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 the 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 the interaction 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.