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An amla (gooseberry) a day keeps the doctor away!

Image Credits: istock

Eating foods high in vitamin C helps protect your heart!

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), which includes heart diseases like coronary heart disease, heart attack, angina and stroke, are the number 1 cause of death around the world. According to the World Health Organisation, 60% of deaths in India are due to non- communicable diseases, including CVDs. Some of the CVD related risks factors in adults in India are:

 

  • Smoking: 15% of the population smoke tobacco   
  • Alcohol consumption: 4.3 litres of pure alcohol consumed per person   
  • Hypertension: 21.1% have hypertension, increasing the risk for heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease or stroke

These modifiable risk factors in combination with genetic predisposition accounts for the rise in CVDs. Modifying our diet and exercise based on our genes will help to reduce our risk of CVDs. A recent large study, reconfirmed that the high intake of fruits and vegetables containing vitamin C can protect us against CVD.

 

Vitamin C and heart health:

Genes and vitamin C

Dietary vitamin C is transported in the human body by two transporter proteins, one of which is produced by the SLC23A1 gene. Variation in this gene causes reduced absorption and accumulation of vitamin C, and are usually associated with lower vitamin C levels in the blood and such individuals may benefit from consuming higher amounts of vitamin C. Though, high doses of vitamin C are unlikely to cause side effects for healthy individuals, people carrying certain genes (such as HFE or G6PD) can develop iron overload,if they consume too much vitamin C.

 

Take action! Start consuming foods rich in vitamin C to protect your heart.

The National Institute of Nutrition, India recommends daily intake of 40 mg of vitamin C. Smokers need 35mg/day more dietary Vitamin C to compensate for the depletion caused by smoking. For instance, 1 large sized gooseberry provides you 270 mg of vitamin C and is adequate to meet your daily needs.

In the Indian context, cooking methods used lead to 20-40% loss of vitamin C. To prevent the loss during cooking from affecting the quantity of Vitamin C consumed.

  • Include lemon peels and lemon zest to your salads -instead of lemon rice or lime pickles
  • Eat a whole orange or grapefruit which is rich in vitamin C, fiber and significantly more bioflavonoids-instead of drinking fruit juices

Foods rich in vitamin C:

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The type of SLC23A1 gene in the DNA influences the vitamin C content in the body. Want to know what type of SLC23A1 gene you have? Try Xcode’s nutrigenetics test which can tell you what versions of the SLC23A1 gene are in your DNA. You can also learn about how your genes may influence other traits, including your risk for certain diseases. Write to us at info@xcode.in to find out more.

Janani Thiru
Janani Thiru
Janani is a Nutrigenetic Counselor at Xcode, Freelance Writer, Food Scientist and Nutritionist by academics. She received the prestigious Erasmus Mundus Award by the European Commission for her post graduate program in Food Science and Technology in 2010. She worked with Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations in Rome and Cambodia previously. Her latest project is an e-book of nutrigenetics she is compiling that will be published next year.