Popular beliefs over the years have for long attached healthy living and longevity to the people who live around the Mediterranean Sea, and so we know about the popular Mediterranean type diet and so on. Greece of course is one of the countries that lie along that region, and recent research has come to associate this same quality of life, and in particular – healthy hearts, with the lives of some mountain villagers of this historic country.
And now, scientists are looking for something they see as being rare, a genetic variant that is common among the villagers. They say there is one common reason the people living in remote rural communities in Greece may enjoy long and healthy lives; this genetic variant tends to provide some sort of protection for the heart by reducing levels of ‘bad’ fats or cholesterol.
The geography of this country describes Greece as a republic in southeastern Europe on the southern part of the Balkan Peninsula; it is known for grapes and olives and olive oil. Studies show that despite a diet rich in animal fat, the inhabitants of Mylopotamos, a village located in northern Crete, do not suffer from any of the cardiovascular diseases.
The unique thing is that these isolated Greek villages including such as Zoniana and Anogia, are situated directly on the mountain tops of the island of Crete; they also enjoy their traditional cheese very much. Indeed, they celebrate a cheese festival each year in the villages. The villages hardly receive visitors, and the people hardly move out themselves, but the remarkable thing is that they have been known to live to very ripe old age.
The scientists are surprised that despite their ‘high fat’ diet of lamb and Cretan cheese, the villagers still rarely suffer from the well known cardiovascular diseases like heart problems, including heart attacks and strokes. Then, something must be strange about their gene! This is the conclusion of the team of researchers from Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in UK. The study which was published in Nature Communications, declares that there is a genetic variant with heart protecting qualities present in their DNA.
It is this genetic variant that is linked with lower levels of “bad” natural fats and “bad” cholesterol – which are important for reducing the danger of contracting cardiovascular disease. Yet the scientists cannot for sure tell why the variants are present, but invariably, this discovery can be employed to calculate which genetic variants play a role in bringing about complex diseases. It also gives an idea of why some people develop heart disease and others don’t.
Here, these villagers present a genetic variant no one had encountered before, and it is being associated with the most common cause of death worldwide, which is heart-related disease.