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The Polymeal 2004-12-17

Posted by clype in Health.

Dining regularly on a “Polymeal”, devised with ingredients to boost the health of the heart and blood vessels, could cut the risk of cardiovascular disease by more than three-quarters, researchers claim.

They say feasting on fish, garlic, almonds, fruits and vegetables, dark chocolate, all polished off with a glass of wine could substantially reduce the risk of problems such as heart attack when compared with the general population.

Mr.Oscar Franco, a public health scientist at ‘The University Medical Centre’ in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and his colleagues suggest the “Polymeal” as a natural alternative to the “Polypill”.

This wonder pill – a cocktail of six existing drugs — was proposed in 2003-06 as a preventive pill which might slash the risk of heart attack or stroke in people over 55 years old by as much as 80 per cent. The proposal was underpinned by an analysis of over 750 trials of the existing drugs.

‘The point we are trying to make is that it is not only through pills that you can prevent disease,’ says Mr.Franco.

‘The Polymeal is a natural alternative.’ He says that by eating the prescribed food within a balanced diet, along with exercise and not smoking, a future of ‘pills and medicalisation’ could be avoided.

But Mr.Nicholas Wald, at ‘The Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine’, ‘University of London’, who led the work on the Polypill concept, is less than impressed. He told New Scientist that the ‘tongue in cheek’ paper published in Christmas edition of ‘The British Medical Journal’ is ‘designed to amuse and should be taken in that vein’.

He does however say that ‘buried in it are some things that are sensible’, such as fruit and vegetable consumption. Mr.Wald adds the paper may help focus attention on eating a healthy diet, which helps improve cardiovascular health.

Mr.Franco and colleagues devised the ‘Polymeal’ by searching the medical literature for ingredients. They then used mathematical models to analyse the effects that regularly eating certain foods could have on the cardiovascular health of a population.

The team based their models on a long-running heart health study, called the Framingham study, which has followed a population in Massachusetts, USA, for 46 years.

The results suggested that the Polymeal could reduce cardiovascular events like heart attack by 76 per cent. On average, men eating the meal could boost their total life expectancy by 6.6 years, and women by 4.8 years, the study estimates.


But Mr.Wald points out that the scientific evidence to back some of the Polymeal ingredients such as dark chocolate or garlic, is far from established. for example, the recommendation that dark chocolate enjoyed daily can cut blood pressure stems from a research letter on work conducted in just 13 elderly patients.

And some crucial dietary factors for cardiovascular health, such as eating less saturated fats and salt are also not mentioned in the paper, notes Wald.

But Franco told New Scientist that the Polymeal would be likely to have fewer adverse reactions than taking the Polypill. However, bad breath and body odour could pose a problem with garlic, he jokes, unless everyone takes part.

‘We do not recommend taking the Polymeal before a romantic rendezvous, unless the partner also complies with the Polymeal,’ the team writes.

Journal reference: British Medical Journal (vol 329, p 1447)


1. People are eating LESS Fruit & Veg « Clipped News - 2006-09-26

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