The Polymeal: Recipe for a Healthy Heart
A Daily Dose of Chocolate, Wine, Other Healthy Foods Could Add Years to Your Life
Dec. 16, 2004 -- Here's a new recipe for heart disease prevention: Grab a handful of dark chocolate, a couple of almonds, some fruits and vegetables, and a sprinkle of garlic. Wash it all down with a glass of wine. Do this every day, and researchers say you'll cut your risk of heart disease by a whopping 76%.
The diet, dubbed the "Polymeal," is a combination of foods that have been individually shown to reduce one's risk of heart disease. It includes all of the above-mentioned items, eaten on a daily basis, plus fish four times a week. Ingredients can be combined as a meal or taken individually throughout the day.
Scientists, reporting in next week's issue of the BMJ, reviewed the impact of each ingredient on blood pressure, cholesterol, and the overall risk of heart disease and calculated a combined effect. For example, about 4-5 ounces of wine (a standard glass) reduces the risk of heart disease by nearly one-third. The researchers also say that eating fish four times a week reduced heart disease risk by 14%.
According to the journal study, combining seven food components (dark chocolate, wine, fruits, vegetables, garlic, almonds, and fish) significantly increases the life expectancy of people over age 50 and reduces heart events by more than two-thirds.
Excluding any ingredients caused a slight decline in the overall heart protection benefits. However omitting wine reduced the meal's beneficial impact the most -- by 10%.
The recipe for heart success has the biggest impact on men. Men who dine on the Polymeal program every day increase their total life expectancy by more than six and a half years compared with men not on the Polymeal. They also were able to prevent the onset of heart disease for nine years.
Women eating the Polymeal would live about five years longer than women not eating it. They keep heart disease at bay for eight years.
In 2003 researchers introduced the idea of the "Polypill," a pill combining common medications used against different risk factors for heart disease. They showed that combining these drugs into one pill would reduce cardiovascular disease by more than 80%.
Oscar Franco's team in the Netherlands wanted to come up with a nonpharmacological option.
"Following the Polymeal promises to be an effective, nonpharmacological, safe, and tasty means to increase life expectancy and reduce heart disease across the population," the authors concluded.