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Polymeals - the Recipe for a Longer Life?
Fri Dec 17, 2004 04:47 AM ET
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By Patricia Reaney

LONDON (Reuters) - If you enjoy good food and don't like the idea of taking pills to reduce the risks of heart attack or stroke, it could be time to try the Polymeal.

Foods ranging from wine to fish and fruits and vegetables have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, so Dr Oscar Franco, a public health expert at the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, decided to combine them in one meal.

If people over 50 years old consumed roughly the daily equivalent of the Polymeal, the researchers calculated, they could slash the odds of suffering from heart disease, one of the world's biggest killers, by 76 percent.

"The message of our paper is that a healthy lifestyle and a good balanced diet is a good alternative to prevent cardiovascular disease," Franco said in an interview.

He and his team searched scientific literature to find foods that have a proven protective effect against cardiovascular disease and then used a mathematical model to determine how much the combined effects of the individual ingredients would reduce the risk of the illness. The results are reported in the British Medical Journal

The Polymeal consists of wine, fish, dark chocolate, fruit and vegetables, garlic and almonds. The ingredients should be taken daily, apart from fish which could be eaten about four times a week, as part of a balanced diet.

Wine and chocolate must be consumed in moderation.

The scientists said the results of eating the Polymeal would be most dramatic for men, whom they estimated would live 6.6 years longer in total than their counterparts not eating the meal. They would also delay the onset of heart disease by 9 years.

Women would gain nearly 5 years and keep heart disease at bay for about 8 years.

The scientists devised the Polymeal as a non-pharmaceutical alternative to a Polypill, a combination of drugs taken in one dose to cut heart disease, which was proposed in 2003.

Polymeals, combined with exercise and non-smoking, are the ingredients for a healthy lifestyle to prevent heart disease, Franco added.

In a separate report in the journal, renowned chef Raymond Blanc created a three-course dinner of watercress soup, grilled fillet of mackerel with winter root vegetables, chickpeas, toasted almonds and garlic and chocolate mousse, based on the Polymeal ingredients.

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