Better than a Polypill: try the Polymeal to reduce risk of heart disease

The Polypill concept evolved as a multi-drug regimen, all of which have documented evidence of cardiovascular (CV) risk reduction. In theory, this regimen would decrease one’s risk of heart disease, stroke, etc. by 80-88%! Pretty remarkable. However, it is limited by the risk of adverse effects associated with the individual medications that comprise the Polypill, estimated at 8-15%.

No one likes taking medications (if you do, you are more ill than you think). n an issue of the British Medical Journal, Franco, et al. recognized that there is similar evidence for food items in lowering cardiovascular risk, and that ingesting a “Polymeal” of these food items would certainly be a safer, more natural, and less costly alternative to taking a Polypill, not to mention tastier.

Here’s what they learned on their review of the literature:

  • Wine (150 mL) daily reduces CV risk by 32%
  • Fish (114 gm) eaten 4 times weekly reduces CV risk by 14%
  • Dark chocolate (100 gm) daily reduces SBP by 5.1 mm Hg and DBP by 1.8 mm Hg, corresponding to a CV risk reduction of 21%
  • Fruit and vegetables (400 gm) daily reduces SBP by 4.0 mm Hg and DBP by 1.5 mm Hg, probably similar CV risk reduction of 21%
  • Garlic (1.8 – 2.7 gm) daily reduced total cholesterol by 17.1 mg/dL (0.44 mmol/L), calculated to reduce CV risk by 25%

Now, for the good stuff:

— Eating this combination of Polymeal ingredients was calculated to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 76%. It’s not fair to compare directly to the Polypill results because the two groups measured endpoints differently, but it is likely in the same ballpark.

As far as side effects go, there are no reported serious adverse effects reported for these ingredients. They mentioned that garlic may cause body odor, flatulence, and abdominal pain (wimps!). In addition, there is potential risk of mercury exposure when eating large quantities of fish regularly.

Only the Brits would finish the article with this kind of analysis:

  1. Expected weekly cost (in the 2004 economy): $28.10 (€ 21.60, £ 15.20)
  2. “Although we do not recommend specific brands, spending more – for example, on your favorite bottle of wine or brand of chocolate – might also be rewarded by an improved quality of life.”
  3. “. . considering the disturbing adverse effects of garlic, we do not recommend taking the Polymeal before a romantic rendesvous, unless the partner also complies with the Polymeal.”

2 Responses to “Better than a Polypill: try the Polymeal to reduce risk of heart disease”

  1. Good health can be maintained by doing excercise and eating good food

  2. Dr. CJ Says:

    I absolutely agree. I think part of the undertone to this publication is a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the “easy fixes” that people want. No doubt, exercise is a critical component of good health.

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