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A Decadent Dinner Can Help Heart
Gourmet meal protects heart A decadent dinner can help heart

Date published: 4/24/2005

EATING A DELICIOUS dinner every night might reduce your risk of heart disease by 75 percent.

A team of international scientists coined the term "Polymeal" to describe a menu including wine, fish, dark chocolate, fruits, vegetables, garlic and almonds that evidence suggests is heart-healthy. The group published its work in the British Medical Journal.

Theirs was a virtual experiment.

First, they combed stacks of scientific literature to find out what foods have the best evidence so far of reducing heart attacks, stroke and other vascular diseases. For example, drinking 5 ounces of wine per day can reduce risks by 32 percent.

The researchers selected the top seven foods most likely to protect the heart. The resulting Polymeal includes about 5 ounces of wine daily, 4 ounces of fish at least four times weekly, 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate per day, 14 ounces of fruits and vegetables per day, a little less than 1 clove of garlic daily, and about 2.4 ounces of almonds, roughly 53 nuts.

This doesn't mean that other foods, such as olive oil, soy and oats, aren't just as healthy, but so far, there has been more research pointing to the foods selected in the Polymeal, the scientists wrote.

Next, rather than feeding the Polymeal to volunteers, scientists applied the data about food and risks to data from the Framingham heart studies in Massachusetts, which followed more than 5,000 people for decades, tracking their eating habits and heart health. They calculated how eating certain foods would affect heart disease risks for these Americans.

Changing one of your regular daily meals to a Polymeal might reduce your risk of heart disease by 75 percent and add 6.6 years to your life, the scientists estimated.

Since it was a virtual experiment, we don't know how accurate this estimate is, but it is intriguing. Even if it's correct, making one meal a Polymeal probably wouldn't offset overeating at other meals.

Nourishing your heart

You can turn the Polymeal's general guidelines into a variety of specific menus, but I think it would make most people uncomfortably full and provide more than half the calories an average person needs in a whole day, and all of their daily needs for protein and fat.

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