Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Mediterranean diet - in a pill?

I'm intrigued by an article claiming that a single pill can provide health benefits equal to eating three kilograms (over 6½ pounds) of tomatoes.

British scientists have developed a groundbreaking pill which provides all the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet.

One capsule of Ateronon taken daily can break down fatty deposits in the arteries and help prevent heart disease and strokes, potentially saving millions of lives.

The supplement, which costs £35 [about US $57] for a month's supply, contains lycopene, a chemical found in the skin of ripe tomatoes.

Each pill provides the equivalent of eating three kilos of ripe tomatoes. Studies have shown eating an Italian-style diet rich in tomatoes, fish, vegetables, nuts and olive oil can significantly reduce cholesterol and help prevent cardiovascular diseases.

. . .

An initial trial in 150 heart disease patients found that taking the pill once a day could not only halt but even reverse the buildup of fatty deposits on artery walls in just two months, without side-effects.

Large-scale trials of up to 10,000 patients will begin this year at Cambridge, as well as in the U.S., Italy and Finland.

There's more at the link.

Looks promising! I've been aware for some time of the health benefits of a Mediterranean-style diet. If this can synthesize those benefits into a more-easily-available form, I'll be lining up for it. Now, if I can just stay away from the Big Macs and other temptations while I'm using it . . .



LabRat said...

Given that the benefits of the "Mediterraean diet" probably accrue far more from lots of greens, essential fatty acids (from the fish and nuts), and not much sugar or processed oils and starches than from any individual compound in tomatoes... I doubt this will work as advertised.

stranger said...

Well, start with the numbers. The MDR is "the amount of essential nutrients necessary to prevent disease." Generally, twice the MDR is a safe level to maintain.

Now, this is not "fair" but calculate how many pounds of - lets say spinach you would have to eat daily to consume - and absorb - twice the MDR of calcium. And how many pounds of carrots and how long you would have to stay in direct sunlight to absorb that calcium.

I did exactly that once for all of the known nutrients. 8,000 "nutritional calories" (kilocalories) a day did not turn me on. And the composition of that diet definitely turned me off.

Your mileage may vary - but my calcs were for the 220 pound me. You don't look like you scale less than 100 Kilos.