News & Perspectives

New Medical Foods: HeartBar
A new product called HeartBar looks and tastes like countless other sports and protein bars available at health-food counters. But unlike most of those bars, it's being sold in pharmacies as a "medical food"--the first such product for the dietary management of heart disease.

The FDA currently regulates more than 200 medical foods. Most are designed to treat patients with particular nutritional needs, including those with kidney, liver, or digestive diseases or certain rare genetic disorders.

The major active ingredient in the HeartBar is <<>>, an <<>> that promotes heart health. You can get arginine from foods, but many arginine-rich foods, such as red meats, peanuts, eggs, and dairy products, are also high in fat, so people with cardiovascular problems tend to avoid them.

Heart Stats

The main advantage of HeartBar over arginine supplements is convenience: You need just one to two bars a day, versus up to 12 arginine capsules daily, to get an effective dose (3 to 6 grams). HeartBar also contains <<>> and other nutrients that foster blood vessel function, including <<>> (250 mg), <<>> (200 IU), <<6>>> (2 mg), and <<12>>> (5 mcg).

Each 50 gram bar, supplying about 3 grams of arginine, contains 3 grams of fat and about 200 calories. At two bars a day that's 400 calories--a substantial amount, particularly considering that many patients with heart disease are already struggling with their weight.

Side effects:
No major adverse effects have been reported in trials. Some people have minor changes in bowel habits.

About $2 per bar. If purchased by the case, the cost for a 30-day supply is just over $100. An equivalent amount of L-arginine supplements costs about $60.

HeartBar was developed by John Cooke, M.D., Ph.D., a respected researcher at Stanford University School of Medicine. Additional information:

Date Published: 11/06/2000
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