The ‘heart attack proof’ diet? – News Report

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The ‘heart attack proof’ diet?

(CNN) — Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. didn’t become a doctor to change the way America eats. He was a general surgeon.

But researching cancer, he stumbled on a fact that changed his career: Certain cultures around the world do not suffer from heart disease, the No. 1 killer in the Western world.

Esselstyn’s practice took a dramatic turn — from performing surgery to promoting nutrition. For more than 20 years, the Cleveland Clinic doctor has tried to get Americans to eat like the Papua New Guinea highlanders, rural Chinese, central Africans and the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico.

Follow his dietary prescription, the 77-year-old Esselstyn says, and you will be “heart attack proof” — regardless of your family history.

“It’s a foodborne illness, and we’re never going to end the epidemic with stents, with bypasses, with the drugs, because none of it is treating causation of the illness,” Esselstyn says.

The Esselstyn diet is tough for most Americans to swallow: no meat, no eggs, no dairy, no added oils.

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Esselstyn has written a book to spread the word, “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease — The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure,” and he has given talks around the world.

He is also a focus of the new documentary “Forks Over Knives.” Esselstyn has won some high-profile allies — such as Dr. T. Colin Campbell, co-author of “The China Study,” and Dr. Terry Mason, chief medical officer at Cook County Hospitals in Chicago and the city’s former health commissioner.

“We’ve eaten ourselves into a problem, and we can eat ourselves out of it,” Mason says. But Esselstyn’s prescription goes against conventional wisdom, which considers diet only one factor in preventing heart disease.

“Diet alone is not going to be the reason that heart attacks are eliminated,” says Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association.

Ornish: Asking the right health care questions

Other key factors include physical activity, cholesterol, blood pressure and weight, she says. The meat, dairy and egg industries defend the benefits of their protein-rich foods, all of which remain on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate dietary guidelines for healthy eating.

Esselstyn’s plant-based prescription also runs up against a culture where meat is served at most meals.

“Most doctors eat meat because most Americans eat meat, and if they don’t really see for themselves or for their family why it might be a good idea to cut down or even cut meat out of their diet altogether, they might not be so inclined to recommend it to their patients,” says Michele Simon, author of “Appetite for Profit.”


Esselstyn diet worked for me: One patient’s story

To help heart patients and others make the leap to his diet, Esselstyn holds a monthly, five-hour seminar at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute to explain the science behind “plant-based” nutrition.

Esselstyn’s wife, Ann, offers practical advice on how to prepare kale, bok choy, collard greens and other foods that may not be on the typical family’s shopping list.

Esselstyn began recruiting patients in 1985 and says his diet has worked even on people deemed too sick for surgery. Esselstyn has published results from a small group of patients showing how his diet either halted the progression of heart disease or reduced the blockages in the blood vessels leading to the heart.

“We know if people are eating this way they are not going to have a heart attack,” says Esselstyn, whose father had a heart attack at 43.

Anthony Yen, an entrepreneur who emigrated from China and came to love the fried foods, meat and desserts of the American diet, adopted the Esselstyn program in 1987 after undergoing bypass surgery.

“I’m still alive because of this diet,” Yen says, now 78.

Esselstyn says people shouldn’t hold off on starting his diet until after they develop symptoms of heart disease because most heart attacks strike with no warning.

“The reason you don’t wait until you have heart disease to eat this way is often, sadly, the first symptom of your heart disease may be your sudden death,” he says.

Esselstyn says his diet works because it keeps the lining of the blood vessels free of the dangerous blisters or bubbles or cholesterol-laden plaque that causes heart attacks.

Two decades after Esselstyn started trying to spread the gospel of his plant-based diet, the American Heart Association says 83 million Americans have some form of cardiovascular disease and many of the traditional risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity, are at all time highs. The association says the cost of treating heart disease tops $270 billion and is expected to more than double by 2025.

Esselstyn, a member of the U.S. gold medal rowing team at the 1956 Olympics, is not someone who gives up easily.

“We are on the cusp of what could be an absolute revolution in health — not dependent on pills, procedures or operations, but on lifestyle,” Esselstyn says.

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One thought on “The ‘heart attack proof’ diet? – News Report”

  1. Its always fascinating how ” indigenous knowledge” from time immemorial is suddenly rediscovered by the establishment (western academia/media et al) and marketed as “new discoveries”/ paradigms by (western) geniuses.

    I have no problem with this above doctor as he appears to credit the source of his knowledge.

    In some areas though, some Afrikans may be misled to think that western scientists by dint of congenital genius have made discoveries. Some examples quickly come to mind:

    a) Environmental Sustainability.

    After having run around destroying biodiversity all over earth in search of minerals and mass farming for cash crops, and perpetual economic growth, now we witness stuff being spouted by western greenies that has been practiced as a matter of culture by people in Afrika, Amazon etc.

    Primitive is the term I believe was used in some of the agricultural/agro-forestry practices used.

    Most of the “conservators” of game in Afrika are white. You see them on those docs on lions, elephants and whatnot.

    The same lot whose forbears had a bloody ball hunting down elephants and other game just for ego-tripping trophies during the colonial and early post-colonial days.

    b) When you come to physics, there is so much ado about quatum phyisics being similar/affinity with “Eastern” mysticism:

    That at the end of it all reality is ONE indivisible energy field etc.

    Many of the westerners are even appealing for the VITALITY OF A SPIRITUAL OUTLOOK!

    Instead of the preferred western mode of thought (material/objective)


    They have now realized that their Plato-addictions (mis-interpretations?) of “ideal forms” that exist only in mind, and whose logical conclusion has been to form societies based on sheer mad fantasy of sick amoral minds (eg gambling financiers instead of employed populace actually producing useful stuff) is a dead end.

    Of course “eastern mysticism” is a development and adaptation of ancient Kmtian (CLASSICAL BLACK AFRIKAN) philosophy on reality:

    Based on duality, opposites in tension permeate the Universe as reality-Matter & Spirit as ONE.

    Now the books are being written by westerners and the knowledge is getting appropriated and of course eventually sources will be sidelined and new geniuses will be feted.

    Afrikans need to write more and Afrikans need to read more of their own instead of waiting for second-hand ancient black truths that could have faced the bleaching process..

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