Recently, I had the opportunity to attend Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s program, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, in Cleveland, Ohio. Nothing compares to learning information directly from the source, and at the end of the day, I left feeling confident in my understanding of the endothelial and its function in heart health. If you can’t travel to Cleveland right now, do yourself a favor and read his book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. This book empowers you to take 100% control over your own destiny when it comes to heart health.
Dr. Esselstyn’s scientifically proven, 100% plant-based, and nutritionally dense food plan has one single focus, to heal and optimize the function of the endothelium lining of your vascular system, making you virtually heart-attack proof.
How does he do this? Through eating ONLY those foods that nourish the endothelium, and eliminating every single bite of food known to cause or promote vascular disease.
Every vegetable under the sun.
All legumes, including beans, peas, and lentils.
All whole grains and whole grain products, including breads and pasta PROVIDED THERE IS NO ADDED OIL IN THE INGREDIENT LIST.
Every colorful fruit under the rainbow.(except avocado and coconut)
No meat, poultry, or fish.
No dairy products of any kind.
No oil of any kind, “not a drop.”
No nuts or avocado.
At first glance, this food plan may seem extreme. However, Dr. Esselstyn explains that there is no diet in the world that is so extreme as to contribute to the cause and progression of the number one killer in the United States, coronary artery disease, resulting in drastic treatments including pharmaceuticals, inserting stents, having the breastbone sawed in half, and the chest stretched apart for painful surgeries that offer no cure.
What is this extreme diet? Unfortunately, it is the extremely toxic standard American diet.
As Bernadine Healy, M.D., former Director of the National Institutes of Health wrote, “Dr. Esselstyn has always been ahead of his time. His focus on the healing powers of proper nutrition on diseased coronary arteries has now proven right, raising another unthinkable notion—that heart patients can cure themselves.”
The class I attended included physicians interested in learning how to empower their own patients, heart patients serious about taking control of their own health, and former patients who cured themselves and shared their journey.
Inspiring doesn’t begin to capture the single-minded focus and palpable power of decision and determination characteristic of Dr. Esselstyn’s patients. As George Bernard Shaw observed, “People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.” And these patients are doing it!
For those plant powered pioneers who like to dive in head first, from the chart above, follow these simple steps. You can add to your repertoire as you become acclimated to new foods and grow into a label-reading sleuth. At least you won’t be hungry during your learning curve.
Eat oatmeal (steel cut or rolled oats) every day. Top with fresh fruit and ground flax.
For lunch, snacks, and dinner:
Eat fresh or steamed greens six times per day, sprinkled with your favorite vinegar. Serve over brown rice, lentils, or beans.
Salad Bars are a lifesaver:
Smother leafy greens, kale, and/or spinach with fresh vegetables, legumes, grains and fruits. Ground flaxseeds add a nutty flavor. Sprinkle with your vinegar of choice. (Remember: NO ADDED OIL, so no mayo-laden salad bar concoctions.)
TIP: Fruit adds moisture and great flavor to salads. One of my favorites is to blend fresh raspberries with champagne vinegar in a blender. Not only is it a beautiful color, it is absolutely delicious, too.
If you have a sweet tooth, you can’t beat fresh fruit. Lately, my fall favorite is sliced oranges.
Dr. Esselstyn’s authoritatively quiet voice still echoes in my ears saying, “Now that you know, ….there is no reason whatsoever, …..to ever, ……injure your endothelial again.”
Note: According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is responsible for about 610,000 deaths every year in the United States. This number represents one out of every four deaths. (http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm)