Review of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn
"I have an amibitious goal: to annihilate heart disease - to abolish it
once and for all!" This is a quote from the book and Dr.
Esselstyn is just the guy to do it. Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer
in almost all of the developed world and his book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, delivers a full frontal assault
on this arch-enemy.
His book has a section with photos of arteries actually being cleared of plaque
and one miraculous story after another about the experiences of his patients.
Esselstyn currently directs the Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Reversal
Program at the distinguished Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, so he's a
heavyweight in his field. One can't help but immediately respect the fact that
he is pushing a non-surgical solution. Think about this: Esselstyn shows a
dietary way to prevent and even reverse heart disease and so, if everyone
followed his recommendations, it would put him and his collegues out of
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However, Esselstyn is clearly a man on a mission and has chosen to do what is
right instead of what will buy him a chalet and a Ferrari. In fact, in his book he points out the many problems associated
with standard cardiac surgeries and procedures such as angioplasties. At one
point in the book, he points out that andioplasties actually had worse
outcomes than those on medication.
So how about that? There are
people in the world with integrity after all...
So what is Esselstyn's miracle program? Actually, it is very similar to
Ornish's Low Fat Diet, except that he insists you can reverse heart disease
with diet alone. Ornish always included meditation/relaxation, social
self-help meetings and some exercise in his routine as well. I'm sure he
did this because these have all been shown to improve cardiovascular outcomes. And
one can't argue with Ornish: his protocols have been very successful in
both practice and in the research: a couple of studies on
participants following his program proved that heart disease could be reversed,
i.e. plaque removed from the arteries.
Esselstyn, though, shows that his patients have cleared out between 10-30% of
arterial plaque just through following his dietary advice. He insists
that his patients follow a strictly plant-based diet. His rules are
simple, although many would find hard to follow, and include whole plant foods
without nuts, oils or avocados. So he is very strict: no animal
products, oils, fats, margarines, etc.
Of course, he and Ornish point out that eating this way still gives you about a
10% fat content in your diet, which is more than enough for what your body
needs. Almost all plants have a certain amount of fat and oils and so
consuming a low fat, plant-based diet still gives you ample fats for all your
needs. Plus, he makes an interesting observation that I had not read
before: he states that a plant-based diet like his actually caps any
existing plaques. In other words, not only does it reverse plaques, but it
actually puts a "protective coating" on them, making a heart attack much less
Almost everyone in a modern, industrialized culture will have
clogged and diseased
penile arteries. Esselstyn's book gives a simple and helpful presentation
to reverse much of that damage.
Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease
includes some good recipes and lots of
helpful advice as well.