I think the two most important books that I have ever read are Track Your Plaque by Dr. William Davis and a similar by Dr. K. Lance Gould. (You can read my review of the latter here: A Review of Heal Your Heart.) The reason these books stand out from all the other great health books I have read is that these men have done what they said was impossible: reverse atherosclerosis and atherosclerosis is hands down the #1 killer of men. (It is also the #1 killer of erections as well as the success of Viagra and Cialis highlight.)
Both Heal Your Heart and Track Your Plaque by Dr. William Davis should be on your nightstand you should read a few pages of them every night for motivation in my opinion. Why am I being so dramatic? Because if you lose your testosterone, HRT can usually rescue you. But, if clog up your arteries, nothing on heaven or earth can help you.
NOTE: Track Your Plaque has been a huge influence on me and I actually had a Heart Scan done after being on a low fat diet for several years to check my progress. To my pleasant surprise, they found I had 0 plaque - none whatsoever - something I discuss in my page Heart Scan Results (Lee Myer).
The point is that you want to start managing your arterial plaque early and these doctors can help you do that. These physicians are pragmatists and so I will start by pointing out some of the many similarities in their approaches:
a) Both doctors want you to limit saturated fat and have spartan LDL levels.
b) Both doctors have rigorous requirements for HDL, LDL and triglycerides.
c) Both doctors want carbs to be limited and low glycemic.
d) Both doctors believe that many other lipid and inflammation parameters must be monitored.
e) Both doctors believe that you can eat some meat and reverse plaque.
f) Both doctors believe that you diet alone often cannot control plaque in some men and that additional help in the forum of supplements (or pharmaceuticals in the case of Gould) are required.
g) Both men are cautious about classic low fat diets.
h) Both men believe that you should monitor your plaque and carefully watch your progress.
Now let me go through the above points and highlight some of the differences in their approaches:
a) Dr. Davis really dislikes classic low fat diets and rails against them quite often. And he has good reason to, because men so often eat a bunch of wheat, white rice and other low fat "foods" and call that low fat. I have seen this many times myself in talking to guys who did not feel good on what they called a "low fat diet." Many men get the idea that he embraces saturated fat because of it, but nothing could be further from the truth. Let me quote from his book:
"All foods you eat should be low in saturated fat. Saturated fats serve no purpose whatsoever and are entirely unnecessary for health. Do away with saturated fat completely and you'll be better off. Your goal should be as close to zero grams of saturated fat per day as possible." [p. 112.]
I get beat up all the time on my own forum, The Peak Testosterone Forum, because guys want to hear that saturated fat and high cholesterol levels are just fine. Well, Drs. Davis and Gould would beg to differ. I do want to mention that Dr. Davis emphasizes consumption of the omega-3's and believe that some monounsaturated fat has it's place in order to displace calories normally consumed from carbs.
b) Dr. Davis has even more spartan numbers than Dr. Gould. See my page HDL, LDL and Triglycerides Levels as a Starting Point for Plaque Reversal for more information. I do want to point out that HDL, LDL and triglycerides are certainly NOT the only numbers that need to monitored and Dr. Davis has what I consider to be the best discussion of the markers necessary to reverse heart disease.
c) Dr. Davis emphasizes the carb side of plaque regression, which is certainly a politically correct thing to do with classic Paleo and Low Carb being so in vogue. This is critical, because men can go "pattern B" so easily, where LDL becomes smaller, triglycerides increase and HDL drop, all atherosclerotic.
d) Again, Dr. Davis has an extensive discussion of these markers. The book is well worth it just from this aspect alone.
e) Dr. Davis wants low fat cuts of meat and wants you to cut the excess fat off.
f) Track Your Plaque emphasizes the use of (what I would consider megadosed) fish oil, megadosed niacin and Vitamin D at a minimum to ensure plaque reversal. The niacin is the most controversial of these solutions in my opinion as no one knows if this is a good long term solution as far as I know. In addition, niacin can have side effects and possible liver issues in some men. (Dr. Gould has an excellent discussion about the different forms of niacin and common issues men face with them.)
g) Dr. Davis does NOT advocate a low fat diet. I believe an implementation of his dietary guidelines would land a man more squarely with Mediterranean fat levels, both in composition and quantity.
h) Track Your Plaque, as the title implies, has popularized the concept of Heart Scans, or Calcium Scores as they are sometime known. A Heart Scan is basically a very sophisticated CAT scan of your heart that is timed to the beating of your heart to literally photograph, if you will, the calcium in your cardiac arteries. Dr. Davis prefers this method and makes a case for it. The one disadvantage to this method is that requires some exposure to radiation. I am uncertain as to the exact level, so please check with your provider.
An alternative method is to get an IMT done. Lifeline offers one - in states that allow it! - for $70 as of this writing. An IMT has the advantage of being a simple ultrasound of your neck artery. It is not a perfect test, as Dr. Davis points out, because it has only a 60-80% correlation with your important cardiac arteries that so often lead to heart attacks. Again, the Heart Scan directly look into the cardiac arteries.
NOTE: You may recognize Dr. Davis from one of his other bestsellers, which I examined in my page A Review of Wheat Belly. In this book Dr. Davis pushes for the elimination of wheat form one's diet as a means of weight and blood sugar control primarily.