Reverse Heart Disease with a Plant-Based Diet

Just in case you hadn’t heard, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stated that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, killing over 600,000 people each year. The good news is that research has proven that heart disease can not only be reversed, but cured all together with lifestyle changes, and adopting a plant-based diet. Removing animal products from the diet literally removes the ongoing contributing factor to cardiovascular disease and  allows the body to heal because most saturated fats and cholesterol are found in meat and dairy products.

Dean Ornish was the first to conduct a groundbreaking study that proved that a vegetarian diet in tandem with lifestyle changes can reverse heart disease. He studied a total of 47 patients and half of the subjects were prescribed medication along with the standard diet of “lean meats” including fish and poultry, and also not allowed to smoke. The experimental group were put on a low fat vegetarian diet, brisk walking as exercise three times per week, no smoking, and stress management exercises. After one year the findings were groundbreaking. The control group had not improved, most had their condition worsen, and still needed medication to function. In the experimental group within weeks chest pain disappeared, cholesterol levels dropped, and in 80% of patients the arteries were reopening.

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn of the Cleveland Clinic conducted another groundbreaking twenty year study and had the same astounding results. The seventeen patients from his study who stayed on the diet and kept up with the lifestyle changes did not have a single cardiac episode over the consecutive twelve years. “After 5 years on Dr. Esselstyn’s plant-based diet, the average total cholesterol levels of his research group dropped from 246 milligrams per deciliter to 137 mg/dL (Above 240 mg/dL is considered “high risk,” below 150 mg/dL is the total cholesterol level seen in cultures where heart disease is essentially nonexistent.) This is the most profound drop in cholesterol ever documented in the medical literature in a study of this type.”

What these studies prove is that contracting heart disease is in large part the result of a sum of choices. Luckily our bodies allow us to  choose something different. But why wait until the your arteries are clogged and the veggie hits the fan?


Esselstyn, C. (2007). Prevent and reverse heart disease: The revolutionary, scientifically proven, nutrition-based cure. New York: Avery.

Falk, L., Bisogni, C., & Sobal, J. (2000). Diet change processes of participants in an intensive heart program…Dean Ornish Lifestyle Heart Trial. Journal of Nutrition Education, 32(5), 240-250 11p.

Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease. (2011, May 6). Retrieved November 21, 2015, from


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