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Eat Smart for a Healthy Heart

By Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, MD, January 30, 2013  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, MD

There are many effective ways to support a healthy heart through simple dietary and lifestyle choices. Learn about the link between inflammation and plant-based nutrition from one of the doctors who former President Bill Clinton credits with regaining his health this past year. Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. is an internationally known former surgeon, researcher and clinician at the Cleveland Clinic, and author of the book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s clinical research and book on preventing heart disease is centered around smart eating for a healthy heart:

  • Protection against heart disease through plant-based nutrition has been the foundation of his research and clinical practice strategy for over 25 years.
  • He has consistently found in patients severely ill with advanced coronary artery disease that the results of using plant-based nutrition are prompt, powerful and enduring.
  • The foundation of this plant-based diet includes a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains, while avoiding animal products and processed oils.
  • Additionally, he adds 1000 I.U. of Vitamin D3 and 1,000 mcg of vitamin B12 daily to ensure adequacy of these nutrients.

Chronic inflammation has been shown to increase the risk for cardiovascular disease:

  • Coronary artery disease develops from progressive injury to the delicate inner lining of our blood vessels known as the endothelial cells.  When healthy, these cells produce copious amounts of nitric oxide.
  • Nitric oxide protects our blood vessels by: maintaining a smooth blood flow to prevent cellular elements from becoming sticky; providing more blood to muscle and other body systems requiring it; inhibiting the development of inflammation in the vessel wall; and preventing the formation of vessel blockages or plaque.
  • The western diet of processed oils, dairy, meat, fish and poultry progressively destroys our endothelial cells’ capacity to produce nitric oxide, thus leading to a loss of vascular protection.
  • Without nitric oxide, a sticky LDL cholesterol molecule enters beneath the endothelial lining initiating an inflammatory cascade of events culminating in plaque formation and blockage with occasional plaque rupture causing a heart attack.

Dietary and lifestyle choices help support a healthy heart:

  • Consume a plant-based diet and avoid processed oils, dairy, animal, fish and poultry products.
  • Choose rolled oats for breakfast that are filled with polyphenolic compounds and also copious amounts of green leafy vegetables, which can help restore endothelial function.
  • Exercise is important to incorporate, such as regular walking, biking, swimming, running and resistance training.
  • Whether it is with family or friends, find the joy of interpersonal relationships.

 

9 Comments

Comments

Mary says ...
If you avoid oils, dairy, animal, fish, and poultry products, where exactly are you going to get the fat in your diet necessary to support good health? Babies and children especially need fat to develop--noted by the fact that breast milk is typically around 50% fat. Adults need fat to maintain the proper stiffness of cell walls as well as maintain the myelin sheaths around neurons. Fat is also an excellent source of energy since it is long lasting, you can go longer before feeling hungry, which means fewer cravings for snacks throughout the day. Web MD says that "The benefits of omega-3s include reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke while helping to reduce symptoms of hypertension, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), joint pain and other rheumatoid problems, as well as certain skin ailments. Some research has even shown that omega-3s can boost the immune system and help protect us from an array of illnesses including Alzheimer's disease. ...[O]mega-6s are also considered essential. They support skin health, lower cholesterol, and help make our blood "sticky" so it is able to clot. But when omega-6s aren't balanced with sufficient amounts of omega-3s, problems can ensue." What this article should say is to avoid bad fats like margarine and canola oil and other high-heat / high-temp processed oils. Focus on using good fats like butter from grass-fed cows, cold-pressed olive oil, high quality coconut oil (also proven to help maintain healthy weight), and lard and tallow from pastured pigs and cows.
01/31/2011 7:27:15 PM CST
norma picou says ...
Mary misquoted/misinterpreted what internationally known researcher Dr Caldwell Esselstyne, Jr advises: "Consume A PLANT-BASED DIET and avoid PROCESSED OILS, Dairy, animal , fish and poultry products...The Western diet of PROCESSED oils...progressively destroys our endothelial cells' capacity to produce nitric oxide...culminating in plaque formation and blockage causing a heart attack." He and Dr Lopez, also Cleveland Clinic discusses the advantages and disadvantagesin detail about Omega 3s and Omega 6s and Fish Oil supplements. I will leave further comment to the experts. More in my comments on "EATING SMART FOR A HEALTHY HEART"
02/09/2011 8:38:33 AM CST
norma says ...
Smart Eating for a Healthy Heart: 1. Follow the American Heart Association (AHA) "food criteria for saturated fat and cholesterol for healthy people over age 2". Yes, Start young! 2. Whole Foods' Four Pillars of Healthy Eating: a. Eat whole, unprocessed foods: " Food in its purest state...unadulterated by additional additives, sweeteners, colorings, preservatives and FREE OF ADDED OILS" b. Eat Plant-Strong Foods: "Raw and COOKED (more later) vegetables, fruits, legumes and beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains made with unprocessed whole food ingredients and WITHOUT THE USE OF ADDED OILS" e.g. ROASTING sweet potatoes (WF garnet yams!) in their skin TOASTING (IN A DRY SKILLET) Nuts, seeds, whole spices release their natural oils and their flavors are enhanced STEAMED SAUTEEING" INSTEAD OF OIL, ADD A SPLASH OF WATER, STOCK, FRESH JUICE, LEFTOVER WATER WITH valuable nutrients from steamed vegetables... 3. HEALTHY FATS GET HEALTHY FATS FROM WOLE PLANT SOURCES: E.G.NUTS WALNUTS ANDI ) , SEEDS, AVOCADOS (I eat one avocado whole, plain for lunch!) FRUITS. EAT WHOLE, PLAIN AND FIRST THING...BEFORE MAIN MEAL READ "FIT FOR LIFE" 4. NUTRIENT DENSE foods rich in micronutrients, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, phytochemicals FRUITS... (ABOVE)5. 5.THINK OUTSIDE THE CAN 6. REad product labels re: high cholesterol, and saturated fats
02/09/2011 9:48:00 AM CST
norma says ...
Re:my comment Feb 9th, 2010 at 8:38 am errata: line 5: nitric oxide...culminating in plaque formation and blockage causing a heart attack Substitute: lines 4-5: "The western diet of processed oils, dairy, meat, fish and poultry progressively destroys our endothelial cells' capacity to produce nitric oxide, thus leading to a loss of vascular protection. Without nitric oxide,a sticky LDL cholesterol molecule enters beneath the endothelial lining initiating an inflammatory cascade of events culminating in plaque formation and blockage with occasional plaque rupture causing a heart attack." errata: lines 6-7:He and Dr Lopez also Cleveland Clinic discusses(!!) ...omega 3s and omega 6s... Substitute: Dr Hector Lopez in Heart Health and Essential Fats discusses the pros and cons of Omega-3s and Omega-6s and Fish Oil supplements at length.
02/09/2011 1:56:37 PM CST
norma says ...
Smart Eating for a Healthy Heart My comment Feb 9th 9:48 am Addenda: Dr Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr (in his book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease) "Additionally add 1000IU Vit D3 and 1000mg VitB12" (available at WholeFoods) "daily to ensure adequacy of the nutrients in his plant-based diet..." My suggestions for a Heart-healthy Breakfast: Whole fresh fruit/fresh fruit salad (unadulterated, no added sugars, no sweeteners, no syrup) think, berries (strawberries ANDI 212), blueberries ANDI 130, pomegranate ANDI 193, orange ANDI 109) mangoes ANDI 51, papaya to be continued...
02/11/2011 9:28:43 AM CST
norma says ...
Re: My comment Feb 9th 9:48 am Errata: Tofu (soybean curd) is a plant protein. Numbering sequence Whole Foods' Four Pillars of healthy Eating should read: c. Healthy Fats. also wole should read whole; "I eat one avocado, whole. plain for lunch": Comment welcome please. d. Nutrient-Dense 3. Think outside the can 4. Read product nutrition labels re: cholesterol, saturated, unsaturated fats, protein etc. content
02/14/2011 6:24:51 AM CST
Amy L says ...
Mary, I think you need to educate yourself on "good" and "bad" fats, and more education on food in general...
03/18/2011 8:39:27 AM CDT
norma says ...
I would appreciate if you would inform me why your HOLD FOR INVESTIGATION and EMAILED TO DISCUSS POSTINGS have not been removed from my postings for Feb 28th, 2011 and March 1, 2011 and, more importantly, have been filed in your Whole Story Archives folder for January 2011. wouldn't it be more appropriate (though not entirely correct) to file these postings in your February Archives since American Heart Month was February 2011?
04/16/2011 2:47:46 PM CDT
Dalene says ...
Appreciate the recommendation. Will try it out.
03/10/2013 7:40:39 AM CDT