Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and in the nation, and affects almost half of all Americans. A plant-based diet and lifestyle medicine address the root causes of heart disease and is the only dietary approach that has achieved clinical reversal of the disease. Discover the foods scientifically proven to prevent and reverse heart disease below.
About 697,000 people in the United States die from heart disease every year 1.
In the US, 49.2% of the adult population, 126.9 million people, are living with heart disease in the form of coronary artery disease, heart failure, stroke, and hypertension 2.
Coronary artery disease is the most common form of heart disease, around 20.1 million adults aged 20 and older have coronary artery disease 2.
Dr Yashoda Bhaskar, who has seen the power of lifestyle medicine treat heart disease first-hand.
Meet Dan Purjes, a successful business man, entrepreneur, and now a disease reversal enthusiast. What do I mean by disease reversal enthusiast? Well, let's start with Dan's own journey of disease reversal after a heart attack and then how his passion and desire to help others (in partnership with the Plantrician Project and Dr. Scott Stoll) has led to the creation of the International Journal of Disease Reversal and Prevention (of which, I am the managing editor and Dr. Kim Williams is the Editor in Chief and you can read more about here http://IJDRP.org ). But the story does not end there!
We all know that being active and spending time outdoors is good for our health. But did you know there are specific benefits to getting proper sun exposure and spending time in nature? In this podcast interview, Dr. Aruni Bhatnagar, a leading expert on how environmental exposures affect cardiovascular disease risk, discusses the importance of sunlight exposure and time spent in nature for our overall health.
Mike Anthony is a location manager in Hollywood for movies, a demanding line of work that had taken its toll on his health. One day, right before he dropped his son off at daycare, he experienced a heart attack resulting in his heart-stopping. It was so bad that three stents had to be placed in Mike's right coronary. Mike's Cardiologist was surprised that he was somehow able to survive his whole ordeal. As a result of the heart attack, Mike had to take 5 different medications every day. After a while, Mike grew tired of taking drugs and wanted to discover a natural solution to his cardiac illness. That is when he saw Dr. Esselstyn's book 'Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease' which ultimately started him down the plant-based path. After switching to a whole food plant-based diet, Mike lost 70 pounds, stopped all five meds, and became a marathon runner! Now he's been plant-based for 15 years and has never felt better!
Plant‐Centered Diet and Risk of Incident Cardiovascular Disease During Young to Middle Adulthood
Scientists analyzed diet and cardiovascular disease occurrence in 4946 adults following a range of dietary patterns, over 32 years. When the study ended, scientists found that participants consuming a long-term plant-based diet and participants that had switched to a plant-based diet during the study had a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease, including coronary artery disease, hypertension, heart attack, stroke, heart failure and several other cardiovascular conditions. Following a plant-based diet reduced the risk of heart disease by 52%. The participants whose diets improved the most as they got older (became more plant-based) were 61% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those whose diets worsened the most 4.
Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease? - The Lancet
In this groundbreaking study, patients with coronary artery disease were randomized to a lifestyle intervention or to standard treatment alone. The lifestyle intervention consisted of a low fat, mostly plant-based diet, stress management activities and regular exercise. After one year 82% of patients in the intervention group showed regression of coronary artery disease with significant improvement in symptoms, weight, blood cholesterol levels similar to results seen with cholesterol-lowering medication. After a five year follow up patients had even further regression of atherosclerosis 5.
This program, run by Dr Esselstyn, was documented in two parts. The first was a group of 11 patients, of which 8 (73% of the participants) had documented regression of coronary artery disease 5 years after switching to a whole-food plant-based diet. Next, 198 participants with cardiovascular disease joined the program. 89% of this group adhered to the plant-based diet and saw extraordinary results: they had documented reversal of atherosclerosis and their cardiovascular event rate was just 0.6% compared to 62% in the non-adherent group 6.
Every year we lose thousands of loved ones to a preventable threat: heart disease.
Heart disease, which really means cardiovascular disease, is a group of several disorders affecting the heart and blood vessels. These include coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease, rheumatic heart disease, and other circulatory conditions, including heart failure, arrhythmias, and stroke.
After high blood pressure, coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease in the US, where the coronary arteries get blocked by atherosclerotic plaques made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances 7. This can lead to a heart attack, when a coronary artery gets completely blocked off by the atherosclerotic plaques.
Strokes are responsible for 1 in 6 deaths from cardiovascular disease, and are caused by a blockage of the blood vessels supplying the brain 8.
Heart disease happens slowly overtime, and evidence suggests it may begin as early as childhood and worsens as we get older.
Healthy arteries are strong, elastic, and lined with smooth muscle. Diseased arteries, that lead to heart disease, are damaged and lined with atherosclerotic plaques that build up overtime; this is known as atherosclerosis.
Diet, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, and psychological factors all contribute to the risk of heart disease. Poor diet is a huge risk factor for heart disease, and atherosclerosis is directly associated with the consumption of red meat, saturated fat, and refined carbohydrate. 90% of the risks attributed to developing cardiovascular disease are modifiable through lifestyle changes 9. With changes to unhealthy lifestyle behaviors using plant-based lifestyle medicine, many cases of heart disease can be prevented, treated, and reversed for good.
Symptoms of heart disease vary greatly between individuals and different conditions. Some people experience chest pain (angina) and shortness of breath when living with heart disease 10. Others may have no symptoms of heart disease until they suffer a heart attack or heart failure 7.
Symptoms of a heart attack include chest pain, shortness of breath, light-headedness, and pain in the arms, jaw, neck, and back .
Various tests can be done by your doctor depending on what condition they think you may have.
Some common tests to assess cardiovascular disease include:
Diet and lifestyle interventions should be the main treatment option for people with heart disease. Increasing physical activity and switching to a heart healthy plant-based diet tackles the root cause of heart disease with no unwanted side effects.
The American Heart Association recommends eating a diet rich in whole plant foods to improve cardiovascular health and prevent heart disease. These include:
If you have heart disease, plant-based diet lifestyle medicine is a crucial tool to manage and potentially even reverse it, the science speaks for itself. There are many mechanisms by which a plant-based diet, combined with physical activity, restorative sleep, and stress reduction can prevent and treat heart disease without medications:
Other benefits of plant foods for cardiovascular health include:
Think you may be struggling with this and need to make a change? Get in touch with us today.
1. CDC. Heart Disease Facts | cdc.gov. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm (2022).
2. Virani, S. S. et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2021 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association. Circulation 143, (2021).
3. Tsao, C. W. et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2022 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association. Circulation 145, (2022).
4. Choi, Y. et al. Plant‐Centered Diet and Risk of Incident Cardiovascular Disease During Young to Middle Adulthood. J. Am. Heart Assoc. 10, e020718 (2021).
5. Ornish, D. et al. Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease? The Lancet 336, 129–133 (1990).
6. Esselstyn Jr, C. B., Gendy, G., Doyle, J., Golubic, M. & Roizen, M. F. A way to reverse CAD? J. Fam. Pract. 63, 356–364 (2014).
7. CDC. Coronary Artery Disease | cdc.gov. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/coronary_ad.htm (2021).
8. CDC. Stroke Facts | cdc.gov. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/facts.htm (2022).
9. Yusuf, S. et al. Effect of potentially modifiable risk factors associated with myocardial infarction in 52 countries (the INTERHEART study): case-control study. The Lancet 364, 937–952 (2004).
10. Gaziano, T., Reddy, K. S., Paccaud, F., Horton, S. & Chaturvedi, V. Cardiovascular Disease. Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries. 2nd edition (The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank, 2006).
11. Pettersen, B. J., Anousheh, R., Fan, J., Jaceldo-Siegl, K. & Fraser, G. E. Vegetarian diets and blood pressure among white subjects: results from the Adventist Health Study-2 (AHS-2). Public Health Nutr. 15, 1909–1916 (2012).
12. Wang, F. et al. Effects of Vegetarian Diets on Blood Lipids: A Systematic Review and Meta‐Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. J. Am. Heart Assoc. 4, e002408 (2015).
13. Brown, L., Rosner, B., Willett, W. W. & Sacks, F. M. Cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary fiber: a meta-analysis. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 69, 30–42 (1999).
14. López-Moreno, J. et al. Effect of Dietary Lipids on Endotoxemia Influences Postprandial Inflammatory Response. J. Agric. Food Chem. 65, 7756–7763 (2017).
15. Bowman, J. D., Surani, S. & Horseman, M. A. Endotoxin, Toll-like Receptor-4, and Atherosclerotic Heart Disease. Curr. Cardiol. Rev. 13, (2017).
16. Satija, A. & Hu, F. B. Plant-based diets and cardiovascular health. Trends Cardiovasc. Med. 28, 437–441 (2018).
17. Tangney, C. C. & Rasmussen, H. E. Polyphenols, Inflammation, and Cardiovascular Disease. Curr. Atheroscler. Rep. 15, 324 (2013).
18. Koeth, R. A. et al. Intestinal microbiota metabolism of l-carnitine, a nutrient in red meat, promotes atherosclerosis. Nat. Med. 19, 576–585 (2013).
19. Quiñones, M., Miguel, M. & Aleixandre, A. Beneficial effects of polyphenols on cardiovascular disease. Pharmacol. Res. 68, 125–131 (2013).
20. Aburto, N. J. et al. Effect of increased potassium intake on cardiovascular risk factors and disease: systematic review and meta-analyses. BMJ 346, f1378–f1378 (2013).
21. Kolte, D., Vijayaraghavan, K., Khera, S., Sica, D. A. & Frishman, W. H. Role of magnesium in cardiovascular diseases. Cardiol. Rev. 22, 182–192 (2014).
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