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Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The…

Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically… (2007)

by Caldwell B. Esselstyn

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My review needs to be taken in context -- because recipes contained no nutrition info, they were completely useless for my purposes. Actually, book review needs to be in two parts, one for the study/scientific stuff and one for the diet/recipes.

The study? Thorough and I am not questioning (nor qualified to) any of the findings. I don't think it's particularly earth-shattering to find that eliminating fat from your diet and eating healthier, whole, unprocessed foods equals better heart(and overall) health. Well written and somewhat concise.

Being much touted on CNN and other programs or called "The Bill Clinton" diet -- doesn't matter one way or the other to me or this review (I suspect may have been what brought this book so much attention though).

I don't see that the study or the diet is that different from a whole/safe food style of Vegan diet with all the fat (including from nuts with the exception of walnuts being allowed for those without current heart disease) eliminated.

The recipes? No nutrition counts (strike one). Compared to diet currently using, the recipes in this book that I put through a nutrition analysis program were lower fiber, higher carb, and higher salt than what my family currently does (yes, they were lower fat because zero fat--strike two). I am always leery of diets that extremely cut out something completely or make you eat just one thing (strike 3). Hypocritical -- that is, processed food is not allowed unless it comes from(soy sauces and other ingredients) an ethnic specialty grocery store; white flour is bad unless it's in pita bread, etc. Exceptions to this extreme diet are made for items not perceived as common to most chain American grocery stores (which equals mail order if you are not in a city big enough to have ethnic specialty stores or chains with large ethnic sections; sheesh, when I visit my small town grandparents it's not easy finding white rice that's not Minute Rice(tm) much less brown rice).

So, diet pushes all the wrong buttons for me and would take a heavy justification to even look at. So why did I? Well, married to a Type 2 diabetic and all the diabetic educators, trusted clinical sources (Joslin Diabetes Center, ADA, etc.) are definite that a "heart healthy diet" is wanted (and of course whole, nutritional food items preferred to processed)--his doctor on a regular lab checkup visit had him buy this book and two accompanying dvds (no, no heart problems and his blood sugars are perfectly in control with our current carb counting diet). He does not take insulin and so far high fiber, lower carb healthy eating with some fat (fiber and fat both have some effect to slow release of carbs thereby avoiding high blood sugar spikes) has been working; one of his diabetes medications does better with a lower sodium diet (which, if his doctor talks him into trying this diet the prescription will have to changed). If you are a diabetic taking insulin (he does not take insulin) you learn to try to adjust for fat content of foods--so fat does have some effect on blood sugars. *sigh* coming up on the good cutting garden season where he would have been eating lots of fresh green salads with some nuts, lean proteins and occassionally some homemade dressings (herb vinegars and sometimes small amounts of heart healthy oils like olive and nut based ones); mostly oatmeal breakfast with occassional egg; healthy soups--this diet really going to throw a curveball and if he does try I really hope it doesn't hurt the blood sugar control (I will interfere between him and his doctor only if doctor doesn't change the medication that will be impacted by higher sodium in these recipes as I calculated and will back down if doctor shows me conflicting nutritional values from what I figured).

Me? Not following this extreme diet even if husband does. I have had high cholesterol and heart (and electrolyte) problems and go to same doctor who has not recommended this for me--go figure that one. I'll stick with American Heart Association diet guidelines and strictly regulate my fats and sodium intake; that's been a working combo for me and if health conditions change I'll change diet as needed (but I will not be following a recipe book with no nutrition information). Yes, I could be eating healthier (actually with good produce in season I do), certainly when I eat out so I'm no "nutrition" saint and not in perfect health. But this diet just seems too extreme and there's no way I would attempt to follow without nutritional supplements recommended by other Vegan diets.

( )
  Spurts | Oct 29, 2015 |
(As background music for this review, I suggest "I'm a believer" by The Monkees)

I'm a nutrition information junkie. My interest started back in the 1970's with Adelle Davis's books Get Well and Eat Right. When Linus Pauling was big on Vitamin C, I was too. For many years, I kept a food journal, ate 2000 calories a day, and maintained my high school weight. In recent years, I've tried to include the Super Foods in my diet....salmon, walnuts, broccoli, berries...you know the drill. And I didn't smoke. And after my mid-40's, I rarely drank.

Then, two years ago, at age 62 (the same age that my father died of a coronary) I had a heart attack. My "widowmaker" artery was 97% blocked. A week later, I received a triple bypass. My recovery has gone well, but...life is not all "happy ever after" once one receives a bypass. Often, vessels reclog, and stents are required. For some, a second bypass is needed...after three years, or five years, or ten.

So last year, when Wolf Blitzer interviewed President Clinton regarding his heart disease, I listened closely. Clinton reported that he had researched extensively for a diet to prevent a reoccurence of his illness. He acknowledged that he was now, for all purposes, a vegan. A big change for Big Mac Bill. One of the doctors he mentioned as a mentor was Caldwell Esselstyn, the author of this book.

Esselstyn's dietary recommendations to REVERSE heart disease require a change in nutritional lifestyle. A radical change.

No Meat.
No Fish.
No Dairy.
No Nuts.
No oil...not even olive oil.

What can one eat?

Greens, beans, grains, and fruits. What you say? Only? You would be amazed to learn how easy it is to cook without oil, and how many delicious meal combinations are possible with "only" greens, beans, grains, and fruits. There are, for example, some tips on food items, like Red Pepper Hummus, Glen Muir Portabello Mushroom sauce, Bragg's Amino Acids, and Almond and Oatmeal milk, that go a long way towards making this low-fat vegan diet seem familiar.

Esselstyn, 77, is no diet gimmick quack. He has a long record as a leading surgeon at the world class Cleveland Clinic. He began his research into the role of plant based diets 25 years ago with a select group of middle-aged heart patients who had been given dire prognosises by their cardiologists. Little more, it seemed, could be done for them. Twenty-five years later, 17 or those 18 patients are still alive. I attended a presentation, last month, in Cleveland, by Esselstyn and his wife, where at one of those patients spoke. The woman, who had the grimmest prognosis of the lot, decades ago, was now in her 80's and in glowing health. (A close facsimile of his presentation can be found on youtube)

So I gave the book a try. The first half of the reading concerns the science behind the regime. The goal is to repair your endothelium - the interior layer of cells that line your arteries and produce nitric oxide - a vessel dilator - when you're under stress. Positive results can be seen in as little as two weeks. The body can heal itself. The second half of the book is a collection or recipes that Esselstyn, his wife, and his patients have evolved over the years. Esselstyn's entire family, down to the grandchildren, follow this lifestyle.

I've been following the plan for eight months and intend never to leave it. Not only do I feel great, but I've lost weight, and lowered my cholesterol, without statins, to 105, HDL 34, LDL 51. One of Esselstyn's core hypotheses is that if you can maintain your cholesterol below 150, you become heartattack proof.

As I said above, I'm a believer. Pretty soon I'll have my cardiologist humming that tune with me.
( ( )
17 vote Ganeshaka | Mar 1, 2011 |
Easy to understand reasoning for a plant based diet for the prevention and reversal of heart disease. Written by a cardiologist who has been eating like this for 20 years and who has patient profiles supporting this way of life, this book is believeable and real. There are over 100 recipes also which are very doable. I would highly recommend this book. ( )
1 vote LivelyLady | Feb 28, 2009 |
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"In Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., a former surgeon, researcher, and clinician at the Cleveland Clinic, challenges conventional cardiology by posing a compelling, revolutionary idea - that we can, in fact, abolish the heart disease epidemic by changing our diets." "Dr. Esselstyn convincingly argues that plant-based, oil-free nutrition can not only prevent and stop the progression of heart disease, but also reverse its effects. Furthermore, it can eliminate the need for expensive and invasive surgical intervention except in acute emergencies, no matter how far the disease has progressed." "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease explains the science behind these dramatic results, and offers readers the same, simple plan that has changed the lives of Dr. Esselstyn's patients forever. In addition, the book offers more than 150 delicious recipes developed by Ann Crile Esselstyn, that the Esselstyns and their patients have enjoyed for years."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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