Carmela (co-founder of The Superfood Grocer) and I always hear a lot of people losing loved ones to heart disease, most of the time extremely sudden, a truly heartbreaking occurrence. We actually had an incident wherein a family friend’s father in his mid 40’s who was exercising drops dead instantly due to a heart attack, leaving his wife and kids behind.
People often wonder why and how this can happen, how such a thing could take someone’s life without warning or symptom, almost immediately. However, I am quite sure that you may have heard of something similar happening perhaps in your immediate circle. Unfortunately, the statistics show that this occurrence is not surprising. Studies found out that 50% of the population following a western diet will die of heart disease, and out of the 50%, an estimate of almost half will die within feeling the first symptom.
People dying suddenly of heart disease is exactly what will happen, and what’s scarier is that heart disease is soon to become the world’s leading killer.
The good news is that it’s possible for no one to ever to suffer or die from heart disease and if it does exist, it need not progress. These words are from Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, author of the book reversing And Preventing Heart Disease, a leading heart doctor in America. Dr. Esselstyn has scientifically proven to reverse and prevent heart disease with his approach.
The approach isn’t very complicated as you will learn below. With this guide, you can now bulletproof yourself and your loved ones the dangers of heart disease. We speak about his research constantly during our workshops and we would like to share with you here some of the things we have learned. Read on to discover the Top 7 Things You Need To Know About Reversing Heart Disease.
#1 Heart disease is not caused by genes or bad luck, but by what we eat.
Coronary Heart Disease is 100% caused by the cholesterol in our diet. This is because when our cholesterol levels rise higher than a total of 150mg/dl, heart disease begins to develop.
To start, our body actually already contains all the cholesterol it needs to function properly. However, when we consume cholesterol from external sources, those found in animal products and saturated fats, we put ourselves at risk of heart ailments.
The approach of Dr. Esselstyn and many other doctors who successfully reversed heart disease through food is to reach a level of cholesterol of an LDL of below 80mg/dl and total cholesterol of under 150mg/dl. By reaching this level, we protect ourselves from ever suffering from any coronary heart disease.
The reason is that being at this level, you cannot deposit fat or cholesterol to your coronary arteries. Only animal sources (egg, fish, meat, chicken) contain cholesterol while fruits, starches, grains, seeds, nuts, and vegetables contain virtually none. Eating oil as well (olive oil, canola oil, etc.) causes the body to manufacture an excessive amount of cholesterol, so it is crucial to avoid all oils if trying to reverse coronary heart disease.
Dr. Esselstyn demonstrated this again and again in his experiments where he takes people who are suffering from heart disease and places them on a whole food plant-based diet of no oils, low fat, and zero animal products and gets them back to full health. Here are some pictures from his studies of patients reversing their heart disease.
According to Dr. Esselstyln, “Heart disease is a paper toothless tiger that should never exist or claim anyone’s lives, and if it does exist it need not progress.” You can check out a video of him speaking about it here.
Another surprising thing about cholesterol are the misconceptions on what food has low cholesterol and what has not. Commonly, people think seafood such as shellfish and shrimp have lower cholesterol than beef or chicken. The table below shows the food with the most cholesterol to those with the least. Take note that the key to a healthier heart condition is to consuming foods with no cholesterol whatsoever.
#2 The “normal” cholesterol rate still puts someone at risk.
The normal healthy cholesterol prescribed to people ranges from 150-200 mg/dl. Unfortunately, at this level, it is proven that people still suffer heart attacks. What’s sad is that people who are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters or sons walk around feeling confident about their health but are actually prone to suffer an out-of-nowhere a heart attack due to following these guidelines. In fact, one out of four people who suffer a heart attack has a blood cholesterol level of 180 and 210 mg/dl.
The foolproof action is to achieve a total cholesterol of 150mg/dl and LDL of below 80 to completely arrest and stop heart disease in its tracks.
#3 Smoking and heart disease are independent.
I always thought that if you stop smoking you would be able to rid yourself of heart disease but apparently, this is not the case. Smoking mainly affects the lungs and is one of the main proponents of lung cancer, but it has little effect on completely reversing heart disease. A person who is able to maintain a cholesterol of under 150mg/dl is ensured to not have a heart disease for a lifetime even if he smokes or has a family history of heart disease.
An example of this are the Papua highlanders of New Guinea with a population of traditional heavy smokers. The population has very high lung disorders due to smoking but studies have shown that people from the community who live in their sixties have no coronary heart disease whatsoever.
What do they eat? The population’s staple is 19 varieties of sweet potatoes. Plant-based food makes up a bulk of their diet.
As seen in this video, atherosclerosis (plaque build in up our artery) simply cannot occur even if we have diabetes, obesity, or in the habit of smoking, unless we have high cholesterol.
#4 Prescription drugs to lower cholesterol don’t work the same.
The theory of trying to reduce total cholesterol to 150mg/dl has been tested using cholesterol-lowering drugs and unfortunately, the results are not the same. As published in the New England Journal of Medicine, massive doses of cholesterol-lowering drugs were given to patients to try to get their total cholesterol to under 150mg/dl. and 1 out of 4 patients sustained a new cardiovascular event or died within 2.5 years of treatment.
In the study, patients were asked to eat anything they want and there were no nutritional guidelines. Without a true understanding of the problem and the effects of dietary cholesterol has on heart disease, they tried to put out a fire but instead added fuel through poor diet.
Despite lowering cholesterol through drugs, all of the patients had an elevated HSCRP which is an even better test than cholesterol as it measures the levels of blood protein that increases inflammation in the arteries.
Without a change in nutrition, the cholesterol reduction medication would still result in arterial plaque inflammation and disease progression. The reason being people are still ingesting the toxic diet causing the heart disease in the first place. Drugs alone are not the answer. Nutrition is the key to saving lives.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs classified as statins also have been shown to have side effects on memory, confusion, and disorientation. In a study made at the University of San Diego, a total of 171 cases were reported of people developing cognitive problems while taking statins. In 90 percent of the cases, stopping the drug fixed the problem within days. Some resumed taking statins again but only to find their symptoms returning. Commonly prescribed statin drugs are Lipitor, Vytorin, and Lescol.
#5 Angioplasty, stent, or bypass don’t last forever.
When we consume dietary cholesterol, these are deposited in the linings of our arteries and become plaques. These plaques, in turn, clog our arteries. A significantly narrowed artery cannot supply the heart or other parts of the body with sufficient blood, resulting to heart attacks or sometimes strokes (an occurrence where blood is not supplied to the brain.)
Most heart attacks also happen when the arteries are ruptured suddenly by the plaque, despite the artery not being fully clogged. The body tries to repair this rupture by clotting the artery wound, but in the process completely cuts off the blood supply resulting in a heart attack. What’s scary is that it can happen almost instantly and amounts to 87.5 percent of all heart attack incidents.
Common treatments for clogged arteries are angioplasty, stent, and bypass surgery. Angioplasty is a treatment in which a balloon is inserted in the artery through a catheter to widen the vessel. Stent, a more recent procedure, is a wire mesh tube inserted during angioplasty. When the balloon is inflated, the stent expands and locks into place in the artery, holding it open even after the catheter is removed.
Bypass surgery is where a physician takes a blood vessel from another part of the body to provide a way for the blood to go around the blockages in the arteries similar to a detour. Perhaps by reading this, you can get the picture that these are very invasive.
These 3 interventions, however, only address the symptom and not the disease itself. Unfortunately, the results of these treatments do not last forever. Patients normally have multiple bypasses, where the arteries that were opened during stents are closed and clogged once again. Heart disease often returns because the root cause of the problem was never addressed in the first place.
A famous celebrity who openly talks about the role of a plant-based diet in saving his life from heart disease is Bill Clinton, a former US president. Bill Clinton suffered from heart disease and underwent quadruple bypass surgery that still resulted in clogged arteries. He shifted his diet to plant based nutrition and is 100% healed, as he outlines in his famous interview on CNN The Last Heart Attack. You can watch the full video here.
#6 You can’t exercise your way out of heart disease or be protected by a young age.
A study was made on US soldiers from the Korean and Vietnam War aged 18-23 to investigate their hearts and the implications of heart disease on the youth. Surprisingly, 80% of all US soldiers autopsied had evidence of coronary heart disease and would have gotten worse with each decade. These soldiers were all young, fit, and battle-ready but still had heart disease.
You can watch this short video explaining this. As you will see, heart disease occurs regardless of age. You will also be surprised that 100% of kids by age 10 have signs of fatty streaks, which is the first sign of atherosclerosis (plaque build up in arteries).
On the other hand, heart disease is practically unknown to the rural Chinese, Okinawans, and many native Africans who all thrive on a plant-based diet. Most of them are not extremely physically active but by studying them, we can see that only low cholesterol diet, not exercise, is the driving factor for eliminating heart disease.
Dr. Esselstyn also showed in his book that several of his patients did no exercise at all but still achieved excellent results through food. Physical activity is definitely recommended, but not essential. Again, nutrition and understanding the cause is the key.
#7 Heart disease need not happen at any point in life regardless of age.
According to Dr. Esselstyn, your arteries are supposed to work the same when you were 9 and when you are 90. How amazing is that?
We are meant to live a life full of energy and vibrancy, free from heart disease or any sort of disease. And with proper nutrition, we can achieve this without any medication.
So many people are suffering from heart disease, and it is particularly sad for me to see people who work for years in hopes of retiring, eventually suffer from illnesses such as heart failure. What’s worse is that they end up using their life savings (that they have worked for numerous years) on medication and treatment, trying to reverse heart disease, but often times to no avail.
If people just knew about what they can do right now — through their food — they can cure themselves forever. Again reiterating Dr. Esselstyn and countless of other doctors, NO ONE needs to suffer or die from heart disease.
So there you have it! I hope this information was useful for you, please share if you feel that it would help someone.
Please let me know what you think about this article by typing a comment in the box below!
For more details about heart disease, I highly recommend you check out Dr. Esselstyns book as I credit majority of the information of this article from this resource.
Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn
Christopher P. Cannon et. al., New England Journal of Medicine, April 8, 2004: “intensive versus moderate lipid lowering with statins after acute coronary syndromes”
J. Stamler, D. Wentworth and J.D. Neaton for MRFIT Research Group, Journal of the American Medical Association, November 28, 1986: “Is relationship between serum cholesterol and risk of premature death from coronary heart disease continuous and graded”
R Luyken, F. Luyken-Louing, and N. Pikaar, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1964: “Nutrition Studies in New Guinea; Epidemiological Studies ina Highland Population of New Guinea: Environment, Culture and Health Status
Evans MA, Golomb BA. Statin-associated adverse cognitive effects: Survey results from 171 patiets. Pharmacotherapy 2009; 29:800-811.
Neil Barnard M.D., Power Foods for the Brain, 2013