Vail Today: Reversing and preventing heart disease with a plant-based diet (video) |

Vail Today: Reversing and preventing heart disease with a plant-based diet (video)

In a nation where, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 out of 4 Americans die from heart disease every year, it's hard to imagine a world where it doesn't exist. But Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn believes that a plant-based, oil-free diet can not only prevent and stop the progression of heart disease, but also reverse its effects.

Esselstyn was the featured speaker at this year's Starting Hearts fundraiser at the Vilar Performing Arts Center. His 20-year nutritional study, which is the most comprehensive study of its kind, was shared with the sold-out audience, who participated in various health screenings and a heart-healthy lunch featuring some of the recipes in his book, "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease."

A surgeon, clinician and researcher at the Cleveland Clinic for more than 35 years, Esselstyn had seen his share of patients who suffered from heart disease. Many of his family members had died early from the disease, as well. The Cleveland Clinic is widely recognized as the No. 1 heart center in the world, with many remarkable innovations that were introduced into the world of medicine.

His book has its origins following the dramatic experiences of 23 men and one woman who became a part of his original research study. This group had undergone so many different procedures to save them, and when they met with Esselstyn, he was really their last hope. Desperate, they were willing to try anything Esselstyn prescribed, including totally changing their diet to plant-based nutrition.

The results were amazing. Esselstyn's book shows many examples of arteries that were once clogged evolving into arteries that allowed normal blood flow. Even after only three weeks of being on a plant-based diet, Esselstyn could see a profound increase in blood flow through the same artery.

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The book contains some delicious recipes; his wife, daughter and son embrace this philosophy, as well, and have authored cookbooks that accompany his book.

Learn more about how food can be used instead of medicine at