Eat for Health: Fighting Cardiovascular Disease

This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.

The dietary recommendations contained in this book and the elements that make a diet cardio protective have been tested in multiple studies. The evidence here is overwhelming. Let’s first look at the LDL cholesterol lowering effects of various dietary plans, as documented in published medical journal articles.

Eat for Health puts together many different qualities that make a diet cardio-protective and cholesterol-reducing. It’s not just a low-fat or vegetarian way of eating that makes a diet ideal. This eating-style has such dramatic benefits because it is very high in mixed fibers and vegetables and has sterols and other compounds from beans and nuts. This is the only dietary intervention shown to lower cholesterol as effectively as cholesterol-lowering medications. Though the low-fat vegetarian diet did lower LDL cholesterol 16 percent, triglycerides were actually 18.7 percent higher and the LDL/HDL ratio remained unchanged. The results of the study that patterned the recommendations of Eat for Health differed in that the LDL cholesterol was more significantly lowered without unfavorable impact on HDL or triglycerides, reflecting sizable improvement in cardiac risk factors. I have hundreds of patients in my medical practice who have witnessed dramatic reductions in their blood lipids, especially LDL cholesterol, without drugs.

Keep in mind that cholesterol lowering does not adequately explain the protective effect of Eat for Health in cardiovascular disease since the diet has powerful anti-inflammatory and other beneficial biochemical effects. Even though drugs may lower cholesterol, they cannot be expected to offer the dramatic protection against cardiovascular events that nutritional excellence can. The aggressive use of cholesterol-lowering drugs does not prevent most heart attacks and strokes and does not decrease the risk of fatal strokes.7 That is, in clinical trials a significant percentage of patients on the best possible statin therapy still experience events; however, lowering cholesterol with nutritional excellence can be expected to offer dramatically more protection and disease reversal compared to drug therapy, without the risk or expense of prescription medication.
 

1. Bunyard LB, Dennis KE, Nicklas BJ. Dietary intake and changes in lipoprotein lipids in obese, postmenopausal women placed on an American Heart Association Step 1 diet. J Am Diet Assoc 2002 Jan;102(1):52-57.

2. Sharman MJ, Kraemer WJ, Love DM, et al. A ketogenic diet favorably affects serum biomarkers for cardiovascular disease in normal-weight men. J Nutr 2002 Jul;132(7):1879-1885.

3. Barnard ND, Scialli AR, Bertron P, et al. Effectiveness of a low-fat vegetarian diet in altering serum lipids in healthy premenopausal women. Am J Cardiol 2000 Apr 15;85(8):969-972.

4. Bemelmans WJ, Broer J, de Vries JH, et al. Impact of Mediterranean diet education versus posted leaflet on dietary habits and serum cholesterol in a high risk population for cardiovascular disease. Public Health Nutr. 2000 Sep;3(3):273-283.

5. Frolkis JP, Pearce GL, Nambi V, et al. Statins do not meet expectations for lowering low density lipoprotein cholesterol levels when used in clinical practice. Am J Med 2002 Dec 1;113(8):625-629.

6. Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Popovich DG, et al. Effect of a very-high-fiber vegetable, fruit and nut diet on serum lipids and colonic function. Metabolism 2001 Apr;50(4):494-503.

7. Ward S, Lloyd JM, Pandor A, et al. A systematic review and economic evaluation of statins for the prevention of coronary events. Health Technol Assess. 2007;11(14):1-178.

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Comments (1) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Adrienne - November 22, 2008 9:45 PM

Is it possible to post the links to the actual Barnard (l-f vegetarian) and Jenkins (ETL-type diet) studies? I tried accessing them but could only find the abstracts (for free.

It would be interesting to know the details of the study, such as the actual cholesterol numbers, as opposed to just the percentage drop in LDL.

And to add, Ornish's patients lowered their LDL on average from 152 to 95 on a low-fat vegetarian diet. Those are better results than any study cited above.

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