Monday, April 26, 2010

Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D.

It's been a little while since I have last posted, but I've had a lot to process and think about, so I hope you'll excuse me.  You see, last week I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn speak live.  I had heard of Dr. Esselstyn, he's mentioned in many of the books that I have read on diet and nutrition. In fact, a good friend of mine is friends with his daughter and he and his wife live right here in Cleveland.  But he really wasn't on my radar until I saw a Facebook posting about this lecture that he was giving. Because his name was really familiar, and because I view hearing authors speak live about their work as one of life's greatest pleasures, I signed my friend and myself up for the talk.

I'd say the lecture drew a surprisingly small crowd, about 75 people. The doctor, all maybe 6'5" and 175 pounds of him, was a gentle, quiet man. But his message was loud and clear: heart disease, the greatest killer of Americans, is, without a doubt, 100% preventable.  How does he know this? Well, for one, heart disease doesn't exist AT ALL in a few cultures. What are they doing that's different from Americans? I'll save that for later.

Secondly, he's done quite a bit of research on the subject as a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic.  And because I'm no scientist, I won't even try to go into the details here. What I am going to do is tell you what his conclusion is: the only way to prevent heart disease is to eat a vegan diet. Yes folks, I'm not shittin' you. Vegan. Nothing with a mother, nothing with a face. Not just that, no added fat either. That means no olive oil, no canola oil, at all (bet you thought olive oil was "heart healthy" too!).  And avocado and nuts? That's only for people who don't already have a heart condition. So you can say it's a "fat free vegan" diet that he is recommending to prevent and reverse heart disease.

What about a little chicken or a little cheese once in a while? That can't hurt me, right? Wrong! "Moderation kills" he says. No amount of animal derived food is safe if you want to protect your body, he says.  That's how the cultures that have no heart disease eat.

"That's crazy" you say, "too radical for me!" Well, to be honest, that's probably what I would have been saying if I hadn't seen the evidence myself, presented live by the doctor that did the research. Now that I've seen it folks, I just can't ignore it. Sorry!

If you'd like a summary of his findings, I highly recommend reading this:

And here is a recipe that I made tonight for dinner, based on a recipe in his book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, which is, in fact, 50% a cookbook (how fun!). The recipes are REALLY quick and easy, and all fit my high volume, low calorie requirements (yeah!). Served with a side salad or soup, this would make a filling lunch or dinner.

Roasted Portobello Mushroom, Spinach and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich
serves 1, 3 or 4 WW Points per serving (depending on your hummus)

2 slices Ezekial Bread
2 Portobello Mushrooms
Balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp hummus
2 roasted red, yellow or orange peppers (I used ones from a jar that I got at Trader Joe's-they're fabulous)
fresh spinach

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and place portobello mushrooms on it, top up. Spray very lightly with cooking spray. Turn over and drizzle underside with balsamic vinegar. Spray lightly with cooking spray.  Roast for 15 minutes, turn over and roast for another 15 minutes.

Toast ezekial bread. Spread 1/2 of hummus on each toasted slice.  Top with roasted pepper, then a roasted portobello mushroom cap and then as much fresh spinach as you can pile on.  It's a bit messy to eat, but totally worth it. Enjoy!

And in case I have peaked your interest about Dr. Esselstyn's work, or you are looking for a mess of low calorie, healthy recipes, here's a link to purchase his book on Amazon. A percentage of the profits go to supporting Healthy Girl's Kitchen if you order using this link.


Sindy said...

Thanks for sharing Wendy. I'm going to hear him speak next week, May 5th. I'm really excited to hear what he has to say. So does this mean you're going totally vegan?

Abe said...

I sure hope somebody runs out to tell those poor, heart-disease free Masai, Kitavans, and Tokelauans that they'd better switch from an animal-product heavy diet to a fat-free vegan one, stat!!!!!

Wendy said...

Abe-Please fill me in! I have never heard of the Masai or Kitavans or Tokelauans. What is their story?

Sindy--In an ideal world, I guess I would be a vegan. I really, really enjoy eating that way. Sometimes though, to not make myself and others crazy, I will eat whatever is available (when I am a guest in someone's house or a bizarre restaurant that can't accomodate my vegan request). But I am hoping that this doesn't happen all that frequently. The biggest concern that I have is what to do when I am entertaining in my own home. I am going to try to do some vegan entertaining and see how it goes! If you've got any advice about ALL of this, I could certainly use it!

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