Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn on How to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease with Nutrition

Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr. M.D., was trained as a surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic and at St. George’s Hospital in London and was awarded the Bronze Star in 1968, for his service as an Army surgeon in Vietnam.

In 1995, he published his benchmark long-term nutritional research on arresting and reversing coronary artery disease in severely ill patients. That same study was updated at 12 years, and reviewed beyond twenty years in his book:

Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based cure.

Dr. Esselstyn presently directs the cardiovascular prevention and reversal program at The Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. He and his wife, Ann Crile Esselstyn, have followed a plant-based diet for more than 26 years. You may also know him from the film Forks Over Knives…

Unlike the “how to prevent heart disease” claims of many well-known doctors and experts, Dr. Esselsytn actually proved which diet stops and reverses heart disease in a clinical study of 177  patients with advanced heart disease. What a concept!

Key facts
-198 patients were in Dr. Esselstyn’s study
-177 followed his dietary protocol for an average of 3.7 years (89%)
-99.4% of them avoided another major cardiac event!
-13 of the 22 patients who did not follow his protocol had major cardiac events: heart attack stroke, death… That’s a recurrence rate of 62%.
-Only one patient who followed Dr. Esselstyn’s dietary protocol had another cardiac event. That’s a recurrence event rate of 0.6%!

If you or anyone you know has a history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease, or if you want to prevent it, definitely watch this interview!

Show Notes:
-Why heart disease is virtually non-existent in other cultures around the world. [1:39]
-Why physicians don’t give their patients nutritional advice [4:39]
-5 components of the Western diet that cause heart disease [7:33]
-Finding the truth in all the diet fads  [9:28]
-Rock-solid science that shows how to reverse cardiovascular disease [12:37]
-Dr. Esselstyn’s perspective on cholesterol [25:05]
-How we can annihilate 75% of chronic illness and cause a health revolution [32:30]

Post your questions in the comments section below and I might be able to persuade Dr. Esselstyn to do a follow up Q&A :)

Mouse over this awesome quote to share it…

toothless tiger

Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D.
The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook by Ann and Jane Esselstyn
Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Instructional DVD 

Read his study: A Way to Reverse CAD?

Dr. Esselstyn’s Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease Program

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This Post Has 29 Comments

  1. Krim O'Laughlin

    AWESOME!!!! 2 of my favorite people together. So glad this became a reality. Love you Chris!!

    1. Chris Wark

      Thank you for making this interview happen Krim! :)

      1. Krim O'Laughlin

        Anything for you friend!! BTW, don’t forget to check your po box +<<<–{

  2. Kitty

    “Only one patient who followed Dr. Esselstyn’s dietary protocol had another cardiac event. That’s a recurrence event rate of 0.6%!” – I know from a conference with Dr. T. Colin Campbell that that patient, who was a friend of his (Dr. Campbell sent him to Dr. Esselstyn), had not really stuck with the protocol given by Dr. Esselstyn. Dr. Campbell came to learn this fact later from his friend’s wife.

    1. Chris Wark

      Yes, Dr. Esselstyn shared that with me as well. Apparently he followed the diet for a while but then fell off the wagon, and then had another cardiac event.

      1. Kitty

        Thank you, Chris, for everything you do! God bless you!

  3. Pablo


    and you end up with brittle bones, deppression and effed up teeth.

    raw primal is the way! raw eggs, raw butter with bioavailable nutrients.

    not this diet for grazing animals that have 2-5 stomachs for fermentation.

    really. the more I watch the alternative scene, the more I find it showing singns of controlled opposition instead of the right path.

    never were, never will be

    we can not digest plant matter or nuts.
    just look at your poop!

    1. Селин

      Look at forest hamsters poop. You will wonder.

  4. Sue W

    I am confused by the lack of oils and fat advocated for cardiovascular disease as we are told that to prevent Alzheimers and for weight loss it is necessary to burn fat for fuel instead of carbs.
    Can you please comment on this.
    Thank you for sharing this information. Ignorance is the root of a lot of chronic illness, if only those afflicted could be reached and enlightened.
    Susan W.(UK)

    1. Kim March

      I agree, I follow a LCHF with moderate protein intake and have never felt or looked better.

    2. Michael

      In the previous comment oil=processed was the intended result and processed generally equals bad for health.

  5. Cathy Chan

    Thank you Chris for the great interview. It would be wonderful if you can do a follow up Q&A. I love Dr. Esselstyn.
    I like to know more about cholesterol – my husband has very high calcium score, so he needs to have very low cholesterol.? I have calcifications in artery. Will this diet reverse both? I have a hard time digesting beans, and Medical Medium said that corn should be avoided. My blood sugar is OK except when I drink carrot juice and eat oatmeal with fruit for breakfast. I’m quite underweight – I know you added Lamb and Salmon to your diet. How often can we eat that? I have most of Dr. Esselstyn’s books and DVDs, but still have a lot of questions.

    1. Kim March

      Do some homework on vit K2 and magnesium

  6. Mark Norberg

    I have been following a whole foods plant based diet for about 12 years now. I have recently been diagnosed with plaque in my carotid arteries. I believe this plaque is due to a series of radiation treatments I underwent 29 years ago. Doctors now want to install stents and put me on blood thinners. I really do not want to do that. I know Doctor Esselstyn says that cardio-vascular disease can be reversed through diet. Does he have any suggestions for me?

    1. Kim March

      Look at LCHF diet google the work done with many cardiologists and their books you can read. Willian Davis, Aseen Maholtra, to name a couple. Very good diet to heal the arteries also look at K2

    2. lisamb84

      Read “The Paleo Cardiologist” by Jack Wolfson

    3. Olivia Hdz Gaona

      CHELATION works, also google HEMP oil CBD, and heart disease. this is coming to Austin TX in Feb. I am getting it for my Heart.

    4. Judith Trowbridge Schlicker

      nattokinaise is a natural blood thinner

  7. Fiodor

    Hi Chris,

    thank you for arranging and sharing this great interview. Have you considered interviewing Dr. Fred Kummerow (age 102) who is one of the pioneers in establishing the connection between trans fats and heart disease (back in 1957)? I think it would be interesting to hear his point of view as well.

    Best wishes

  8. Jeff

    Coconut oil, fish oil is good for you.

  9. debbie stern

    I am anemic and have the acquired genetic mutations for Pre-Leukemia. I am afraid no fish , meat, nuts or dairy would make me more anemic. Any suggestions for me??

  10. C

    What about Vitamin B12? Does Dr Esselstyn advocate supplements? Chris, thank you for the wonderful interviews you provide us with!

  11. justafan

    Hi Chris !
    Hope you might do a video on bitter melon. I read on the internet that they are anti cancer. Also maybe you can ask the experts ! :)
    Anyway hope you are doing well . This is one of my favourite sites :)
    Keep up the great work.

  12. Sue

    A friend from church with Stage 4 liver & pancreatic cancer. She went to a Gerson Clinic for a week then continues with protocol at home. However, she is too nauseous to eat or drink her juices. How do people with cancer overcome the nausea to be able to eat. I see my friend wasting away and I want to be able to help her.
    Thank you,

    1. Judith Trowbridge Schlicker

      ginger is anti nauseous also pepto bismol

  13. fan

    awesome if you could do a video on fluoride in water. is it safe ?
    also does tamarind help us to expel it ?
    thanks ! :)

  14. Carl Johnson

    Interesting! Science is now proving the fat in the absence of insulin is fine and improves blood markers. You know what causes insulin to rise? You’ve got it grains! Eat good fats, veggies, fruit, and avoid grains and you’ll be fine!

  15. Jo Merriam

    I’m glad Dr Esselstyn is educating his patients about the importance of diet in preventing and treating disease. However, when I read his book “Forks Over Knives” a few years ago, it left me with several questions.

    First, Dr. Esselstyn completely ignored food allergies and sensitivities, some of which have clearly been shown to be inherited, like the gluten spectrum, from gluten intolerance all the way to Celiac disease. And, what about those of us who have digestive difficulties with the lectins in legumes, and sensitivities to nightshades. Corn is also a common food allergy. I lived a vegan lifestyle for a year, and it was the most miserable, and sickest year of my life.

    I’ve never really eaten the Standard American Diet because I wasn’t raised that way, and I was nearly a teen before fast food was on anyone’s radar. My family have always had backyard gardens where we grew lots of our own vegetables. I even had fruit trees and kept chickens in the city. So, I personally have always eaten a lot of whole food plant based meals. How does one actually get enough protein if you eat no animal products and you can’t eat legumes or many of the more common grains?

    Secondly, the Framingham study was so long ago, that no one at the time had any inkling about the toxicity of animal products coming from the factory farms so prevalent in the US. So, the study is really out of date. Today, we know that animal products from animals that have been pastured their whole lives, without being fed grains (especially cows, pork, sheep, and goats) have a completely different nutritional profile than typical factory farmed animals.

    Thirdly, I have family who have lived in Japan for several years, and I was born and raised in communities with many Asians and had many Asian friends. The Japanese that Dr. Esselstyn refers to, especially on Okinawa where my family members live, is not a population of vegans. Yes, they do consume more vegetables than the average American, including a lot of sea vegetables, but they also eat fish and chicken, and occasionally pork. As far as I know, the Japanese and most of the rest of the world, especially the people living in the “Blue Zones”, have not adopted the American factory farming methods, and I would maintain that is the main issue, not the mere consumption of animal protein. Factory farming is the cause of so much disease in the US, not animal protein per se.

    Lastly, who is doing a study on the effects on human health issues of clean animal protein, from organically raised, pastured animals that have not received lots of antibiotics and not been fed contaminated grains? If no one has done, or is doing such a study, perhaps some of the more prominent members of the health and wellness community could promote the need for such a study. What do you think?

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