New Study: Plant-Based Diet Shown To Reverse Heart Disease


“Coronary angiography reveals a diseased distal left anterior descending artery (a). Following 32 months of a plant-based nutritional intervention without cholesterol-lowering medication, the artery regained its normal configuration.” – Resolving the Coronary Artery Disease Epidemic Through Plant-Based Nutrition

Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic tested a plant-based diet on people who had established cardiovascular disease (CVD). The benefits were nothing short of remarkable:

A Way To Reverse CAD?, The Journal of Family Practice, July 2014

They counseled 198 patients on a plant-based diet (free from fish, meat, dairy, eggs, and added oil). Patients were followed for an average of 3.7 years.

“Results: of the 198 patients with CVD, 177 (89%) were adherent. Major cardiac events judged to be recurrent disease totaled one stroke in the adherent cardiovascular participants — a recurrent event rate of .6%, significantly less than reported by other studies of plant-based nutrition therapy. Thirteen of 21 (62%) nonadherent participants experienced adverse events.”

There was a 10% event rate in the diet-compliant group, and a 62% event rate in the diet-non-compliant group.

This is a proof-of-concept study. There was no control group or randomization. Indeed, these patients were strongly motivated to change their diet (44 had a previous heart attack, 75 had stents). There are pluses and minus here – a plus is that you can determine the effect in a group of free living people who had excellent compliance.  Dietary compliance is difficult in people who are not living in a closed environment, having their food provided. Compliance is also not easy in randomized groups that may lack incentive.  A minus is that without a control group you don’t know for sure that it was the diet that led to benefit. Although the chasm in outcomes between the compliant vs. non-compliant groups are telling.  There was a 93% resolution of angina in the compliant group, and 39 compliants had documented disease reversal.  You can’t get that with stents and drugs.

4 thoughts on “New Study: Plant-Based Diet Shown To Reverse Heart Disease

  1. Bix Post author

    By the way, I found the pdf on this forum. There’s a pretty robust discussion there about this study. I liked what the author said:

    “Nearly 100% of participants who changed their diet had no additional cardiac events; some even had measurable disease reversal. These were all sick people. … That’s a profound result for the participants, with profound public health implications.”

  2. Bix Post author

    All the participants were non-smokers. Smoking, either primary or secondary (second-hand) really increases risk for heart disease (and diabetes).

  3. Steve Parker, M.D.

    I have to wonder why this was published in Journal of Family Practice instead of a major journal such as New England Journal of Medicine or Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

    1. Bix Post author

      I think … It’s not a randomized control trial. It’s not a big epidemiological study. It’s too vulnerable. I don’t want to disparage it, people promoting meat diets are already taking joy in that. It was a proof-of-concept study that big journals don’t pay attention to. His findings generate testable hypotheses. He did it as a follow-up to his previous work and because he had very motivated, self-selected participants. It’s not a diet that you can get people to eat in a free living environment unless they’re fired up.

      The diets the participants ate were very high in carbohydrate and very low in fat, characteristics that low-carb advocates say should cause them to put on weight and worsen their atherosclerosis. Instead they lost an average of 18.7 pounds and improved their arterial function.


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