Caldwell Esselstyn, MD

The 7 Original Heroes of the Movement

Featured Hero:   Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn is an American physician, author and former Olympic rowing champion. He is just one of the voices joining Hippocrates Docs and the Just 1 Thing 4 Health (J1T4H) program. In 2007, Dr. Esselstyn authored Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, in which he argued for a low-fat, whole foods, plant-based diet that avoids all animal products and oils, and reduces or avoids soybeans, nuts and avocados. Dr. Esselstyn’s diet has been advocated by former US President Bill Clinton.

Dr. Esselstyn promotes a diet designed to prevent coronary disease and cardiovascular disease. The diet excludes all animal products and oils, and prioritizes foods such as fruits, vegetables, pasta and cruciferous vegetables. He was one of the doctors featured in the 2011 documentary Forks Over Knives, and his nutrition tips include the following:

  1. The dietary changes that helped my patients over the past 20 years can help you, too. They can make you immune to heart attacks. Don’t eat meat, poultry, fish, or dairy products. Eat a wonderful variety of veggies, legumes, whole grains, and fruits.
  2. Coronary artery disease is preventable. Even after it is underway, its progress can be stopped, its insidious effects reversed. The key lies in nutrition—specifically, in abandoning the toxic American diet and maintaining cholesterol levels well below those historically recommended.
  3. Here’s a benefit of a plant-based diet that you might not have expected: For the rest of your life, you will never again have to count calories or worry about your weight.
  4. There is nothing radical about a plant-based diet. It’s about as mainstream as you can get. For billions of people, it is standard fare, and heart disease and many other chronic ailments are almost unknown.
  5. All the cardiovascular interventional procedures carry considerable risk of morbidity, including new heart attacks, strokes, infections, and, for some, an inevitable loss of cognition. By contrast, the benefits of a plant-based diet actually grow with time. The longer you follow it, the healthier you will be.

After graduating from Yale University, Dr. Esselstyn competed in the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, winning a gold medal as a member of the American rowing team. Soon thereafter, he received his M.D. from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, before continuing as an intern and resident at Cleveland Clinic.

In 1968, Dr. Esselstyn returned from tour as an Army surgeon in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Bronze Star. Upon his return, he rejoined Cleveland Clinic and served as the President of the Staff and as a member of its Board of Governors until 2000. During this time, he also served as the President of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons.

Dr. Esselstyn has served as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Nutrition Action magazine, published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. He is also on the advisory board of Naked Food Magazine, a publication for which he is also a regular contributor of articles espousing a plant-based diet. In 2005, he became the first recipient of the Benjamin Spock Award for Compassion in Medicine.

Our thanks and gratitude to Dr. Esselstyn for being an integral part of the Hippocrates Docs’ Just 1 Thing 4 Health Program.

To read more about Dr. Esselstyn, CLICK HERE

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