Doctors Prescribe Plant-Based Diets for Heart Disease

Heart disease is a leading cause of death in many countries around the world.† The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 600,000 Americans die from heart disease annually and over 720,000 Americans suffer a heart attack each year.

The most common response from doctors treating patients with heart disease is prescribing statin drugs. While these drugs are often effective at lowering high cholesterol levels linked with heart disease, they produce potentially harmful side effects ranging from muscle pain, liver damage and neurological problems. Fortunately, some physicians are going the extra mile with people in their care. They are returning to the roots of medicine, literally, by prescribing plant-based foods to combat this high risk disease.

Preventive medicine, and nutrition in particular, is not a significant component of medical school study and residency. Medical doctors simply do not learn enough about nutrition during their school years. The onus is on MDs to research and digest science-based nutritional information during their practice.† It is the rare doctor that takes on this challenge but his or her patients will benefit greatly from this dedication.

In a recent article published by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), prominent cardiologists discussed the benefits of eating a plant-based diet, including a more stringent vegan diet to prevent or overcome heart disease.† Dr. William Roberts, the editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Cardiology and a cardiovascular pathologist at Baylor College of Medicine in Dallas, embraces the vegan diet as a way to avoid the high cholesterol, artery-clogging diet that has become the standard in many industrialized countries. He also sees the switch to plant-based eating as inexpensive and safe medicine. In the CBC article, Roberts reports, “If we put everyone on drugs then thousands of people would suffer side effects, so of course a vegan diet is the least expensive and safest means of achieving the plaque preventing goal.”

Switching to a vegan diet may be outside of many peoples’ comfort zones.† A gradual shift to more plant-based food choices is a positive first step. Dr. Shane Williams, a community cardiologist in Ontario, Canada, has been holding sessions for patients interested in the benefits of plant-based diets and veganism.† Williams, a vegan, says, “What concerns me is that most doctors do not realize the power of food as an alternative to medication.” He also believes that the 10 or 15 minutes doctors spend assessing their patients is inadequate to understand the role poor dietary habits play in heart disease.

Ultimately, the responsibility for health rests with the individual.† The greatest role a doctor or any health professional can play for most patients is to pass on practical, evidence-based information that focuses on prevention and education.† A sound understanding of food as medicine (or poison as so many processed, packaged and prepared foods should be labeled) is one of the best tools available to a physician. Dr. Williams’ has embraced an anonymously-attributed quote that captures the essence of this philosophy: “Medicine is not healthcare Ė food is healthcare.† Medicine is sickcare.† Let’s all get this straight for a change.”

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Angela Malafouris

I really think eating wisely can be your best friend. And I have a real sweet tooth, so I know what I am talking about. I am not a vegan, but still I try to eat meat moderately. If an individual can listen to his or her body and don't eat too sweet, fatty, salty, etc things, I think it will result in a general good health in the long-run. Unpack those fruits, veggies and toss away coca-cola, cookies and sausages folks!

Joy S.
Joy s3 years ago

Moderation is the key in everything!

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe3 years ago

I developed heart disease in 2008. My doctors put me on statins right away. I have a confession to make. Sometimes I do NOT take them!
I read somewhere that it helps to eat lots of green vegetables! So, that is what I do. I still eat a little meat, but not every day!

Lis T.
Elisabeth T3 years ago

Thanks for this good information.

Slava R.
Slava R3 years ago


Carol P.
Carol P3 years ago

Though I'm all for humans eating a lot more fruits and vegetables than most people currently consume, dropping animal products entirely is not healthy long term.

Jane Hathaway
Jane Hathaway3 years ago

Thank you for this informative article.

Katherine May Williams

Lots of organic veggies and plenty of clean water.. can help so many health issues.

Dale O.

Just eat a well-balanced diet, avoid those highly refined foods, if one eats cereals, the highly processed sugar laden fruit loops varieties really is not what one considers a real cereal, even quick oats is not a good choice because much of the nutritional goodness has been removed. White flour has none of the goodness that real whole wheat/grain flours have.

One can eat an omnivore, vegetarian or vegan diet by using a well-balanced diet but if one only eats plant based foods and snacks too often on potato chips or other foods with a lot of HFCS in it, not all plant-based foods are equal. Plant based foods do not guarantee health, well-balanced diets do. Certainly, for those able to afford the cost, organic foods are the safest to eat and that does include meat. Just eat small amounts of meat if one is an omnivore as there are a lot of westerners that eat far too much in a single portion. There are people outside of the U.S., that do not eat the SAD that causes a lot of problems.

Anna Undebeck
Anna Undebeck3 years ago