Food of vegetable origin and coronary artery disease

Coronary artery diseases are today in the first place by mortality in Western countries. It is this fact, as well as the realization that drugs that treat coronary artery disease have an impact on the development and progression of the disease, but have no effect on pathogens, prompted in 1985 a team of scientists from the Cleveland Clinic to conduct research on the impact of diet-based vegetable origin on the coronary arteries.

In addition to this research, other scientists have also studied the influence of diet on coronary artery disease. A team led by M. Dehghani published a paper “Relationship between healthy diet and risk of cardiovascular disease among patients on drug therapies for secondary prevention: a prospective cohort study of 31,546 high-risk individuals from 40 countries.” They observed 31,546 individuals with a history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes during the period of 4,5 years, and they were divided into quintiles according to food quality. They proved that in the most healthy quintiles the risk of death associated with cardiovascular disease is reduced to 35%, reduction in the risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack) associated with cardiovascular disease to 14%, the risk of stroke associated with cardiovascular disease 19%. They demonstrate how the results are not affected by whether patients receive medication or not. A team led by F. L. Crowe published a paper “Risk of hospitalization or death from ischemic heart disease among vegetarians and nonvegetarians British: results from the EPIC-Oxford cohort study.” They followed 44,561 patients during 11.6 years. 34% of patients (15,151) who followed were vegetarians who consumed neither meat nor fish. The results showed that vegetarians have a lower body mass index, lower value of “bad” non-HDL cholesterol, lower blood pressure and a 32% lower risk of heart attack. But not all studies have confirmed the impact of diet on coronary artery disease. A team led by J. T. Wilkins in his work “Lifetime risk and years lived free of total cardiovascular disease” conducted a research on 905.115 participants in the period between 1964 and 2008. Their results show that a typical Western diet, with optimal risk factors for cardiovascular disease, may not result in the emergence of cardiovascular disease.

Research conducted at Cleveland Clinic differs from other research – from the diet have been eliminated completely all oil, and even products containing the least amount of added oil. Also, all products of animal, fish and dairy origin are eliminated. The second reason that this study differs from the other, are daily intensive seminars for the participants of the research.

Coronary artery disease begins with a progressive endothelial injury (thin layer of cells on the inside of blood vessels, which is in direct contact with blood), oxidative stress, decreased production of nitric oxide, and the formation of plaques in the vessels, which in case of breakage can cause heart attack or stroke. For all these beginnings of coronary artery disease, a major impact has an unhealthy diet that we practice in Western countries. This is why, for research purposes, all meat products of meat, fish and dairy origin were eliminated from the diet; also all types of oil and in the smallest quantities, poultry products, avocados, nuts, excess salt, sucrose, fructose, drinks with an artificial sweetener, fruit juices, syrups, fructose and caffeine were eliminated. A diet consumed consisted of whole grains, legumes, lentils, and other fruits and vegetables, which satisfy the required daily intake of amino acids. As a dietary supplement were taken multivitamins and vitamin B12, and one meal based on flax seed who was a source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids. A very important part of the research were the daily intensive seminars that lasted for 5 hours, at which patients came with their partners. At the seminar, patients are introduced to the benefits of a diet based on plant foods, through lectures, PowerPoint presentations, learning recipes, videos, books and testimonies of the patients themselves. During the lectures, they become familiar with the way the food causes endothelial injury and therefore coronary artery disease. Patients are encouraged to exercise during the research, but it was not required. The research did not require practicing yoga, meditation or other psychosocial approaches. Also, patients never stopped taking the prescribed medication.

91% of patients in this study were men, the average age was 62.9 years. The average duration of monitoring program of diet was 3.7 years, for some patients even 13 years.

The results showed that the majority of participants (89%) were willing to change lifestyle and diet, as recognized and accepted as taking control of the disease. In this part of the patients who accepted a new way of eating, there has been an improvement of the disease over a period of compliance with the new diet. There is also the loss of body weight, with only a single stroke. On the other hand, the small group of 21 patients who did not accept the new diet recorded two sudden cardiac death, cardiac transplantation one, two ischemic strokes, two PCI with stent implantation, three bypasses of coronary arteries, and one blocked endarterectomy peripheral artery. These results have provided further evidence that a diet based on plant products can prevent, stop or reverse the course of coronary artery disease.