Blocked Arteries: Clean Them Out Naturally
A Proven Diet for Heart Disease Reversal
Dr. Dean Ornish and colleagues conducted a study called "The Lifestyle Heart Trial" in
the San Francisco Bay area.18 Like the two previous examples, the focus was not on bypass
surgery or angioplasty. In this trial, there was a remarkably different dietary approach:
instead of allowing 200-250 mg of dietary cholesterol, as did the two previous studies,
the Lifestyle Heart Trial allowed a mere 5 mg of cholesterol per day. Instead of 25 to
26 percent of calories from fat, this study allowed only a 10 percent fat diet.
calories, however, were not restricted. Basically, the diet was nearly total vegetarian
(fruits, vegetables, grains, and a small amount of nuts) with no animal products except
egg whites and up to one cup per day of skim milk or non-fat yogurt. (The skim milk or
non-fat yogurt contains 5 mg of cholesterol.) The results of the Lifestyle Heart Trial
are tabulated in Figure 4: Results of 10% Fat and 5mg Cholesterol Diet in the Lifestyle
Heart Trial. This diet is remarkably better on all counts. Notice the very large
decrease in both total cholesterol and LDL "bad" cholesterol. These decreases are much
greater than those that occurred in the previous two studies. Especially noteworthy is
the fact that these individuals were already on a program very close to that advocated by
the National Cholesterol Education Program before this study began. Before working with Dr.
Ornish and his colleagues, the participants on the average were only consuming 31.5 percent
of their calories from fat and 213 mg/day of cholesterol.
Dye studies of the heart blood vessels, called coronary angiograms, were made before the
program started and then 12 months later. Special computerized assessments of these angiograms
allowed very precise calculations of whether narrowing had worsened, stayed the same, or improved.
To the amazement of many physicians, the computer comparisons revealed that 82 percent of the
patients experienced a reversal of their atherosclerosis. Only 14 percent had no change, and just
4 percent worsened. This is the first study where any significant regression occurred by
lifestyle changes alone, and it happened to 82 percent of participants within the short period
of 12 months.
"Regression" was the term applied to the reversals in blockages that occurred in better than 8 in
10 of these participants. Overall, there was a 2.2 percent diameter regression of all lesions,
which translates to a blood flow increase of 9 percent. Notice that those who began the study
with the greatest stenosis or blockages, and thus had the greatest need for regression, reaped
the greatest benefits. Of the coronaries that were more than 50 percent blocked there was a 5.3
percent improvement, translating to a 23 percent increase in blood flow. This is a significant
amount of regression after only one year. Before this study was conducted, most physicians did
not believe regression by lifestyle change was possible in any length of time--let alone within
Note that a small percentage change in diameter stenosis provides a much greater percentage
increase of blood flow. This is because the blood flow rate is mathematically proportional to
the fourth power of the change in diameter (the diameter change multiplied by itself 3 times).19
18 Ornish D, Brown SE, et al. Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease? The Lifestyle Heart
Trial. Lancet 1990 Jul 21;336(8708):129-133.
19 Ornish D. Can you prevent--and reverse--CAD? Patient Care. 1991 Oct 15;25:25-41.
Notice of Credit
The article above is compliments of the Uchee Pines Institute, Seale, Alabama, a teaching and
treatment facility devoted to natural remedies. For mor information, call 334-855-4781,e-mail:
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