Misleading Mediterranean Diets: Another Look at the Evidence
The recently published New England Journal of Medicine article on the benefits of a Mediterranean diet, “Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet,” has been roundly praised. It might have been better titled, “Promoting Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet.”
All three dietary groups had almost equal facility promoting the growth and clinical appearance of cardiovascular disease which manifested itself as strokes, heart attack and death in those who at study onset did not have this illness.
This Spanish study which clearly worsens cardiovascular disease, is not alone as earlier this month the British Medical Journal updated the randomized Sydney Heart Study, confirming that the addition of oils worsened the outlook for cardiovascular disease.
By way of contrast, our small plant based nutrition study took patients with established advanced cardiovascular disease and not only halted disease progression but was able to demonstrate disease reversal. We will shortly publish an expanded version confirming our original findings.
The epidemiologic ultimate confirmation of the power of plant based nutrition to prevent cardiovascular disease is best demonstrated in T. Colin Campbell’s China Study. In a rural province in China over a three year period examination of over 250,000 death certificates, not one death was attributable to cardiovascular disease.
We’ve reached a crucial fork in the road: do we promote cardiovascular disease with a Mediterranean diet or eliminate it with plant based nutrition?
Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D.
Director Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Reversal Program Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.
February 26, 2013
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The debate over which diet is best has been severely fraught with a serious misassumption, namely, what is a low fat diet. Virtually everyone, professionals and non-professionals alike, refer to a diet containing 25-30% fat as 'low fat' and anything lower as "extremely" low fat, thus dismissing it, in effect. The implications of this wrong-headed thinking are huge, misleading consumers, policy makers and medical practitioners worldwide, while driving up disease care costs. Being an experimental researcher and policy maker myself for more than a half-century, I have seen this first hand.
The dietary lifestyle having the greatest ability to maintain and restore health, while preventing and actually reversing disease, is one comprised of whole, plant-based foods, with no added oil and refined carbohydrates. It is one fashioned over millions of years by nature and its nutritional composition just so happens to be about 10-12% fat, 10-12% protein and 75-80% carbohydrates, while being chocked full of life-promoting antioxidants and the right kinds and ratios of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Drs. Esselstyn and Ornish have it right. They have shown that cardiovascular diseases can be reversed with this diet. We also have shown that protein, when animal-based and when fed in excess of our needs say of 8-10%, turns on cancer and elevates the processes that lead to cancer and other serious diseases. Nothing in medical practice comes close to matching these benefits.
T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study
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Also see article by John McDougall on this study, linked here.