FORWARD: An excerpt from this clip was recently used without permission and edited out of context. Dr. Greger DOES agree with Dr. Fuhrman on the fact that a whole-food, plant-based diet with added walnuts, in fact, improves cardiovascular health.
The question: Are whole food plant based fats such as nuts and seeds ideal for someone trying to reverse heart disease?
Dr. Greger’s response:
Okay. So this is a this is excellent question. So on paper, for cardiovascular disease nuts are wonderful. So let’s let’s think of all the stages of atherosclerosis. (hardening of arteries):
High cholesterol: nuts lower your cholesterol
Inflammation: nuts are anti-inflammatory.
Endothelial function (the function of your arteries): nuts improved within hours endothelial function.
You look through every single one and nuts improve cardiovascular risk factors.
One would assume that you put people on a whole-food plant-based diet WITH NUTS, that they would reverse their heart disease even BETTER than a low-fat whole food plant-based diet. Has that ever been put to the test? Not in randomized control trial.
So for example, Dr. Joel Fuhrman has published case reports showing that I can reverse people’s heart disease with a nut-rich diet (nuts, avocado, seeds, whole-food sources of fat…) just as well as the Ornishes and Pritikins and Esselstyns of the world. The problem is the case report. These are individual patients that did better. We have yet to have a randomized control trial.
I would love to see a study where they put people on a low-fat whole-food diet versus a whole-food, plant-based diet with some walnuts, and see who did better. My educated guess: WALNUT GROUP DOES BETTER. That’s my guess.
But if I had heart disease… if I had a patient that heart disease… if I had a loved one that had heart disease… You don’t make them into guinea pigs. You don’t mess around. We have data from these randomized control trials. You put people on a whole food plant based diet that’s low in fat, you reverse their disease. That’s the data that we have and so what do you do. You go on that diet.
Theoretically, I think there’s another diet that does better. That’s the diet with Walnuts. You want to be the one that puts out to the test, go for it. But that’s not where the available data is.
If Esselstyn’s diet said low-fat whole-food plant-based and only eat green M&Ms. I would say that makes absolutely no sense… But only eat green M&Ms… because this is the diet that works. This is the proven diet, right? So you just stick to the diet that’s been proven to work, until we know otherwise.
Hopefully, in the future, we’re going to get those trials and if the risk factor data translates out to actual events… to actual mortality… I think it would work even better. But am I willing to bet my life on it or the life of my patient or life of people I care about? No. Should there be a study? Yes.