A Day with Dr Esselstyn at the Cleveland Clinic – Notes from Carol Hagan

Here are Carol Hagan’s notes from her day at the Cleveland Clinic with Dr Esselstyn:

Dr. Esselstyn and his wife are the most kind and giving people.  Why do I say that?  Dr. Esselstyn contacts each of the patients in the session 10 days before the session to review their health history and to “get in touch with the nuances of what brings them here.”   He stated: “I believe the only way we can show our respect to patients is to treat them with integrity and invest our time in them.”  And I saw evidence of that in how he related to everyone.

What is so potent about seeing his message in person is that he takes a different tact than I saw from Dr. Neal Barnard in our Food for Life training.  By contrast, Dr. Barnard takes a
direct but softer approach because he doesn’t want to alienate any of the participants.  He wants to keep a crack in the door so they’ll walk through.  Dr. Barnard encourages people switching to whole-food plant-based eating to go, initially, with look-alikes until they can make the jump to full-on plant based nutrition. So you will see Dr. Barnard recommend veggie burgers, soy dogs,and some prepared health foods to get the process of change started in as gradual a manner as is required by the patient.   Dr. Esselstyn is by contrast fully committed to
his “Moderation Kills” stance.  (For details see: )  He wants you to jump into the deep end right away and eschew all oils, animal products, caffeine, and refined foods immediately.

Dr. Esselstyn really hits hard the point that each time you take in animal products, processed oils, salt and sugars that you are injuring your endothelium, (effectively the thin layer of cells on the wall of your blood vessels – see –  ). He hit hard the idea that even if you eat healthy during the week and cheat on the weekends, that’s still 1/3 of the year that you’re accruing damage to your endothelium, creating sticky blood, exacerbating production of plaques and hastening rupturing plaques and foam cells. The statement he made was “instead of a major stroke, you’ll still have a stroke. Instead of early onset dementia you’ll have later onset dementia. Etc.” Point well taken.

Ann, his wife, is equally as forceful in her commitment when she teaches about cooking.

Here are some key points that Carol noted:

  • Eat 6 small servings of greens throughout each day (raw or cooked), every single day.
  • Water is drink of choice. He wasn’t big on a glass of wine now and then but he takes it on a case by case basis. Decaf coffee appears to be okay to drink.
  • Supplements – He says he is going to revise his manuscript in terms of supplements. He now advocates taking only B12 because if you are eating on this food plan you are getting your nutrients in the quantities that your body needs. Your body will extract it as it is needed.
  • HDL does not need to be as high as we had recently thought.  If you are eating healthfully your body will find its own set point on what a healthy HDL level is.
  • He does encourage vitamin D if you’re unable to get outside to get sun exposure.
  • Exercise on a daily basis is strongly encouraged.
  • 1 T flax or chia seeds daily for healthy omega fats.
  • Changes in nutrition can positively impact heart issues in as few as 10 days.


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Carol Hagan’s Lunch at The Cleveland Clinic with Dr Esselstyn

Ann Esselstyn demonstrated how to make this fantastic collard green sushi. She’ll have a cookbook coming in September.


Lentil and butternut/carrot/ginger soup was served in kale lined bowls.


Fruit was served with citrus, mint and ginger garnishes. Who would not enjoy this?


Veg wraps were part of the lunch fare for patients learning how to eat plant based meals.


And finally out guest writer with Ann and Dr Esselstyn:



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Pictures from Carol Hagans day with Dr Esselstyn at the Cleveland Clinic

Carol shared some pictures from the start of her day with Dr Esselstyn –

Ann Esselstyn preparing for the day:


Some suggested resources to support your plant based journey:



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Heart Attack Proof – The work of Dr Esselstyn – Guest Posts from Carol Hagans

Carol Hagans and I met on Twitter.

She is going to spend today observing Dr Esselstyn  – see – working with a new group of patients.

For those who do not know Dr Esselstyn and his pioneering work – Please click on the link above or buy his book or check out videos of him on You Tube etc.,  Such as this one –

If you know anyone who is either suffering from heart disease or who is at risk – then share this with them – You would be doing them a favour!

Dr Esselstyn is one of my personal “Food Heroes” who has shown us that we can take personal responsibility for our health through our dietary choices and change our health destiny.

I asked Carol is she would be willing to her experiences of her day at the Cleveland Clinic  with us here on Plantalicious.

Here is her first post –

It’s almost time to drive to Lyndhurst Campus of Cleveland Clinic to learn from Dr. Esselstyn. More soon!

I’m just as excited as she is – I only wish I could be there too, but I hope that through Carol we will get a sense of how Dr Esselstyn works with his patients to help them Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease.


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What is wrong with the British Heart Foundation?

I am mad.  No, I’m not mad, I am seething.

I just read the attached article on the Guardian online  – My blood pressure is sky high as a result.  I’d never really noticed before, but surely this organisation cannot be blind to the growing body of evidence relating to the link between chronic disease such as heart disease and lifestyle choices, particularly the foods that we eat?


Extensive research and their resultant publications such as the China Study, by T. Colin Campbell and Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jnr clearly demonstrate that the BHF should be putting its weight behind promoting lifestyle changes and encouraging those who use it’s resources to take responsibility for their health.  Instead it lambastes the food industry in the UK for the portion sizes and make out that we as consumers are merely victims.


I have little or no regard for the UK Food Industry and whilst the article makes some valid points, the author is surely missing the key point that it is not how much you eat, rather it is what you choose to eat.  The BHF eating guidlines are woefully inadequate – see  Courses such as the Happy Heart course provide the guidance to patients that the BHF is missing – see


I wonder why this major UK charity does not look at the growing body of evidence and suggest following a plant-based diet?  Surely even if they were skeptical of the results of Dr’s Campbell, Ornish, Barnard, McDougal, Esselstyn, Lederman etc collective works, they could see that promoting a no-added fat, whole-food, plant-based diet could not harm their patients and may just save their lives.  Are they perhaps motivated by some other force?  I am not a conspiracy theorist, however I do wonder if the BHF would not promote such lifestyle changes as it might just upset some of those large and powerful pharmaceutical companies who make such a lot of their revenues from the statin drugs that are widely prescribed across the UK?  If not, then why does the BHF not look at the evidence and promote a WFPB diet to it’s followers?


I wonder and hope that members of the BHF team are attending the North American Plant Based Nutrition Health Care Conference in Naples, Florida next week.  Sadly, I doubt it.

BHF – Please wake-up, stop going on about portion size and start talking about WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD EAT to not only PREVENT but REVERSE their heart disease.


Now that would be news that the Guardian could share with the nation!

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