3

votes

Athereosclerosis - which diet gives the cleanest arteries?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created February 05, 2013 at 9:52 AM

Veganism & vegetarianism promise to their followers the cleanest arterial pipes of any diet, and Drs. Esselsteyn and Dean Ornish even claim their diets reverse arterial blockage.

http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=188274
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=diet&dbid=5

This is the one area where Paleo might be trumped. Although veganism apparently does not optimize daily performance, they may do better in terms of longevity.

Arterial crud builds up linearly with age, and eventually will kill 37% of Americans by way of heart attack or stroke. Ornish and Esselsteyn are essentially promising that one may live from birth to death with clean pipes. No heart attack or stroke - ever.

Because with increasing blockage comes degradation in performance of every type, cognitive, physical - and especially for males, sexual, maintaining arterial pipes of undiminished throughput should be a leading goal of health optimizers.

Sudden death is another negative. Unlike say, liver or kidney failure, heart attack/stroke kills without warning, and leave the victim without time to write a will or make other preparation. By suddenly stop blood flow, the person loses consciousness almost instantaneously, and they're "dead before they hit the ground."

Although I eagerly await the invention of nanobots that would nano-spatula whatever gunk off the interior of my arteries, the more I understand biochemistry the less probable this appears (feel free to correct me.)

Questions:

First, what is the best diagnostic test to measure how much arterial crud buildup I currently have?

Second, which diet best maintains arterial health? How does Paleo compare to Ornish and Esselsteyn? Any published research studies on Paleo?

Third, has any reader been able to verifiably reverse athereosclerosis via diet, such as Ornish and Esselsteyn, or Paleo - i.e., and tracked via lab scans? And if so, to what degree is reversal possible? Only minor, negligible improvement like 5 to 10%? Or is it possible to clean up the arteries and start afresh? (Presumably just wish-ful thinking.)

5dd50f78f47b8848d93724d6eb38d4c1

(907)

on February 05, 2013
at 09:07 PM

BTw. I really wish it was as easy as saying "take vitamin k2 and you'll be immune to plaque buildup" but that isn't the case.

5dd50f78f47b8848d93724d6eb38d4c1

(907)

on February 05, 2013
at 09:02 PM

There has been families with genetic predisposition to extremely low cholesterol who were not only free of heart disease but had great longevity. And I'm talking very low cholesterol, like total cholesterol of 60 or so. Something you could not achieve on any diet.

5dd50f78f47b8848d93724d6eb38d4c1

(907)

on February 05, 2013
at 08:55 PM

The "low cholesterol kills" is quackary used to justify high fat diets. To think that the physiological normal level in healthy human neonates, free range animals and populations that are known for the longevity are actually at risk because of low cholesterol levles throughout life is quite a claim. It's actually retrocausality, cholesterol/mortality is confounded by people whose cholesterol levels are falling due to diseases predisposing to death. Illness and diseases causes falling cholesterol levels, not the other way around. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3560398

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on February 05, 2013
at 12:59 PM

And http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_xlflFL230eI/SU-hkhXfskI/AAAAAAAAAOY/ZKfk8aROthc/s400/J-LIT+all+cause.jpg

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on February 05, 2013
at 12:59 PM

"Heart attack proof" is an exaggeration but, in any case, irrelevant given that you're more likely die with TC<150. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_gJAaRVFNav4/TOVOgCFkUWI/AAAAAAAAAVw/al-bpFUH_hE/s1600/MRFIT.jpg

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on February 05, 2013
at 12:43 PM

A diet rich in vitamin k2 is the best diet for atherosclerosis.

24c27817ad9ac518946dda4a131737b5

on February 05, 2013
at 11:01 AM

I am not as concerned with longevity as performance optimization. Cardiovascular disease does not affect only the old. The plaque buildup starts at an early age, and increases linearly even on a relatively healthy diet, such that the performance of those in their 20s and 30s may already be subtly impacted. I do not wish to be subtly impacted in my 20s and 30s any more than I wish to keel over at age 58.

24c27817ad9ac518946dda4a131737b5

on February 05, 2013
at 10:59 AM

I am not as concerned with longevity as performance optimization. Cardiovascular disease does not affect only the old. The plaque buildup starts at an early age, and increases linearly on even a relatively healthy diet, such that the performance of those in their 20s and 30s may already be subtly impacted. I do not wish to be subtlely impacted in my 20s and 30s any more than I wish to keel over at age 85.

24c27817ad9ac518946dda4a131737b5

on February 05, 2013
at 10:53 AM

I am not overly concerned about longevity. I am concerned with performance optimization. Cardiovascular disease is not only the concern of the old. The plaque buildup starts at an early age, and increases linearly on even a relatively healthy diet, such that the performance of those in their 20s and 30s may already be subtly impacted. I'm interested in minimizing the performance degradation along this dimension.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on February 05, 2013
at 10:35 AM

Also avoiding atherosclerosis is not the be all and end all of reducing CVD risk. Check out the Masai, who have atherosclerosis but low CVD. Even if you did want to reduce atherosclerosis, reducing inflammation would probably be the way to do it (pubmed it). Also Dr Davis' strategy for reducing CVD via calcium scores http://blog.trackyourplaque.com/category/heart-scans is very different to a vegan approach.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on February 05, 2013
at 10:31 AM

Note also that the Ornish diet is a lot more than not eating animal products (when most people on SAD eat very little meat anyway- of course there are other animal products like cheese but vegetarians tend to consume more of these). It's a wholesale lifestyle intervention, which rather undermines the purported benefit of simply not eating meat.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on February 05, 2013
at 10:28 AM

Not true that veganism is better for mortality. While some studies suggest that avoiding animal products reduces risk of CVD, risk of other causes of death increases commensurately, so that overall risk of mortality is the same.

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6 Answers

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3
30fe014b1e0ea9a3de2875706ba477e6

(135)

on February 05, 2013
at 03:51 PM

My understanding is that athereosclerosis is not really caused by fat.

1) Fat is transported by lipoproteins, that is their main job, we will need to transport essential fat either way - eat it or not, if you do not eat them you will make them from carbs

2) Some of these lipoproteins are small, dense LDLs.

3) Generall messed up health (low HDL because of no movement, poor diet with no antioxidants, stress, etc) will oxidize them more (guess why it happens in arteries)

4) If it happens, inflammation reaction starts in arteries

5) Your body transports blood cells that fight the inflammation in the arteries and they take up some space

6) More oxidation = more mess in your arteries, guess what is the result

So fat intake is almost insignificant, you can reduce your overall lipoproteins that way, but you got no idea how many bad LDLs you got, how much oxidation is going on and it gets pretty absurd.

"Among the most notable research refuting the cholesterol story is the highly respected Framingham Heart Study. The study has followed the dietary habits of 15,000 participants. Among the study???s highlights are these:

??? There is no correlation between dietary cholesterol intake and blood cholesterol levels.

??? Framingham residents who ate the most cholesterol, saturated fat, and total calories actually weighed the least and were the most physically active."

4
Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on February 05, 2013
at 12:44 PM

A diet rich in vitamin k2 is best for atherosclerosis.

3
A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on February 05, 2013
at 04:51 PM

This epidemiological study had some interesting observations:

"In multivariate analyses, a higher saturated fat intake was associated with a smaller decline in mean minimal coronary diameter (P = 0.001) and less progression of coronary stenosis (P = 0.002) during follow-up....Carbohydrate intake was positively associated with atherosclerotic progression (P = 0.001), particularly when the glycemic index was high. Polyunsaturated fat intake was positively associated with progression when replacing other fats (P = 0.04) but not when replacing carbohydrate or protein. Monounsaturated and total fat intakes were not associated with progression"

Of course correlation doesn't imply causation and all that.

Omega-3's have been shown in controlled trials to reduce atherosclerosis progression as well as cardiovascular disease death, so that seems helpful.

I also agree with people like Anthony Colpo that high blood iron can promote atherosclerosis, probably by promoting lipid peroxidation. This is one important area where I think vegetarian diets have an heart disease advantage, by avoiding large amounts of heme iron and getting lots of iron chelating phytic acid and polyphenols (generally).

I think an improved vitamin E:PUFA ratio will be beneficial to atherosclerosis progression. Look at the ASAP study or the prospective of the CLA study for evidence of this. Again, I believe the mechanism is via reduced lipid peroxidation.

1
83d2d5eaaa2704020286e98c470f6a44

(340)

on February 05, 2013
at 02:29 PM

which diet gives the cleanest arteries?

I think Stephen R is right, one high in vitamin k2, take a look at the links below.

http://cardiologydoc.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/vitamin-k2-and-vascular-disease/

http://voices.yahoo.com/vitamin-k-protects-against-arterial-calcification-8991265.html?cat=5

1
5616e8de3e99ae199d9fd896098a331a

on February 05, 2013
at 11:21 AM

Eat your bacon and you 'll be fine.

0
5dd50f78f47b8848d93724d6eb38d4c1

on February 05, 2013
at 10:26 AM

As a youngster I'm not exactly worried about athrosclerosis at this stage. But if it was one of my top priorities I would certainly go the low-fat plant based way as they have pretty good results which I doubt could be achieved by most people eating bacon and eggs and having a Ldl over 200. They claim a whole plant foods diet that gets your total cholesterol 150 and under and Lld below 80 makes you almost heart attack proof.

24c27817ad9ac518946dda4a131737b5

on February 05, 2013
at 10:59 AM

I am not as concerned with longevity as performance optimization. Cardiovascular disease does not affect only the old. The plaque buildup starts at an early age, and increases linearly on even a relatively healthy diet, such that the performance of those in their 20s and 30s may already be subtly impacted. I do not wish to be subtlely impacted in my 20s and 30s any more than I wish to keel over at age 85.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on February 05, 2013
at 12:59 PM

And http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_xlflFL230eI/SU-hkhXfskI/AAAAAAAAAOY/ZKfk8aROthc/s400/J-LIT+all+cause.jpg

5dd50f78f47b8848d93724d6eb38d4c1

(907)

on February 05, 2013
at 08:55 PM

The "low cholesterol kills" is quackary used to justify high fat diets. To think that the physiological normal level in healthy human neonates, free range animals and populations that are known for the longevity are actually at risk because of low cholesterol levles throughout life is quite a claim. It's actually retrocausality, cholesterol/mortality is confounded by people whose cholesterol levels are falling due to diseases predisposing to death. Illness and diseases causes falling cholesterol levels, not the other way around. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3560398

5dd50f78f47b8848d93724d6eb38d4c1

(907)

on February 05, 2013
at 09:02 PM

There has been families with genetic predisposition to extremely low cholesterol who were not only free of heart disease but had great longevity. And I'm talking very low cholesterol, like total cholesterol of 60 or so. Something you could not achieve on any diet.

5dd50f78f47b8848d93724d6eb38d4c1

(907)

on February 05, 2013
at 09:07 PM

BTw. I really wish it was as easy as saying "take vitamin k2 and you'll be immune to plaque buildup" but that isn't the case.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on February 05, 2013
at 12:59 PM

"Heart attack proof" is an exaggeration but, in any case, irrelevant given that you're more likely die with TC<150. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_gJAaRVFNav4/TOVOgCFkUWI/AAAAAAAAAVw/al-bpFUH_hE/s1600/MRFIT.jpg

24c27817ad9ac518946dda4a131737b5

on February 05, 2013
at 11:01 AM

I am not as concerned with longevity as performance optimization. Cardiovascular disease does not affect only the old. The plaque buildup starts at an early age, and increases linearly even on a relatively healthy diet, such that the performance of those in their 20s and 30s may already be subtly impacted. I do not wish to be subtly impacted in my 20s and 30s any more than I wish to keel over at age 58.

24c27817ad9ac518946dda4a131737b5

on February 05, 2013
at 10:53 AM

I am not overly concerned about longevity. I am concerned with performance optimization. Cardiovascular disease is not only the concern of the old. The plaque buildup starts at an early age, and increases linearly on even a relatively healthy diet, such that the performance of those in their 20s and 30s may already be subtly impacted. I'm interested in minimizing the performance degradation along this dimension.

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