My LDL Drop to 92 on a Plant Based Diet

By James Wallace Harris, Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Back in May when visiting my doctor for my quarterly cholesterol checkup and she was writing out another prescription to fight my cholesterol, I asked her if there wasn’t a way to lower cholesterol without drugs. She told me to lose weight. She’s told me that for years and I never have. But I was sick of trying new drugs. It’s taken me years to learn I can only handle 10mg of a statin, but no more, without getting side-effects.

I drove home seriously thinking about how to fight cholesterol. I got on Amazon and ordered the book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., and I also discovered that night on Netflix, Forks Over Knives, a documentary that featured Dr. Esselstyn.


I followed this plant based diet for three months and it worked. My August check-up showed I had dropped from 232 pounds to 211. My overall cholesterol went from 187 to 152, my LDL from 130 to 92, but sadly my good cholesterol dropped from 40 to 38.

The plant base diet is hard, but not that hard. No animal products of any kind, and no oils, not even olive oil, which everyone believes is good for your heart. I did cheat a little bit though. I ate peanut butter. I found if I could have one peanut butter sandwich a day I didn’t crave all my other favorite foods. I eat healthy cereal and almond milk for breakfast, and then a lot of salads, veggies, fruits, soups, and especially various rice and bean dishes. The worst thing about the diet was the gas, but over time my gut got better at processing so much roughage.

Now that I know this diet works I’m going to stick to it. Getting below 100 with my LDL amazed my doctor. She was so happy for me, and I don’t want to let her down. This is the first time in decades I’ve been below 230 pounds. I began 2015 at 242, and struggled for five months to lose 10 pounds. Then went on the plant based diet and lost 20 more in three months. The speed of losing weight has tapered off, but I’m going to struggle to lose more.


Another documentary, The Widowmaker, which I recently found on Netflix, also inspires me to keep on the plant based diet. That show claims heart disease is preventable. Forks Over Knives claims a plant based diet is the key to stopping heart disease. I guess I’m one statistic proving it works.


9 thoughts on “My LDL Drop to 92 on a Plant Based Diet”

  1. Hi, I agree that plant based diet reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases As Hippocrates put it many many years ago, “Let food be thy medicine.” Not only can this suggest that a diet of healthy foods is a great form of medicine, but that constantly consuming a diet like this will help reduce the need for medicine all together. While some of us may speculate over which foods are healthy, it is my opinion that diets containing plants, fruit, nuts, and limited healthy organic starch is what is healthy. Scientific and medical research helps to demonstrate this especially as we examine the most popular diseases and their causes. This does not mean one cannot be healthy while eating a diet including fast foods, hydrogenated fats and animal products, it simply means the risk of disease greatly increases over time. I also feel that with a properly timed transition, most would agree they are much healthier and feel much better while consuming a cleaner diet. It is often that a “bad-name” is given to these diets because people looking to transition do it too quickly, incorrectly or are eating large amounts of processed vegan or vegetarian foods.

    Thanks for this post. I shall remind my patients this as well.


  2. Well, Jim, you’ve convinced me. How about breads – like tortillas with the beans? Probably not, right? What do you have to eat to get enough protein? Why not olive oil? It’s totally plant based? Are black olives okay? Avocados? Potatoes? (I should probably get the book.) Do you cook your veggies or is this a vegan-raw foods thing?

    When I was on my last good diet I let myself have 1 free meal a week and over time I looked forward to it less snd less. I can see myself starting this one on Sunday – and using fat free yogurt or cottage cheese instead of peanut butter.

    Sorry if I’m being nosy, you got my curiosity involved.

    1. It depends on how strictly you follow the diets. Forks Over Knives is more lenient about fats from avocados, nuts, etc. But oils are forbidden. Dr. Esselstyn says his stricter diet is for people trying to recover from heart disease, and can be looser for people trying to prevent heart disease. They recommend breads and cereals made without oils. Those tend to be rather dry and dense. I cheat and look for cereals at Whole Foods that have very little oils. Whole Foods has line of products called Engine 2 Plant Strong. People who follow the diet strictly claim their LDL is in the 70s.

      No cheese or yogurt because they are from animals. But you can break the rules any way you want. For this next three months I’m going to eat some cheese and oils when I eat out because for the last three months I didn’t eat out. If my LDL goes significantly I’ll know I can’t cheat that much.

      I should mention that I feel healthier, with more energy, and fewer aches and pains since I’ve done this diet. I stopped taking Tums and Pepcid, and I don’t get headaches. My body has quieted down with this diet.

          1. Yes – high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It’s got better over the past year and the doc is pleased, but I’m still on a lot of meds. I’ve made a note and will try to watch when I get home.

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