Sunday, January 6, 2013


After hearing Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn speak in person a few months back,  I made a decision to eat dark leafy greens at least 6 times per day. The reason as explained by Dr. Esselstyn is to increase the level of nitric oxide in one’s system, which heals the endothelium or the lining of the blood vessels. 
“I want patients to eat leafy greens six times a day,” he said, recommending greens at every meal, including breakfast. “And I adore it when you have an evening snack of kale. You’ll think you’re eating a hot fudge Sunday.” -Dr. Esselstyn-
Eating dark leafy greens 6 times a day has been a challenge to say the least, especially since I don’t juice and don’t own a juicer.  Dr. Esselstyn is not a big proponent of juicing and explained that the act of chewing the dark leafy vegetables has an added benefit in healing the endothelium. 
So how do I get in 6 servings of dark leafy greens each day? Well, here’s how it goes: I eat a large bowl of oatmeal in the morning with a piece of fruit followed by a big bowl of raw kale. Lunch is another large green salad (either raw kale or spinach) along with a bowl of beans (usually black or red beans) and another piece of fruit. Along with my afternoon snack of fruit I have started eating another bowl of dark leafy greens. Dinner is usually some vegetable stir fry (without oil) brown or red rice, and another dark leafy salad. 
To be honest, this is a lot of eating and I find it difficult to get in the six servings. It feels like the only thing I do all day long is eat. But I can honestly say that I feel much better when I eat them and have noticed a change in my blood pressure & weight. 
My advice to everyone is to begin eating as many dark leafy greens as they possibly can. Add them to everything!!! Instead of lettuce on a sandwich add kale or spinach. Add them to soups & stews. Add them to chili and homemade pizzas. Add them wherever and whenever you can. I am sure that you will notice a difference as I have and the benefits will pay off. 
“What we are trying to do is get our cardiovascular patients to eliminate completely the foods that will further injure the lining of their blood vessels. The reason that they have heart disease in the first place is that their blood vessel lining has been so injured and so decimated that they now have the manifestation of heart disease. Now what is going to stop the injury to those endothelial cells? Well, we avoid the foods that have been shown scientifically to injure them; namely oils — olive oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil, palm oil, canola oil; anything with a mother, anything with a face — meat, fish, chicken, turkey; and dairy milk, cream, butter, ice cream, cheese and yogurt. And now in addition, we know that fructose, that is to say, orange juice, apple juice, agave nectar, maple syrup, molasses and honey. Now this isn’t to say that you can’t have some pancakes with maple syrup once or twice a month. But know every time that you are having them that you are injuring endothelial cells. In addition, caffeine with coffee, nuts, avocado. That’s pretty rigid for the patients now who have heart disease. But what has happened is that since this is not cancer, when the endothelial cells are given a reprieve, when they are no longer beaten down, they recover. As they recover, so does their ability to produce this magic molecule called nitric oxide production. Not only do you halt the disease, but we have shown clearly that you can begin to reverse it. --An Interview with Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., M.D.--by Mark Huberman


  1. Hi Annette,
    Hello! I'm plant-strong, too. I love kale, collards, brussels sprouts, broccoli and cabbage. All of these constitute "dark leafy greens" if you want to add some variety to your platter. I find it easiest to blanch for 1 minute the chopped leaves of collards or kale. Then they're ready to add to everything (stir-fry, tofu scramble, soups, casseroles or loaves) and they don't go bad in the fridge.

    The reason I am writing is because for 2 months I was doing just as you suggest, eating cole veggies 6 times a day, morning, noon and night. Loved it and felt "lighter" and weight started to come off. Then I began to feel cold all the time, and noticed that after a gym class I was fatigued for the next 3-4 days so my workouts decreased to just 2 a week. Got my blood tested and found I had mild hypothyroid.
    Examining changes I had made lately, and researching causes of this condition, which is more common in women than men, one possibility was iodine deficiency. I decided to test that one after I learned that cole veggies can interfere with iodine absorption. I was getting iodine via multivitamin in the mornings, when I was eating a nice big salad. But it would not have mattered when I took the multi, since I was eating kale or sprouts or cabbage at every single meal and more. I stopped the salad for breakfast when I took my pill and stuck to high fiber carbs for a week, and indulged in a few nori seaweed snacks. Sure enough, after a week, I'm starting to feel great. Energy is back, depression gone. By the way, the other impact of low thyroid is higher cholesterol and weight gain. Ironic that eating so much healthier, in my case, turned out to be detrimental to my overall health. Grrr...
    So I just wanted to relay this story as you begin your new regimen. You won't necessarily have this happen to you. I am of a certain age, so more vulnerable to this. If you do start feeling unexplainably fatigued or cold within your body, consider getting your blood tested or try the experiment I did to see if this changes. The feeling of cold was very noticeable and not normal. I attributed it to winter snow and cold temps outside, but even with the heat on at home I had to wear my down parka and several layers beneath that and still felt cold.
    Thanks for your blog and sharing your experiences and insights!

  2. Thank you Karen!
    I really appreciate sharing your experience with me. I haven't noticed any fatigue or that I am unnaturally cold. However, your method of blanching the greens sounds like an easy solution to eating them raw. What a great idea! Definitely will give that a try!

    In a week or so I have an appointment with a new primary care doctor who is plant-strong and will have full spectrum blood work done. I am planning on having the doctor check my Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, thyroid, diabetes, cholesterol, etc. So this would be a good time to sure that all levels are where they need to be.
    I will let you know how it goes.

    Stay Plant Strong,