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When Dr. Kim Williams, the president-elect of the American College of Cardiology, recently wrote an essay encouraging doctors to recommend plant-based diets to their patients, shouts of praise and condemnation erupted form opposing camps. Williams' advice came from personal experience: a blood test taken about ten years ago showing elevated levels of LDL cholesterol--the kind associated with heart disease. By changing his diet, Williams quickly and effectively reduced his LDL levels. While he had been conscientious about eating lean protein like chicken and fish, he realized his diet was low-fat instead of low cholesterol.

What's the Big Idea?

Williams recognizes that individual responses to dietary changes are mediated by genetics: one person's cholesterol levels may change a lot by switching to a plant-based diet while another's may change substantially less. Still, he recommends a plant-based diet:

"I recommend a plant-based diet because I know it’s going to lower their blood pressure, improve their insulin sensitivity and decrease their cholesterol. And so I recommend it in all those conditions. Some patients are able to do it, and some are not."

Author Nina Planck, who shares her personal experience with eating what she calls "real food"--fried chicken, meatloaf, and macaroni with tuna and creme sauce--eating a complete and balanced diet is essential, not just a meat-free one.

Read more at the New York Times

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