Cardiac Wellness Program - New York - Montefiore Medical Center

Reversing Heart Disease with a Whole Food/Plant-based Diet

Patients enrolled at the Montefiore Einstein Cardiac Wellness Program are experiencing dramatic improvements in their health. Many of these patients who have been diagnosed with heart or blood vessel disease are losing weight, lowering their cholesterol and blood pressure, improving their energy levels and even reversing type 2 diabetes. How? Simply by making some key diet and lifestyle changes under the care and guidance of experts at the Wellness Program.

The Cardiac Wellness Program was created and is directed by Robert Ostfeld, MD, MSc. Together with Lauren Graf, MS, RD, the nutritionist for the program, they bring a unique, nutrition-centered approach to the management of cardiovascular disease. The program aims to prevent and reverse heart disease with a whole food/plant-based diet. Dr. Ostfeld and Ms. Graf work with patients to embrace a diet that includes no animal products and consists of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes such as lentils and chickpeas, a small amount of nuts and avocado, as well as dairy alternatives.

In parts of the world where people eat largely a plant-based diet, such as rural China and Central Africa, heart disease is less common. "If you take someone from that kind of environment and move them to the Western world, research shows that within a generation or two, they catch up to us" on heart disease, explains Dr. Ostfeld. "Genetics don't change that quickly so this is a result of lifestyle–likely in part becaue of the toxic Western diet."

"The Montefiore Cardiac Wellness Program directed by Robert Ostfeld and Lauren Graf empowers patients to become the  locus of control to halt  and reverse  their  coronary artery disease." — Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD, author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease

"We have been humbled and awestruck by our results" says Dr. Ostfeld. When asked about why the program, still in its infancy, is meeting with such success, he explains, "Our patients are presented with scientific evidence of this diet's powerful effects during our four-hour Wellness Program. It's harder to get all the information across during a 20 minute patient visit." In addition to the dramatic impact on heart disease, research continues to mount on the effectiveness of a plant-based diet in reducing the risk of many forms of cancer, osteoporosis, chronic kidney disease, many digestive diseases including IBS as well as autoimmune diseases.

Adopting a Healthier Diet

Making the transition to a primarily plant-based diet can be daunting for some. For many patients, enrolling in the Wellness Program opens up a world of new plant-based foods and recipes that they never knew existed. Participants in the program can expect to:

  • Learn the scientific background behind the power of a plant-based diet to prevent and reverse heart disease in a fun and interactive way.
  • Understand how a whole food/plant-based diet can prevent a variety of diseases, improve weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and many digestive issues.
  • Learn how to prepare and incorporate budget friendly vegan meals into daily life.
  • Understand myths and realities associated with plant-based diets.
  • Enjoy a flavorful, plant-based meal, complete with appetizers, entrees and dessert that will transform any skeptic's view of vegan food.
  • Never worry about counting calories again!

Lauren Graf says that there are two major components to long-term success and adherence with the program, "Patients need to really enjoy plant-based eating and also feel satisfied and full. If they don't love the food, it's not going to be sustainable. That's why we feel it is so important for participants to actually taste how delicious healthy vegan meals can be." The feedback on the plant-based meal served at the Wellness Program has been overwhelmingly positive. "It has been rewarding to watch some of the more dubious patients discover some new favorite foods after tasting the dishes served at our program."

Registering for the Cardiac Wellness Program

The first step in becoming part of the program is to schedule an initial one-on-one consult with Dr. Ostfeld, during which patients can share their health goals and concerns. The next steps are as follows:

  • Patients will be scheduled to attend the four-hour educational session that arms them with the information they need to adopt a plant-based lifestyle. Patients are welcome and encouraged to have a spouse or significant other accompany them to the session.
  • Follow-up visits with Dr. Ostfeld and "check in" phone calls. The frequency of these visits will depend on the individual needs of each patient.

To register for the Wellness Program, call 718-920-5197. Dr. Robert Ostfeld and Lauren Graf look forward to guiding you on your journey toward greater health!

Donations to the Cardiac Wellness Program

The Cardiac Wellness Program is made possible through the generous donations of grateful patients and friends of Montefiore. These sessions are made possible through the generous donations of grateful patients and friends of Montefiore. Please help us continue to improve the hearts of many by making a tax deductible gift to the Cardiac Wellness Program. Thank you!

Make a donation to the Cardiac Wellness Program