Meet Dr. Heather Shenkman, M.D. who is the plant-based, triathlete cardiologist who a bunch of people have been talking to me about for years! I finally got to interview, and do a Facebook live with her.
While Heather performs complex angioplasties to open up clogged coronary arteries, she prefers to help her patients reduce their risk of heart disease through not only medication, but also a healthy lifestyle, including a plant-based diet and regular exercise.
Dr. Shenkman has followed a plant-based diet since 2005. She is an avid athlete, having completed over 100 events of various distances, from sprint triathlons to Ironman distance triathlons, marathons and ultramarathons, and several 100-mile century cycling events.
Dr. Shenkman is a strong believer in a plant-based diet for heart health, as numerous studies have demonstrated its benefits in the prevention and even reversal of coronary artery disease. A plant-based diet has fueled her athletic success, and she encourages her patients toward this diet for their own health as well.
Enjoy my interview with her!
Sophie: As a doctor, when did you decide to transition to a fully plant-based diet, and why?
H.S. I became a vegetarian at age 16, and went vegan thirteen years ago. I made the choice to go vegan because of my love of animals, but also because there’s so much evidence that a vegan diet can prevent and reverse many of the diseases that I treat.
Sophie: Is this a diet that you recommend to all your patients, regardless of their health issues?
H.S.I urge all of my patients to lean toward a plant-based diet, since it has so many health benefits. A plant-based diet can work for anyone. For some people it’s hard to make a change. Rather than encouraging my patients what NOT to eat, I like to focus on what they should be eating. First, add in more vegetables and fruit. Then, substitue foods like beans, lentils, and tofu for animal products.
Sophie: How do you stand in the oil-free debate? Do you recommend your patients minimize or eliminate cooking and finishing oils?
H.S. Oil is very dense in calories, and can be inflammatory. I encourage patients to minimize oil in the diet; if you feel you truly need it in a recipe, use as little as necessary.
Sophie: You’re a triathlete, how do you get the protein and nutrition you need from a plant-based diet?
H.S. It’s easy to get all the nutrients I need from a plant-based diet. In fact I feel like my vegan plant-based diet gives me an advantage in that it’s cleaner than a standard American diet.
Sophie :Is there anyone for whom a plant-based diet won’t work?
Sophie: What are your thought on grains?
H.S. Grains are a part of a healthy diet; whole grains have plenty of fiber and nutrients.
Sophie: Any thoughts on the latest Keto/Paleo trend?
H.S. Keto and Paleo diets have never been shown to prevent or reverse any disease process. They are heavy in animal products, and for the long term are not a healthy choice.
Sophie: Finally, where can we find your book and all your information?
Grab a copy of Heather’s latest book, The Vegan Heart Doctor’s Guide to Reversing Heart Disease, Losing Weight, and Reclaiming Your Life