The Plant Rx

Your resource for a plant-based diet

Plant-based Health Study: Vanessa’s Rockin’ Results!

Posted by Jenn on April 13, 2011

The Plant-based health study concluded on March 15th.  Since then we have been testing our participants and gathering the final results and we are just about ready to present them all to you.  In the meantime, we will have some special posts on the individual participant’s results and their thoughts on participating in the study now that it is over.


Today I am very excited to present to you  Vanessa’s study results!


Vanessa's Plant-based Health Study Results

Vanessa entered our study as a 30 year old Dental student (who btw, is now a licensed Dentist! Congrats, Vanessa!) who consumed a Standard American Diet (SAD).  She was thin with a very good BMI.  Her pre-study lab work showed that she had hyperlipidemia with a total blood cholesterol of 255 (anything over 200 is considered “high”) and an LDL cholesterol of 130 (anything above 130 is considered “high”).  Her HDL values were phenomenal, among the best I’ve ever seen, and her triglycerides were also very good as was her A1C value.

After 30 days on a plant-based diet, Vanessa’s total cholesterol dropped from 255 to 206.  A 49 point drop! Her LDL cholesterol dropped from 130 to 86.  A 44 point drop!  These reductions almost brought her into acceptable blood cholesterol ranges.  Her LDL was now considered well within normal ranges and her Total Cholesterol was now only 6 points above what is considered to be the “normal” range.  All other values remained fairly constant including her weight and BMI.

After another 30 days (at the 60 day conclusion of our study), the results were even MORE impressive! Vanessa’s Total Cholesterol dropped another 28 points to 178! Further, her LDL cholesterol dropped an additional 28 points to 58! Talk about impressive!  In 60 days, Vanessa’s Total Cholesterol went from 255 to 178, a 77 point decrease! Her LDL Cholesterol went from 130 to 58, a 72 point decrease!  Thus, not only does Vanessa NO LONGER HAVE HYPERLIPIDEMIA, but she cut her LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) more than in half!

As if that weren’t enough, her LDL values are now below what even Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn would consider safe and cardio-protective from the likes of heart disease and its co-morbidities!  Great job, Vanessa!

To read about Vanessa’s journey visit Vanessa’s Page under the Plant-based Health Study tab. Her final labs will also be posted on the main Plant-based Health Study page by weeks end in the interest of transparency.  Additionally, her final post and thoughts on her experience after getting her final results have been pasted below for you to read.

Please join me in thanking Vanessa for participating in our study as well as congratulating her on her amazing results!

Vanessa’s Final Post

(March 29, 2010)

The plant-based diet study has been over now for a few weeks.  I wish I could say that I have been keeping a strict plant-based diet since then, but that is not the case.  However, I am still keeping a diet which is predominantly plant-based.   I would say that over the course of two days, I might have one meal that includes some form of dairy.  Meat is a different story – I’ve never been a big meat-eater, so I don’t have as strong of a desire to include it back into my diet.

However, today may have been a game changer!

I just received the results from my final blood work and I am SHOCKED at the results.  I was pretty happy at the midpoint blood work when my LDL went down so significantly.  However, I had blood work done back in September that produced similar results.  I was happy that my cholesterol improved, but I honestly thought that things would probably plateau around these levels. Totally wrong! My LDL levels continued to plummet during the last 30 days.   My LDL levels went from 130 at the beginning of the study to 58! So now I feel like I need to rethink things…  I had originally decided that I didn’t want to completely eliminate all traces of dairy from my diet – a minimal amount would certainly make keeping this lifestyle a little easier without having a large impact on my physical health.  I think I still believe this, but I will definitely give pause before I opt to eat foods outside of a plant-based diet.

If you were to have to give advice to someone who is looking to transition to a plant-based diet what 5 tips would you give them to help them in their transition?

1)  Start slow – don’t go out there and start eating all these foreign foods just because they are plant-based.  No need to start eating tempeh or making nut butter from scratch or buying soy chicken.  I think this just makes the transition even stranger.   There’s plenty of time for branching out and experimenting.

2)  Stick with meals you already love that might happen to be plant -based.  Do you like potatoes?  Yams?  Beans?  PB&J?  Soups?  Veggie chili?  I found that the first half of the study was harder because I was trying out too many new recipes.  The second half was easier because I stopped thinking about it as much and just ate what I knew.

3)  Drink a LOT of water.

4) Bring snacks.  I always carried apples, oranges, nuts, Lara bars, etc with me.

5)  Don’t forget to eat beans, lentils, and nuts.  Veggies are awesome, but I found that when I had a meal that was solely veggie based, I would get hungry within a few hours.  When I included beans, lentils, and nuts, I was satisfied for much longer.

What was the most difficult aspect of switching for you?

I struggle with the social aspect of the plant-based diet.  I would get anxious about going out to dinner or going to a friend’s house for a meal.  I don’t want to be a burden or be different from everyone else.   I don’t want special treatment. I still find it difficult to explain myself.  I know it shouldn’t matter, but it definitely makes keeping the diet a little less enticing.

Now that you have had experience with your previous diet and now a plant-based one — which one do you feel better on (on a day-to-day basis) What is the difference (if there is one)?

To be perfectly honest, I think I was the only person in this study that really didn’t notice much of a difference on the plant-based diet.  I still had stomach aches, I felt bloated.  I definitely think that it can be a little easier on the plant-based diet to force yourself to make healthier decisions since ice cream, baked goods, pizza, etc are completely off the table unless you go out of your way to find vegan versions.  I also think that it is easier to overeat on non-plant based foods.


2 Responses to “Plant-based Health Study: Vanessa’s Rockin’ Results!”

  1. Congrats, Vanessa! Those are fantastic results–proof a plant-based diet works! When I first went completely vegan, I struggled with eating out, too, especially at other people’s house. To make it easy on the hostess, I either talked to them first, or brought something I could eat. I think just telling people of your amazing results and how important those changes are to you, will garner lots of respect and awe from others and it will fine. And frankly, it doesn’t matter what people think–don’t sacrifice to fit in; your body will thank you!

  2. Kevin said

    Vanessa, that’s awesome!!!! I started eating plant-based about 100 days ago and so I’m in about the same stage as you are. Initially I told myself that I’d try it for 90 days just to see for myself what happened. I try to be open-minded, but having suffered from high blood pressure for years despite what I (and most people) consider a healthy diet and exercising regularly, I didn’t believe I would ever get my BP under control. Within a few weeks my BP fell from average 140+/90+ to 115/75. Like you, once I saw the results I can’t really justify reverting back to the old “healthy” diet, even if it wasn’t completely SAD. Like Epicureanvegan said, if people give you a hard time just tell them about your results and let them go about eating their artery-clogging meat and dairy. 🙂 The worst that could happen is that you inspire someone else to eat just a little better themselves. You sure have inspired me! Really, NICE JOB!


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