In recognition of his remarkable achievements in medicine and his pioneering work to prevent heart disease, Deerfield presented Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn ’52 with the 2013 Heritage Award at school meeting this week.
A prominent and distinguished member of the medical field, Dr. Esselstyn worked for many years at the Cleveland Clinic, where he first started studying the effects of a plant-based diet on coronary artery disease. By treating his patients using diet and nutrition, rather than with medication or surgery, Dr. Esselstyn saw his patients’ symptoms disappear and their disease reverse. He has since become an advocate of a plant-based diet, published a book about his research, Prevent and Reverse and Heart Disease, and was featured in the recent documentary Forks Over Knives.
Dr. Esselstyn shared with students, faculty, and staff a brief overview of his work, the astonishing results his patients have seen, and the guidelines he uses to show people how to improve their diet: AVOID all oil, fish, meat, dairy, and caffeinated food products; DO eat whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and greens, greens, greens! In the end, Dr. Esselstyn said, he wants to empower his patients so that through lifestyle changes, they can become heart attack proof.
The Heritage Award is presented annually to a Deerfield alumnus whose professional and personal achievements have represented a special contribution to the betterment of society; in short, someone whose life exemplifies the Academy’s motto: “Be Worthy of Your Heritage.” Past honorees include author John McPhee ’49, Paralympian Christopher Waddell ’87, and 2012 award recipient scientist Kerry Emanuel ’73.