Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check out Are avocados good for you? Also, there are 1,449 subjects covered in my other videos–please feel free to explore them!

See also yesterday's "prequel" Are Avocados Good for You?

For the follow-up, see Any update on the scary in vitro avocado data?

For some context, please check out my associated blog post:  Tarragon Toxicity?

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check out Are avocados good for you? Also, there are 1,449 subjects covered in my other videos–please feel free to explore them!

  • http://www.facebook.com/suz.goldberg Suzanne Goldberg

    It seems odd to me that they would include avocado leaves with the fruit. Perhaps that threw off their findings. I’ve never even seen an avocado leaf, much less put them in my guacamole!

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      They did separate experiments and found similar findings with both leaves and just the fruit alone, unfortunately.

  • http://www.facebook.com/suz.goldberg Suzanne Goldberg

    I think I’ll just go with your insight that digestion may make this a moot issue and keep eating avocado. Thx.

  • Tim

    How common are “in vitro” studies like this? Is it fairly common? And if so, do you know of any other food which has caused such stunning genetic disruption?

  • Louis

    Michael Greger :”and then they took some avocado fruits, mashed it up”

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20859823
    “concentrations of 50% methanolic extracts of Persea americana fruit and leaves”

    And what was the concentration of the extract ?
    “The mean percentage total aberrant metaphases at 100 mg/kg, 200 mg/kg, and 300 mg/kg concentrations of leaf extract”

    Is this the typical concentration we find in a fruit ? No, it is not !

    Michael Greger : “They did separate experiments and found similar findings with both leaves and just the fruit alone, unfortunately”

    Indeed, but the fruit extract at doses of 100 mg/kg, 200 mg/kg, and 300 mg/kg produced less genotoxicity :”The group exposed to leaf extract showed higher frequency of all types of aberrations at equal concentrations as compared to the group exposed to fruit extract”

    It is the fruit that we eat and this does not contain the extracts/concentrations used in this study. What is the concentration of the so called dangerous persin in an avocado ? Plant food we eat on daily basis contains a myriad of toxins. If you concentrate them and do the exact in vitro test, there would be nothing left to eat … except for meat …

    • BPCveg

      Louis asks: “Is this the typical concentration we find in a fruit ?”

      Reproduced from the cited article (snipping out only relevant details on the avocado fruit preparation):

      “fruits of Persea americana were collected … shade-dried at room temperature … fruit pulp was macerated with 50% methanol and extracted once with 300 ml of 50% methanol at room temperature for one week with occasional shaking … methanolic extracts of fruit … [were] concentrated to dryness at 60 ± 1°C in a rotary evaporator … fruit extract after concentration gave a light-brown, oily, viscous extract … crude extracts were used for further study as solutions/suspensions in double distilled water after removing the particulate matter by centrifugation and sterilization using syringe filters … blood cultures were set up with three different concentrations (100, 200, and 300 mg/kg culture medium) [of] fruit extracts”

      Please note: the unit of measure is milligrams of dried extract per kilogram of “culture medium”

      My interpretation: The methodology presented in the cited article provides no basis to infer that the so-called dangerous persin was actually concentrated… since the methanolic extracts were expressed in arbitrary units (with no relation to concentration of toxins specified), it could be that the persin was 1 billion times more concentrated than the normal state after eating avocado or 1 billion times less concentrated than normal or even equivalent to normal. We simply don’t know!

      Conclusion: This is bad science and meaningless from the point of view of making health-related choices!

      • http://onestaorganics.com OnestaOrganics

        I agree with this conclusion. This study also shows (or rather, ignores) that whole foods mostly act differently than their separated individual parts.

      • Ben Williams

        I agree with this. The study and this article are totally bogus. I am beginning to see a trend in Dr. Greger’s articles.

        Bias.

  • Veguyan

    I gave up meat, foul, fish, eggs, cheese, milk, sugar and white flour. I’m not giving up avocado!

  • OnestaOrganics

    How were the extracts made? Some solvents used for extractions are toxic by themselves…

    There is a big difference between dumping something directly onto cells as opposed to having something (esp. something non extracted) digested before food fragments come into contact with immune or any other kind of cells.

    As somebody remarked above, it is curious that leaves were also extracted. Why did they study this at all, do food companies include leaves in their products?

    Were the used avocados raised ‘conventionally’ which may explain some of the pesticides found?

  • DrSteve

    My question is: Does the “fruit” of the avocado in this study include the meat plus peel, or just the meat? If the peel was included, then this is an unnecessary scare story, as we do not eat the peel. As mentioned, these in vitro assays are not reliable enough to reject a fruit that is such an important source of vitamin E and essential fatty acids – not to mention delicious!

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      They just used the fruit pulp (no peel or pit).

  • yurple

    This is very disheartening. Avocado has been touted (in some of your videos, I believe? — not sure) as a superfood. How does a person reconcile all the conflicting info? I love this site and the invaluable info it provides, but it gets difficult knowing how to contextualize all the tidbits from isolated tests – often conflicting and/or focusing on different aspects of health – into an overall approach to eating. Clues?

    • DrDons

      Bringing together all the studies into workable “models” or beliefs can be challenging. Scientists wrestle with this problem as well. Some shifts are easy such as the journey many have gone through from “dairy milk does the body good” to “dairy milk doesn’t do the body good” to “dairy milk does the body harm” to “dairy milk contains toxins”. Once on a essentially whole plant based diet with B12 supplementation the confusion is still there but you have made tremendous strides. For me I use moderation as the keystone when studies like the one cited here come out. You have to decide. Keep tuned however as the science keeps changing.

  • DaySleeper

    For many years, I used four pounds of organically grown avocados daily, all year round, many varieties, purchased in 40 pound boxes direct from the farmer in San Diego County, Southern California. Eventually, whenever I ate avocados, twitching occurred in my fingers and sometimes my forearms, not much, but enough to scare me. The farmer’s widow, after the framer died, said that the farmer died of Parkinson’s disease, & she also said that another avocado farmer had also died of Parkinson’s disease. I’ve tried many times to resume eating avocados, but, after a short time, frequently the same day after just one avocado, the same twitching symptoms recurred. I’ve read that animals, such as goats, are poisoned by eating avocado leaves or pits. I ate only the pulp, always organically grown avocados. Perhaps the persin destroys some brain cells when excessive quantities are consumed, & over long periods of time, the damage becomes noticeable. In my opinion, all foods are potentially damaging in various ways so a varied diet is necessary, usually. Balance of nutrients & freshness are essential. Thank you.

    • BPCveg

      Hi DaySleeper,

      I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience with avocado…clearly this fruit is not for you!

      I was a bit confused by your hypothesis on what causes the symptoms. Your symptoms seem to occur “after a short time” and yet your hypothesis that “persin destroys some brain cells when excessive quantities are consumed” is, as noted by you, a process that would occur “over long periods of time”. I was confused by the mismatch of the time-scales for your symptoms and explanatory process.

      Have you considered an alternate hypothesis that you are having an alegergic reaction to avocado. There is data to support this possibility…the following link provides details: http://foodallergens.ifr.ac.uk/food.lasso?selected_food=4

      • OmTigressDoingGood

         You did not read closely enough.  He said that he consumed 4 pounds of avocado daily for many years….and after he first started noticing symptoms, only 1 avocado in a day would quickly bring back the symptoms.

        • BPCveg

          Good point. I now realize that I failed to notice the extreme consumption.

  • BPCveg

    It is unfortunate that the researchers who performed this study did not measure the concentration of persin in the avocado fruit extract that they prepared. In the article, so many arguments are given about deleterious effects of persin and yet the researchers never report the actual concentration of persin in the culture!

    As the researchers reported in the discussion section: “There is also a possibility of certain component/components causing the genotoxicity being scanty or absent in the fruit while being present in higher amounts in the leaves. This can only be resolved by isolation and characterization of the active constituents responsible for the observed genotoxicity.”

    It remains to be proven that avocado is harmful to humans. The present paper, though provocative, presents a weak argument for rejecting avocado consumption!

  • bgrune

    Thanks for the info. Glad to see that most viewers are able to put this study in perspective. Many phytochemicals in fruit an vegetables are undoubtedly toxic when studied in isolation. This type of reductionist science is interesting but not very helpful in my opinion. I will continue to eat avocados in moderation as a small part of a diverse whole food plant based diet.

    • robwilly

      As someone who has eaten at least an average of 1 avocado per day for many years, I think a petri dish study is alarmist at best, and the good doctors who throw this at the public without good human studies are not doing anyone a favor.  The gentleman who ate 4# per day could have had a lymphatic flow impairment, a B6 deficiency, or a gall bladder issue.  The persin is probably neutralized in the intestinal tract in most healthy individuals is my guess as to why the world has not been destroyed by the millions of pounds of avocadoes consumed.

  • Harel B

    Thanks for the info MG and for reminding us about in vitro vs invivo..I’d like to know what the results are if they do the same (in vitro) to the top 100 most common foods…and classify the results from 0 (no damage) to low, medium, high, and compare where those foods effects are versus of avocado. I assume it’s not *common* for this to happen when you do this in vitro and put food on the cells…but is it unheard of? OR are there foods where similar things have been seen, and, those foods are (nevertheless) from epidemiological studies seem not to dangerous after all.

    I mean if even just one single other food does this *and* that other food from population studies seems harmless after all, then that suggests that the in vivo is maybe more benign  (but does not prove it, after all it could be that avocado digestion does not save the day but digestion of that other food does)

    Another idea/question – population studies directly comparing avocado consumption with effects years alter either in disease, or give people a blodo test years later and see if they can detect problems in the blood (or DNA found elsewhere)

    Seems to me like either of the above could give us additional clues making avocado consumption (in moderation) seem either more “guilty” or less “guilty”  depending on the results.

  • Barbara

    I had 3/4 of a Hass avocado this evening and reacted to it. I don;’t always react, but often enough to decide there is something wrong. My search identified persin as the toxin. I wonder if the thin-skin varieties of avocado might have much less toxin in them. Any thoughts on this?

  • Toxins

    any updates on Avacadoes in vivo?

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/ Michael Greger M.D.

      I’m happy to report that a new study this year found avocado consumption associated with significantly reduced prostate cancer risk (a third cup of avocado a day or more associated with 60% decreased odds of prostate cancer compared to men eating less than a daily tablespoon). Holy guacamole!

  • James Thompson

    A year later the same authors wrote: Avocado fruit (Persea americana Mill) exhibits chemo-protective potentiality against cyclophosphamide induced genotoxicity in human lymphocyte culture. that concluded: These studies suggest that phytochemicals from the avocado fruit can be utilized for making active chemoprotective ingredient for lowering the side effect of chemotherapy like cyclophosphamide in cancer therapy.

  • brux

    Dr. Greger, I discovered your videos on You-Tube about a week ago and have been watching them as well as exploring your website here. Most of what I have been hearing has been very interesting and informative however when I hear studies like this it makes me a little crazy – I don’t know how to evaluate it. You read it in the same straight voice you use in all your other videos, and the source and nature of the study has no really differentiation from any of the other videos, but I do not know how serious to take the procedure used in this study?

    Would one not get the same kind of results dripping water on blood cells … they would explode or implode wouldn’t they? Or virtually any other liquid no matter how benign it seems to us on the macro level it seems like would cause a problem if dripped on blood cells directly.

    Is this a recognized and validated method of research? As I have been moving towards veganism for a little over a month now it is difficult to think that I have to start calling some fruits and vegetables friends and others enemies because of things like this. I am tempted by what I think is my better judgement to just ignore studies like this … but then again my bad judgement in eating the average American diet for over 40 years makes my own judgement a little suspect! What am I supposed to make of this please?

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/ Michael Greger M.D.

      If you look under the “Doctor’s Note” above, there is an update posted, which should help put your mind at ease (certainly did for me!).

      • brux

        I was more concerned with the whole methodology of this study and then others that are cited where they drip juice on cells and things like that. Thanks for the reply, I appreciate what you are doing here, and in such a fact-baed and entertaining style as well!

  • Michael

    Has there ever been a study of the affects of persin (amounts typically found in a serving of Avocado) on the human body when digested by humans? It seems this study doesn’t give us the full picture of how persin affects the body after it is digested, frankly it scares people. Your follow-up is comforting, however still leaves a cliffhanger as to whether it’s better to consume or avoid Avocado’s!

    Who funded the avocado study and it’s affects on our blood?
    Could it have been the meat industry trying to scare vegans and the like?
    Do you consume avocado and if so in what quantity?

    Thanks Dr. Greger, excellent site and presentation of the information.

  • Russell Dee

    Dr. Esselstyn, one of the few doctors out there successfully treating heart disease without surgery, says oils are very bad for the heart. check out what he says about oils in this interview:

    http://www.heartattackproof.com/qanda.htm

    I’ve personally spoken with him on the telephone and he says that avocado oil is the same as olive oil and other oils which are very bad for the heart. He says that they play a role in causing arteriosclerosis which leads to heart attacks. In his book “how to prevent and reverse heart disease” I think he specifically says to stay away from avocados and he says that the lower incidence of heat disease and heart attacks among the people who digest olive oil and avocados is a mirage. He says that while those people do have lower rates of heart disease and heart attacks than the people who eat the western diet, they still have higher rates of heart disease and heart attacks than the people who stick to a plant-based diet and also stay away from olive oil and avocado oil. He says the people with the lowest rates of heart disease/heart attacks are the people who eat a plant-based diet except for the plants with oils. He adds that the people who eat a plant-based diet including the plant food that have oils (avocados and olives) have lower rates of heart disease and heart attacks than the people who have a meat-based diet but they could lower their heart disease/heart attack rates even more if they stopped eating olive oil, avocado oil, and other plant based food with oil.

    • brux

      People have their different sources they believe, but what make Dr. Esselstyn’s word gospel, and isn’t it most likely that no one has all the answers as well as realizing people’s message do not just freeze, they evolve and hopefully get smarter. A freezing message is an example of a product sold for a profit, and low and behold we see Esselstyn’s name on supermarket products now. How can I be sure that any time I see his name it’s not just some guerilla marketing … that that guerilla marketing is always bad, but convincing people of things in order to sell them things is a pretty big racket.

      > He says the people with the lowest rates of heart disease/heart attacks are the people who eat a plant-based diet except for the plants with oils.

      This sounds like something that makes sense, but I really doubt there is enough obejctive data to prove that because there are so many variables and and reporting them is often just subjective.

      • Russell Dee

        Brux, either the evidence backs Esselstyn up or it doesn’t. That’s what it gets down to.

        Does Esselstyn make a profit off of his ideas? I think he does. Is Esslestyn allowed to make a profit off of his position? Of course. It’s still a capitalistic world. If you came up with an idea of how to cure a disease that lots of people have and is killing lots of people I bet you would give it away for free and not try to make one penny in the process. Right!!!!!

        The thing is that they did studies that show that the Mediterranean diet is way better than the American diet but there are other studies that show that the Mediterranean diet can be improved. Even better results can be achieved.

        In his book Esselstyn talks about how some sections of the Asian population were not seeing any hear attacks or heart disease. The people living on a plant based diet even avoiding the oils were free of heart disease and free from heart attacks. Then western culture started encroaching into hose populations and all of a sudden they are seeing heart disease and heart attacks. The older generations in those sections of the Asian population are still seeing little or no heart problems because they live by the old ways and the old diets and the younger generations ridicule the older people in those parts of Asia calling them jungle people and the like. But the older people eating a plant based diet and staying away from oils are still staying free of heart disease and heart attacks while the younger generation that is more and more adopting western culture is seeing more and more heart problems.

        • brux

          I’ve heard the evidence, and seen videos from Essylstyn and others, as well as the summaries of studies here. I think there is room for disagreement, and no one has real proof. Yes, there is data to support Essylstyn’s hypotheses, but they do not know what all is going on here. I am working on keeping vegan, but I don’t want to be a fanatic about anything – no one understands this completely, so while I eat mostly veggies, I will occasionally eat oil, or cheese, meat or dairy, I just try to keep it way down. One of the most interesting videos I’ve seen is the one about intestinal flora and how it reacts to meat. Everything now has chemicals in it, pesticides, antibiotics, metals … it is disgusting how we have treated the planet and industrialized our food supply. I think organic, fresh and vegetarian mostly is a good way to be … past that, I don’t know for sure and I am not sure I buy Essylstyn’s views, logical as they sound.

          • H Barzilai

            Even though I use olive oil, I suspect oils (not whole foods) are iffy…but whole foods? He makes a stronger claim that whole foods (avocados, in moderation for example) are bad, ok, please post some links, or just one link, to a study that did the comparison.

            (personally I have about 10+ blood readings of my trigl. levels, about 7 before, when I had a super low fat vegan diet, and about 3 after…my readings got much better, lower, after I made the change to moderate-low from super-low fat vegan diet)

            And even if there was 100 studies showing better heart health for super low fat versus medium-low fat vegan whole-foods diet, that’s still not the end, because heart health isn’t the only component of health…and for other components of health the results might be the opposite..but even for the narrow question of heart health, I have read or skimmed all this exchange and still not seen a link to a study peer reviewed, double blind etc, comparing the two. (then I’d like to see Greger’s analysis of such study/studies)

          • brux

            A lot of the media stuff we see are linear extrapolations from some fact that someone digs out data mining some big study. I just do not think we know the perfect answers to these questions, and like you said heart health is not everything. I wish I could stick to a strict vegan diet, and I do try for the most part, but it’s just almost impossible. I feel I know the general parameters, and low fat, and especially as little animal fat as possible is better … but I am not sure some, such as fish oil is not good for you. To define rules based on who shouts the loudest of give the best video talk doesn’t make sense to be me. I just try to keep taking in information, it could be hundreds of years before we really understand everything – if we, human beings, are still here.

          • http://www.DonForresterMD.com/ Don Forrester MD

            I don’t think we will ever understand everything. Colin Campbell’s recent book, Whole, discusses the limitations of reductionistic approaches to understanding complex systems. They are useful but the limitations must be understood. I also believe most people would benefit from a better understanding of statistics and risk/benefit. It does boil down to biochemistry. Given our current food environment sticking to a plant based diet is a challenge. Current studies don’t show any value in consuming fish oil. It is a journey… stay tuned as the science keeps coming.

          • brux

            Reductionistic, ie linear modeling only works in certain situations, and is usually good to demonstrate the effects a certain variable has one a complex system, not as a way to measure, quantify or control that system. Somehow we have allowed all life in Western civilization to be reduced to this industrial machine input and output … well, that is, except if you are rich enough to be able to escape that system and rise above it. But then … what’s Western about that the way that system, our system, is now?

          • H Barzilai

            Just to clarify, when I said ” I made the change to moderate-low from super-low fat vegan diet” I meant “change to moderate-low VEGAN from super-low fat vegan..” Just adding more nuts, adding some avocado, and wise or unwise, adding more olive oil…lower triglyc, was strongly correlated with this diet change.

            I don’t use fish or other animal products but as Greger put so well in a cooking video he did a long time ago, don’t guilt trip yourself, if you can be 90% or x% vegan, you’re still doing a huge amount for your health, for the environment, and for the animals.

            I personally think dairy is more iffy than fish, but if you’re using fish, I’d research real carefully about heavy metals, then I’d research if there are any other chemicals, or hormones, then I’d reserach it is GMO fish, and if officially not, is it near another population that is that in 5 years they’ll tell you “oops, there was GMO contamination with fish interbreeding” as we know happens with plants, etc, just more to worry about to avoid, and research

            “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to
            be happy, practice compassion” -The Dalai Lama

      • Lola

        I think you are seeing products connected with Dr. Esselstyn’s son, Rip.

  • brux

    > See also yesterday’s “prequel” Are Avocados Good for You?

    And today it is “Are Avocados Bad For You” … at least there is somewhere in the media where the Fairness Doctrine still applies! If avocados are bad, or contain substances that are toxic or carcinogenic, doesn’t that mean that virtually everything does to some extent?

    Are we supposed to somehow classify all plants as to whether they are above some good v. bad level and only eat certain fruits and vegetables?

    I never used to eat many avocados … usually only in guacamole, or on turkey sandwiches, but since I started to eat more vegan fair I buy avocados pretty regularly, sometimes eating them for breakfast, or on a veggie burger sandwich.

    Since so many plants have so many different chemicals, and the body can never guess what chemicals plants will evolve, isn’t it reasonable to hypothesize that the human body has some mechanism to filter out or ignore most of these insecticide and fungicidal compounds? Is science crazy or are we on the step of a new understanding of how the human body and nutrition work?

  • Gio

    Tiny problem: were the avocados in question ripe? Unripe avocado is what the vast majority of people (including scientists) consider ripe when it’s not. A ripe avocado is soft, something like spreadable cheese. Ripe avocado are chemically different from unripe ones as it happens with most fruit. Usually unripe fruit contain toxic chemicals not present or much less present in ripe fruit.

    Thank You.

  • Avocados!!!

    I bet the persin is the reason it is toxic to all animals except humans. I am so curious why that is.

    Considering how destructive it is (given the video above), if our digestive system didn’t neutralize the persin, I’m sure we would have the same reactions as other animals (diarrhea, death, or death by diarrhea!)

  • EP_2012

    What about avocado oil on the skin? Seems to be a popular ingredient in many natural products. Since an external application is similar to data mentioned in the above video, could it cause the same DNA damage?

  • Ruby

    I can only hope that this ridiculous report is not being passed off as “scientific”. I won’t harp on the lack of cause and effect scenarios, proper scientific procedure to test a hypothesis and so on. A first year grad student wouldn’t be allowed to publish this tripe, assuming such a poorly designed project even got approval.

    • Ruby

      As an aside, I will advise my DNA not to expose itself to anything while residing in a test tube without first obtaining my permission.

  • Yan Yee

    Hi Dr Greger, have you got any input on premature infertility and diet?

  • Bret Iron

    Hi! I can’t find anything online thats consistent about testing and effects or treatment about candidiasis. Would be greatly interested in your findings! Thanks for all you do!

  • Doug

    A VERY engaging discussion on avocados. I am a loyal subscriber to the site and have been reading this avocado debate with enthusiasm. In reading all of the valuable and thoughtful input from past input, one comment jumped out at me. Gio made the point that properly ripened avocado is quite different in chemical structure than the partially ripened fruit. This is true for any plant product as an enormous part of the maturation process takes is responsible for changing the basic chemical structure of the end product. Personally, I followed a somewhat typical western diet for most of my life, making a few attempts at a vegetarian or vegan diet several times in the past; however, travelling significantly in my work, I found the lifestyle virtually impossible. Now, being faced with a very high PSA level, I have devoted to a nearly vegan lifestyle, having sworn off of ALL dairy, sugars, animal proteins (with VERY limited and infrequent exceptions of fish). I seldom cook vegetables other than the obvious, such as dried beans. The avocado toxicity paradox has me reeling and not knowing how to take these conflicting study results. I am; however, quite relieved and pleased by the positive avocado/prostate health study results. The individual who consumed pounds of the fruit daily, it seems to me, was begging for overreaction, simply by overindulgence. In my present diet, the few portions of ANY fat that I receive, I receive from avocado, nuts and olive oil. We know that fats are essential for brain function and development and goodness knows, I need all the brain function that I can get. My diet of the past two years is composed mainly of varied raw cruciferous vegetables, small but frequent asparagus portions, beans, raw spinach and nuts with olive oil and one avocado daily, all organic when possible. Being raised on a cattle and rice farm, this would seem to be a major departure; however, it is a departure in diet only. I question if any studies have been conducted on populations that have consumed high portions of avocados in their traditional geography and culture. These folks would be excellent subjects, rather than studies based upon westerners who have tainted their DNA, traditions, dietary makeup and general chemistry with the toxins, additives, GMOs and impurities that they have encountered in our typical environment. Any word or opinion on this would be welcomed.

    • Thea

      Doug: Nice post! I like your analysis.

      I’m afraid I don’t have much to add to your discussion. (Hopefully others will jump in.) But I wanted to say that I also appreciate a good avocado!

      Also, I’m curious if your diet changes have helped your PSA levels. Or is it too early to tell? I’ll think good thoughts for you.

      Finally, I wanted to say: There are plenty of people who would rather die than change their diet. So, it means something significant that you were able to make this change that was difficult for your. Congratulations. I hope it leads to a long healthy life. Best of luck.

  • joe

    Hi Dr. Greger,

    This video is now has now prompted me to write you, I really hope you can find the time to respond … For years I’ve been trying to live by a plant based diet, but failed several times. As a runner I need good protein to recover and keep a healthy weight. On plant sources alone I simply lose too much weight (dropping to 130). As it is with chicken 2-3 times a week and avocados (walnuts too for the fats). Im 140 at 6’2. I was recently determined to be slightly anemic and my doctor also wants me to gain weight saying I have too low BMI. Main sources of many meals is oat meal, berries, walnuts (breakfast) and beans (black, red, kidney, pinto, lentils, pearly barley) , perhaps black beans and a vegetable at lunch and lentils at dinner. My doctor has also warned me about the high level of oxalates with my diet and the risk of kidney stones. Perhaps the oxalates also caused the anemia to begin with? So I kindly ask of you could you point me in the right direction? perhaps a sample weekly meal plan you follow? Is eating 3 times a day ok or should I be eating more frequently? Please this would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for reading and thank you for your time.

    Joe.

    • Thea

      joe: I hope Dr. Greger is able to respond to you, but I know that he rarely has the time now a days to respond to indvidual people. So, I thought I would reply in case I can help. I’m not a doctor or an expert, but I have some ideas that relate to your situation.

      There is a frequent commenter on NutritionFact named “VeganRunner”. I’m hoping she will see your post and comment. But if not, maybe you could find one of her posts and ask her how she thrives on a plant based diet while being a serious runner.

      One of my favorite reference books is the revised express edition of a book called “Becoming Vegan” by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina. Based on past posts, I know that Dr. Greger also has a lot of respect for Brenda Davis. I think he would approve of my recommendation that you get the book one way or another so that you can read the chapter on gaining weight. It is really excellent and will tell you how to gain or maintain your weight in a healthy way. The book includes meal plan examples for various calorie levels.

      Another idea is to look for some of the vegan athlete websites out there. I know that there is at least one that feature vegan athletes in general and another one that focuses on vegan body builders. You could gain information from those sites and might be able to ask questions. Similarly, I believe that there are some good vegan athlete books out there which also include meal plans.

      Dr. Greger has some videos and articles about kidney stones and oxalates that might make you feel better:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/questions/what-is-the-best-diet-for-kidney-stone-prevention/
      http://nutritionfacts.org/questions/oxalic-acid-in-beets/
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/oxalates-in-cinnamon/

      I’m no expert, but based on what you describe, your diet sounds pretty on track! – minus the chicken. (2 to 3 times a week. yikes!) If you have time to look around on this site, you will see how great berries, walnuts and beans are for you. I’m thinking that it will just take some tweaking of your diet to meet your needs. Assuming no underlying medical condition, if you are losing weight, you are not eating enough. As you can see in Brenda’s book, there are some pretty easy ways to fix that.

      I think it is really great that you are trying to be as healthy as you can. I wish you luck on your journey and hope this post ends up helping you.

  • kevin

    Don’t avoid avocados. These scientists get bored and do these nonsense studies to confuse folks. Greger even says “we don’t know what happens when we eat avocados” This petrie dish stuff is a waste of time – much like studies on rats – We are humans, NOT rats ! I find it so hard to believe that a food from Nature can be bad for our health. Misinformation is bad for our health.