Doctor's Note

Adding nuts and seeds to one’s salad boosts the bioavailability of the fat-soluble carotenoid phytonutrients in the greens. See my video Forego Fat-Free Dressings?Oil would work, but whole food sources of fat (and other nutrients!) are superior. For more on nuts and cholesterol, see Nuts and Bolts of Cholesterol Lowering. And for more on the adverse effects of too much sodium, see Dietary Guidelines: With a Grain of Big Salt and Salt OK if Blood Pressure is OK?

For more context, check out my associated blog post, Stool Size and Breast Cancer Risk.

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  • Adding nuts and seeds to one’s salad boosts the bioavailability of the fat-soluble carotenoid phytonutrients in the greens. See my video Forego Fat-Free Dressings?. Oil would work, but whole food sources of fat (and other nutrients!) are superior. For more on nuts and cholesterol see Nuts and Bolts of Cholesterol Lowering and for more on the adverse effects of too much sodium, see Dietary Guidelines: With a Grain of Big Salt and Salt OK if Blood Pressure is OK?

    •  I like that juice:oil comparison! I’ve got to remember that one.

      I went salt free several years ago; but I still enjoy olives. I eat the raw, whole, no-salt olives. They are (supposedly) an acquired taste — either love them or hate them, I guess. I happen to love them.
      Any problem with these? I’ve not heard of any.

    • Jason Dunn

      Do Sprouted Nuts have a greater nutritional value (as do sprouted seeds and beans) vs raw nuts?  Would this help kick the salad up a notch?  For the people who need the oily texture on their salad, is virgin coconut oil a better alternative to Olive oil?  This is starting to sound more like a recipe channel.  Any input would be greatly appreciated Dr. Greger (specifically on the sprouted nut).

      • Thea

         Jason:  I know you addressed Dr. Greger, but I have some thoughts that you might find helpful.

        re: sprouted nuts:  I got into the idea of sprouting when Dr. Greger did his series on broccoli and sprouting.  I bought a couple of books on the topic to learn more.  It’s been a while since I read those books, but if memory serves, I believe that they did say that sprouted nuts do indeed have more nutrition – including more absorb-able nutrition.  (“You are what you absorb.”)

        Re: coconut oil vs olive oil:  Dr. Greger covered coconut oil in this video:

        Hope that was helpful.

        • Jason Dunn

          Fantastic – Thank you for the affirmation (my research on sprouting nuts has been minimal) and I am love’n the sprouted broccoli (thanks for the heads up at your Toronto visit Dr. Greger) and other delisous seeds and beans I have sprouted.
          Sprout on my friend, Sprout on!

      • Rami Najjar – NF Moderator

        Actually there is little scientific evidence that sprouting does indeed increase the nutritional quality of food significantly.

        “The magnitude of the nutritional improvement is, however, influenced by the type of cereal, seed quality, sprouting conditions, and it is not large enough to account for in feeding experiments with higher animals..”

        “Sprouting of grains causes increased enzyme activity, a loss of total dry matter, an increase in total protein, a change in amino acid composition, a decrease in starch, increases in sugars, a slight increase in crude fat and crude fiber, and slightly higher amounts of certain vitamins and minerals. Most of the increases in nutrients are not true increases, however. They simply reflect the loss of dry matter, mainly in the form of carbohydrates, due to respiration during sprouting. As total carbohydrates decreases, the percentage of other nutrients increases. There are no nutritional evaluations of cereal sprouts in humans. Animal studies with cattle, pigs, chickens, and rats have failed to show a superior nutritive value of sprouted grains over ungerminated grains. Studies with humans are not likely to produce more encouraging results. ”

        I would stear clear of cocnut oil entirely. All oils are essentiallu junk food and they cause harm to ones body. check out this write up on coconut oil

    • Cynysha Thompson

      Dear Doctor Gregor,

      Your videos are PHENOMENAL!!! I share wherever and whenever I can on Facebook, Pinetrest, Google+ and Twitter. I live with Autoimmune Poly endocrine Syndrome. I cannot even list whether it’s I, II, III or IV because I bear the signs and symptoms in all four areas. I should not be alive based on all of the emergency room visits, hospital stays and allergies and through much prayer, intense research and videos like yours ………. I am alive and doing well. One of the most recent things I learned from you that has really, really helped me sort out so much of the madness in my life is your emphasis on consuming WHOLE foods. Processed foods on a whole is POISON to me but even organic and packaged foods were a recent growing issue and I really became disillusioned UNTIL I learned that I can still enjoy food BUT I must procure it in its organic, WHOLE state FIRST then transform it. So as far as cooking with oil goes, I purchase organic coconuts and process them at home to secure the oil and I can cook with this. This goes for everything else. I had to make a lot of changes and I’m learning as I go. It becomes clearer and clearer to me that man thrives when he eats as close to the soil as possible. Thank you for your time and videos!!!! They are GREATLY appreciated!!

  • Had suspected this. I’m still curious about ghee (if one could find it without environmental toxins). And clarified butter made from milks more compatible with humans are better. Various ancient medicines (including Greek and Roman) mention many milks with different properties and tend to suggest best is of course human.

  • A new study on ghee seems to be making the rounds on some newspapers. “A spoon of ghee full of health: ‘Poses no danger to cardiac health'”. I think it’s this one.

    If anyone could share it, that’d be great.

  • Hathor42

    Huh — they didn’t think to compare to a diet enriched with nonfatty plants.  They had four groups, but apparently couldn’t add a fifth.  Partial funding from the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council…

  • Wayne Halford

    I’m allergic to nuts. All nuts. Has there been a comparison between the health benefits in seeds as compared to nuts? I’m looking for a way to enhance my salads without using nuts of course. I do use pumpkin seeds and sunflower and am wondering if there is enough fat in the seed to help with getting all the good from the nutrients in my salads.

  • vegan minstrel

    Given the recent research showing that LDL-c (cholesterol) is not nearly as significant as LDL-p (particle size &/or concentration), couldn’t one read these results differently? That is, don’t these results show extra virgin olive oil causing a bigger drop in oxidized LDL than almonds while walnuts caused an increase in same? Almonds did cause the biggest decrease in homocysteine, but virgin olive oil was nearly as good and better than walnuts in that regard. Couldn’t one make a case that since the fat-soluble antioxidant vitamins reside in the oil of a fruit, that refined oils can be more beneficial than whole fruits in some instances? Olives are the perfect example since as Dr. Greger stated, eating a bunch of olives perhaps gives the eater too much salt.

  • vegan minstrel

    Just realized that since virgin olive oil caused an increase in apolipoprotein B while walnuts & almonds caused a decrease, the whole food does have a more beneficial effect on LDL-p than the refined oil in this case, correct?

  • Tom Lang

    Hey Dr Gregor, I am a fan of yours – lots of great info you’ve posted in many videos and I thank you for that.

    Is it my imagination or are you starting to recently omit too much important info?

    Like your post the other day about canned beans and the fact that you never mentioned the real health risk of BPA leaching out of the liners in canned food.

    Now in this post about olive oil vs walnuts or almonds to reduce the “bad” LDL cholesterol. First of all who eats dry salad with just nuts on it? I’d choke. I use 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil AND nuts (and much more) in my salads, Calorie wise the difference is trivial between olive oil versus nuts so I don’t understand why you would even mention that. 1 Tbsp of olive oil is about 120 calories while the equivalent weight (14g) of almonds is 80 calories and for Walnuts about 95 calories.

    Most importantly the idea that LDL cholesterol is “bad” is based on very old, outdated, science. As vegan minstrel pointed out 5 months ago in her post there is a big difference between the essential harmless “big fluffy” particles of LDL versus the high density small particle LDL which is the real “bad” type of LDL – yet you made no mention of this in this video.It’s a very important point.

    Bottom line is yes you are correct that whole foods are nearly always healthier than refined/separated portions of whole foods but a better focus for this video might have been “how to optimize the nutritional value AND flavor of your salads” because that reflects the reality of how we eat.


    • Have you tried ever making your own salad dressings with nuts/seeds + flavored vinegar in a blender à la Dr. Fuhrman? He’s got recipes in his books and on his site. That way you’d get the full benefit of whole plant fats PLUS more palatable salads.

  • The whole food, plant-based message in this video is a very important one. Still it is important to note that reducing fat to 10% of calories has had amazing effects on reversing heart disease, as illustrated in the Esselstyn and Ornish studies. To do this, one also has to be cognizant, and even limit whole food fats such as olives, avocados and nuts. They can be eaten, but only in moderation if one has cardiovascular concerns.

  • Steve

    You share similarities with Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn but the one area which is a major diversion from his work is the use of oils, in particular olive oil. Are you an advocate of olive oil or do you believe that Dr. Esselstyn is correct that all oils damage the endothelium and thus lead to greater numbers of cases of heart disease?

  • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

    Hi Steve,

    I really appreciate you reposting your comment. Did you happen to see this video? I think the general theme in the research point to “whole foods” as the best source of nutrition. That said, olives, avocado, and flaxseed appear to be much more healthful than their oils. Perhaps it’s the added benefit of fiber and antioxidants obtained in the whole foods? Olive oil is not a “health food”. I have heard the concept of olive oil (or other types) negatively affecting endothelial function, however, I am unfamiliar with the extent of research concluding this point. I feel like reversing heart disease will have different dietary requirements than simply living a healthful lifestyle.

    • Steve

      Thank you Joseph. You bring up an interesting point about whole foods. As you know, whole foods have shown rather consistently that they are better than the extracted vitamins and other nutrients. However I think there is an exception to this and that is in the case of juice. Studies have shown some amazing evidence that certain juices have extremely positive and statistically significant benefits. For example, beetroot juice with high blood pressure, tart cherry juice with sleep and inflammation and recently blueberry juice with cognition in older adults. Although the whole food is preferred in most cases, most of the time people won’t consume enough of the whole food to derive a clinically meaningful benefit. How do you feel about juice?

      • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

        Great question. We have so much research on juice! See what you find. I think in general the whole fruit is best because the polyphenols need fiber to be absorbed correctly. Nature knows best :) However it needs to be put into perspective. A fresh glass of squeezed orange juice every now and again when you already eat a high-fiber diet is probably no big deal.

  • Connie Hodgdon

    Does anyone have any good information on grapeseed oil and whether is is better than other oils for the occasional cooking or salad dressing application? Thank you very much in advance! I read that it is high in vitamin B6 and that is not a good thing.

  • BeansFTW

    Can you get fresh olives in some paces? Are they edible?

  • Annie Girard

    You can soak the olives for a few hours to a day in the refrigertor to remove a lot of the salt up to almost all of it. The reason why olives are brined is to remove the very bitter taste raw olives have by draining off the olive’s watery juices. Also to preserve them from mold. De-brined olives do not keep for long. But this doesn’t mean that you have to eat all the salt.

  • Doc

    Extra virgin olive oil contains oleocanthol which is a compound necessary for sphingomyeloid production in the brain

  • emp

    From various sources such as this, we’ve learned olive oil isn’t the greatest. Yet I was always curious why did the Ancient Greeks so value olives. Massage oil, food preservation, likely observed effects from having a fat source combined with food, yet why olives over another food. As noted, raw is quite bitter and astringent. Having tried one recently, it is quite a memorable taste, much like amla fruit. I haven’t yet found much info about the methods of olive consumption, besides oil, in Greek classical sources, but there are mentions of consuming them. Seems they soaked in water and I’d guess they even drank the water as a tea. Likely from the bitter and astringent properties alone, much like they were aware of the taste and effects of horseradish, they knew it was good. There are possibly not many studies of raw olives, or classical preparations and methods of processing besides oil or brined, but research into olive compounds from the whole raw food with minimal processing could someday prove fruitful.

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