Doctor's Note

I’ve got more than a dozen videos on the fascinating nitrate story, but here’s the three I’ve done most recently:

Non-nitrate athletic performance tweaks include:

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  • alvarowier

    dear dr. Greger, thank you for the useful information as always. A question regarding vitamine b12 deficiency: is there any knowledge about how long it takes for b12 deficiency to develop and how long for symptoms to start showing. I’ve been wholefood vegan for over a year and relied (exclusively) of supplementing 2.5mcgrams per day as the label of my supplement said that was the RDA. However, I just read on your optimal nutrional recommendations that because of malabsorbtion I should have taking literally 100% as much. Should it be sufficient to just jump on your recommended dosage now or should I increase dosage for a few weeks? thanks!!!

    • fencepost

      I was in your situation a few years ago and read everything I could find on this site regarding B12. The consequences of deficiency are serious and irreversible, so taking B12 is wise even if just for insurance. Our bodies apparently can store 2 or 3 years supply, so you have probably realized in time. If you get your drinking water from a shallow well on your own property, there is a good chance you get enough B12 from that source but supplementing B12 is still cheaper than the lab tests to prove that your well water has enough. If you suspect your body reserves of B12 have been depleted, you can build them back up by supplementing extra B12 for a few months.

      • alvarowier

        thanks, yeah I think I’ll just take the once a week dose daily for a couple of weeks to be on the safe side, as apparently there’s no risk of overdosing anyway (and its dirt cheap).

        • Hiran

          Dr. Greger himself said to take 2500 mcg once a week. Just watch this

        • danieltb

          FWIW I’d recommend you get your B12 in the form of methylcobalamin from Global Healing Center. I bought the cheap B12 and now I’ll probably have acne outbreaks as long as I’m taking it. A representative from GHC told me they hadn’t received a single customer complaint of acne outbreaks after taking their B12 – but it commonly results from taking other forms of B12.

          • JoAnn Downey Ivey

            Dr. Greger recommends cyanocobalamin.

          • danieltb

            Dr. Greger says that it’s all the same.
            If that is true, then why haven’t any customers at GHC (Global Healing Center) complained about suffering acne outbreaks such as the ones I have gotten since following Dr. Greger’s advice and getting the cheap B12 he recommended? Acne outbreaks is a common side-effect of supplementing with B12. Why didn’t the customers of GHC report it?

          • David J

            What I remember him saying is that it’s very cheap, effective and safe. Also it’s well known what it’s absorption characteristics are, so one can calculate how much to take. When I looked into methylcobalamin, I could not find a reliable source showing how much one needs to take to get adequate amounts absorbed.

          • danieltb

            Right: it sounded like he recommended cyanocobalamin to avoid a fuss.

          • Thea

            David J: Yes, I think you got it regarding the recommendation to use cyanocobalamin. It’s more than just about cost or saying that all forms are the same. In Dr Greger’s new book, How Not To Die, on page 408, Dr. Greger writes: “Note that these doses are specific to cyanocobalamin, the preferred supplemental form of B12, as there is insufficient evidence to support the efficacy of the other forms, like methlcobalmin. 12”
            Here is an older reply on this website, but that people with this question may find helpful. The older answer does primarily mention cost and includes some exceptions, such as for smokers or people with kidney failure. I don’t know why Dr. Greger did not include that information in the book. Maybe he no longer thinks it applies???

          • JoAnn Downey Ivey

            The amount of cyanide must be miniscule. In 1000mcg B12 there is 140 times less cyanide than in 2T ground flaxseed.

      • Alan

        Hi fencepost – i see it mentioned often on this sight about getting B12 from well water. Can you give me a link to a study that shows that well water actually contains B12? It would be nice to see one, but even though i use well water i believe that i would still take a B12 supplement as you suggested.

        • fencepost

          I don’t have such a study and I would not assume that all well water is the same. pH might matter and depth of well (deep bedrock wells probably have less B12 than surface wells). The main source of B12 in that water, imo, is the bacteria in the animal poop near the ground surface. I believe I was on a WFPB diet for more than 4 years before realizing I needed to supplement B12. I think I discovered the issue as I was trying to get my cholesterol down below 150 and insufficient B12 was a potential cause of high cholesterol. I took a lot of B12 over several months and that did not move my cholesterol at all. That combined with no other B12 deficiency symptoms led me to believe I must have been getting B12 from some other source, and our surface well is the most probable such source.

    • lilyroza

      I went near-vegan in the 70s. At that time, the thinking is that one’s store of B12 would last 20 years. Since I was raised on meat and wasn’t 100% vegan I didn’t worry about it, but I now think that was a mistake and I was probably deficient. Altho some with excellent digestive systems may hold on to B12 for years ( because the body tries to conserve and recycle B12), B12 can also be quickly depleted, by leaky gut, or by antibiotics, is my current understanding. Personally, I think everyone, even meat-eaters, should take B12. Animals aren’t raised the way they once were, they are on antibiotics!

    • Thank you for your question! I am a Registered Dietitian and I have recently started volunteering as a Moderator at NF.

      I believe, there are no adverse effects associated with excess cobalamin (Vitamin B12) intake from food or supplements in healthy individuals (1). So, I would not worry about jumping to higher dosages. Hope this answers helps!


    • thaicoffee

      I would just jump up to full dosage of the supplements. The 2500/week is the low end dosage and 5000/week takes you to the upper end of the recommended amount. The damage from deficiency can be permanent, but not necessarily. I let my level drop so low that it kicked over a flag on my blood work computer print-out that said that at my current b12 level, although technically in the normal range, I may be experiencing cognitive difficulties such as memory loss, and forgetfulness. I was actually there specifically because I was experiencing these symptoms that were mimicking ADD. When I started taking B12, I got much better, so thankfully, the brain damage was not permanent. Do not listen to what anyone says about the cost of testing. If you have health insurance, than one physical per year is free. Tell your doctor that you are vegan and want B12 and thyroid (Iodine deficiency) level checked with the blood work, and it should cost you nothing. Also, the only reason well water has B12 is because that is the by product of bacteria found in animal feces. Really, I can’t recommend a by product of a waste product from an uncontrolled and probably unsafe environment as a source. Just sayin’.

  • Noe Marcial

    do we know how long last the effect in the circulation system after chewing high nitrite vegetables? If I not wrong

    Dr. Esselstyn recomend to eat greens 6 time a day.. more or less every 3 hs.. it is that the time for the effect? i mean can be very usefull to keep the presure low during day :)
    i think that one of the coolest thing is that the cycle of oxidative estress during a stress day also may be quite high in just few hours. so taking greens gums we not only have this amazing NO effect but also we keep the antioxidant Up!

    • fencepost

      I have observed that eating beets produces positive results for at least 12 hours. That is one datapoint, and a formal study would be helpful.

    • GEBrand

      Hiya, – Something that is confusing on this topic is that nitrites are a very different thing than nitrates. It is the nitrAtes in vegetation that do our circulatory system good.
      NitrItes are chemicals added to cured meats as a preservative, colorant, etc. These are the worrisome cancer causing chemicals.
      Two different things altogether.

      Another thing to be aware of, if anyone out there is still eating preserved meats, is that the food manufacturers are required to list nitrites on the ingredient list. But they are only allowed to add a certain ratio or amount of nitrite to a certain amount of meat per listing. So if the manufacturer wants to double or triple the amount of nitrites in your bacon, lets say, all it has to do is list the word Nitrite as many times as reflects the whole amount in the food even if its more than the safe limit amount. So you can get 3 times the safe amount of nitrites in your food as long as the Ingredients lists Nitrites, Nitrites, Nitrites (3 times). And this is legal. Clever, huh?

    • George

      Noe: Nitric oxide (NO) is a free radical, so, like all free radicals, it can cause harm. But the body has an effective way to get rid of excess NO, which is to recycle it to nitrite and then to nitrate. However, I don’t know if this NO scavenging path works efficiently at any concentration of NO. Biological correlations are usually non-linear. I think it would be prudent to consume nitrate-rich foods in moderate amounts frequently.

    • David Sprouse MS PA-C (NF Mod)

      Hi Noe,
      This study from 2015 showed that a *single* daily serving of beet root juice resulted in blood pressure lowering for a full 24 hours (round-the-clock!) in hypertensive patients: Pretty remarkable! Quote from the full text of the paper: “Observation of the hourly profile….. revealed that consumption of dietary nitrate was associated with reduction in BP over the entire 24h period.” And for extra fiber, you can even eat the whole beet instead of juice!

  • Noe Marcial

    one thing that still curios for me, is way nitrites in meat does not change to NO.. IF you take meat with antioxidant may happen? i just still not get the mechanism way nitrites in meat became nitrosamines . (even after watched the video “is bacon good…)
    Of course i will still with the greens! so how much funnel may have an effect in the blood flow?

    • fencepost

      I saw something, likely on this site, that nitrites only become nitrosamines in the absence of vitamin C. A plant-based meal is going to have vitamin C. A hotdog on white bun perhaps no vitamin C. Maybe the best way to eat a hotdog is with lots of mustard and relish in the hopes of getting vitamin C from those condiments.

    • George

      Noe: For the nitrite ion to become a niitrosoamine, two things are needed: a strong acid and a class of compounds called secondary amines. The stomach contains hydrochloric acid, which is a very strong acid. Animal products apparently contain a lot more secondary amines than plant foods, so the nitrite ion is more likely to generate nirosoamines if you get it from animal foods. This also means that if you eat nitrate-containing plant foods, like beet, with nitrite-free animal products, your gut can still create nitrosamines. Some processed meat products claim that it doesn’t contain “added nitrites”. If you read the list of ingredients, you find celery juice. Why does the manufacturer add celery juice to the meat product? Because celery juice contains nitrates. Since you’re eating celery juice with meat, the gut is going to create nitrosamines. So the manufacturers try to fool customers by using celery juice in place of sodium nitrite.

      • Noe Marcial

        wow thank you very much, this answer is very clear for me. thank you again..

  • Noe Marcial

    and last question! dr esselstyn mention that hig amounts of nuts inpare the funtion of the artery to dilate (so impair the production of N0 after a meal) we now by nutritionfacts that nuts are good for us and cardiovascular risk.. but so it is an amount of nuts fats that may inmpair arterial function.. I just confuse with this point. it is the study of esselstyn wrong? or just is a matter of quantity, and short term long term effect?

    • fencepost

      The body is complicated and any food can have positives and negatives. I’d like to red what Esselstyn wrote. Do you have a pointer to it?

      • GEBrand

        The information is in his book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Caldwell Esselstyne, M.D. His book is hugely interesting and inspiring. He took about 25 people who were told there was nothing left to do for them and that their cardiovascular disease was on track to kill them. He changed their diet to a no fat, whole foods plant based diet. In his case it was very strict. It took a while but the response was inspiring. With the exception of one or two, they are all still living and glad to be doing so. You can also find Esselstyne as well as some of his patients on YouTube.
        Have fun!

    • Joe Caner

      Dr. Esselstyn did his research on a population who was suffering from CVD, and whose prognosis was very poor when they presented for his study. Some of his participants where told to go home and get their affairs in order. He put them on a low fat WFPB diet, and was able to reverse their heart and vascular disease by so doing.

      People who are not suffering from advanced CVD may very well be able to tolerate and even thrive with more fat in their diets, although, there very well may be a sweet spot for intake of nuts and seeds that if exceeded can become less beneficial to deleterious as nuts and seeds become an ever increasing percentage of one’s diet.

      Just because a little is good doesn’t necessarily mean more is better.
      It is possible to get too much of a good thing.

      • Noe Marcial

        I agree with you, i wonder if his study on nuts it is written somewhere to see with witch dosis he get this reaction in the arteries an hour after the meal or so…
        what i have notices in few family members with certain addiction relation with food is that the end up eating tons of seeds.. maybe because it give them the kind of pleasure that fats give.. and it will be great to know this sweet spot for arterial function..

      • Nathen

        Yes, I agree. Nuts are a source of saturated fats and we can only tolerate so much of those before they affect our health. For this reason, I limit my nut intake to what the Seventh Day Adventist Study II used, a quarter cup of nuts a day. But I avoid salted and roasted nuts; I find them to be too tasty and I tend to binge if I get started on them.

        • GEBrand

          Walnuts – 1oz = 183 calories, 18 grams of fat, 2 of which are saturated. 4 grams protein. Of the 183 calories, 153 are contributed by fat making walnuts 85% fat overall, 10% of the fat is saturated.
          Cheers! :-)

        • Vege-tater

          I just figure we all evolved to be locavores before the advent of commerce and supermarkets, so nuts and other things would be seasonal…and in the shell, limiting our access. We are so used to all our conveniences, we forget how nature works. It is nice to have such exotic variety if you can afford it, but how sustainable is it to ship all these things grown half-way around the world when we could all have a fresher, healthier, pollution free, little veggie patch in our yard, and save all that fuel, and keep it domestic if not local? I find it terrifically liberating on several fronts to grow some of my own sustenance, and even when it isn’t pretty, it tastes awesome and it’s fresh! Grow your own, save your seeds, and tell Monsanto to…. you know!

          • genesis

            AMEN! What a great introduction to converting to a plant based diet. Reminding us of how nature works and how we should be eating is refreshing!

      • Paul

        Anecdotally, there was a woman on Bright Lines who added more and more nuts to her diet and her cholesterol continued to drop. I forgot the amount she ended up eating daily but it was definitely more than 1/4 cup a day. She said her cardiologist was amazed. I’m with you, though. I would not eat tons of nuts if I had body fat to lose or history of CAD. The squirrels in my yard and I both love walnuts!

    • Darryl

      The main test for arterial and endothelial function is flow mediated dilatation (FMD) (1).
      Walnuts improve FMD in healthy adults (2), patients with high cholesterol (3), and diabetics (4. Pistachio-enriched diets improve FMD in healthy individuals (5), patients with viceral obesity (6) and patients with elevated cholesterol (7, but had no effect in patients with diabetes (8). On the other hand, almonds (9) Brazil nuts (10), and hazelnut-enriched diets had no effect on FMD, (11), nor did mixed nuts in patients with prediabetes (12).

      The balance of studies demonstrate nuts don’t impair endothelial function, and walnuts and pistachios appear to improve it. Some nuts like walnuts have favorable omega-3/omega-6 ratios, others like pistachios have high levels of phytosterols that interfere with intestinal cholesterol absorption. I strongly suspect that its the polyphenols, and their effect on the gut microbiota and intestinal permeability, that accounts for the benefits, and these are concentrated in the dark pelicles/skins of the nuts.

      • Noe Marcial

        thank you so much for all this studies, still wondering so, how esselyn arrive to that conclusion. Later on he say he will allow patients to eat one walnuts.. but because no body eat one.. he says no nuts.. and that’s it.. but all the weight of evidence seems to say, nut are not bad for your arterial function..

        • JoAnn Downey Ivey

          My TC and LDL both dropped 40 points when I ditched avocado and nuts. Dr. Esselstyn allows a very few walnuts if the TC is 150 or below and the LDL is 80 or below.

          • aribadabar

            Have you kept/consumed any high-fat foods? IF yes, which ones you found to strike the best bang (benefit) per fat content?

        • Darryl

          Every natural fat has components, like the longer chain saturated fats, which are known to increase inflammation in cell culture, and which in higher concentrations usually increase endothelial inflammation and impair endothelial function in animal and human studies.

          The effect of a walnut cannot be reduced to just their 6.1% saturated fat content. The polyunsaturated fats that comprise half their weight have a relatively low (for nuts) 4:1 ω-6:ω-3 ratio (lower is believed to reduce inflammation), and their dark pelicule (the edible skin) has a high content of polyphenols like ellagic acid which reduce endothelial inflammation. Chemically similar almond skins have a prebiotic effect: in other words they selectively benefit beneficial gut bacteria and reduce levels of the pathobionts associated with inflammatory diseases (there’s no comparable study with walnut skins). The walnuts also have 6.7% fiber, which reduces blood lipids, 0.44% potassium which lowers blood pressure, 0.16% magnesium which prevents cardiac arrythmias, 0.043% vitamin E which prevents lipid oxidation, and even a little 0.073% phytosterols to interfere with cholesterol absorption. To get a handle on the aggregate effect of a walnut we have to feed people whole walnuts, and all the little beneficial components seem to add up to a net positive.

          • Vege-tater

            Really simplistic I know, but eating whole foods and eating like a locavore as we always have in the past is the way I sort out dilemmas! (Post agriculture that is, I am kind of spoiled with my garden.) Yeah you can horde some nuts you’ve gathered, but they come in shells and are pretty hard to get it! We forget because it’s all done for us now, so we can eat like people never had in the past. Foraging for food and the prep involved didn’t leave a whole lot of time for much else, but they were a whole lot healthier overall. And we think grocery shopping is a pain?

    • JoAnn Downey Ivey

      I’m not aware of any nut studies among whole food plant based no oil diets. Sure, replace a cheeseburger with nuts, and you will see benefits. Even vegans who chow down on oreos and drink Coke – if they add nuts to their dismal processed vegan food, then there would be an improvement. Esselstyn shows reversal of heart disease with no nuts and his patients are around 25 years later doing well. Here’s what Jeff Novick has to say about nuts:

      “Most nuts have little if any omega 3s so
      they have very poor ratios of omega 6 to omega 3s.
      Black Walnuts are 16:1
      English Walnuts 4:1
      Pecans are 20:1
      Pistachio is 37:1
      Pine Nuts are 300:1
      Macadamia is 6:1
      Hazelnut is 88:1
      Cashew is 117:1
      Brazil Nut is 1000:1
      Almonds 1800:1
      Pumpkin Seeds 117:1
      Sunflower Seeds 300:1
      CA Avocados 15:1
      FL Avocados 16.5:1

      Flaxseed 3.9:1 ***
      Chia Seed 3:1 ***

      (***these is a reverse ratio as the omega 3 is higher than the omega 6)

      In regard to Saturated fat

      Black Walnuts are 5%
      English Walnuts are 8%
      Pecans are 8%
      Pistachio is 8.5%
      Pine Nuts are 6.6%
      Macadamia is 15%
      Hazelnut is 6.5%
      Cashew is 12.5%
      Brazil Nut is 21%
      Almonds are 6%
      Pumpkin Seeds 14%
      Sunflower Seeds 6.5%

      Flaxseed 6%
      Chia Seed 6%

      CA Avocados 11.5%
      FL Avocados 15%

      As you can see, most are not bad, but some are fairly high in saturated fat and
      some are really high in omega 6s. Some of these, like cashews may not be great
      choices. They are over 12% saturated fat and have a ratio of 117:1 Pumpkin
      seeds and brazil nuts are also not the best choices as they are also
      “higher” in saturated fat and have a “higher” ratio.

      An optimal diet does not require the inclusion of any one food (berries, soy,
      broccoli, etc), including nuts. And, some of what you hear about nuts, is
      somewhat distorted.

      My nutritional recommendations are the same for heart disease as they are in general,
      including my recommendations for nuts/seeds. After all, a truly healthy diet
      should not only be helpful for heart disease, it should also be helpful for
      obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, arthritis, cancer, etc,

      Nuts are nutritious and can be a good source of some vitamins and minerals, but
      we always have to look at a food as a total package and not just any one aspect
      of it.

      Nuts, are around 70% fat. And, while most of the fat in nuts is not saturated
      fat, the very high fat content increases the calorie density of the nuts. Nuts,
      at 2800 calories per pound, are one of the most calorie dense foods there are
      on the planet. Adding foods that are high in calorie density increases the
      overall calorie density of the diet. And, as you increase the calorie density
      of someone’s diet, you increase the likelihood they will overeat. As 66% of
      Americans are overweight, and 33% of them are obese, weight (And calorie
      density) is an important issue to be considered when promoting health and
      nutrition information.

      Speaking of fat, most of the fat in most nuts is mono-unsaturated fat, which is
      not the essential fat, nor is it a “good” fat. I consider it more
      neutral at best. Plus, there is no requirement for us to consume mono
      unsaturated fat. We make plenty of it very easily.

      Most nuts, outside the English walnut are a poor source of essential fats, the
      fat that is most beneficial for heart disease. And, it only takes about 1 oz of
      English walnuts, to provide the amount of essential fats we need. More is not
      always better. In addition, these essential fats are also abundant in green
      leafy vegetables also.

      Walnuts are also 8.5% saturated fat, which is even above the AHA
      recommendation, so too many walnuts have the potential of interfering with
      keeping ones total saturated fat below 7%.

      Too many nuts can increase the total fat content of the diet. High fat diets
      can interfere with blood flow, increase clotting factors, and decrease

      Having said all that, if someone was to follow an optimal health supporting
      diet, and they wanted to include some nuts/seeds, then there is probably no
      problem with the inclusion of 1 or 2 oz of nuts/seeds (without oil and/or
      salt). However, if weight is a problem, I would limit that amount to 1 oz or
      less. And, if they are included, to consume them as part of a meal with other
      foods that are very low in calorie density.”

    • HaltheVegan

      It looks like there are several varying opinions from some really expert doctors about nut consumption. I guess the devil is buried somewhere in the details ;-)
      Dr Greger addresses nut consumption at this link:
      From the transcript of the referenced video:
      “Researchers at Harvard examined the association between nut consumption and subsequent mortality of over a hundred thousand people followed for decades. In that time tens of thousands died, but those that ate nuts every day lived significantly longer. Daily nut consumers had fewer cancer deaths, heart disease deaths, and fewer deaths from respiratory disease. And this was after controlling other lifestyle factors. So nut consumers lived significantly longer whether they were older or younger, fat or skinny, whether they exercised more or smoked, drank or ate other foods that may affect mortality.”

  • JP_Pensee

    I want to enjoy the health benefits of fennel, but am not a big fan of the taste. Any ideas how I can incorporate these into my diet without grossing me out?

    • brad

      i suggest grinding it into a powder (easily done with a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder) and throwing it into a smoothie.

    • fencepost

      Grind ’em up and fill pill capsules.

    • George

      Do you like curries? Fennel seed is one the three major ingredients in curry powder, the others being cumin and coriander , which are therapeutic, too.

      • Paul

        I put them in my lasagnas and pasta sauces, the meat-eating friends love it, they said it tastes like sausage.

    • Darryl

      I add it to anything that would have benefited from Italian sausage in my pregan days. I use ample amounts in vegan caldo verde: in 3+ qt saucepan heat veg oil, 1 lb diced onions, 3-5 cloves sliced garlic, saute til translucent; add 2-3 lbs skinnned, choped potatoes, veg stock to cover, 1+ tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp fennel, 1/3 tsp red pepper flakes, 20+ minutes at simmer; add 14 oz drained can beans (I use red kidney), simmer 5+ mins; add bunch washed, destemmed, chopped curly kale, mix while the kale is cooking down, add water to desired thickness and adjust seasoning.

      • Paul

        Copied and pasted. :p

      • Vege-tater

        Thanks Darryl, sounds awesome, I copied it too! We need our own NutritionFacts recipe exchange so we can all share our favorites and be able to access them!
        I try to grow a lot of my own produce (and enjoy foraging for some extremely nutritious and very edible “weeds”too) because sadly, our typical supermarket options are pathetically limited, compared to the infinite variety of unfoods that populate (pollute) the aisles. I’m a foodie and love expanding my culinary horizons, with the delightful array of tried and true ethnic foods especially, so I was curious about the awesome Asian greens Dr G listed in this video. I shop at a local Asian grocery often and was familiar with some, but the others were a mystery, so I had to investigate. That first one (ta cai) seems to be a type of bok choy, another amazing brassica in the broccoli clan, which includes a lot of Asian veggies. I found this short Asian veggie primer with pics to help ID a variety of them, if anyone is interested…

        • Rebecca Cody

          Your comment reminded me that a few years ago we were in San Francisco. One morning we walked through Chinatown, and I was sucked into a garden shop with all the seeds in little brown bags marked with Chinese characters. The clerks didn’t speak English, either. I bought one of these mystery bags for fun and planted it at home later. Meanwhile, my husband and I took a little exercise class from a local Chinese woman. So I brought in the seed bag and she told me it was some kind of cabbage family plant. It turned out to be just that – but a variety of leafy brassica I hadn’t seen before. It was a fun little experiment and the greens were delicious. Unfortunately they died out before I was able to collect seeds for the next year.

        • MarthaLA

          Vege-tater, Thank you for posting that link. The (CC) Nai yow choy pictured is what the Asian Market near me has labeled as milk choy. Rather a pain to clean thoroughly (dirt in rather tight leaf-stem joints), but it is delicious. I looked in Johnny’s Seeds catalogue but didn’t see it there, though they’ve added some Asian greens.

          • Vege-tater

            You’re welcome. I haven’t checked specifically, but try Bakers Creek,, they are a great source of all kinds of exotic seeds from all over the world. If I had a fortune I could certainly spend it there!

      • Paul

        I just made this for lunch and it’s fantastic. Added a little cumin as well and just used water instead of broth. Really good!

  • Reality

    What about high Nitrates in well water which is suppose to be bad according to municipal water test??

  • Tim Cline

    Any thoughts on an appropriate dosing/serving size of fennel seed for athletic performance, e.g. how much to be chewed or made into tea and consumed prior to or during an hour bout of moderate to intense exercise? Thanks!

    • Hi Tim, thank you for your question! I am a Registered Dietitian and I have recently started volunteering as Moderator for NF.

      One of the studies mentioned by Dr Greger showed that chewing fennel seeds would maintain nitrite-NO concentrations and help prevent the onset of acute hypoxia and consequently HAPE. In this particular study (1), volunteers were asked to chew 1 g of Fennel seeds for 1 min. In my opinion, there needs to be more detailed information about the timing or practical application but perhaps try similar strategy? Hope it helps!


  • pm

    So what would be a therapeutic dosage for fennel seeds regarding Hypertension management? Dr. Greger’s video suggests that there isn’t a toxic dosage for those outside the risk group of girls and pregnant women.

    • Rhombopterix

      Just my opinion but if you have a meter you should do some trials at the same time each day. If you are already on med’s then its going to be too complex to recommend a specific dose. We have to find what works for us individually.

      Say 20 min after a cup of fennel tea ( or whatever suits you, record the numbers. Then try 2 cups or 1 in am and 1 in pm…over time you will learn what works (or does not).

  • Vege-tater

    OMG,Rocky Mountain barking spiders! I about lost it! LOL!
    timing for this topic, good to know of it’s benefits! Lately I’ve been experimenting with fennel in
    all kinds of dishes. I’ve always grouped the flavors of fennel, anise, and
    licorice into one lump…they apparently all contain anethole, which
    explains the similarity, but never a favorite. Over time though, I came
    to appreciate fennel’s subtler qualities and even bought a lb of bulk
    seeds online because they cost almost the same as a packet here!
    Recently I created some plant based vegan “sausage” for a meat eating
    relative, and find it’s also pretty decent added to a citrus blend of
    herbal tea and even soup, which I just had before I read this. I even
    grew out some seeds for the veggie too that had an awesome bonus…it’s
    apparently a favorite food of gorgeous swallowtail butterflies…and
    will disappear overnight once it’s discovered! (Hmmm, caterpillar
    sausage? lol) Cool stuff!

    • Rhombopterix

      Funny how things happen…we just had an electrician here working and he seemed unable or unwilling to control the wind. But everytime he’d cover with “You’ve got barking spiders in the walls Chapie!” what a hoot.

      During our early days on WFPB we used to make a seitan loaf with coarse chopped fennel…just a touch definitely helped satisfy the “sausage craving” hanging over from the bad old days.

      I just tried this recipie…really good cuppa-T:

  • Ans

    Vitamin B12 Question: Do anyone suggest right Vitamin B12 tablet for toddlers? I could ot figure out in internet or whole foods. Thanks

    • Paul

      Is there a liquid form, like in a dropper? There are also sprays.

      • joss levy

        There is indeed a liquid form in a dropper bottle: “Vegansafe” B12, by GHC ( I recently started using this myself. It is glycerin-based, beautiful crimson colour, and sweet tasting. Any toddler would like it. I don’t know whether children actually need this, but it certainly safe.

    • Julie

      In “Becoming Vegan” Brenda Davis RD recommends the following Vitamin B12 supplement amounts for toddlers:
      6-11 months old either 5 – 20 mcg/day OR 200 mcg twice per week.
      1-3 years old either 10 – 40 mcg/day OR 375 mcg twice per week.

    • Tom Goff

      Jack Norris has an article on this broad topic that is worth reading

  • Paul

    I love fennel seeds. :) I put it in my lasagnas and tomato based sauces and my meatist friends say it tastes like sausage. :p

  • Devin

    And the question on every guy’s mind after watching: should we steer clear due to estrogenic effects?

    • Wade Patton

      only if you’re feeling unusually girlie. See my reply to later comment. peace

      • Paul

        Feeling girlie is fine. :)

        • Wade Patton

          Oh my, what a word. I love new vocabulary.

          Apologies to any offended, but will leave un-edited for others to learn from my folly.

          Unless we, together, decide to nip the whole thing (delete and pretend such nonsense never happened). I don’t mind doing that either. WP

  • Megan Markowski

    I’m going to high altitude during the summer, the highest point being about 4000m above sea level. Do you recommend bringing fennel seeds as a just in case sort of measure? How much would I eat a day?

    • Rebecca Cody

      My husband gets headaches at altitudes above about 4,000′. Awhile back we were in Santa Fe, at 7,000′, and the desk clerk at our hotel lent him a dropper bottle of ChlorOxygen, which is a chlorophyll concentrate. In just a day or two he felt much better. He bought a bottle at Whole Foods and returned the loaner bottle. He has since found it here at home and uses it all the time. He tried another brand of chlorophyll concentrate, but it didn’t work for him.

      A few years before that he had been very uncomfortable on a trip to Ecuador, where Quito is 9,300′ and we spent one night above 13,000′. On returning we saw a doctor for another reason and she was laughing because some of her doctor friends had just returned from mountain climbing in Ecuador and had used Viagra to prevent altitude sickness. She didn’t comment about how they managed the other use for Viagra.

      I guess I’d better get him chewing fennel seeds or drinking the tea.

  • Slavica Mazak Beslic

    walnuts, almonds , hazelnuts , apricot seeds have all B vitamine.Suplements are unnecessary and harmful. 80% raw fruits,15%raw vegetables,5% raw nuts and other seeds is everything what we need.

  • guest

    Warning on Fennel:

    I would suggest moderation, and minimal amounts if that, of fennel based on the below link.
    It mentions fennel ingestion potentially leading to increases in estrogen as well as some sort
    of sexual characteristics that might not be what the body desires. Please keep an open mind.

    • GEBrand

      Hi Guest – wow. thank you for that information. However, as a post-menopausal woman, it might be a nice thing for me to have some plant-based estrogen. Estrogen (and I don’t mean Premarin) helps with everything from tissue thinning to bladder control, brain function and many more.
      I’ll be chewing fennel here and there from now on.
      Fennel isn’t always bad. We need to remember the situation.

    • Wade Patton

      Hahaha! My testosterone kicked back in so much when I quit eating animals every meal, that I’m not one bit worried at all (none) about some little bit of estrogen. The minute anyone notices any estrogenic behavior from my person, I’ll start worrying. Hahaha!

      Thanks for the warning, moderation is generally a good thing (just don’t overdo it) and is BEST approached according to my opinion, by eating a WIDE variety of plant foods MOST of the time.

  • joss levy

    Another warning on fennel:

    The one time I actually bought some fennel seeds (fruits ?), I found when examining them with a magnifier that many of them had insect/grub holes. I decided to let the birds have the seeds; and happily, they enjoyed them. I would suggest checking your seeds, because they may not be as vegan as you think.

    • Rhombopterix

      Yes, there is a tiny beetle that gets ours quite often…Barley seems to have these too. Now I put them in a 150 F oven for 10 min when we bring em home to preserve the flora to fauna ratio

      Anyone here drink mugwort? a friend said it will lower BP?

    • Paul

      Most bulk foods are going to have some amount of insect eggs and whatever. Even packaged foods have them. I put stuff like spices and grains in the freezer before even letting them into my pantry to kill any of the “non-vegan” elements. :) I do that with all grains and spices that I bring home before putting them away. For storage I only use airtight wire bale containers and spice jars. (Parfait and Fido brands are the ones I use.) I keep my WW flour in the freezer permanently since I only use it rarely for gravy or as a thickener. If your containers are airtight, you’ve got a fighting chance of containing any infestations and preventing them from spreading to the rest of your pantry.

    • Wade Patton

      Insects are good food.

      I don’t mind eating them and their eggs and their larva–because _everyone_ does, knowingly or not. (TBT I have consumed whole cicadas, just for the experience.)

      I understand that it might be a “dilemma” for “Vegans” but as I see it, there’s no practical way to eat whole and healthy PLANT foods without consuming some amount of tiny, small, and also micro-organisms.

      This is MUCH different than domesticating animals and “farming” them to make food products. It really is.

      • Paul

        Agreed, the problem is not eating it, the problem is preventing infestations in your pantry. I keep literally everything in my cabinets and pantry in airtight containers – even stuff like teabags, dried mushrooms, popcorn, baking soda, etc. I had a house guest a while back who was trying to quit smoking, she arrived with jelly beans and gum, and I made her keep all of it in a Mason jar. :)

        • Wade Patton

          Mason jars and tin boxes RULE the rural pantry.

          • HaltheVegan

            I much prefer glass mason jars over plastic containers for any kind of food, especially liquid.

          • Paul

            And the urban one! Where does one buy tin boxes. I think those would be infinitely more practical than Mason jars for things like tea bags.

          • Wade Patton

            Re-purposing is my main source. Christmas tins, etc. Have a Twinings tin actually-it’s 20+ years old.

    • LKSkinner

      Hi Joss,
      Thanks for the heads up about bugs in fennel.
      Some of us have to be careful about eating bugs, they’re not very kosher! :D

  • Vege-tater

    I just have to babble about my good fortune…last night I got to meet
    the awesome Dr G, finally got my book (an autographed one!), and experienced an uplifting
    night of his entertaining presentation in a packed facility! I felt
    like a teenage groupie, he is a hero and it was a thrill to get to see
    and hear him live and in person! What an amazing and dynamic man this
    guy is, I am awed at how hard he works for us all! Blessings Dr Greger,
    you rock!
    (Not sure if I ever mentioned it, or if it matters, but changed my handle from Charzie, so one and the same.)

    • Wade Patton

      Great deal VegeCharzieTater. Enjoy the “extra” energy and focus that the interaction provides. And

      eat your fennel.

      • Vege-tater

        LOL I will Wade! And I’m drinking a cup of jasmine green tea, fennel, mint, cardamom, and orange zest tea at the moment, pretty yummy! I feel so dumb for spending small fortunes buying those puny boxes of the herbal teas in the store when it’s fun and so easy to throw assorted herbs, spices, and even fruit peels or scraps, into a pot of boiled water, let it steep, and strain it into a cup! Ya never quite know exactly what you’ll get, put that’s part of the adventure. How sad, adventures in tea…I need to get a life. lol

        • Rhombopterix

          There is a time in the afternoon when the bod says, ok stop what yor doing and give me a cup of tea…now. Nothing me gives me the strength to get up and do what needs to be done like a hot cup of tea.

        • HaltheVegan

          It sounds like you already have a good life, Charzie! You just need to write a book about all your food adventures :-) You write so articulately and I think you would have a lot of people interested in your adventures and experiments, especially with the fermenting.

          • Vege-tater

            Awww, you are so kind Hal, you made my day! My life is good and has become pretty simple. I don’t have much but I don’t need much. Sometimes life forces us into places we didn’t even know we even needed to be…it sure is an amazing journey! (Which is pretty much why we are all here at NF eh?) Some of my friends keep encouraging me to start a blog, but I keep putting it off because there are so many out there and I already spend too much time in front of this (ancient) computer. When I was young I always wished I could live next door to a library…and now we all have the whole world at our fingertips. My eyes are barely open and I am drawn to this magic box…just too magnetic for information junkies like me! lol

        • aribadabar

          Have you tried growing gynostemma (jiaogulan) in your , what sound like, garden of Eden? :)
          From what I have read about this herb is one of the best tea candidates of all.

          • Vege-tater

            No, but it sounds awesome and I’ll investigate, thanks! Garden of weeden is more appropriate, but I eat some of them too!

          • aribadabar

            You are welcome! Glad that you are excited about it as I am as I am ordering its seeds soon. I’ve been meaning to ask you if there is an email address/private messaging I could reach you?

          • Vege-tater

            Sure, chargc at gmail dot com will work!

        • genesis

          Can I live with you? Tea sounds awesome. I will be trying what you share. Thank you.

    • Ronald Green
  • Wade Patton

    I’ve only eating in one Indian restaurant ever (and it was 2015). It’s the _only_ one around and it’s 22 miles away. We don’t all live in/near major cities.

    I tried everything, seeking new gustatorial experiences. Two things stood out something that had fermented product in it on the side-bar and the mixture of candied and plain fennel at the register.

    I have been eating fennel seed (without the candied ones) ever since. No reason. Just because. Now I know why. Thanks Doc!

  • VickyMcD

    Perhaps I missed this somehow, but how many fennel seeds are we talking about ingesting?

  • snakedog

    There’s a fantastic fennel soup recipe in a Moosewood cookbook. Instead of transcribing it I just searched and this blog has it:
    I don’t add the cheese or any oil, and I don’t do the finicky things like pureeing. I also add a little extra fennel powder and use a whole fennel bulb, so it must be packed with nitrate :)

    • Paul

      Wow. Can’t wait to make this. Keep the recipes coming! :)

    • Wade Patton

      where in hades do i get a fennel bulb?

      • snakedog

        I’m sure it depends on where you live, but around here (Western Washington) fresh fennel is readily available in the produce sections.

      • Paul

        They are white looking bulbs on the bottom with frondy green tops. You slice and use the bulbs (I usually roast them, they are amazing in salads and as side dishes) and I use the green frondy parts to dress the dish.

        • Wade Patton

          I saw them the DAY after I posted this. My little itty bitty tiny small poquito town (village) doesn’t have anything like that. BUT I had made the journey to he Big Shitty next door for groceries (for a good selection) and THERE they were, staring me in the face.

          Then I remembered this post. Didn’t get one, but will soon. Want to try the recipe.

          • snakedog

            Cool, man. I’m sure you’ll like it!

  • Green Gardens

    So fennel seeds aren’t actually a seed, but a fruit… they are likely low in fat, I’m guessing. But what about other seeds and nuts? Dr. Greger has listed countless benefits, but just HOW low does a vegan need to get their fat content? Other vegan doctors recommend eliminating nuts sompletely for weight loss. I’m completely confused with the whole fats/calorie-density issue.

    • eatliveprosper

      I agree that defining “low” fat in the whole-foods, plant-based diet world is a bit confusing. When I first began to learn about the lifestyle, it was based on information from those that follow the 80-10-10 macro ratio (80% carbs and 10% fat and protein). As I dug deeper and learn about some of our worlds leading medical and research doctors who also support a WFPB, I realized options vary.

      Reversing heart disease and other lifestyle illnesses (Esselstyn and McDougall’s method and Novick’s nutrient density) – less than 10% of calories come from fat
      Preventing heart disease and other lifestyle illnesses (Ornish and Campbell’s) – 10 to 15% calories from fat

      I don’t believe Dr. Gregor has ever specifically endorsed a percentage but I suspect if one followed the Daily Dozen, you’d end up in the upper end of the “prevent heart disease and other lifestyle illness” group. Where you fall on the scale (reversing versus preventing) dictates which methodology you may follow.

      I’m comfortable with 10-15% (+/- 2%) of calories deriving from fat.

  • Evelyn Wong

    Is there a diet that can stop or reverse male-pattern baldness? If not, then why can a diet prevent heart disease, or any other condition? Aren’t we all genetically predisposed to certain conditions over which we have no control? The day I see Dr. Greger with a full head of hair is when I may take some credence to what he is espousing. I love you all.

    • Tom Goff

      Well, that makes as much sense as most of the other arguments I have seen for ignoring the scientific evidence about nutrition and health.

      You probably lead a very sheltered life, Evelyn, but I suggest that you try to read a bit more widely on topics you make pronouncements about. On this particular issue, you might want to start with this magazine article:

      Or if you want something a little more technical, you could look at the Wikipedia entry on epigenetics:

  • Matthew Smith

    Many doctors have used Gold or larger elements to treat arthritis. It seems smaller elements, like Boron, Beryllium from carrots, and Nitrates, like Niacin are so effective. Perhaps Boron, Beryllium, Niacin, and D3 can really improve athletic performance.

  • Ray Tajoma

    Yet another very strong evidence that human is Herbivore – Our arteries LOVE lettuce, spinach, celery, and other GREEN leafy vegetables and fruits.

  • Lonestar

    Does fennel tea provide the same nitrates as the seeds?

    • KWD – NF Volunteer

      Hi Lonestar, as nitrates are water soluble, it seems reasonable to think that tea made from fennel seeds will contain nitrates. This study, referenced under the video sources, found that the fennel seed extract the researchers made, produced, in part, by soaking 3g of fennel seeds in 20 mL of sterile water, did contain nitrates…more nitrates than similar solutions prepared with other common after-dinner seeds (cumin, coriander, poppy, and cucumber). I actually weighed out 3g of whole fennel seeds to get an idea of how much fennel that is and ended up with the equivalent of a full tablespoon.

      Also, you might want to check out this herbal assessment of fennel by the European Medicines Agency, also referenced in the video, as it contains a section discussing fennel tea (under section III.1 pg. 11).

  • JoAnn Downey Ivey

    Re nitrate rich foods and Dr Esselstyn’s protocol of eating those foods 6x/day (chewing for even more NO production than juicing), the primary reason is for healing the arterial endothelium and vasodilation which of course as a side effect lowers BP. I rarely eat my greens just before a workout but today I did before my Power of 10 slow motion workout. I was amazed. I got far less exhausted lifting a larger weight for longer than I did last workout. I literally couldn’t believe the improvement and neither could the trainer. I had a very large serving of steamed kale/spinach/chard mix, drizzled with a bit of balsamic vinegar. The acetic acid also contributes to the NO production.

  • auferoth

    Does anyone have an idea on how much fennel seeds must be chewed and digested to receive the NO effects for better athletic performance?

  • auferoth

    Unless I missed it, does anyone have an idea on the quantity of fennel seeds that need to be ingested to get the NO benefit of an enhance workout or athletic performance? thanks.

  • Laurie Masters

    What about eating fresh fennel?

  • Marianne Robertshaw

    I eat a lot of mushrooms and there is always some dirt on them that I scrap off the best i can before cooking. Knowing that vitamine b12 comes from the dirt that the cows consume with the grass leads me to believe i am OK and get sufficient b12. Any comments are appreciated.

    • Thea

      Marianne: I understand the lure of getting B12 naturally. However, unless you get your mushrooms tested, you have *no idea* how much B12 remains on your mushrooms after you clean them. Because the consequences of B12 deficiency are so terribly severe, I think you are taking a big, dangerous risk. You say that you believe that you are getting enough B12, but you don’t know. Our world is so sanitized, for all you know, that mushroom dirt you are eating is sterile or at least lacking in the B12. The alternative may also be true: The dirt has some b12 in it along with harmful bacteria. That dirt is a package deal.
      I think the problem with the cow analogy is that a cow living a natural life would probably be eating some insects in the grass, plus drinking natural, dirty water, and may also have digestion systems different enough that their situation is not comparable to humans. I don’t know if this is true or not, but I read somewhere (no idea where now) that maybe some of the non-human mammals have lower intestines that work a bit differently from humans and can absorb the B12 in their lower intestines a bit better than humans. I have no idea if this is a made up thing or not. But the idea does make me cautious about relying on animal analogies for my B12 needs.
      The safe way to get your B12 is with a supplement since you know you will be getting enough. But if you feel that getting your B12 from the mushroom dirt is important to you, you might consider getting the specific B12 test that Dr. Greger recommends (there are multiple tests and only one is accurate) fairly often to make sure you are OK. Good luck.

  • JoAnn Downey Ivey

    I prefer to get my B12 supplement from somewhere other than dirt. Microscopic feces particles from animals could be in the dirt. But get your B12 levels checked just to rule out pernicious anemia, and to see if you are absorbing the supplement sufficiently.

  • Ronald Green
  • Ange Humphrey

    How much fennel seed daily?

    • Thanks for your question Ange!

      One of the studies mentioned by Dr Greger showed that chewing fennel seeds would maintain nitrite-NO concentrations and help prevent the onset of acute hypoxia and consequently HAPE. In this particular study, volunteers were asked to chew 1 g of Fennel seeds for 1 min. In my opinion, there needs to be more detailed information about the timing or practical application but perhaps try similar strategy?

      Hope this answer helps!

  • Eric Kildahl

    Dr. Greger and staff, Thanks so much for the great information and website you provide. Can someone let me know the research and information you have on Maca powder for athletic performance and over all health? What are the pros and cons? How much is too much Maca powder daily and what dose is recommended ? Thanks again

  • newjumpswing

    How much fennel seeds were found to be effective for athletic purposes.

  • Mike

    I love fennel seed, but the last part of the video gave me some definite reservations. I’m a 39yo male with a pretty significant case of gynecomastia that I’ve dealt with since my pre-teen years. Could fennel seed exacerbate this condition?