Doctor's Note

Sadly, there are 20 times more studies published on health and depression than there are on health and happiness. But there is growing interest in the so-called positive psychology movement. See my last video: Are Happier People Actually Healthier?

I mentioned the benefits of exercise in passing. More on maximizing movement:

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  • Thea

    I’m *sure* that chocolate makes me happy. ;-)

    • I couldn’t agree more. Dr. Greger missed the boat on this one. It’s chocolate. Case closed.

    • Joe Caner

      A tablespoon of cocoa powder is a serving of fruit so enjoy!

      • maggie

        Of course, it’s both a bean and a plant therefore on the plant based lifestyle and vegan of course.

    • Maureen Okun

      Happily (eudamonically), one can have the best if both worlds. One if my favourite snacks is “fruit soup,” which I make with cherries and mango chunks in a bit of soy milk with a generous spoonful of raw cacao mixed in. Yum. Poor Aristotle—no chocolate for him.

      • Dr Dave

        I, too, have discovered the mango and cherry smoothie (I used to use bananas, but mangoes are much better in all ways). To this base I add a little water, ground flax, cocoa powder, Amla powder, and blueberries. Yum. I also use the mangoes and cherries on my oatmeal a couple of times a week (the rest I use berries). Who knew that eating healthy could taste so delish? I would be doing none of this without You rock, Dr G!

    • Does anyone have a successful WFPB recipe for “Sipping Chocolate?” That is a rich, creamy mostly dark chocolate hot drink the Europeans of late 1800s and early 1900s poured into demi-tasses (look just like espresso cups) at the end of a meal. I thought this would be a lovely (I have the Limoges Haviland demi-tasses for the occasion) dessert with a bowl of fruit for elaborate dinners. However my efforts taste powdery. I am no cook… I use soy milk for richness, erythritol, cinnamon and coco powder. Avocado?? Coconut butter?

      • Panchito

        That would be Mexican chocolate, not European.

        • Hi Pancito, do you mean the addition of the magic of cinnamon makes this Mexican? Yes, it is from that octagonal box of Mexican cinnamon that I got the idea of adding cinnamon. Perhaps I should add almonds!

      • Vege-tater

        The first thing that comes to mind is avena, a hot oatmeal beverage from S America that sounds like what you are looking for! The traditional instructions to cook and strain the oats was a bit tedious, but this version is a lot easier: You can of course play with the spices and such, but YUM!
        I also want to plug my fave “magic” ingredient for this type of thing… a healthy powdered root called konjac or glucomannan. Google it, pretty amazing stuff. It’s what they use to make those no calorie “miracle noodles” that the Japanese have been eating forever, called shirataki. I got the powder to make them myself because they are hard to find and pricey. The powder is too, but you use so little at a time it lasts! The best way to use it for hot drinks is to either mix it into the dry ingredients first or dissolve maybe 1/8 tsp into a bit of cool water and then add it to the cup of already hot liquid. It doesn’t need to be cooked, but if you dump it into something hot it will swell instantly and form a solid clump that is impossible to break up! Since it doesn’t need cooking you can also just put it into a cool or cold liquid, it will swell over time to form a smooth, silky, convincingly “creamy” texture, it just takes longer than heating it. I always put a little into my home made plant milks to keep them from separating as quick, and add a little body. Kind of like carageenan but with a better health profile. The only issue I’ve had using it is, it seems to lose it’s gelling ability in certain acidic concoctions like some salad dressings. I should research that, not sure of the specifics, just having fun with it. I think a tsp, of konjac will gel a cup of liquid quite firm, almost like gelatin, just smoother and not as springy. (I use agar for that). It’s huge in the “low carb” world because it is non caloric and can be used much like starch and also contributes to satiation as it is so absorbent. It’s also used as a diet aid sometimes in capsule form. (It even had some negative press a while back because some company in Asia made a sweet product in tiny cups that kids were choking on when they sucked them out. The size acted like a plug and the texture was much firmer than jello and does not dissolve further in heat. Bad combo!) Anyway, it’s fun stuff and I’m finding all kinds of applications for it! I love it for making sauces and gravies quick and easy with a smooth texture, making beverages “creamy”, the possibilities are endless.

        • John

          Yes, Vege-tater,
          I eat shirataki noodles regularly. They’re not expensive at my local Asian grocery store. They have a lot of positive health benefits.
          Avena is just the Spanish word for oats. Spanish speakers eat oats for breakfast too. Cheap and healthy. I just add walnuts, cranberries, and black strap molasses to add nutrition and flavor. John S

          • Joe Caner

            That sounds good. I’m an oat groat fan myself and I often have them for breakfast with fruit and ground flaxseed.

    • Atlantisarch

      it doesn’t. it’s addictive and as such it’s a drug. It was designed like that in the very first place, having a bitter taste but beeing very powerfull psycho stimulant. Craving for chocolate is nowdays a well know sign of incoming burnout. I experienced it. I can estimate my average stress level depending on my chocolate expenses, warning me. But it doesn’t make me happy for a long time (hours/days). That’s just a drug…
      The sad thing is 99% people beeing confused about short term drug use and long term happiness.

      • Thea

        Atlantisarch: I know. I was just trying to be funny/lighthearted. I’m sure your information will help someone who might take it seriously. Thanks.

    • jj

      I read the transcript while listening to something else. I got a huge laugh at a wrong word. It is really appropriate though.

      “It’s like which came first, the stricken or the egg? “

      • Thea

        Too funny…

      • SeedyCharacter

        I’m pretty sure Dr. G intentionally used that word “stricken.” It’s a play off of “chicken” and is a synonym of sorts for depression.

    • Isn’t cocoa technically a fruit….

  • Thea

    I learned a new word today: eudaemonia.

    • brad

      me too!

      1. happiness; well-being.
      2. Aristotelianism. happiness as the result of an active life governed by reason.

    • Karl Young

      And now for something completely different (and completely off topic !) – here’s an esoteric (and pretty entertaining) use of the term Eudaemonia (or Eudaemonic – close enough !):

      • Thea

        :-) So, now I’ve learned two new things today.

    • plant_this_thought

      I wish you all good daemons!

  • Julot

    And dairy seems to be the worst food for mood the days after…

  • Mike

    In watching your videos & reading How Not to Die, I’m hearing a bunch of info on recommended intake of various nutrients, but I can’t find a centralized source. I’m hesitant to go with some random website or even the government recommended values (for obvious reasons) – I’m curious if either has reference materials for recommended intake ranges (for macro & micro nutrients alike) and/or has a trusted source.

    • Hi Mike – one of the great benefits of a plant based diet, consuming a wide variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, healthy oils, plant based protein sources and nuts & seeds is that you don’t have to ensure micro and macronutrient levels are hitting any one particular number. Choosing five colors every day – red, orange, yellow, green, and purple-red – from fruits and/or vegetables covers so many of our micronutrient needs, and rounding out our diets with the other categories fills the rest. Dr. Greger has an amazing phone app that simplifies the process of keeping track. Called Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen it is a great way to ensure you are meeting ALL of your nutritional needs without getting overfocused on micro and macro nutrients. Try it and let me know what you think!!!

      • Wilma Laura Wiggins

        I wish so-called experts would stop pushing “healthy” oils. There is no such thing as a healthy oil. There is such a thing as good marketing. Oil is KILLING people – please stop pushing it.

        • OOOOH, sorry WIlma! Healthy fats? Does that language work better for you?
          Avocado, coconut, olives? No marketing here either.

          • Heidi

            Wilma and Lisa, I’m happy to see the oil issue addressed here. Dr. Esselstyn and others have made it clear that all oils, no exceptions, damage the endothelial cells that line our arteries. While it’s easy to be oil-free when cooking at home, it’s next to impossible to find restaurants that reliably comply with requests for no oil. While eating at our local Cheesecake Factory recently, I specifically requested no oil whatsoever on my “super antioxidant salad” and side of steamed broccoli, and to my dismay, both had the feel and taste of oil; I could feel it between my fingers (when I picked up the piece of broccoli to examine it ;-) and could taste it. The very nice server swore that he entered “dry–no oil at all” for my order, and I ended up eating every bit because I was so hungry! Within 48 hours, I developed my personal tell-tale inflammatory response signal…acne on my chin and cheeks. So frustrating. Wouldn’t you think restaurants could save lots of money by ditching all the oil? Oh, but wait…SAD eaters are so used to the taste that their food wouldn’t taste “good.” That’s what’s really SAD!!

          • You are brave, Heidi, to eat at Cheesecake Factory!!! And, it is a tribute to your refined taste buds, made cleaner through your plant based diet, that you can taste traces (or more) of oil on your foods.

          • Heidi

            Lisa, it’s funny, I wouldn’t think CF would be a good choice either, but their menu is slowly but surely featuring some wonderful WFPB options like that salad. The problem is likely that the chefs are totally in the dark about oil, and like you suggested in your earlier post, think that olive oils are “healthy fats.” I wish there was a way to get the message out…the knowledge is there, but mainstream media is so slow to respond, and worse, are more likely to spread the same old stuff, like “eggs are a superfood.” *Sigh.* Thank heavens for Dr. Greger and volunteers on this website like you, who work hard to get the facts out to those who actually care and are willing to make positive changes. Much appreciated! (And LOL at my “refined” tastebuds…more like well trained, but definitely not to the “refined” level yet :-).

          • you are too kind!!!
            Healthy sources of fats – ground flaxseed meal, walnuts, chia seeds, avocado, coconut, are my go to choices.
            I’m glad to see that the WFPB movement is moving to CF and other more traditional recipes, due to customers like you who demand better choices! Good for you.

          • SeedyCharacter

            So good to hear that CF is moving towards more healthful offerings! I’ve avoided that place for years after Nutrition Action evaluated them and gave them top rankings for most calories per dish or something like that. :-(

          • Wilma Laura Wiggins

            All but the coconut. Other fats that are on the healthier side are walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, soy beans and stuff like that.

          • jj

            Isn’t there a difference between coconut and coconut oil?

          • Wilma Laura Wiggins

            Of course there is a difference. I suppose a very small amount of coconut would be o.k. now and then but I have lived in the tropics and visited with people who were native Hawaiians, and I can tell you too much coconut will make you fat.

          • GEBrand

            Yes, there is a difference. Whole coconut is a whole food, complete with fiber. When you chew it it is solid in your mouth. Coconut oil is a component of whole coconut which has been processed out of the whole food. Coconut oil is pure fat and mostly saturated fat at that.
            Others have mentioned that nuts are thought to be a healthy component of a vegan diet. While I won’t debate that either way, most recommendations are to eat an ounce or two of nuts per day as a maximum. Compare that to eating bowls full of quacamole or tablespoons full of coconut oil in various foods (coconut ice cream, coconut yogurt, coconut oil sauces, coconut oil added to soups etc.) Adding gobs of coconut oil to ones food is no different than pouring olive, corn, safflower, or any other oil all over one’s food. Fat, is fat, is fat, is fat when its extracted from its whole food and poured onto one’s dinner.

        • Joe Caner
        • GEBrand

          Wilma, I just want to support your point about the oils. Especially if you happen to be someone who is actively working to reverse their heart disease (which isn’t me, thankfully, but I don’t want to ever be in that position either). Oil, no matter what the source, is ultimately a processed food, not a whole food. Of the fat in coconut oil, 89% is saturated fat:

          Of the total calories in fresh coconut meat, 79% are from fat.
          Olive oil is 14% saturated fat:

          Avocados (fresh, raw) are 77% fat, 14% of which is saturated. Broccoli, by comparison, is 9% fat, no saturated, 20% protein, and the rest complex carbohydrate.
          Even Dr. Greger does not recommend coconut. Here is a quote from his July 2013 article “Is Coconut Oil Good For You?”:
          “That was all the science we had for ten years, but four new studies have recently come out: a population study and three clinical trials, all of which I detail in Does Coconut Oil Clog Arteries? The bottom line is that the best available evidence is that coconut oil significantly worsens our bad cholesterol levels.”

          I’m afraid I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with Lisa’s intimation that coconut falls under the umbrella of healthy fats. Although avocado and olive oils have a better saturated fat profile, they still have a boat load of fat. And they are not whole foods.
          Like Heidi, below, I, too, feel frustration at trying to eat at restaurants and specifically ordering no oil on my food. The easiest I’ve had of it is to order steamed veggies and brown rice at Asian restaurants with a side of teriyaki sauce and a siracha bottle if I want to spice it up. Although I’ve also tried to order steamed tofu – rather than stir fried – I have not been successful at getting it served to me that way.
          Anyway, . . thank you to Wilma for bringing up this important topic for discussion.

        • Hi Wilma, you might like to see Lisa’s response to my query above.

      • Hi Lisa, Thanks for volunteering or this wonderful site. You mention healthy oils, above. Which ones, and does Dr. G. concur?

        • Thank you Gayle, so nice of you to notice I am a volunteer!!
          Sources of healthy fats – avocado, chia seeds, ground flax seed meal, coconut, walnuts. Dr G addresses oils most skillfully in his book How Not To Die on page 298 and 299, specifically Olives and Olive Oil. He points out the difference between the oil and the fruit (in this case the olive vs the olive oil) and the fact that olive consumption should be minimized since olives are soaked in brine (high sodium). Calling olives and olive oil a “yellow light food”, he recommends their consumption be limited. He writes: “when I eat olives there’s no way I’m going to eat those waxy black abominations in a can. I’m going to slice up some purple kalamatas that actually have some flavor. If you’re going to spoil yourself once in a while, I say do it right!”
          I concur with Dr G, after all, he is the REAL expert!!!

          • Thanks, Lisa! My! People have a short trigger now and then.

          • Wilma Laura Wiggins

            I am very surprised if Dr. G puts olives (a whole food) and olive oil (a refined processed non food) in the same category. About coconut, as a child visiting Hawaii I remember sitting with a group of obese ladies who were eating coconut and spitting out the pulp. They told me that kept them from gaining weight from the coconut. Obviously there was something wrong with their theory. smile.

          • Thea

            OK, this is serious. This is where Dr. Greger and I will have to get into fisticuffs. How dare he disparage my much beloved canned black olives?!? I grew up putting 5 black olives on each of my little fingers like finger puppets. Then eating them right off the finger. And laughing when Grandpa’s olives did not fit on his fingers. Black olives have both subtle salty flavor and sentimental value. Poor Dr. Greger just doesn’t properly appreciate the black olive. I hope this sets him straight!
            ;-) (Just in case anyone things I’m serious, please note the wink.)

          • SeedyCharacter

            Thea, I have this same nostalgic attachment to black rubbery canned olives. They usually appear on my table only on holidays, as they have for all of my life! To top it off, I have a niece named “Lindsay” so we’ve got to serve the Lindsay brand. Otherwise, I eat kalamatas and organic green ones stuffed with garlic from my local olive bar. Since I eat little processed food, I don’t lose sleep about the salt content.

          • Thea

            :-) re: “…I don’t lose sleep…” I think that’s such a healthy attitude.

            So nice that Lindsay gets Lindsay olives. :-)

          • SeedyCharacter

            We did finger puppets with the olives, too. Fond food memories . . .

          • Wilma Laura Wiggins

            Just so happens, I agree.

  • I LOVE this video! I’m teaching a course at Arizona State University on food and sustainability called Sustainable Living & Mindful Eating and we just finished our chapter on the Brain and Food. I have read many of the studies that Dr G cites today, and agree that the evidence is strong for “pushing” fruits and vegetables for our health. It’s lovely to consider the benefits of more f&v for mental health. While it’s true we don’t know exactly the mechanism of action for the positive effects that plant based diets have on mood, this is an easy experiment to try with one’s health. Thanks, Dr. G!!!

  • Joe Caner

    If one needs to “consume approximately 7.2 daily servings of fruit or 8.2 servings of vegetables to notice a meaningful [mood] change,” I am going to play it safe and eat 15.4 daily servings of fruits and vegetables just to be on the safe side.

    • Karl Young

      Now that seems something that even a troll would have trouble warning against ! (We’ll see though…)

    • maggie

      The good doctor also says if you eat organic fruits and veggies, it’s like adding 2 more though not sure how he computes this. Could you eat 13 servings of organic=15? Perhaps someone here knows the answer. I eat all organic so on the plus side or more?

      • Joe Caner

        I don’t know, but I’m with you. I source organic produce whenever possible. Abstaining from the ingestion of fungicides, herbicides and pesticides sounds like a prudent course of action to me.

        • David J

          I agree but to be accurate, “organic” does not mean pesticide or fungicide free – the difference is in the source of the “cides” used, organic ones arguably safer.

          • Joe Caner

            True that save for the lovely bits growing in my back yard…

          • David J

            Right – always good to know the source!

      • Dr G addresses the not so clear evidence for choosing organics over conventional produce here: He encourages further research to clarify the issue.
        I myself choose organics whenever possible – for me, its not so much what I am getting but what I am not getting.

      • basehitz

        Maggie, I’m familiar with your referenced link to Dr G’s video. He’s done a bunch on this topic and there are multiple conclusions I draw from his data. Regarding quantifying the boost form organic stuff, here’s another link which offers sufficient evidence for me to start switching some stuff to organic.

        My comments to above video on quantity point in particular were:

        • Results indicate that a switch from conventional to organic crop consumption would result in 20-40% (and for some compounds >60%) increase in crop based antioxidant/polyphenolic intake levels for same intake.

        • Greger – this would in effect adding 2-4 servings/day to 10 servings/day regimen without consuming any more

    • hank

      Can someone please define a “serving” ounce-wise or otherwise?

      • Joe Caner

        Google can:

        Vegetables: 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables (about the size of a small fist), 1/2 cup of other vegetables or 1/2 cup of vegetable juice. Fruits: 1 medium fruit (medium is defined as the size of a baseball); 1/2 cup chopped, cooked or canned fruit; or 1/2 cup juice.Feb 18, 2015

        What is a Serving? – American Heart Association

    • John

      I think that Joe and I are part of the 0%, yes that’s right, fewer than 1 in 200, that actually eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. One hint-if you grow edible weeds in your back yard (I call them vegetables), they are cheap and well, they grow like weeds! They biologically diversify your fruit orchard! Organic too! No weeding, only harvesting! Dr. Greger had that video about people in Greece who are super healthy that basically live off weeds and walnuts. I think I might be the American version. John S

  • Catherine Vade Bon Coeur

    I like the videos but I’d rather see him talking than see an article and hear him. And the scrolling of his words is distracting. I know you’re trying to be of benefit to all types of learners…

    That being said, I love the 5 colors concept. It makes life much simpler.

    • Glad that works for you! I find it works well for me to listen to the videos, and then go back and look at some of the research articles myself. Yes, I know I’m a bit of a plant based nerd, but I LOVE to look at the research articles! Dr G. has “sources cited” on the right hand side next to the video – you can pull through the list and see if anything seems to be interesting to review. Maybe you could listen, then take a look at a couple of the research articles and see if that might work for you! I also sometimes doodle and draw a picture of a fruit or a vegetable when Dr G talks!!!

      • GEBrand

        Hi Lisa – I like to look at the research as well at times. Especially if I’m wanting to pass along a piece of information to a friend, etc. However, when I click on the link(s) to the research, the only thing I can view is the abstract, not the whole of the research. So, . . .am I missing something? I cannot figure out how to view the whole research paper. I’ve been wondering about this for a long time and have been hesitant to speak up and ask the question. But I’d bet I’m not the only one out here confused by this. So the question is: How can we view the entire research paper and not just the abstract?
        Thanks lots!

        • I am fortunate that I have access through Arizona State University to full research articles. One way to see if there is an “Open Access” copy of a research article is by using Google Scholar to check. Type Google Scholar into your browser, and copy/paste the title of the article’s name, and then click enter, and you’ll see if the article pops up. Click on the link, and you’ll be able to see if you can download a free copy of the article. Surprisingly, one can find many journal articles available this way. Here is a quick check of Open Access journals if the journal that the article appears in is listed here, you can get a copy of the article for no cost.
          This article from Drexel University may help you as well:
          Let me know how it goes for you!

        • WFPBRunner

          You need to have access through something like a university or your workplace. Sometimes it is possible to Google the article and find it for free.

        • guest

          Sign up for ResearchGate, which is free, and you can request the article directly from the authors if at least one of them is a member.

  • Joe Caner

    Shiny Happy People eating fruits and vegetables and also laughing and holding hands… :-)

  • SadSac

    Bob Marley says Don’t Worry be Happy!

    • guest

      I thought it was Bobby McFerrin.

  • Rooh

    I dont think Dr. Greger meant instant happiness. Chocolate does get up the serotin levels very quickly, but just as quickly they go up , they come down too! What Dr. Greger has outlined is the happiness that one feels when one is content with the food that is nutritious and keeps one satiated for very long periods of time and fruits and veggies do that – because of high fiber content and the comprehensives in all their nutrients.

    • Joe Caner

      “Instant happiness!” It sounds as if it could be habit forming. Sustained happiness sounds good to me.

  • Jennykins

    Could the fruit and veg be feeding the gut bacteria, therefore giving the person a good mood?

  • NBMaggie

    “People who got up to seven or eight servings a day reported the highest life satisfaction and happiness. And these associations remained significant even after controlling for factors such as income, illness, exercise, smoking, and body weight, suggesting fruit and vegetable consumption wasn’t just acting as a marker for other healthy behaviors.”

    But it’s unlikely that researchers could create a control to counter the metacognitive factor – the KNOWLEDGE that you are eating healthier food actually creating the improvement rather than the nutrient value of the food itself. I’m playing devil’s advocate here since I am a follower of Dr. Greger’s dictums regarding health and well being but I am also curious about how self-awareness might influence outcomes.

    • Thea

      NBMaggie: Perhaps a future study could do a control group with a group of people who *believe* that they are eating healthy on a high fat or high meat diet and who do not hit the 7-8 servings of fruits and veggies. Just a thought. Interesting question.

      • charles grashow

        What if you eat meat AND 7-8 servings of fruits/veggies per day?
        What if most of your fat comes from things like avocados?

        • Thea

          It would not make a good control group… Just talking science here. Not trying to debate your specific diet.

  • Ralph Wiley

    The doc means “healthful” food, not “healthy” food. The latter means the food itself is healthy, as opposed to rotten. The former means the food promotes health in whoever or whatever eats it.

    • brec

      Usage Note on “healthy” from the American Heritage Dictionary 4th ed.:

      The distinction in meaning between healthy (“possessing good health”) and healthful (“conducive to good health”) was ascribed to the two terms only as late as the 1880s. This distinction, though tenaciously supported by some critics, is belied by citational evidence–healthy has been used to mean “healthful” since the 16th century. Use of healthy in this sense is to be found in the works of many distinguished writers, with this example from John Locke being typical: “Gardening . . . and working in wood, are fit and healthy recreations for a man of study or business.” Therefore, both healthy and healthful are correct in these contexts: a healthy climate, a healthful climate; a healthful diet, a healthy diet.

      I was inclined to attempt preservation of “healthful” 20 or 30 years ago, but have long since abandoned that battle as lost.

      • HaltheVegan

        But when you merge two words together like that, you lose some distinctivity. (I think I just made up a new word here ;-)

  • Ellie

    I’m a veggie virgin. I still eat fish and eggs, doing it gradually as concerned about getting enough vitamin D and iron etc although hoping to become a vegan eventually once I am confident about the nutritional choices I make. It started as I gave up dairy due to asthma and it seems to help, plus I get it that cow milk should go to baby cows as opposed to human adults, but after reading the comments here I am confused about oils now,especially olive oil I thought it was a heart healthy food? I tend to use it in tiny amount due to its high caloric value more than anything else. Apart from that I use whole tahini, little avocado, a few nuts and seeds, flax seeds. I would appreciate it if someone could explain reason for not using oils. Thank you

    • Joe Caner

      It sounds as if you are veg-curious at least.
      The reason one would want to avoid oil is that it is a denatured food. Oil is to fruits, nuts and seeds as sugar is to cane and sugar beets. All of the fiber most of the nutrients have been stripped leaving just fat.

      • Ellie

        Thanks Joe Caner. Please excuse my ignorance, so I understand that instead of having olive oil I should eat olives?

        • Joe Caner

          Yes indeed! Whole foods are always to be preferred over refined foods. That is one of the reasons why Dr. Greger recommends a Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) diet.

          Easy on the olives though. They are very high in sodium. Nuts and seeds are preferable.

          • Ellie

            I understand now. One last question: I heard somewhere that it best to soak almonds for 6 hours for ease of digestion. Any thoughts on this? And does this apply just to almonds or all nuts?

          • Joe Caner

            I’ve heard that as well. I just google it and it seems that the justification is to leach out the phytic acid. I eat almonds without bothering to soak them, although, I personally prefer walnuts.

            If you interested, Dr. Greger has some videos on the subject:

    • Thea

      Ellie: Allow me to elaborate so that you can feel confident on the excellent reply you got from Joe Caner.
      Any oil is the ultimate in junk food because it is a highly processed food devoid of any nutrient but fat – ie, the definition of an empty calorie. When it comes to oils, one of the best talks I have seen is from Jeff Novick, From Oil To Nuts. Dr. Greger recommends Jeff Novick’s Fast Food DVDs in his new book, so I think Dr. Greger is likely in agreement with Jeff’s main ideas about nutrition. The talk costs money, but there is a free excerpt on youtube that is well worth the few minutes it takes to watch. Jeff is both entertaining and a master at explaining this type of information. The talk compares sugar to olive oil and it really helped me to understand the problem with oils: It’s well worth your 5 minutes to watch this.

      Also, I think you will be interested in Dr. Greger’s videos on olive oil.
      Gosh, it sure becomes clear that oils have great marketing, doesn’t it? Dr. Greger did a series on the Mediterranean diet. I can’t find the beginning of the series, but you can generally see the videos in the link above.

      Finally, I would like to put this into perspective for you: Just because oil is not exactly healthy, does that mean that you should never eat oil? Maybe in an ideal world, but I treat oil the same way I treat sugar. I eat it sometimes for dessert. I just don’t kid myself that sugar is healthy. I consume oil the same way. Best in desserts as a rare treat or perhaps when I’m eating out and consuming oil is the least of my worries.

      I bring this perspective to your attention, because for someone who is starting out, you may not want to over-stress on the oil issue. Best, in my opinion, to focus first on getting those animal products out of your diet by replacing them with whole plant foods. And then you could work on weaning yourself from the oils as you see fit. But I agree with everything that Joe said about olives being better than olive oil, but even better for high fat food would be nuts and seeds and avocado if you need the extra calories.

      Hope that helps!

      • Thea

        Darn. I left out one more point I wanted to make: It’s not just that oil is junk food/empty calories that is the problem. But a study (or studies?) have shown that consuming oil negatively affects the way that your blood vessels work. So, there is the potential, despite the marketing, for any oil to lead to heart disease. One of the reasons that plant based oils got a reputation for being heart-healthy is that the plant based oils can lower heart attacks if those plant oils are replacing high saturated fat oils like butter. BUT that doesn’t mean that the plant based oils protect the heart. It just means that they aren’t as bad as animal oils. Hope that makes sense.

      • Ellie

        Hi Thea, thanks for such a helpful elaboration about oils. I am in the process of weaning myself from animal products, I think the most difficult one is sardines as I have given up dairy. I am also slightly overweight so am concerned about extra calories from nuts and avocados. I really enjoy Dr Greger’s videos, its opened up a whole new world for me, and he certainly is a mind of information, although I feel that he is biased toward veganism.

        • Thea

          Ellie: Oh, I thought you were trying to get extra calories, not lose them. Ditching the oils is a great/easy way to ditch unnecessary extra calories. And you certainly don’t need to eat nuts or avocados. I just thought you wanted to.

          If you would like some great information on healthy ways to lose weight that involve healthy diets you can use for the rest of your life, check out these three super helpful and practical resources:
          [1] A great talk:
          [2] More info on calorie density to go with the great talk:

          [3] free 21 day, comprehensive program recommended by Dr. Greger (click the green button to register)

          Good luck!

          (re: bias. Someday you might research Dr. Greger’s history. I don’t think anyone with that history could be accused of being biased in the way that the term has any meaning, but that’s just my opinion. And neither here nor there for the purposes of this conversation.)

          • Ellie

            Thanks Thea, I watched Forks over Knives,very interesting although I already have been following a healthier diet for the last three years. Mainly looking for a way to lose the last 8lbs while eliminating chicken and fish where possible. My concern is still about getting good quality protein and calcium. I think I will start by trying the 21 comprehensive kickstart. By the way my daughter has been a vegan for 3 years and suffers slightly with negativity (not depression) even though she takes B12 supplements, this type of thing concerns me. Anyway thanks for your great advice.

          • Thea

            Ellie: I still have your post/e-mail in my inbox making me think that I had not replied.
            Your concern about getting “good quality protein” is very understandable given our culture. The following article has helped a large number of people, including myself!, learn what is needed to answer the protein question. It will make you feel a whole lot better and you will find yourself educated more than just about anyone you know: It is well worth a few minutes of your time!
            As for calcium, you might be happy to learn that your body can absorb more calcium from dark leafy greens than from dairy products. And with dark leafy greens, the side effects are all good. Tofu and calcium fortified non-dairy products are also good sources of calcium. But I will also point out that when most people are concerned about calcium, their real concern is having healthy bones. For that, I would point out that bones are made up of something like 17 substances and focusing so much on calcium is a big mistake. Think about how brittle (how easy to snap) a stick of chalk is. Here is a light article on the topic from a person Dr. Greger has referenced in the past and who has been a guest blogger on this site: If you want to learn more about bone health, I can recommend a great book: “Building Bone Vitality: A Revolutionary Diet Plan to Prevent Bone Loss and Reverse Osteoporosis–Without Dairy Foods, Calcium, Estrogen, or Drugs”–Without/dp/0071600191/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1457543321&sr=8-1&keywords=bone+vitality This book is generally in line with the philosophy of this website.

        • Pam

          Hi Ellie, I just wanted to say hi and support you. After watching Forks over Knives over a year ago, my husband and I became vegan. This year we decided to add back in a little fish now and then – wild sourced mainly from the Pacific and some egg whites about once a week (which we get from a local farm that feeds them organic feed and let’s them roam free). So we eat vegetarian, very very little oil, no dairy, veggies & fruits most days of the week and maybe add in the fish or eggs one or two meals a week. I love all the info Dr. Greger provides and another resource you can check out is Joel Fuhrman’s books that may give you some helpful recipes and info. We have added a small amount of nuts, usually walnuts, to our diet (you don’t have to eat 200 calories worth to benefit) and we do soak them overnight to help remove the phytic acid and then dry them either in a dehydrator or a low oven for a few minutes and then turn off the heat. They are more digestible and Dr. G I believe has videos on the benefits of some amount of nuts and/or seeds daily. I wish you the very best and enjoy the journey!

          • Ellie

            Hi Pam, Thank you so much for your support. I have to tell you that for the last 4 years I belonged to a slimming group similar to Weight Watchers and managed to lose about 32lbs and cannot seem to lose the remaining 7lbs and have come to the conclusion that as I am over 50 years old its more about the health of my body as opposed to the numbers on the scales and how I look on the outside. Plus that diet can be done by vegetarians but its based upon how people ate in the 1950s, good old “carbs,meat & veg”.
            Eliminating fish and eggs from my diet is a little daunting and I also believe that the egg has so many nutrients, so that will be quite tough for me. I know that I can replace salmon with flax seeds for omega 3. Its certainly a learning curve and am enjoying the videos from Dr Greger tremendously. Also, wondering if you should soak all nuts, or just almonds and cashews, and I don’t have a dehydrator so I dry them in the oven with a little salt. I will search Dr G’s video on benefits and amounts of nuts &seeds.

  • Wafthrudnir

    I checked the Ask the Doctor section and it says questions in comments on videos have a chance of being answered. The only video relevant to my question is really old, so I decided to post it here instead.

    Is potassium chloride a healthy alternative to table salt?

  • Johan Sterk

    The contents hardly answers the question in the title. I expected more specificity.

    • Joe Caner

      Are fruits and vegetables to broad a selection to choose from?
      What fruits and vegetables do you like?
      Chances are the ones you prefer will make you happier than the ones you don’t.

  • Yvan Pearson

    It would be great to start covering Kava for anxiety if possible: can you decode the recent studies?


  • Natalia McGraw

    There are few food that release happy hormones and really make you happy. Below are the food that can really makes your mood good
    1. Spinach
    2. Asparagus
    3. Honey
    4. Avocado
    5. Nuts and seeds
    6. Oily fish
    and lastly Thai food(–japanese/menu/) also makes me happy.

    • Joe Caner

      Your doctor may have recommended that you take fish oil supplements. Mine did. There have been a lot of unsubstantiated claims for the benefits of fish oil supplementation, but the research does not support those claims.

      Omega-3 fats are beneficial and necessary, but you may want to reconsider taking fish oil supplements, and find an alternative source such as flaxseeds.

      • baggman744

        Forgive me if you’re well aware of this. I hear / read / see this repeated often: that it’s the proportion of omega 3’s to omega 6’s that can be detrimental, especially in the US, because so much of our food is saturated with omega 6’s, thereby causing or exacerbating health issues, such as inflammation, etc.

  • Simon Taylor

    What about all the data on omega 3’s from fish oil and mental wellbeing? Cherry picked in the favour of the animals as ever!

    • Hi Simon, Your post sounds unkind and diminishes the tone of this site for me. If you were to ask for more info, such as “How about the research on fish oil omega 3s?” someone here would surely have been glad to refer you to the research in videos and articles here and elsewhere that might give you more information and allow you to make more informed choices. Accusations of cherry-picking are hostile. Yet you could ask, “Does this video incorporate a broad spectrum of the data, or was there some cherry-picking going on?”

    • Thea

      Simon Taylor: It’s called responsible information sharing (as opposed to picking cherries). I don’t know if there’s really all that much evidence supporting fish oil for mental well being. But for the moment let’s say you are correct about that for the sake of argument. I’ll use an analogy to explain why it is not appropriate to bring that information into this particular video: Would you recommend that someone drink Coke if they were dehydrated? No. Because Coke, like all foods, are package deals. You get the bad along with the good. You have to weigh all the evidence about Coke as a whole before you recommend it to someone, especially if other safer alternatives are available–like water!

      Fish oil would be the same thing. Fish oil is a package deal. And Dr. Greger has covered the serious problems with fish and fish oil extensively on this site. (So, by definition, it’s not cherry picking since all of the evidence has been considered and in this case, even explained on this site.) It would be irresponsible to suggest that eating fish oil is good for someone when there are perfectly safe alternatives which are shown to have the same positive effect. You also have to consider: How much mental well being will someone have if the long term effects end up being disease?

      It is fine to express your opinion (for example, here’s the evidence supporting fish oil and I think it trumps all the mercury, etc…), but it is important not to accuse someone of something without being very careful the accusation is correct. In this case, the definition of cherry picking is not met. Your accusation is incorrect.

      • WFPBRunner

        Thea have you ever noticed how many commenters who say things like this never reply to responses? Cracks me up.

        • Thea

          Yeah, I noticed… It’s makes me sad, because so often I will see that same person repeat the error again later. So, in addition to not replying, they didn’t actually learn anything. (I’m sure that won’t be the situation in this case.) But I keep trying, because I’m sure that there are anonymous people who read these discussions and some of them will understand and have an Aha! moment. That’s just faith talking, but it is what keeps me going. :-)

    • Joe Caner

      Dietary omega 3’s intake is good. What seems to be lacking are a body of research that unequivocally establishes a hard link for the benefits of fish oil supplementation. The FRONTLINE excerpt entitled How Beneficial is Fish Oil? calls into question both the quality of fish oil supplements which are commercially available and their effectiveness in lowering the risk of heart attack and stroke.

      While this does not discount the potential benefits of fish oil supplementation for mood, when I went looking for evidence, I encountered statements such as, “fish oil supplements may help ease symptoms of depression,” OR “study after study has suggested benefits for omega-3 fatty acids, which are plentiful in certain fish oils.”

      This would seem suggest that just as there is an unproven belief that fish oil is beneficial to cardio vascular health, there is a similar unestablished belief regarding its benefit for mood.

  • Matthew Smith

    The vitamins that simulate a vegan diet are Niacin, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, and Lysine in orthomolecular doses. Thank you.

  • Susie

    I have a colleague who does nothing but munch on fruits all day every day and she is the most un-happy, miserable and discontented person I know! Perhaps she would be worse if she didn’t take them!

    • SeedyCharacter

      Is your colleague eating other foods besides fruit? Is she preoccupied with her weight or body image as a reason to eat low calorie fruits? It’s not uncommon for women who are anorexic or orthorexic to be malnourished and irritable.

  • disqus_GB8lUuziuG

    how the hell can an average person afford 7-8 servings of fruit and veg a day?! would love to but I just don’t see it as possible unless your fucking rich.

  • esben andersen

    what? so where do happy meals come into the equation?

  • Killerchip

    If a individual does VIGEROUS exercising 4 to 5 times a week, would you find it acceptable to use a vegan powdered protein? Or would you suggest eating more broccoli, spinach, Greens etc. I currently am a competitive bodybuilder and was curious on your take.

    • Dr. Jen _NF Volunteer

      Hi Killerchip,

      If you are really pushing yourself it can be hard to eat the volume of food you need on a vegan diet, but I would try increasing some of the calorie dense foods- nuts, seeds, legumes etc., along with your broccoli and greens, and see if that helps. You might find the comments on this video interesting since many of the commenters have similar questions!

      Plant Based BodyBuilding

  • Dean Pomerleau

    There are several reasons to be skeptical of the evidence Dr. Greger presents about the supposed causal link between fruit/veggie intake and happiness.

    First, the effect observed in the main study he cites for a causal relationship (White et al, 2013) was tiny. People would have had to nearly triple their intake of FVs from their average (~2.5 servings/day) to ~7.5 servings/day to have even a tiny effect on their happiness (0.16 change on a happiness scale of 1-5). That’s why the author’s title the paper “MANY apples a day keep the blues away…”.

    Second, there is no way to tell whether the subjects in the White et al study were happier because of direct physiological effects (e.g. the phytochemicals caused serotonin release) or indirect effects via the subjects’ psychology. After all, don’t you feel better about yourself on a day when you eat healthy rather than when you eat crap – independent of the actual effects of the food on your mood?

    In other words, subjects in White et al could (and likely did) feel better about themselves, and report higher levels of happiness / well-being when they exercised self discipline and ate healthy fruits and vegetables rather than unhealthy alternatives. The afterglow of this good feeling could very easily spill over into the next day in a tiny way, which is exactly what the researchers observed.

    That’s why White et al (unlike Dr. Greger) are very cautious in interpreting their results, saying in the full text of the paper:

    “Of course, inferences about causality should be considered tentative until replicated with an experiment. Although our design allowed us to conduct lagged analyses, and these analyses suggested that fruit and vegetable consumption might be influencing positive affect, we agree that future research needs to include randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating the influence of high fruit and vegetable intake on affect and well-being [3].”

    They are calling for double-blind, randomized control trials of the effects of foods on happiness, as the only way to tease apart real effects of the food on affect vs. indirect (some would say placebo) effects via the subjects’ thoughts and beliefs about the treatment.

    The few randomized control trials that have probed the link between fruits and happiness are disappointing. No strong link has been observed. For a review of the randomized control trials which Dr. Greger left out, see this discussion:


  • Lorea

    What is the best vegan diet for someone with insulin resistance?

    • Thea

      Lorea: The best diet for someone with insulin resistance is a whole plant food diet – ie the same diet that is best for fighting cancer, getting rid of heart disease, preventing stroke, etc etc, etc. Dr. Greger has a chapter on diabetes and outlines the best diet in his new book, How Not To Die. But for someone who is specifically interested in insulin resistance, I would also recommend the book from Dr. Barnard on preventing and reversing diabetes. His diet is clinically proven to be 3 times more effective than the ADA diet, and you will get meal plans and recipes at the back of the book to help you (or whoever) figure out exactly how to go it.
      Hope that helps.

  • Skullpunt

    So here is a question. I recently introduced a friend of mine to these videos and she is fascinated by what she sees. However, there are a few problems she faces with a plant based diet. She is allergic to nuts, fruits, soy, and some vegetables. How can she get all the nutrients she needs with these obstacles in tow?

    • Skullpunt

      If you think this is a joke, it isn’t. I’m really looking for an answer.

      • NFModeratorRonda

        Having several allergies can certainly be a challenge. Does your friend know specifically which fruits and vegetables she is allergic to? Some fruits and vegetables may provide the same nutrients as others, so if she know specifically which ones she is allergic to, then she can substitute with another fruits and vegetables she is not allergic to that contains the same nutrients. She may need the assistance of a good plant based nutritionist if she need some assistance in this area.

    • Thea

      Skullpunt: Your friend is allergic to *all* fruits? I’ve never heard of that before. I’m not saying it’s wrong. I’m just saying that’s unusual. Your friend might try organic fruits as I know one person who thought she was allergic to fruits found out years later that she was really reacting to the pesticides on fruits. Also note that once people have been on a whole plant food diet for some time, many find that they have lost some of their food sensitivities. So, if your friend ate a healthy diet for a while, she could try some of those foods, especially fruit which I think is pretty important, and see if she still has a problem.
      But to directly answer your question: It is pretty common for whole plant food based eaters to skip the nuts and soy. So, no problem there. And no one eats *all* vegetables. So, if your friend is allergic to some vegetables, that’s no problem. Just eat the other vegetables. Many people substitute seeds for nuts. For example, many recipes which call for cashews can use sunflower seeds instead. Or your friend could skip the nuts and seeds all together and do just fine.
      I just hear a talk from Chef AJ, a famous chef who helps people learn how to eat healthy diets. Due to Chef AJ’s own food allergies and other issues, her diet is more restrictive than your friends and still Chef AJ is thriving on a whole plant food diet. So, if your friend would like to eat healthy, there is no reason she can’t do so. The only item you mention that concerns me is leaving out all fruit. But note that your friend would not be getting any of the beneficial nutrients that you find in fruit from animal products. So, not eating fruit is not a reason to eat animals…
      If you think your friend would like some specific suggestions on how to get started and to make sure she is getting all the nutrients she needs, let me know and I have some good, professional references I can provide, including from Dr. Greger.

  • Alleycat5703

    How does 7.2 servings of fruit of 8.2 servings of veg compare to recommended daily consumption. A whole lot more, or about average?

    • Dr. Jen _NF Volunteer

      Hi Alleycat,

      Current recommendations are 5-9 servings of fruit and veggies a day. For vegetables, 1 cup of leafy vegetables or ½ cup of other vegetables is a serving and ½ cup of fruit is a serving as well. Unfortunately, the CDC says that half of all Americans get less than one cup of fruit and less than 1.5 cups of vegetables a day. So most of us have a long way to go to get 7-8 servings of either fruits or vegetables!

  • Kate

    Thanks for the recipes, Maureen. And Thea – you are right of course. Chocolate (dark chocolate) is SO beneficial! :-) But I do agree that I feel so much better juicing my veggies and fruits. I can take in so much more and I do feel healthier. Thanks Dr. G. for the thoughtful approach to healthy eating and happiness!

  • Svilena

    How much is a serving? In Europe we generally eat more FV than in the USA, and a serving is understood differently, so how much is a serving according to your standards?

    • Dr. Jen _NF Volunteer

      Hi Svilena,

      In the US 1 cup (about 240mL) of leafy vegetables or ½ cup of other vegetables is a serving and ½ cup of fruit is a serving as well. Too bad most American’s can’t even manage to eat a cup of fruit a day! I’d love to hear more about your experience with fruit and vegetable consumption in Europe!

  • Joan


  • Christopher Carr

    Does anyone know what measure are we using for a serving, is it 8 ounces?

  • OriginalLittleMe

    Hi! I’m a 16 year old girl(from Norway, so my appologies if my English isn’t that good), and I’ve been reading about health since I was 10 years old. A year and a half ago, I started learning about the benefits of a vegan diet, and would like to learn as much as possible about this. Both to improve my physical health, but also my mental health, given that I’ve struggled with issues like depression and anxiety for many years, but also had issues related to eating, such as binging, purging, fasting and overexericising. Is it true that a vegan diet can help me? I’ve eaten much less dairy products the last year, but still not been able to go fully vegan/vegetarian. How difficult is it really to be vegan? I’m sure there’s many ways to be an unhealthy vegan too, so what’s the right and wrong vegan diet? Basically, I want to know as much as possible about the vegan diet and it’s benefits/misbenefits. Thank you!

    • Thea

      OriginalLittleMe: Your English is fantastic!


      I’m not an expert, but I have some ideas for you. You may be facing some difficulties in your life, but you seem to have some good sense! You are right that there are right and wrong ways to do a vegan diet. After all, potato chips and sodas are vegan, but I’m sure you know that those are junk foods, not health foods.
      In general, at least for adults who can control what food is in the kitchen, I don’t think it is too hard to eat a healthy vegan diet. A healthy vegan diet typically is made up of lots of beans, intact grains, vegetables, fruits, mushrooms and a little bit of nuts/seeds. And of big importance, don’t forget a B12 supplement. You can see Dr. Greger’s general recommendations on this page:
      If you would like some more day to day guidance on what to eat, you might look into downloading Dr. Greger’s phone application for his “Daily Dozen”. (I can find the link if you are interested.) Or for a program that really provides a ton of guidance, consider: the free on-line program called “21 Day Kickstart.” This program is run by a group called Physician’s Committee For Responsible Medicine (PCRM), which is headed by Dr. Barnard, a well respected promoter of healthy vegan diets. What’s more, the program will “hold your hand” for 21 days, including meal plans, recipes, videos, inspirational messages, and a forum (moderated by a very respected RD) where you can ask questions. This program would hopefully help you to understand what your whole family should be eating.
      (Click the green “Register Now” button.)
      I want to leave you with this thought: I have no doubt that eating a whole plant food based (WPFB) diet is the healthiest diet and a good idea for general good health regardless it’s effect on a specific problem such as depression. A WPFB diet can be eaten with joy and abundance until you are full. And a WPFB diet is just as good for teenagers as it is for adults and younger children. BUT consider this word of caution: While this healthy diet may help some people with the mental health problems you are describing, there is no guarantee the diet (especially diet alone) will do what you want. In other words, there is no guarantee that a diet change will cure your of depression or issues related to eating. Perhaps (as I’m sure you already know) you would do best if you could do your diet changes in conjunction with working with a professional to help you in your life all around.
      I hope this post gives you some ideas to move forward with. Good luck!

  • Miroslav Kovar

    Isn’t it possible that happier people eat healthier?

  • Hinrich Wrage

    Selecting the language for the transcript would be nice.