Doctor's Note

Calculate Your Healthy Eating Scores to see how one might maximize the intake of protective foods.

Nuts are technically just a dried fruit with (typically) a single seed so no wonder Nuts May Help Prevent Death.

Botanically speaking beans are fruit too. Check out Increased Lifespan From Beans.

The more plants we eat the more antioxidants we get. Why is this important? See The Power of NO and the Mitochondrial Theory of Aging. Or in terms of specific diseases, Food Antioxidants and Cancer and Food Antioxidants, Stroke, and Heart Disease.

Also, the more healthy foods we eat, the less room there is for less healthy foods:

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  • Dave

    The graph Doctor Greger presents at 0:34 is a cropped version of the graph appearing in the Bellavia et al paper. The full graph shows no difference in mortality between people who consumed 5 servings per day and people who consumed substantially more than 5 servings per day.
    Dr Greger, why did you choose to omit this data?

    • tedster

      Although it would be nice to see the uncropped graph, the plateau in the curve in the cropped version suggests that there is no additional benefit after 5 servings per day, so it doesn’t seem like cropping the graph makes much difference in interpretation.

  • DGH

    I eat carotenoids with every meal, namely carrots, which are rich in beta-carotene, the ultimate plant derived carotenoid.

    • Darryl

      Some would say lycopene (a better hydrophilic quencher), others zeaxanthin (for eyes). I collect them all.

  • HemoDynamic, M.D.

    So an Apple a day, CAN keep the Doctor away!

    For a few months at least.

    • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

      I hope redwine is a fruit…….. ;-)

      • HemoDynamic, M.D.

        It’s a Plant-Based extract my friend!

  • AuntyVal

    Is the study saying that those eating the least FVs lost 3 years off their LIFESPAN, or that, looking at the 13 years of the study, they lived 3 fewer years than the 5 FV/day group? (I can only see the abstract.)

    “Those who never consumed FV lived 3 y shorter… than did those who consumed 5 servings FV/d.”

    If so, then the longevity benefit over a longer period than 13 years might be even more than 3 years. I think an important thing to note is the 53% higher mortality rate for non-FV-eaters.

  • Scaramouche

    No one ever gives advise for diabetics…WE CAN’T HAVE SUGAR. I started eating fruits with my veggie mix and my blood glucose went through the root and I am afraid the doctor is now going to put me on insulin! Woe is me, woe is me.

    • Toxins

      I think this McDougall post will be helpful to you
      http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2009nl/dec/diabetes.htm

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      Thank you Toxins for the post below (or above).

      You are not alone Scaramouche!

      Nearly everyone of my diabetic patients say the same thing.

      For ANYONE with diabetes it’s the FAT. Eliminate the fat (especially the animal fat) and you will most likely control your blood sugars.

      FAT INHIBITS (Blocks) INSULIN!!!!!!!!!!! So the more fat you eat the higher your blood sugar will be! Because insulin becomes more inefficient/ineffective when fat is added to your diet.

      So the more fat in your diet the higher your blood sugar will be. YES, that means Avocados, Olives, ALL OILS, ALL MEATS (Including FISH), ALL CHEESE, and even too many nuts (over one palm full a day)!

      “So eating skinless chicken, skim milk, and baked fish is not enough of a change for most people to beat diabetes.”

      The link below is very helpful for diabetes as well as all the info at PCRM.

      http://pcrm.org/pdfs/health/diabetes/diet%20and%20diabetes-recipes%20for%20success.pdf

      I have many type one diabetics that have followed this regimen and have dropped their daily insulin usage from (in many of my type one diabetic patients examples) from 50 units to 10 units per day!

      If this diet controls Type One diabetics then you can bet your bottom Starches that it will control Type two diabetics as well, and does!!!

      • Thea

        HemoDynamic: Thanks for this post. I know that a WFPB diet is helpful for type 2 diabetics, but I hadn’t heard too much about type 1. You have some pretty powerful anecdotes there. Thanks for sharing!

      • Penny

        Thank you for the voice of reason. I am so very tired of hearing about how us Type II Diabetics can’t have sugar, ie fruit. I am living proof that it is indeed the fat that is the problem.
        When I first found out I was diabetic I started seeking out forums to find out how others were managing themselves outside the doctor’s office. What I found were several forums filled with people obsessed with the idea that they can never touch another piece of fruit again…but bacon and fried cheese was A-Okay.
        The message was almost fanatical. No more than 30 carbs a day, but you’ll never be hungry because you can consume all of the fat your little heart desires. Not only did that not even sound appetizing to me, but I was not trying to hear that I couldn’t have most, if any, fruit.
        Going plant-based has done amazing things for my blood sugar. At first, I had to put down my meter, because yes, I was having sugar spikes after certain meals. Breakfast for me is now oats, walnuts, a cup of berries, cinnamon and almond milk. I was spiking to 165 after that meal. That no longer happens. I’ve been eating this way for just three weeks.
        My fasting sugars have gone from 145 to 105 and my 1-hour post-meal sugars are peaking around 115. At two hours they are back down to 89. I was previously spiking as high as 279. I am not on any diabetic medications. I eat around 250g of cabs daily, sometimes more. I eat LOTS of fruit and I don’t pay any attention to the glycemic index. As I mentioned on another post, I have not yet added in regular exercise, but I will be quite soon because I am starting to feel better.
        My point is, the advise you find on this site and others with a similar message is GOOD for DIABETICS.

      • justmeint

        I suggest diabetics take heed of the work of Dr. Bernstein… himself a type 1 Diabetic. Also look at the work of Volk and Phinney http://www.artandscienceoflowcarb.com/ I am a registered T2 Diabetic with FULL control over my sugars and insulin via the LCHF lifestyle with NO drugs required…. I totally disagree with your stance to give up the fat!

        • JacquieRN

          I am not sure what a “registered” type 2 type diabetic is. If however, you have type 2 diabetes that is under control with low carb high fat diet – we are glad it works for you and your lifestyle. Just not sure how it will work out over the long haul.

  • anderson

    I wonder they should distinguish between sweet fruits and nonsweet fruits. bean and nuts are not sweet that why they are good. but tropical truits sweet and should be avoided.

  • Guest

    Dr. Greger

    I am a CML patient for about 11 yrs and soon will undergo transplant. Can you suggest food that I should be eating more of. I have been a vegan for the last 1 year and always regret why I haven’t consider going vegan earlier. Your website have been very helpful for over the years. Thank you for all your videos and discussions.

  • Ben

    However, I suspect the biggest impact fruits and veggies have is not on increasing lifespan but on quality of life, especially in old age, like the 90-100 year old Okinawans still able to tend to their gardens.

  • Leslie

    Hoping someone can help me understand something. Dr. Weil says that fructose…… the body cannot derive energy from fructose.

    Does this mean that when someone consumes medjool dates, which are predominately fructose, they are not able to get any energy from it? This makes no sense to me, as they contain calories, and we get energy from the calories. But, I also understand that fructose in medjool dates bypasses the insulin/pancreas and all that (I think) and that it all just goes straight to the liver.

    Anyone understand this?

    • largelytrue

      Weil is not a reliable source. That’s the simplest explanation in this case and confirms both common sense and actual research quite well.

      • Leslie

        Actually, not everything he says is unreliable. Ironically, a lot of the things he says are aligned with the beliefs of Dr. Greger (and yes, he diverts as well). Dr. Weil promotes a diet, from a broad sense, that has a lot in common with the diet of cultures who live very long and healthy lives, and he also promotes lifestyle choices (beyond food) that are in sync with health as well. I’m happy to be vegan, but I also strive to allow the truth of things/people to have their place.

        • largelytrue

          Not saying that he doesn’t make true claims. Just that he is not a reliable source. There is a difference. A reliable source has good methods and high standards. The fructose bit, together with other nonsense that I’ve heard of him pushing, is so flagrantly wrong that it erases his credibility. As I think you indicate, the best examples of what he’s right about are confirmed through other more reliable sources. So just look at the reliable sources directly, then.

    • Darryl

      Fructose is roughly equal in caloric value to other digestible carbs. The issue is that nearly all fructose is metabolized in the liver, and if the liver has full glycogen stores, much is converted to newly synthesized fats, which then are used as fuel elsewhere in the body or stored, and there’s also an increase in LDL cholesterol and uric acid. There’s a current high-profile debate on whether this contributes to the current epidemic of insulin resistance, obesity, hypertension and fatty liver.

      I suspect there’s a good case for moderating the amount of fructose (from fruit, honey, or refined sugars) taken in any meal, unless one exercises or fasts regularly, depleting liver glycogen stores.

      • Veganrunner

        Darryl that is a great explanation. When I originally went WFPB/no animal my cholesterol dropped from 150 to 114 and LDL from 70 to 65. But I just had my blood work done and it went up to 168 total and 78 LDL. It must be the fruit.

        • Ben

          Wow, this is the first time I have heard of sweet fruit causing LDL to rise. So heavy sweet fruit consumption might not be for everyone? I used to be a fruitarian, similar to Durianrider, with only greens and celery and tomatoes. Thanks to Dr. McDougal and Richard Wrangham, I became convinced that I could become healthier by adding some cooked food to my diet, beans, mushrooms, etc. But I am still heavy fruit. I should probably have some blood work done myself just to make sure everything is good. You know the plant positive guy said in one of his videos that he also consumes a heavy on the sweet fruit diet. But I saw a picture of him and he looked insanely fit, he was doing a gymnastics move that requires great relative strength. So maybe another super athlete like Durianrider able to burn enough to accomodate the sweet fruit.

          • Veganrunner

            I am not sure Ben. Maybe I was running more miles when I first went vegan. Either way I do find it interesting that my cholesterol would go back up without consuming any. I consume very little oil. Very interesting.

      • Leslie

        Thank you. Do you have some favorite starches that you feel provide adequate energy for you, and nutrients? I find that starches – grains, beans, potatoes, and others create future cravings for even more starches. But fruit seems to satisfy. I’d like to shift to some more starches, though, for reasons you have suggested.

        • Darryl

          In general, starchy foods with lower glycemic indices (beans, whole grains, pasta) result in lesser blood glucose peaks and troughs than those with high glycemic indices (potatoes, white rice, baked goods). Some starchy foods like beans, raw or roasted then cooled potatoes, yams, barley, and glass noodles are high in resistant starch, which is fermented by benefical colonic bacteria to produce short chain fatty acids about 6 hours later (the “second meal effect“). Resistant starch (which yields about 2 Cal/g, half of other carbs) may be the single best source of calories.

          Personally, I’ve never really experienced the issues with satiety you have, but I’ve always been a one large meal a day and few snacks person.

          • Leslie

            Wow, I do wonder now if this “second meal effect” is the reason I produce too much insulin later in the day…well after eating these resistant starch-type of foods. It seems to be the middle of the night when I wake up totally crashed, low blood sugar, etc. on days I eat this stuff. If I don’t eat this stuff, all is usually OK and I sleep through the night.

            I like cooked-plantains a lot, and now wonder if this is the reason I’ve had to back off from them. Have already had to back off the other resistant starches you’ve mentioned. Darn. And these foods seem to have so many beneficial properties. For now, at least, very-ripe bananas work ok.

          • Darryl

            The short chain fatty acids (butyrate, propionate etc.) generated from resistant starch has for most a positive effect, increasing insulin sensitivity (1, 2).

          • Leslie

            I probably should have clarified. It’s usually just the high GI versions of these grains that cause this in me (chips, crackers, corn-flour tortillas and the like.)

            Thanks for input. Very helpful.

  • Scaramouche

    What about the fruits? Can we eat fruits in our smoothies with the veggies. I am a veggie, but heretofore, I have been eating cheeses and avocados, and my BGs have skyrocketed.

    • Penny

      I would back off of the smoothies, at least until your blood sugars are more stable. When I first went vegan I was doing smoothies but my sugars were going too high. I think this has something to do with the way the food is broken apart in the smoothie, but I can’t recall where I read about that.
      I backed off of the smoothies and switched to a good breakfast cereal I make from 1/2 cup raw oats, a handful of walnuts, cinnamon, 1 cup berries and unsweetened almond milk. I sometimes use a banana instead of berries if I am out…or raisins. I was still getting small spikes at first, but my sugars are becoming much more stable…and normal.
      The other thing to note is that I don’t eat cheese or avocados. I may have some avocado once in a while in the future when I’ve been stable a long time.
      What I really want to test for myself is whether I can get my body to the point that it can pass a glucose tolerance test without a sky high insulin level. That is the main goal I am shooting for, if it is possible. If I can do that, maybe can have a smoothie once in a while.
      I had a really hard time getting control of my sugars before I let go of the dairy. Very soon after I let go of dairy, my sugars started to come in line and I started dropping weight. I know cheese is delicious, but it isn’t good enough for me to choose diabetes.

      • Thea

        Penny: re: “I know cheese is delicious, but it isn’t good enough for me to choose diabetes.”

        Awesome outlook. I shouted “hoorah!” when I saw that. Thanks for sharing your story/posting on this site. I enjoyed reading your posts.

        • Penny

          Thanks Thea! I am finding now that I am eating well and it is working for me, I want to shout from the rooftops to help other people. Preach the nutrition gospel, if you will.
          I know so many people who are sick. I’m sure we all do. I feel like I can’t just sit on what I’m learning. I want to help anyone who will listen.

  • Linda

    Could the Dr. have an agenda? I respect Dr. G but he seems to be wedded to a low fat/no saturated fat way of eating, when there seems to be new science that does not align exactly. No such thing as “settled science”. That would be a belief system, otherwise referred to as religion.

    • Toxins

      The study you speak of, especially the meta analysis does not accurately interpret the findings for several reasons. “Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease”
      http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/91/3/535.full.pdf+html

      None of the studies measured saturated fat intake where it was 7% of calories which is what is recommended by the American Heart Association. Most measured 10-15% of calories.

      Most of the studies that replaced the saturated fats used processed flours, white sugar and partially hydrogenated fats which include trans fats.

      You cant conclude a low fat diet is less healthy if they never went low enough to the bare recommendations, nor can you if they replaced the calories with something unhealthy as well. Saturated fat is not something that is negligible.

      “The saturated fatty acids, in contrast to cis mono or polyunsaturated fatty acids, have a unique property in that they suppress the expression of LDL receptors (Spady et al., 1993). Through this action, dietary saturated fatty acids raise serum LDL cholesterol concentrations (Mustad et al., 1997).”

      http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10490&page=432

      Furthermore, it allows for endotoxin entry
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-leaky-gut-theory-of-why-animal-products-cause-inflammation/

      Please see more videos here
      http://nutritionfacts.org/index.php?s=saturated+fat

      Paleo bloggers and book authors do not overthrow the current science on saturated fat.Its the overwhelming evidence that determines what path our diet should go.

  • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

    These impressive results are obtained from people on a standard diet. One could imagine even better results on a diet of none or very low animal protein, non or very low saturated fats, combined with high intake of fruit and vegetables…

  • Em Crone

    Makes me, for one, want to eat more veggies ;)

  • RicardoRichard

    I have been always wondered why even doctors get in this trap, namely what kind of argument is longevity? Is quantity of years more important than quality? Who wants to go on struggling years on end suffering from chronic pain or from other diseases, especially those when a person loses their autonomy? Who wants to live without recognizing their nearest and dearest? And what about those living inhuman lives in extreme poverty? Does their extension of life make any sense?.

    Longevity , YES, it does make a lot of sense but when we are healthy and functional. I would love to die when I am 100 but to die like a light-bulb that suddenly “ends its life” after shining in its splendor for a lot of years.

    • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

      RR,
      In science you have to measure something. Longevity is correlated with good health, and thus high quality of life. A short life is correlated to poor health. Thats why you can use lifespan in studies like this. Lifespan and healthspan are connected

      • RicardoRichard

        Precisely! But how is it correlated? Nobody talks about it. What does good health mean when one is in one’s 60s? It does not mean the same in case of octogenarians, does it? And certainly not the same when one is a centenarian. Where are those correlations you are talking about? The ideal solution should be to die biologically young and at the same time chronologically old.

  • Deitra Jones

    Have you read this?
    http://www.nutritionj.com/content/2/1/2 The last sentence under Abrstract Results reads: “Of particular interest, a 10% reduction in coronary risk was observed for every one piece of fruit consumed per day…”

  • Al

    Would Hawthorn tea be injurious to anyone using Metoprolol, a blood pressure medication?

  • lovestobevegan

    Think outside the box. The breakfast box that is.

    Breakfast of the Gods and Goddesses

    -1-2 handfuls mixed greens, chopped
    -small clump arugula, chopped
    -1 purple cabbage leaf, chopped
    -1 cup cooked* beans (pinto, black, chickpeas, etc.)
    -zest of 1 blood orange (optional)
    -1 blood orange, peeled and broken into pieces
    -1 tsp sunflower seeds
    -1 cooked carrot
    -2 tbsp flaxseed meal
    -1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

    Toss all ingredients together and enjoy upon rising. This healthful and
    satisfying breakfast will set the tone for a day of superb eating and keep you full until lunch.

    *If using canned beans select those packaged in BPA-free cans such as
    Eden Organic brand. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/bpa-plastic-and-male-sexual-dysfunction/ and with no salt added.

    ~complements of plant-based emporium

  • Lauren

    I would absolutely sacrifice a few years of my life if it meant I could eat all the burgers, fries, and pizza I want for the rest of my life. But something tells me that not only would a few years of my life be sacrificed, but also the QUALITY of life would be compromised for those remaining years. Right?

    • Thea

      Lauren: Right!

      While it is true that plenty of people who eat their burgers and meat and cheese laden pizzas drop dead without warning because of their eating habits, there are also plenty of people who linger for years with painful debilitating diseases that arise from those same eating habits. Lots of videos on this site give specific examples of this. But for a great summary, check out Dr. Greger’s latest annual talk, which covers this very topic!:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/from-table-to-able/
      I *highly* recommend that you take a look at that video.

      I have another thought for you: I think you are sabotaging your potential for future health and vitality by your thinking. Your thinking appears to be along the lines of, “I LOVE x, x, and x! I LOVE them!! If I had to give them up, it would just be so painful. I would even give up years, yes years!, of life to be able to enjoy these great pleasures.”

      You are not alone in this thinking. It is very common. But I would suggest that that thinking comes from not being exposed to really awesome food made primarily from whole plants. We know from plenty of studies that the following is not the full truth: “I eat what I like.” A far bigger truth is, “I like what I eat.” Our taste buds change to like what we are eating. If you gave whole plant food eating a real try (at least 3 weeks after finding 9 recipes that you really like), you would find that you start to love the healthy foods too. You would be happy eating them. And instead of your food world contracting, you will surprised as how much it expands in terms of variety and taste. We know that a lot of people who change their taste buds that way and then go back to trying some of their old meaty/dairy/fatty foods, find those old foods to now taste bad.

      Burgers, fries, and pizza come in healthy versions too. And those versions are full of great flavor. I can give you lots of ideas for converting to healthy eating, including burgers, fries and pizza if you are interested.

      Good luck. I hope you live a healthy life.

      • Lauren

        You are right, of course! My journey has brought me to the point where I no longer desire chicken, fish, or beef products and will choose to go meatless most of the time. But even after going months without cheese at one point, I can’t say that my taste for cheese has lessened even a little! Same goes for ice cream. But I try to reduce these as much as possible and hope to eliminate them entirely at some point. Still, it is a long way from where I started.

        • Lauren

          And of course today Dr. Greger posts a video about my addiction to sugar, with a link regarding addiction to fat. Guess that explains my love for cheese and ice cream!

          • Thea

            :-) Hee, hee. Troublesome doctor.

            I have nothing for you re: cheese addiction. As much as I believe what I wrote above about our tastes changing, and as much as I have seen other people report that they lost their taste for cheese, cheese seems to be eternally addictive for some people. You can let it go if you want, but I agree that you may never lose the taste for that one.

            But for ice cream, I have to say that I personally find some of the coconut and cashew based vice creams to be extremely satisfying. I think ice cream is easy enough to get past.

            I think it’s awesome that a) you have come as far as you have and b) have a goal of going further. Those two points put you head and shoulders above so many other people. I wish you all the luck in getting where you want to go.

      • Jacob

        I still crave cheese sometimes but I can tell you that after going without it and living on a WFPB diet, when I get close to it about to slice it, it smells a little like (rotting) death.

        • Thea

          ;-) Graphic. But nice.

  • Andrew

    Why would you lump all fruits and vegetables together in such a broad category? Eating 5 servings of leafy greens per day surely would have a completely different effect on your health than eating five servings of sugary pineapple, for example. Too broad of a study to have any real applicability in my opinion.

    • Thea

      Andrew: I’m not sure your theory pans out. For example, consider this video that looks at fruit consumption:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-much-fruit-is-too-much/

      And there are so many other videos on this site showing the benefits of eating fruit. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t also have a ton of leafy greens, but dissing the fruit doesn’t make sense to me either.