Doctor's Note

This video is the second of a three-part video series on phytates and cancer. If you missed it, see the first, Phytates for the Prevention of Cancer, and then the exciting conclusion, Phytates for the Treatment of Cancer.

This video reminds me of the recent one on the spice turmeric, Turmeric Curcumin Reprogramming Cancer Cell Death.

Aspirin as a phytonutrient? See my video Aspirin Levels in Plant Foods.

What else can we eat to improve the cancer-fighting front of our immune system? See Boosting Natural Killer Cell Activity.

More on the concept of starving tumors of their blood supply in Anti-Angiogenesis: Cutting Off Tumor Supply Lines.

Is there clinical evidence of plants actually reversing cancer progression? You won’t believe your eyes:

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  • Pafnr

    Do you have any opinion about Salvestrols? Are they Dietary phytates?

  • Beetsbeansbutts

    Woo. phytates!

    Sounds like another good reason to eat beans and seeds and nuts and stuff!

    I wish there was some more direct evidence out there about a real world role for phytates. I don’t think it can be excluded though.

    Incidentally the FDA has an IP6-Inositol Triphosphate herbal remedy as something people should avoid. Maybe it is better in the bean?

    I’ve also heard about it’s role as an anti-nutrient to zinc, iron, and niacin.

  • HemoDynamic, M.D.

    You are my Journal Club!
    You’re Phytastic!

  • Dave

    Thanks to Dr. Greger, I eat 2 cups of beans a day. Particularly black beans. And I have ZERO gas problems that I used to worry about 6 months ago.

    My health went south when I started following the advice of low-carb paleo bloggers… I started having full on anxiety attacks (190 bpm heart rate!) often. Probably due to hypoglycaemia.

    I stumbled upon this site, and haven’t looked back. My health is rockin’.

    Thanks doc!

    • Thea

      Dave: Awesome story. I’m so glad you figured things out in time. Thanks for sharing.

  • Broccoli

    “phytate is found in beans, grains, nuts, and seeds, the average daily
    intake of phytate in vegetarian diets is about twice that of those
    eating mixed diets of plant and animal foods.”

    What foods have the highest phytates? Please rank them and name the amount of phytates (example: 90mg per 100mg serving).

    Awesome phytates… thanks for the easy explanation.

    Reversion of cancer cells to normal cells is just awesome.

    Plant power.

  • guest

    Recently I’ve found a pure IP6 supplement in a form of powder, is it advisable to use this or not ?

    • Isaac Chayo

      Nope, it is in an unbound and isolated form. Choose whole plant foods!

  • Thanks for the update

  • Steve


  • Kevin M. Abbott

    I find it hilarious that the paleo diet advocates use the presence of phytates as a reason to not eat these foods because they are toxic. I think I prefer “toxic” beans and grains to a higher likelihood of needing chemotherapy, personally.

  • Ann Secord

    Terrific, as always! My question regards the often recommended practice of soaking nuts in order to sprouts the nut and remove phytates as an aid to digestion. Does this negate the benefits of phytate or is there still enough left to reap the benefits from both practices?

    • fineartmarcella

      Good question! I would like to hear the answer too!

      • Esther Salomon

        Yeah! Me too. Should we? Or shouldn’t ?

    • My assumption is that soaking and sprouting is still beneficial. Even if practicing sprouting and cooking thoroughly, an individual following a whole foods plant based diet likely will even still consume decent amounts of phytates. Not enough is yet known to suggest a specific amount of phytates in one’s diet, so there’s no reason to abstain from soaking or sprouting. Likely enough phytates would be present for beneficial effects in a daily serving of a tablespoon of flaxseed.

  • Tobias Brown

    The prime phytate sources like beans and lentils are also high in protein. Protein promotes “acid” vs. “alkaline” coming from fruits and veggies. So, is more better here? How small of an amount of beans etc would be adequate for good phytate intake?

    • masobel

      Dr. Greger previously recommended one cup of beans a day. I’m not sure if this would provide the recommended amount of phytate, but it’s probably a good reference point.

  • Isaac Chayo

    Bravo Dr. Greger

  • lea

    do you have research about high blood pressure?

  • Chris

    I have a friend who says lectins are terrible and cause leaky gut. He vows never eat beans, and says our bodies can’t even digest them properly. I just wanted feedbak about the lectins in beans. Could anybody help out? Dr. G?

    • Ossie Sharon, M.S., R.D.

      Lectins are broken down when they are soaked and sprouted. This is one of the reasons that sprouting grains and legumes is recommended.

      • chris

        Thank You!

    • What we can not digest, many of our gut bacteria can. Feed your microbiome!

  • Nayda

    Truly remarkable! The ‘World’s Greatest Shave’ fundraiser for leukaemia prevention / cure is on at the moment here in Australia, & on the Leukaemia Foundation’s site – the beneficiary of the fundraiser – not a word is written on the benefits of nutrition in the treatment of leukaemia, not least plant-based nutrition. Dr Greger your work is invaluable, can’t thank you enough for what you’re doing.

  • Teresa

    Trying to figure out why the captions are in Italian?? Not that I mind, cause it makes me feel like my grandmother is in the room, but…is it just my playback, or are others having ‘questo problemo’?

    • Julot Julott

      You can change them to english~

    • Em Crone

      Mine too and I never changed them. They have been English for other videos.

  • Kim Pulido

    This sounds wonderful but makes me wonder about the soaking of beans, nuts and seeds to “remove the phytates” and “enzyme inhibitors” for better digestion. Any comments on that?

  • rachel

    I am a long time vegan/vegetarian. I believe it is healthier and easier on the digestive system to SOAK ll grains, beans, nuts and seeds before eating and/or cooking them. I do this almost every time. Even raw foodists focus on soaking nuts and seeds before eating them or sprouting them. This makes sense.
    I have read elsewhere that phytic acid/PHYTATES, bind minerals and prevent us from absorbing them (like iron). Is it possible that one reason vegetarians/vegans may be low in iron IS the extra consumption of plant foods containing
    phytic acid/phytates keeps us from absorbing minerals like iron.
    Maybe the benefit of these plant foods is more that they do not contain artery
    clogging animal fat than the phytic acid itself…..namaste’, rachel

    • macbev

      I give blood regularly. Before I went vegan, I sometimes did not qualify – did not have enough hemoglobin. Now that I eat a plant based diet, I don’t usually have that problem. One day I came in to give blood, and the nurse told me that I was the first one to qualify that day – and it was a number of hours after they had opened. Since I don’t take supplements, it looks like beans are doing the trick!

      • Thea

        macbev: Impressive story. I love it. Thanks for sharing!

    • Arjan den Hollander.

      Would monkeys soak nuts? Nahh, they just eat them. Where would they get the bowls?

      Maybe just eat more to alliviate shortages instead of focussing of getting everything out of a little.

      In general like diffusion its easier to transport elements and molecules from a side where there is plenty to where there is shortage. Moving stuff from a low concentration to a higher concentration is like running up hill, it tends to get more difficult the steeper the gradient.

      Just double or tripple your calcium and iron rich foods and forgo the work for nothing routines. (unless you enjoy the taste more :)

      • Would monkeys cook food? Comparing human dietary behavior to that of monkeys is unjust. Moneys eat feces, so they’re not exactly a great model for idealistic behavior, just as it’s not reasonable to use prehistoric hominids to base our modern conventions upon. Our physiology is different to that of monkeys anyway.

        • Veganrunner

          Well the feces consumption would take care of the B12 issue. Maybe the monkeys are on to something! :-)

          • They may be, but supplementation is still the safer option for humans

          • Thea

            Veganrunner: You made me smile. I can just see new gourmet restaurants opening up…

          • Veganrunner

            Oh yummy!

        • Arjan den Hollander.

          Eating feces would solve the Vitamin K2 issue too.

          There is no other animal who eats washed and processed or sterile foods. All of which can cause deficiencies from proteins to minerals to vitamins.

          • There is no other animal who eats cooked foods either. Beans are poisonous unless cooked, so you’re not going to see any monkeys eating them.

          • Charzie

            Makes sense, all other animals lick their butts at least. Not that I am planning on it, just sayin’!

          • Charzie

            Makes sense, all other animals lick their butts at least. Not that I am planning on it, just sayin’!

  • DGH

    I wouldn’t worry about soaking/sprouting unless you have confirmed iron deficiency. In that case, up your intake of iron-rich plant sources, cook in cast iron pots (especially acidic solutions like tomato sauce, orange juice), avoid drinking any type of tea or coffee at meals, take citrus or vitamin C with iron-rich meals, or consider a modest amount of a liquid-based iron elixir (e.g. a couple drops per day). To me, soaking/sprouting seems like an extra unnecessary step to achieving good health through theoretical-only benefits of reducing these binding agents. I would rather just eat more of them than soak them. For dry beans of course one needs to soak or boil them (Or both).

  • julialoha

    Is there any association between high phytate consumption and osteoporosis?

    • b00mer

      Hi julialoha, Dr. Greger did a video a while back called “Phytates for the Prevention of Osteoporosis”!

    • Arjan den Hollander.

      Start eating natto for Vitamin K2 in a hurry julia.
      With natto you eat your daily portion of beans at the same time too.

      Big fan of it, love to throw it thrue smoothies for a earthy undertone.
      Actually like it with fruit smoothies :)


  • penelope

    this is confusing to me as i have been following a Paleo diet, based on its anti-inflammatory properties, as part of my treatment of liver tumors. the Paleo diet is based on no grains or legumes whereas Dr. Greger is saying just the opposite.

    • masobel

      Any anti-inflammatory effects of a Paleo diet are due to the elimination of processed foods (white flour, sugar etc). The diet recommended by the Harvard School of Public Health and by Dr. Andrew Weil are both anti-inflammatory diets as well. However, those diets do not advocate consuming up to 50% of your calories from animal sources. The only well documented case of the reversal of cancer with diet was done by Dr. Ornish.

      Processed grains should definitely be avoided to reduce inflammation, but real whole grains (quinoa, wheatberries, steel cuts oats) and beans/legumes are helpful for inflammation. Animal products should be reduced/eliminated and the focus should be on whole plant products.

      • Old-fashioned rolled oats are a breakfast staple at the Esselstyn household. I consider those minimally processed enough.

        I wouldn’t go paleo if you paid me.

        • Toxins

          A delicious breakfast i have recently adopted is to cook a cup of spelt with dates, a dash of cinnamon and cloves. at the end of the 45 min. heat a half cup of frozen blueberries and put on top and enjoy. Its very tasty, much tastier then my 2 years of oatmeal.

          • Hi Toxins. Food sensitivities prevent me from going that route, but sounds delicious.

            Actually, I was focused more on the convenience factor for the original poster. Rolled oats are already cooked. Just add cold veg-milk as one would granola, or as I do, add boiling water, cover for 5 min. Done! No cooking necessary.

  • Nicky Elliston

    Do you have any research on the effect of diet on Aspergers? My nephew was just diagnosed with Aspergers and I feel a lot of the symptoms could be relieved through a plant focused diet. Any thoughts?
    Thank you for your time.

    • masobel

      Most of the research has focused on what foods should be eliminated to reduce symptoms. Caffeine, sugar and processed foods are probably not the underlying cause, but they certainly don’t help. An overall healthy diet (whole foods, plant based) would be a good place to start.

      Behavioral therapy and occupational therapy that includes sensory strategies is also highly recommended. Children can often be treated to the point that the condition is not even recognizable.

      Check out the book Neurodiversity by Thomas Armstrong.

  • Loay

    To be the devil’s advocate, this is good and well if you are vegan, what about patients with cancer, can this reverse their disease? Are all these studies in vitro or do we have clinical studies comparing this head to head with conventional medicine?

    • Veganrunner

      My brother in law was diagnosed with colon cancer a few years back. Interesting enough he was referred to a nutritionist as part of his treatment. And a plant based diet was recommended. Not that he did it but I think it’s interesting that some doctors are suggesting a dietary change as an adjunct.

      • Coacervate

        Yes, it is happening slowly…too slowly. Last night the state news ran an “indepth” 60 minutes type show with a segement on the “raw diet” thats taking the world by storm…an elderly couple in Australia were running daily marathons on fruits and veg. She was cancer-free after a lump-ectomy and raw plant foods. For balance the “nutritionist” said she would reserve judgement because there is no study that shows eating plants cures cancer. Now there’s a lady with standards.

    • b00mer

      There is definitely clinical human data demonstrating beneficial effects of various phytonutrients on various cancers; berries for esophageal cancer and flax for prostate cancer come to mind. There is also data showing that soy increases survival rates for breast cancer dramatically, which isn’t exactly the same as seeing decreasing tumor growth, however in a way it is the same thing if you consider prevention and treatment of cancer to be the same thing:

      However, comparing phytonutrients head to head with conventional medicine would be considered unethical at this point in time for most cases, despite whatever promise has been demonstrated at epidemiological or in vitro levels. The exceptions are when a cancer has been classified as “watch and wait”, in which case it doesn’t hurt to feed someone some berries and see what happens, or if a surgery has already been scheduled to remove a tumor, in which case you might as well feed the patient some flaxseed in the meantime. Soy phytonutrients have been used to augment traditional therapy, but I am unaware of any study solely relying on them instead of it.

      As far as human clinical data specific to phytate, I’m unsure, though there is in vivo work in mice that shows tumor growth inhibition, for example:

  • SO COOL… MUCH LOVE for this website!!!

  • Rose

    Why doesn’t this video play in my browser

  • Kshamata Acharya

    Thanks for this video dr. This helps.. My mom is recently diagnosed with stage 4 Rcc.. Though I’m yet waiting for the biopsy result but it is most likely Rcc. im just looking for ways that can improve my mothers condition and her prognosis. There have been many survivor stories which are keeping me positive.
    I don’t see much written or researched for Rcc. Would this help in the same also.. If yes how much should the intake be in a day??
    Thanks for all the videos. I love all the advice.

  • nu

    Dear Dr. Michael Greger,

    I have been looking through your videos all day as well as other studies published regarding cancer and diet. My SO was recently diagnosed with a large Grade II (potentially Grade III) Astrocytoma. After reading about various natural methods to assist his rehabilitation previous to and post brain surgery (since there will most likely still be tumor left in his brain after surgery), I am stuck with what diet approach he should take. There has been some research on the Ketagonic diet which focuses on low-carb (no sugar), high protein, and high fat diet. The diet is meant to ‘starve’ the cancer by cutting off sugar supply and only providing fat (healthy fats) to the good cells. This diet, although makes sense scientifically does not feel right considering the amount of protein he will be consuming (red meats/ poultry/ fish/ egg form) and the effect of the protein on his already high choline levels.

    Can you advise on use of the Ketagonic diet? Should we alter the ketagonic diet to be more plant based and focusing on beans as a source of protein and plants/nuts as a form of fat while avoiding anything that may provide glucose/fructose to the body?

    It was proven that sugar is the fuel for cancer (fructose too)… Does that go against the anti-cancer properties of berries?

    Looking forward to hearing back.

    Thank you!

  • The site says “Beans, chickpeas, split peas and lentils are packed with nutrients and play a role in the prevention of chronic disease, but most can’t be eaten raw.”
    I ask: Why Beans, chickpeas, etc. can’t be eaten raw?

  • Vege-tater

    The “English Captions” seem to be in Italian or something.