Doctor's Note

What is metabolic syndrome? See: Metabolic Syndrome and Plant-Based Diets.

More on plants versus calorie restriction in:

More on magic beans:

What about treating full-blown diabetes with beans? All in my next video: Diabetics Should Take Their Pulses.

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  • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

    Studies have shown that you eat less calories on whole foods (satisfaction on 1500 calories a day) compared to processed foods. Sugar can stimulate appetite. Eating highly processed foods have been shown to increase calorieintake (25%). If you wanna be lean, eat your bean……..s :-)

  • Kelly Natarajan

    What’s considered a serving? 1/2 cup cooked or ?

  • george

    Dr. Greger: Thank you for the video. What about the claim by the proponents of paleolithic diet that beans contain toxins and therefore be avoided?

    • Thea

      George: I suggest you check out the many other videos on this site that also mention the benefit of beans.
      I think after looking at those videos, one has to conclude that whatever it is in the beans that the paleo proponents are afraid of is not something to really be afraid of.

      You might also check out the videos on this site about phytates. I believe that phytates are one of the specific plant substances that paleo people often worry about. (Though I don’t know if they worry about phytates in regards to beans or not.) As you can see, their worry is probably misplaced.

      Good luck.

    • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

      Whatever the true diet of the paleo-times consisted of (maby a lot of meat) rember that this is a diet of evolution – the purpurse was guick growth, getting big and strong and to reach sexual maturity as fast as possible to promote survival of the species and your genes. It has nothing to do with longtime survival of the individual, because the individual would probably succumb to infection, accidents, starvation or violence long before onset of degenerative diseases, which plague moderne man. Dont eat a paleo-diet! This is not a diet fit for a long-living species like modern man.

      • Uma Prince

        I think you’ll enjoy this-Debunking the paleo diet by an expert in ancient diets.

        • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

          Great presentation – thanks

      • Martin351

        Ironically with your comment, it has been proven that our ancestors had a longer life span than we do today on that very paleo diet. This is probably because if someone follows it, they don’t have to worry about all those degenerative diseases that come with eating processed foods, foods that contain no meat, and ones riddled with toxins like beans.

    • Joe

      Lectins have positive effects in small quantities, but become problematic in large quantities. That is why raw beans are not such a good idea. But cooking at a decent temperature destroys the lectin content. All the longest lived cultures in the world consume beans – but they alse know how to prepare them properly.

      As for the other ‘antinutrients’ phytic acid has some positive benefits, as mentioned before – and is also found in high levels in nuts, which are not banned on the Paleo diet.

      This site gives a nice summary:

      Interestingly, he suggests that digestive problems resulting from bean consumption may suggest underlying digestive problems.

  • legumelovah

    My husband has been taking multiple shots and pills daily for severe diabetes. We only recently switched to a WFPBD including lots of beans and big salads he has lost twenty pounds and is using only minimal amount of insulin. This is a man who for most of his life has practically lived on sausage, bacon, and southern chicken fried steaks. Has done low carb in past and ended up with his chest burning all the time. We are so grateful we found Dr. Gregor. We are amazed watching his diabetes reverse before our eyes and his energy level has greatly increased as well. This really works!!!

    • Boo

      Congrats, and continued success!

    • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • Congrats on your success. You might benefit from reading Dr. John McDougall’s December 2009 newsletter entitled, Simple Care for Diabetes. You need to work with your physician(s) as patients who are on medications for their diabetes and/or high blood pressure usually need to adjust them in the downward direction and hopefully getting off them in time. Of course type 1 diabetes will require insulin as does some cases of long standing type 2 diabetes. Remember the science at this point shows that it is the fat in the diet that interferes with insulin and the cells ability to burn glucose. There are other important ways that a plant based diet can help. Our bacteria in our colons can break down fiber in plants to 2, 3 and 4 carbon short chain fatty acids. The 3 carbon fatty acids are absorbed into the body. Two of their effects are to lower cholesterol and glucose. Another reference that my patients have found useful is Dr. Neal Barnard’s book on reversing diabetes. Your husband will also find that his cholesterol levels have gone down as well. If you have both switched your diet you are most likely experiencing improved health as well.

      • Stewart

        Just a quick point on type I insulin requirements. I have had type I diabetes for 44 years. I have been fairly well controlled most of that time. My insulin intake with my pump can be monitored fairly well so I know what my usage has historically been. With a relatively low fat whole foods diet, I was using an average of 44 units per day. since going strictly wfpbd, I now use approximately 35 units. I know that this in typical for type I diabetics. My control is as good or better than ever. I do not “count carbs” (which I would consider to be malpractice in one’s self care.) Yes I will always need exogenous insulin but I suspect that even long standing type II diabetics can eliminate it and eliminate all diabetes drugs with a wfpbd and the resulting weight loss. Exercise also makes a big difference.

        • Thea

          Stewart: I love your post for a couple of reasons. One is we often get people asking about type 1 diabetes. When I can, I refer them to Dr. Barnard’s book, which has a chapter about Type 1. But you give a personal account that makes that information in Dr. Barnard’s book so much more powerful.

          The other reason I love your post is because you give yet another example of how the concept of moderation fails us. It wasn’t until you went in all the way that you saw the best health results.

          Best of luck to you and thank you for sharing your story.

    • Deb

      Good for you, that’s great to hear!

    • BeVegan

      Great to hear that. May others follow.

  • brec

    “lentils, chickpeas, split peas, or navy beans”

    Is there any indication of why these four legumes were specified?

    • b00mer

      From the article, their reasoning was that they wanted a variety as recommended by Canadian nutrition guidelines. They repeatedly use the phrase “beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas” to describe pulses in general, so it I think they were just picking one (e.g. navy or split) from each category.

  • suepy

    After a lifetime as a sugar addict, but with normal fasting glucose, I
    knew that I was tempting fate. Last year, out of curiosity, I started
    testing my blood sugar level when it peaks at 45 minutes after eating.
    Wow, what an eye opener! Any processed carbs or sugar sent me into the
    prediabetes range, which motivated me to give them up. I replaced them
    with healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado), low carb proteins (tofu and
    seitan), and lots of veggies, moderate fruits. The results have been
    noticeable: no blood sugar peaks, no weight gain, and a very good
    improvement in fasting lipids. The
    only drawback was that my energy level seemed to be declining, so I
    added more legumes and whole grains to my diet, which has kept my blood
    glucose in a healthy range and my energy in abundance. If I occasionally
    have more carbs in a meal, I can keep my blood sugar levels from
    overreacting by exercising within an hour after eating, like taking a
    walk, going up and down the stairs, jumping jacks, anything to get
    moving. I have been vegetarian and now vegan for 14 years, so that and
    being slim probably saved me from diabetes. Dr Gregor’s recommendations
    are right on target!

  • dogulas

    Burnt food: I’ve read that it may contain carcinogens. Even burnt plants like over-baked veggies, or burnt toast. Thoughts? I would love to see a video about this!

    • LynnCS

      Any browning creates oxydation which is known to be carcinogenic.

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Been awhile, but if still looking for an answer plants won’t create heterocyclic amines when cooked because they don’t have creatine like animal flesh does. They can form polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and acrylamide at super high temps (deep fry).

  • cyndishisara

    I just want to give a personal testimony as beans to the test. I am on a vegan diet and my protein is from pressure cooked beans and whole grains. currently I am in the house for 6 days a week. I am trying to help my boyfriend lose weight. on this diet with collards, broccoli sprouts, b12, lichen vitamin D3, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and kale I went from 135 pounds to a scant 122 lbs. Unfortunately my boyfriend is resistant to weight lose. He remains at almost twice mine. I cannot lose much more pounds. He eats outside who knows what to keep his weight!

    • b00mer

      If the diet you tried is very high in vegetables but low in starch, he may not feel satisfied on it which could cause him to binge when not at home. Have you read any of McDougall’s work e.g. Maximum Weight Loss or Starch Solution? These programs work very well, especially for those with a significant amount of weight to lose, and most importantly, long-term compliance and satisfaction tend to be very high.

      • bob

        I don’t buy regular canned beans…those with prostate cancer have been found to have 4xs the level of BPA than those without? (no link).
        I use a slow cooker ($10 or so on sale).
        3 cups SORTED beans…done 1 cup at a time on a large plate….volcanic rocks don’t help your teeth?
        8 cups water
        1/2 tsp black pepper
        1 level tsp sea salt
        Soak beans in cooker for 3 hrs…5 hrs cooking on high…then low…UNPLUG and cover overnight with a couple of sweaters.
        Makes + 2 quarts.
        I’m using pinto and black beans…great northern cause gas?

        • LynnCS

          Eden canned beans have no BPA.

      • cyndishisara

        We have increased complex carbs with our beans (long grain brown rice, hulled barley, oat groats, hulled rye etc) after watching McDougal a few weeks ago. I keep saying stick to the diet! No Cuban pastry or even whole wheat bagels from Dunkin donuts. I am trying to get him to drink tea. Cab divers like gas station food. Nature Valley bars, and bananas. A Vegetable burger from subway in my opinion is the best however on the run it is quite messy! Yes I am also trying to get us on Green/White Tea and if we must continue black coffee! Coffee and this type of high bean diet must include plenty of fruit for dehydration is an issue.

      • Martin351

        It has nothing to do with binging, his body is stressed and the cortisol is causing the problem. His best option is to just go flat out paleo and primarly eat meat and veggies with healthy fats and treat fruit like a desert.

        If were looking at a dinner plate, 50% of it should be of veggies, 30% of meats, and 20% of fats like healthy nuts and seeds. Then on occasion cooked fruit as a desert.

    • Thea

      cyndishisara: Here are a couple of excellent resources that I think would be helpful for your boyfriend, but unless he wants to “go there”, this isn’t going to do much good.

      The first resource is a free talk on YouTube called How To Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind. The speaker is one of the experts on Forks Over Knives and one of the authors of The Pleasure Trap:

      The other great talk is one you have to buy, but it is *well* worth it. It is from Jeff Novick:

      Good luck.

      • cyndishisara

        Thank you for this video. I have only one success story helping a friend loose weight! That was because I personally cooked for her and she loved the vegetarian Okinawan cooking orientation of my cooking. Otherwise my attempts were only maintenance accomplishing. Hope this video will help! I will give you further feedback.

        • Thea

          cyndishaisara: re: “That was because I personally cooked for her…” That reminds me of Dr. Greger’s latest blog post where he talks about the men in one study who were able to stick to the diet because the food was delivered to them. I sure wish someone would do that for me. You are a very good friend!

          Best of luck to you both. I will be keeping my fingers crossed and looking forward to hearing back in the future.

          • cyndishisara

            I am interested in the subject of leptin and leptin resistance especially from a vegan point of view.
            Do you have any videos or information on this topic by a vegan doctor.
            This might help others. As I will post on face book.
            Thank you again.

          • Thea

            Cyndi: I’m not familiar with that topic. I did a quick search on this website (see search box in upper right corner) to see what popped up. Leptin is a keyword in the following video – though I don’t know why:

            Hope that helps.

          • cyndishisara

            Leptin is the hormone that is involved in signaling our hypothalamus that we are full. Leptin resistance is considered a major cause of obesity.
            I will tell you if this video helps.

    • Martin351

      500 calories even 1 day a week is dangerous, and here is why, cortisol. That wonderful thing your body releases in response to stress. Worrying about a diet or starving yourself when your hungry will flood your body with cortisol.

      Here is what cortisol does which I took from another page:

      “Under stressful conditions, cortisol provides the body with glucose by tapping into protein stores via gluconeogenesis in the liver. This energy can help an individual fight or flee a stressor. However, elevated cortisol over the long term consistently produces glucose, leading to increased blood sugar levels.

      Theoretically, this mechanism can increase the risk for type 2 diabetes, although a causative factor is unknown.1 Since a principal function of cortisol is to thwart the effect of insulin—essentially rendering the cells insulin resistant—the body remains in a general insulin-resistant state when cortisol levels are chronically elevated. Over time, the pancreas struggles to keep up with the high demand for insulin, glucose levels in the blood remain high, the cells cannot get the sugar they need, and the cycle continues.”

      This my friends is what leads to weight gain.. insulin resistance. If you want to burn fat you need to keep your insulin levels in your body low and not flood it because your causing too much stressors. Same goes with eating too much fruit or starchy vegetables. Keep the insulin levels low so your glucagon takes effect. Cortisol in your body will manifest itself as insulin resistance and that is the exact opposite of what you want.

  • LynnCS

    When I got serious about the whole plant based diet, I had been a vegetarian for many years, on and off. Mostly on. I was getting blood sugar spikes and other symptoms of trouble in that area. All’s well now. My question is that is it necessarily the beans? I have some peas every day but not always beans and then will make some bean soup and enjoy that a couple meals, so not a lot. I have very bad Osteoporosis and therefore avoid a high protein diet. Still I had luck avoiding diabetes by going full bore into the whole food, starch based plan. Is it possible that the whole food plan ie Dr. McDougall, does the trick w/o necessarily focusing on the lentils, beans?

    • b00mer

      McDougall’s diet works because it limits the amount of insulin-inhibiting fat in the diet. It is also low in refined sugars and high in fiber. Beans are also low in fat, free of refined sugars, and high in fiber.

      More importantly, in the context of the SAD (or SCD) -eating population, beans are typically used to *replace* high-fat low-fiber meat, eggs, or cheese.

      Within a wfpb diet, there are many avenues one can take based on personal preferences. If one doesn’t want to eat beans, they don’t have to, and they can still get plenty of protein and prevent or cure diabetes. If you’ve successfully prevented diabetes on your low-fat McDougall diet, then you have your answer. Also keep in mind these studies often have people eating 1 cup of this or 1 cup of that every day, but following a study protocol isn’t necessary or even possible if you compiled all the dietary requirements from all studies such as this one, especially in the context of lifelong habits. It sounds like you get a nice variety of pulses on a regular basis, so you’re still getting the unique nutrients or metabolic byproducts of beans.

    • Congratulations. I have the pleasure of working with Dr. McDougall and learning from him. You can get all the protein you need from the whole food plan you are following. Our bodies can’t store protein and it has been shown that animal protein is associated with alot of problems. You might enjoy reading Dr. McDougall’s January 2004 newsletter article, Protein Overload. You could also review any of the 67 videos listed under “animal protein” on browse all topics… you might start with the one relating to heart disease our number one killer….
      Good luck.

      • yardplanter

        arrrrrgh ! ‘alot’ is not a word. How about ‘many’

        ok, back to the important stuff —

        • MarthaLA

          Sheesh! I suspect ‘alot’ was just a typo. Lighten up, already.

  • Vanillagold

    Hi, Just wondering if someone with celiac and possibly crohn’s, who is affected negatively (in quite a worrying way) by pulses, rice and any flour products grains, sugars etc.., but can manage fruits I also believe they are cleansing anyway, and some fresh salad. The only other thing is baked potatoes (which do affect a bit)later on in the day with leafy greens,and some salad vegetables after fruit all day and a smoothy. The only sweetener is unfortunately honey, as per the scd diet, sorry my question is would you heal yourself and then start to include beans and legumes when you would be able to tolerate them to get the benefits, or any other advice would be appreciated.Thanks.

    • Helga

      try to start from some probiotics, and avoid products that have antibiotics and conservant. switch to new food slowly,day by day, so you gut flora have time to change. as soon as you get the good bacterial flora – your problem will be solved.

  • HereHere

    I’d like to know what was the sample size in this trial? A small group of 8 or a large group of 50 (and how many were controls, if any)? Very promising study.

  • Great video!! Thanks for sharing!

  • chewy

    would frozen green peas be included as a legume/bean in the 5 cups per week?

  • Julie

    Question. I wonder why India has a high rate of diabetes when they eat pulses at practically every meal.

    • Jane

      I have visited India twice and was started at the amount of sugar they consume. A lot is in black tea which they drink several times a day as well as in desserts. Many workers drink this very sweetened tea as a way to get the calories for the energy they need doing hard manual labor. However, the tea drinking is still part of the sedentary work culture and still equally sweetened. The other thing I noticed was the high use of white rice and fruit. When I stayed there most breakfast was almost all fruit and white rice is eaten at almost every meal. Most labor workers are still quite thin but people in more sedentary work are often noticeably heavier. As an interesting side note, the invention of cane sugar granules is attributed to India.

  • Penny

    I know this article was posted a while ago, but I have proven to myself, through self-experimentation, that the information in this video is absolutely correct.

    The experiment that I did was not particularly scientific, but it showed me how powerful my new bean-eating habit is in controlling my blood sugars. In a single day, I ate pizza twice. I had thin crust, cheeseless pizza with mushrooms and spinach. I thought since the crust was thin and I had no cheese I wouldn’t get the usual sugar spike.

    I was dead wrong. After eating some pizza earlier in the day, my sugar went to around 220 and would not budge no matter how much exercise I did. I was on my bike for over an hour and still struggled to get it below 200. The only hope I had was time and it took 3-4 hours to return to my pre- level of around 100. This is the same reaction I have anytime I attempt to eat fried anything.

    On another occasion, I noticed that beans seemed to have a positive impact on my blood sugars, so I thought I would try again and see if it worked. I had a baked potato with refried beans and salsa. Of course, my sugars remained stable.

    Two hours later I had the same amount of pizza as I had earlier in the day. My blood sugar went to 140 at its peak and settled back down 2 hours after eating the pizza.

    I was so excited! Not because I had found a sneaky way to eat pizza. Obviously there is something off about that pizza if it is making my sugars go crazy like that. But because I could gain nearly immediate benefits from eating beans.

    This is incredible to me. So much so that I now eat beans every single day and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. I used to think beans were so gross. I could probably count on both hands the number of times I have eaten them in my life until recently. Now they really are delicious, especially now that I know how good they are for me.

    • Thea

      Penny: What a *fun* story! Thanks for taking the time to report to us. As you said, it is just an anecdote, but those types of stories can be powerful motivators for people who read them. Thanks!

  • Julie

    Our ancestors had very hard, short lives, so why do people want to imitate them anyway? Yes, we can still learn some things from them.

  • neutrino

    It is a mockery of a sham of a travesty . But there is a lot of money to
    be made in causing and then “treating” degenerative diseases, i.e. the
    food and drug industry. It would cost the industry tens of billions
    annually if people switched to a WFPBD which is at odds with big
    business capitalist ethos.Furthermore, the food and drug industry is the
    biggest investor in clinical research, so you see ladies and gentlemen
    capitalism has us all by the short and curlies cos you gotta eat!

  • Em Crone


  • fritz kersting

    Dr. Your contribution, among others like John Mcdougal, Neal Barnard, etc…, is so important that I am really worried you will be assasinated. These food companies are so powerful and have so much to lose that I am really worried about your personal well-being.

  • Heather Johnstone

    Beans are an inexpensive nutrient option as well, making them an easy option for those of us watching our pocketbooks.

  • Martin351

    Beans have an impressive nutritional profile; however, there are much better choices out there. Beans are loaded with toxins and are not easily digested by our digestive system. In fact, most people are incapable of breaking beans down to extract the nutrients inside.

    If you want an equivalent nutritional profile to a can of beans; have a nice big spinach salad with some olive oil, almonds, and chicken breast.

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  • simcha55

    I’d like to use this video in a powerpoint slide. Is that possible?

  • Judy Fields Davis

    Thank you dear friend

  • Susan Kite

    I grew up disliking beans of all kinds (except green beans), unless sitting in a can with lots of sauce. I lived in a meat, potatoes and gravy family. And take my right arm, rather than my brick of cheese. But now I have peripheral neuropathy and have been suggested to go to a plant based diet. How can I make this palatable for me and bring my husband on board? He doesn’t mind going without meat more, but the man would die if he had to go vegan.

    • Joan_RN-Educator

      I’m Joan, one of the moderators helping on the NutritionFacts site. I’m sorry you are having to deal with Peripheral neuropathy, Susan. As far as making a whole food plant based palatable- consider it a journey. Some steps will be easy, such as substituting diary milk for plant-based milks. You may already have found a soy or almond milk you at first can tolerate and then in a few weeks may prefer. Take a look at your recipes and see which ones you already like that do not contain meat or diary. Try out some nut based cheeses. There are good books out there with basic implementation plans to assist you. For example, the The Forks Over Knives Plan will give you specific tips. There are many other books or online resources for you. It helps if you can find a group that will support you and a dietitian who is well versed in vegetarian/vegan nutrition and can give you strategies. You’ll find a wealth of support online and many tips in How Not To Die. Some folks start gradually, going meatless first, then diary free, etc. Do get some resources so you can plan, shop and be successful since going plant based is especially important to you. As you find meals you enjoy your husband may become happy to come onboard.

  • What about peanuts? They are legumes / beans?