Doctor's Note

Other sports supplements may be worse than just a waste of money. See, for example, Heterocyclic Amines in Eggs, Cheese, and Creatine? and Heavy Metals in Protein Powder Supplements.

This is the fourth of a four-part video series on the latest science on dried fruit. Check out the previous three here:

Compare the antioxidant content of raisins to other dried fruits in my videos Dried Apples Versus Cholesterol and Better Than Goji Berries.

And check out Beans, Beans, Good for Your Heart—but only the non-jelly variety!

For more context, you can refer to the following associated blog posts: Best Dried Fruit For Cholesterol and Raisins vs. Energy Gels for Athletic Performance.

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  • elsie blanche

    Dr. Greger, do you have any thoughts on people with lupus avoiding garlic because it can rev-up the immune system, which can be detrimental with those having autoimmune diseases such as lupus. The Johns Hopkins Lupus center has a list of “Things to Avoid” if you have lupus (Garlic being one of them). They also suggest avoiding alfalfa sprouts. Garlic is highly touted by many vegans but I think it is prudent to address this issue on your site as there are quite a few here that deal with autoimmune diseases such as lupus.
    One can still receive the benefits of a plant-based diet without ingesting garlic.

    • Interesting predicament. I’m also very interested in the answer. Thanks for bringing it up.

      • elsie blanche

        Yes, indeed. Maybe folks end up on a plant based diet because it seems to help lessen some of the symptoms of autoimmune diseases. A piece of advice I have often encountered is that one with autoimmune deficiencies/diseases should consider abstaining from anything that can either heighten, enhance, and or stimulate the immune system. This is the reason many folks claim to avoid mushrooms, chlorella, bee pollen, garlic and onions, echinacea….. I don’t know the true answer to all this, as some of these just mentioned substances can be beneficial for people, but this just might be for people with normal, balanced immune systems.

  • sally99

    Can anyone tell me where to ask a question on this site? I’m new to being a vegan, started a couple months ago and i’m gaining weight! I don’t eat junk food, it’s frustrating! Help!

    • You may want to reduce the starch components in your diets like potatoes, pasta, grains, noodles and especially sugary foods. And increase non starchy veggies like kale, Brussels sprouts, brocolli, spinach etc. 1 lb of fat is ~3500 calories, so if you can cut at least 500 calories per day theoretically you can shed ~1 lb fat in a week. Be persistent and consistent and good luck!!

      • sally99

        thank you for your input!!

        • Good words by the other people who have replied to you. Personally, I eat a whole lot of potatoes, grains, and legumes, and I won’t gain weight at all. Maybe you’re different. However, for sure avoiding processed foods (even veggie burgers) would only help; save your “junk food points” only for “emergencies”. I eat all the whole foods I want and won’t gain weight. I do gain a bit of a belly when I get on a junk food roll, which goes away real quick when I get back on the whole foods track.

          Keep consuming the whole foods, which includes the awesomes like kale and other darker greens. You can eat wholefoods until you’re full so please don’t calorie restrict; that would be a huge mistake. I really can’t imagine too many people gaining weight eating plant-based whole foods.

          Exercise burns calories and builds strength. I’d recommend high intensity workouts three times a week. I’d check out Funk Roberts MMA and start with Spartan Metabolic Workout Week 1. If you REALLY don’t want to exercise, then you should still lose weight, but I really think you should exercise.

          Oh, one more thing: vegans should supplement B12. Don’t worry about it not being “natural”; the world has changed and we must adapt. Look up B12 on this site and learn more. Be mindful of dogmatic vegans who speak in absolutes. Best wishes.

          • b00mer

            I also eat plenty of grains, and they seem to have a minimal effect on my weight. How concentrated the grain is can make a difference though, e.g. grain flour in the form of bread compared to eating the actual wheat berries, rice, oats, buckwheat groats, millet, etc. For someone who’s tried everything else first to lose weight I might suggest looking into that.

            And although I eat as many grains as I want, the focus or priority of the meal is always veggies. I tend to fill up on the veggie “sides”, then move on to the grain and bean based part of the meal.

            I’d also reiterate what you said about never restricting! My personal philosophy is that if you have to restrict what you’re eating, you’re eating the wrong foods! What other animal ever tries to limit its food intake? All I ever think about is if I’m getting enough calories during the day. It feels like a much more natural way to live.

            Also I just wanted to clarify this since Sally’s new to this stuff, that veggie burgers are super duper great! Just make them yourself. :)

          • sally99

            Thanks so much for all the great input. I do make homemade vegi burgers. I do eat a lot of oats. does anyone think that may be a problem. I eat either steel cut oats or a homemade granola (oats, seeds, nuts, aagave, coconut) for breakfast and sometime i have the granola for a snack. I have a vegi sandwich on daves killer whole wheat bread for lunch and usually a salad and bean soup or pasta for dinner. Carrots, almonds, raisins, oranges for snacks. my husband went vegan only a few days a week and of course lost 4 pounds and i gained 2. I just thought i would lose weight.

          • Michelle Rowe

            Sally – in a word – yes. Grains are very calorie dense as is the agave you use in the granola. Agave is very very high in fructose which is not favorable for health or losing weight. Nuts and seeds are wonderful foods but they’re not good for weight loss so you may want to limit those to 1/2 oz daily or no more than 1 oz. The bread is also calorie dense as is dried fruit like raisins. You can lose weight by centering your diet around vegetables which are naturally low in calories and the healthiest foods on the planet. Check out Dr. Fuhrman’s 6 week plan. The salad is the main dish so you could ditch the bread and crumble a home made veggie burger on your big salad for lunch! Good luck!

      • Steve Billig

        Ji, Most resources cite 3,500 cal/pound of fat. But have you ever done the math? 9 cal/gram times 454 grams in a pound = 4,086 cal/lb of fat. My explanation is that the 3,500 number is for a pound of fat tissue which contains water and other non-caloric matter. But since when we lose weight, we are draining fat from cells rather than removing chunks of tissue, I believe the 4,000 figure is more accurate.

        Still, your sugestion of a deficit of 500 calories a day is good advice.

    • b00mer

      Dr. Greger does regularly take questions from the comments sections and put them in the Q&A section, so perhaps he will see this one!

      If I could throw in my two cents, I would suggest looking into a few resources:

      1. Dr. Doug Lisle has a fantastic presentation called “How to lose weight without losing your mind”. It’s an hour long, on youtube. Highly recommend.

      2. Dr. Neal Barnard offers a slew of books as well as the pcrm website, which offers a 21 day kickstart complete with menus and recipes.

      3. The Healthy Librarian has a great blog and some great pointers when it comes to weight loss/maintenance

      3. Happy Herbivore and fatfreevegan are both online blogs with great recipes. Happy Herbivore also offers weekly menus/shopping lists for a small fee.

      What you’ll see that they all have in common is a two pronged approach. The first is to do away with animal products. You already have that part done! The second part is doing away with oil/oily foods. A teaspoon of oil here or there may not seem like a big deal, but it can make all the difference with weight loss.

      My personal story: upon going vegan I didn’t lose any weight, but after going oil-free, mostly out of curiosity, I lost 15 lbs in maybe a month and a half or two. I don’t know exactly because I actually didn’t realize I had any weight to lose and I wasn’t really paying attention. One day I just noticed. After that my weight was what it was basically in high school and the weight loss stopped. And I don’t feel like I really changed anything. You don’t even notice the lack of oil, but then when you do eat some in a restaurant or something, holy moly! The oil will have a really strong and kind of unpleasant taste.

      Hope that these resources help you out! All the best.

      • sally99

        thank you so much for the information!! I’m going to look up that info and will try cutting out oil. I don’t think i use much oil but i’ll focus on it now. greatly appreciate the info!!!

        • b00mer

          I really hope these help you enjoy checking these out! Other authors you might look into include Rip & Caldwell Esselstyn, Jeff Novick, Joel Fuhrman, and Bryanna Clark Grogan. My personal favorite cookbook right now is Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure by Lorna Sass. It is actually vegan. It uses a pressure cooker, which I had never used before, but am now obsessed with!

          Also if you happen to like Indian food, I only recently realized that in addition to the regular PCRM 21-day kickstart, they also have an Indian version! Lots of recipes, a meal plan, and cooking videos.

          I’m going on and on, but I get so excited about food! When people wonder what I eat, I just think, there will not be enough days in my lifetime to try all the vegan recipes I want to try!

          Congratulations on your journey so far and good luck!

          • Thea

            re: Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure
            I love that one too!

          • b00mer

            The Garlic Lover’s Lentil Soup and Thai Chickpeas are the bomb aren’t they! What are your favorites? :)

          • Thea

            b00mer: concerning recipes from Lorna Sass’s book:

            re: Thai Chickpeas. Amen! I’ve brought that dish to several potlucks, served next to a bowl of quinoa that
            people could ladle them over – and they were big hits.

            I’ve not yet tried the Garlic Lover’s Lentil Soup, but now I’m going to.

            My current favorite is the Chickpea Stew with Sweet Onions. I’ve made it many times now with many variations. For example, if you want it to cook faster,
            just use a smaller bean. I’ve also had fun experimenting with the spices. And I’ve added other ingredients, such as mushrooms. I’ve replaced the red onions with fresh fennel bulbs. Etc. Basically, I’ve twisted it so many
            different ways that it doesn’t really resemble the original in some of my experiments. But that just means to me that the recipe is an awesome base to start with that lends itself to a lot of creativity so that you don’t get bored.

            If you are ever looking for dessert, her bread-pudding things (I can’t remember exactly what she calls them) at the back are really yummy and big hits with company.

          • b00mer

            Thea: thanks for the suggestion! I’ll try the Chickpea Stew next. You just made next week’s menu planning that much easier. :) Definitely make the lentil soup! And be sure to roast those peppers. It comes out quite thick and thickens further overnight. I serve it over rice but over quinoa if you prefer would be great as well.

          • sally99

            Thanks so much for all the great input. I do make homemade vegi burgers. I do eat a lot of oats. does anyone think that may be a problem. I eat either steel cut oats or a homemade granola (oats, seeds, nuts, aagave, coconut) for breakfast and sometime i have the granola for a snack. I have a vegi sandwich on daves killer whole wheat bread for lunch and usually a salad and bean soup or pasta for dinner. Carrots, almonds, raisins, oranges for snacks. my husband went vegan only a few days a week and of course lost 4 pounds and i gained 3. I just thought i would lose weight.

          • b00mer

            I don’t think oats would be a problem, they are pretty hard to overeat. However the nuts, seeds, and coconut are all more calorically dense and are a lot easier to overeat. That’s kind the gauge that I use. If you can overeat it, well, you can overeat it! Best to either avoid or pay close attention to it. Oats, pasta, beans, veggies, these are all low caloric density foods that your hypothalamus can more easily register and tell you when you’re genuinely full. Our bodies have a harder time figuring out this stopping point when the foods are more calorically dense.

            I know personally that I could eat an entire bag of cashews or pistachios and not even feel full. For this reason I avoid snacking on them. I do however use nuts in a more intentional and controlled manner when cooking. Some chopped peanuts added to pad thai, or slivered almonds as a garnish on a white bean tomato quinoa pilaf. When combined with all the veggies, beans, and grains, it is impossible to overeat the nuts themselves.

            In addition I eat flax and chia every morning as part of my oatmeal. But again, mixed into oatmeal, I know that I won’t overeat them.

            Of course this is if you are trying to lose weight (which you said you are). For people who actually need to gain/maintain weight, or Ironman competitors, foods like nuts, seeds, and coconut may be perfect. So don’t get caught up in one expert saying nuts are great, another saying they’re bad; try giving up nuts, seeds, coconut, or whatever for yourself and see what happens.

        • Veganrunner

          I really like dr Furhrman as well. He does a great job getting someone started in the right direction. His book Eat For Health will be helpful for you. He is all about eating your greens.

    • Lizanne

      I want to know the answer to this also. I wonder what is new for Diabetic Neuropathy? I understand that the German’s treat it with Lipoic Acid, Vitamin D, and etc, and it is highly effective. thanks for your answer. Elizabeth in NY~

  • Steve Billig

    After seeing this video I tried creating a raisin-based sports gel (raisins and water) that would match the carbs-per-gulp of commercial sports gels. GAG! It is way too sweet.

    The goal of sports gels is to get fast absorbing carbs into the body of endurance athletes. Most endurance athletes require low sweetness for palatability. That is why most sports drinks and gels use maltodextrin as the primary ingredient. Matodextrin has about the same fast absorbing glycemic index score as glucose but a much lower level of sweetness. Raisins are the opposite. Carbs from raisins are 50% frucose which are both slower absorbing and much higher in sweetness than glucose.

    When it comes to healty nutrition, grapes and raisins are the way to go. But the makers of sports drinks and gels know what they are doing for their market too.

    • Simon

      plenty of very high level endurance athletes, including ironman, use dates over sports gel and doing fine. the makers of sports drinks sure know what they are doing for their market, money.

    • Veganrunner

      Hi Steve, I try and stay away from any sports products because they are so nasty. Have you tried just raisins? Or dates? Also for long runs I like coconut water. Also a fruit smoothy before a long run is amazing. None of the intestinal issues and plenty on board energy that lasts.

      • Steve Billig

        I tried making a raisin “gel” which was too sweet to gag down. I’ll try straight raisins with a gulp of water and see how things go. How many raisins do you eat at a pop and how often? Thanks for the encouragement.

  • Андрей Ханевский

    No!! Gels are MUCH more nutritional than f…ing raisins because they contain an artificial flavoring, like the kind found in a Burger King strawberry milk shake, containing the following ingredients: amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl valerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl acetate, ethyl amyl ketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin, hydroxyphenyl-2-butanone (10 percent solution in alcohol), a-ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butyrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, g-undecalactone, vanillin, and solvent.

    • Veganrunner

      As I said above. Nasty!

    • Thea

      Wow. Just wow.

    • Stve Billig

      Now that’s just silly. First, we are not so fragile that 100% of our diet must be nutrient dense. Yes, absolutely, we need to eat a nutrient dense diet to be healthy. However, some of us have other needs that require attention, such as getting enough calories into my body during a 6 or a 20 hour mountain climb, some of which is at a high level of intensity. Well designed sports gels (which do not have an appalling ingredients list like the one you offered) are, at least for me, the most effective way to support good performance. Of course, what is also important is to remember to return to proper eating when you are done.

      I wish it were true that I could eat raisins rather than a sports gel to get the results I need during endurance sports. I’m jealous of those who can. But it is unreasonable to compare the motive for using a sports gel to the motive for drinking a Burger King milk shake. And it is unreasonable to conflate the design and intent of these two products.

      • Dan

        Why is it not true? Why can you not eat raisins during your mountain climb?

    • it has been said…If you cannot pronounce it…you should not be eating it. Sounds sensible to me.

      • Dan

        Therefore you never find idiots eating quinoa! Or are they idiots because they don’t eat quinoa. hmmmmm

  • RC Brillantes

    According to a calorie counting website, one would need ~2.5 mini boxes of raisins to equal one 110 calorie pack of Clif shot gel (Vanilla-flavored: Organic Maltodextrin, Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Water, Natural Flavor, Sea Salt, Potassium Citrate.). I’d much rather eat whole foods, however, gels can often be more convenient during *endurance runs.* In my experience, it would be hard to dispense, chew on a sufficient amount of raisins, and run at the same time during a 50k run –and get my salt intake (to replenish what I’ve lost). (I have almost choked on food before, while running.) Thanks for the info!

    • “however, gels can often be more convenient during *endurance runs.*”

      I’m with you on this point. I’ve tried all kinds of whole foods for runs, but the packaged up gels are easiest to carry and consume while mobile, and sometimes at high speeds.

    • Veganrunner

      Very true for 50k. Even the gels can be stomach upsetting by the end of a marathon.

    • Steve Billig

      Right on.

    • Dan

      Dear RC Brillantes. Take one cup of raisins, 2 tbsp water, chuck into operating food blender, add optional cinnamon, or other flavours….Pour blended mix into plastic food bag, twist & tie knot trim excess for convenience, keep in freezer till day before required….tear open corner of bag with fingers and teeth whilst running, and drink contents. Your welcome.

  • The English Coach

    Ha ha, loooove your sense of humour. “Raisin flavoured raisins.” :-)

  • I stopped eating those bars…read, read, read the labels.. Warning.. bad fats!

  • kcass

    Hi, Looking for advice on increasing calories for a whole foods plant-based type II diabetic, training for a marathon. Thanks!

  • nc54

    I remember Dr. Gregor showing how green grapes are essentially the wonder bread of the plant kingdom. However, raisins are dried green grapes. I’ve been wondering if I should stop eating raisins for this reason. I wish they made raisins from red grapes.

    • Toxins

      Although the antioxidant content of green grapes compared with red is much lower, it is not an unhealthful food, and still contains an array of phytonutrients which should not be avoided.

    • VegEater

      They do. Try Sunview.