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Tightening the Bible Belt

Researchers set out to replicate the “Daniel Fast,” the biblical nutrition trial outlined in Daniel 1:8-16.

September 7, 2012 |
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Supplementary Info

Sources Cited

Esselstyn CB Jr. Resolving the Coronary Artery Disease Epidemic Through Plant-Based Nutrition. Prev Cardiol. 2001 Autumn;4(4):171-177.

Rosell M, Appleby P, Spencer E, Key T. Weight gain over 5 years in 21,966 meat-eating, fish-eating, vegetarian, and vegan men and women in EPIC-Oxford. Int J Obes (Lond). 2006 Sep;30(9):1389-96.

Brennan AM, Sweeney LL, Liu X, Mantzoros CS. Walnut consumption increases satiation but has no effect on insulin resistance or the metabolic profile over a 4-day period. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 Jun;18(6):1176-82.

Hollis JH, Houchins JA, Blumberg JB, Mattes RD. Effects of concord grape juice on appetite, diet, body weight, lipid profile, and antioxidant status of adults. J Am Coll Nutr. 2009 Oct;28(5):574-82.

Gibson TM, Ferrucci LM, Tangrea JA, Schatzkin A. Epidemiological and clinical studies of nutrition. Semin Oncol. 2010 Jun;37(3):282-96.

Oku T, Nakamura M, Takasugi A, Hashiguchi-Ishiguro M, Tanabe K, Nakamura S. Effects of cake made from whole soy powder on postprandial blood glucose and insulin levels in human subjects. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2009;60 Suppl 4:224-31.

Sarter B, Campbell TC, Fuhrman J. Effect of a high nutrient density diet on long-term weight loss: a retrospective chart review. Altern Ther Health Med. 2008 May-Jun;14(3):48-53.

Bloomer RJ, Kabir MM, Canale RE, Trepanowski JF, Marshall KE, Farney TM, Hammond KG. Effect of a 21 day Daniel Fast on metabolic and cardiovascular disease risk factors in men and women. Lipids Health Dis. 2010 Sep 3;9:94.


Images thanks to Nickolay and translation help from my favorite biblical Hebrew scholar, Laura Greger (my mom! :)


Epidemiological studies, particularly those like EPIC following such large populations, can offer tremendous insight into critical public health questions, such as what should and shouldn't eat to minimize our risk of falling prey to the epidemics of chronic disease currently plaguing the world. But the gold standard is an interventional study, where you put people on a certain diet and track what happens.

It’s easy to get people to make little changes—especially if you pay them. Getting people to add grape juice to their daily diet, or some nuts, as we've seen, is a piece of cake— especially if that's what you're trying to get people to eat!

But increasingly we’re seeing evidence that to see big changes in our health, we need to see achieve big changes in our diet. Like with the cholesterol. You want to lower your risk, sure you can tweak, but if you want to eliminate your risk, or reverse the disease you have you really have to take healthy eating seriously. But how are you going to get people to commit to a healthy diet? Tell them the bible told them to.

Chapter 1, verses 8-16, of the prophet Daniel best known for his lion’s den rather than his budding role as nutritional scientist. He resolved not to defile himself with the king's meat. The official said no way, and so he told the guard: look, put it to the test. Round up some test subjects put them on a plant-based diet and see how they do. (In the King James version they use the word "vegetables," but the original Hebrew-- ha-zay-row-eem— can translate into a broader definition). And what do you know they looked healthier and better nourished than whatever the king used to be feeding them, and so Daniel got his veggies.

2700 years later, researchers at the University of Memphis decided it was time to try to replicate the study. stay tuned, for tomorrow's conclusion.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Kerry Skinner.

To help out on the site please email

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

The EPIC study mentioned in the beginning is a reference to Meat and Weight Gain in the PANACEA Study, the grape juice study is from Fat Burning Via Flavonoids and the nut study from Nuts and Obesity: The Weight of Evidence. For more on the "moderation kills" concept, check out videos like Heart Attacks and Cholesterol: Dying Under Normal Circumstances and Trans Fat, Saturated Fat, and Cholesterol: Tolerable Upper Intake of Zero. Stay tuned for Monday's Biblical Daniel Fast Put to the Test.

For some context, please check out my associated blog post: Biblical Daniel Fast Tested.

If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    The EPIC study mentioned in the beginning is a reference to Meat and Weight Gain in the PANACEA Study, the grape juice study is from Fat Burning Via Flavonoids and the nut study from Nuts and Obesity: The Weight of Evidence. For more on the “moderation kills” concept, check out videos like Heart Attacks and Cholesterol: Dying Under Normal Circumstances and Trans Fat, Saturated Fat, and Cholesterol: Tolerable Upper Intake of Zero. Stay tuned for Monday’s Biblical Daniel Fast Put to the Test.

    If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

  • Strix

    I learned the translation as “grain.” It was wheat — spelt or kamut, I think.
    I, personally, like the Biblical angle; though, it’s definitely an approach that should be considered for certain people or situations, only. Religion is too fiery a topic sometimes!

    • Elvin

       Strix: On page you


      ‘This is just on of the reasons why I wonder — struggle
      with — why the No-fat doctors continue to insist that fat is bad. It really
      boggles my mind. In my opinion, at best, they are derelict in recommending no
      fat. I also find it morally incomprehensible, especially since I suffered from
      following that recommendation for years. I just hope I don’t pay any more than I
      already have in the future!’


      You were then asked by April Lillie : ‘What side effects
      did you have from the low fat diet?’ You did not answer. I myself then asked
      you. You did not answer. I then asked a second time. Again you did not


      The civil thing to do is: either answer the question or
      retract the accusation.

      • Toxins

        Elvin, i have seen you post this several times. What is your obnsession with this question? Leave Strix be

      • Eclecticwhyzas

        I’ll reply for Strix. I have MS.  The MS diet is notoriously low in fat. I was panicked and willing to do whatever it took heal. Mind you, this is seriously low fat, not no fat. And the same for meat. After 6 weeks I had lost 28 pounds. The problem was this: I weighed 168 at the start. I’d been a fit gymnast and weighed 160 for 40 years. I wasn’t losing fat–I was losing muscle. I was evaporating and my body was eating itself. The theory was that one needed to do this for two years to “come out of it”. I’m certain I would have died before then. Fearful and paranoid, I started to add the dreaded fat back into my diet. It took over a year to rebuild the loss of muscle but I did and as my strength returned I ate more dreaded fat and protein and my symptoms abated.  10 years later I am quite healthy and have more energy than most. I know this: Some people do well on one diet.  Some people do well on another. Mind your own diet. Don’t preach what you don’t understand. Don’t recite another’s philosophy because you have adopted it as your own. Live your own life following the rules that speak to you and let others do the same. Eskimos may live on blubber but I don’t recommend it for others. Studies are studies. Even if a vast majority of people do well on one diet, be assured, there are those that didn’t. YOU don’t know who that might be. Nor does anyone else. 

  • Elvin

    Those interested can see various renditions of the verse into English here: . And beginning from about the middle of the page there is discussion of that ‘vegetable/pulse ….’ word

  • Blondieroberts06

    This study confuses me, if youll read Daniel 1:15…And after ten days their faces appeared fairer and fatter than all the children that ate of the king’s meat.

    So where does it say that eating the vegetables and drinking water made their waistlines smaller than the people who ate the kings meat?

    Although Daniel 1:20 does say……In every matter of wisdom and understanding, concerning which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters who were in all his realm.

  • Just2eve

    “Thou shall not for the sake of food destroy the work of God. ….It is right not to eat meat… Thou shall not eat with offense… If just one finds it offensive, it is not right.” -Romans 14:20. One of my fav verses. Do not kill, period. A natural death is not offensive, so would be okay.

  • LKSkinner

    Shavua Tov – A good week to one and all!
    The modern translation of zeraim זרעים  is seeds or kernels, but my Artscroll Bible (Tanach) does use “pulse” in the translation of Daniel.
    So Daniel and his companions abstained from the king’s rich food and were healthier eating pulses. This recent nutrition trial gives us a modern version with similar healthy results. Hmmm, I wonder if they were living on hummus and techina?

  • Michael Ciantar

    I like to see how they worked exactly the foods available  then and of course there are  no details. Replicate as a study a  line  in the bible where they gave them food.  


    awesome, thank YOU for providing this insight into Bible based evidence because many church families are more obese than general public and could benefit from this great. I know I will use it in my many public appearances on preventing and controlling Diabetes and heart disease etc. THANK you!! Nancy Rodriguez RN,BSN, CDE, CEO, LIDERr Wellness Foundation,NFP org ( community, evidence, AND faith based )..& Plant Strong !

  • dm conner

    A wise take on “having dominion” over the earth. It also implied responsibility.

  • Annoyed by PaleoDolts
  • Grizzly Bear mom

    When Daniel refused the king’s meat it means he refused rich foods, probably including meat, sweets, wine, etc. that would tempt him away from his Jewishness toward Babylonianism.

  • zipopo

    learning the bible in Hebrew in a jewish school in Israel. Zeroim means seed or legumes…