Doctor's Note

In my live 2012 presentation Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death I address the role diet may play in preventing, treating, and even reversing our top 15 killers, including high blood pressure. More on refined versus whole grains can be found in Great Grain Robbery and Is White Bread Good For You?. Whole grains may in fact extend our lifespan (What Women Should Eat to Live Longer). What about the phytates in whole grains? See New Mineral Absorption Enhancers Found. And how can we make our oatmeal even healthier? See Antioxidants in a Pinch.

For some context, please check out my associated blog post:  Plant-Based Diets for Metabolic Syndrome

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  • Barry Erdman

    Michael, I believe this video report to be misleading at best. I would ask you to also report on how whole grains vs refined are little different compared to no grains for diabetics. Dr. Barnard’s study does not hold up when compared to a very low carb (30gm/day) as per dr Bernstein. I belive a plant based diet without any grains at all significantly improves health risks in diabetes by returning blood glucose back to normal. Anyone interested in very low carb plant based diets, see the Facebook group, “veglowcarb” called “the vegetarian low carb diabetes health society”.

    • John Paul

      I prefer Dr. Greger’s reports. He provides me with brief reviews of well substantiated, peer reviewed articles published in reputable journals, so that I don’t have to read them myself. I think it would be great if he were to start reviewing various highly publicized diets like the “Paleo” diet, the “Atkins” diet and the various “Gluten Free” diets. The problem is, these three fad diets are only the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of thousands of other untested diets, nutritional supplements and “alternative” therapies, all of which promise the cure for some ailment, and none of which a reputable scientist wants to waste his time studying-beyond figuring out that they don’t work, and that negative results are not worth publishing. Dr. Greger reports mostly on positive results, things that actually work, and only takes potshots at junk science as the opportunity presents itself. Any idiot can publish anything on Facebook, and find plenty of other idiots to believe him. I look for more reliable sources of information.

      • b00mer

        Although I would bet on some epidemiological reports to be coming out in the next decade or so, detailing the effects of paleo diets. I think it’s quite unfortunate, since I believe these people are trying to do what they truly think is healthiest. Supposedly they do emphasize the green vegetables as well, which should help them out some, but I don’t think it’ll balance out all that meat. I think we’ll be seeing the heart attacks, stroke and cancer articles coming out about that group in the future.

      • Catherine

        I wish you would reconsider calling gluten-free diet a fad. There are two very real conditions, celiac disease and gluten intolerance, and one is very much better off not eating gluten-containing food in those circumstances. Perhaps some people are going gluten-free for no good reason – I can’t imagine why – but for some of us, it’s definitely not a “fad”.

      • Carole

        Gluten Free is NOT a fad, it’s a very important way of life for most Celiacs and has been tested. My daughter has Crohns disease and found that by eliminating all food containing gluten that she is feeling better. She found out after 2 hospital stays, not from her doctor but from a book she read Listen To Your Gut. This book was and still is a tremendous help to her, not only with foods but probiotics and other medicinal things This has been a life saving help to her since Crohns can kill. I choose to be GF but my daughter HAS to be GF. There are other ingredients in foods that can also affect her Crohns, it’ sometimes trial and error.

        • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

          Agreed. For folks with CD all gluten needs to be avoided.

        • richard

          People in the 2% that have special diet needs should research and get good medical assistance. I am not one of those people so a whole plant-based diet including nuts/seeds and avocado is the proven road for me as validated by the Five Blue Zones. All the research of one particular ingredient like saturated fat, oils and protein are of no concern to me so I do not need any diet of the day that so many are writing books about. Maybe, if society is lucky, another hundred years or so will produce more accurate nutritional information but most of it right now is just noise.

      • rappinronreagan

        So not unlike a far left or far right political zealot you have chosen a single source for your information and will bet your life on it. I would suggest you broaden your horizons a bit because I can assure you there is plenty of peer review clinical science to counter any report by Dr. Gregor. That is not to say that he is purposely misleading people but he has picked his side and is unwilling to report all of the facts and science which directly contradict what he chooses to report on. Or you can just go with what’s easy and use a single source. Either way best of luck.

        • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

          All citations are listed for site users. If you have additional studies please feel free to share.

          • rappinronreagan

            I’m not debating that there are studies supporting what is reported, I’m merely pointing out that those studies are not the final word simply because there are other studies which contradict or draw other conclusions and more importantly, people who are living contradictions to the “science”. Lets be honest there are people on both sides of the table who are pillars of health. So one has to ask, how can person A who consumes only plants be healthy while person b who consumes no plants be equally as healthy? The answer is pretty simple if you remove the fluff. The problems in our diet result from all the “non-food” things we ingest, coupled with how the food is produced and multiplied by each persons individual make up. We are not all the same. Just like one person dies at 20 of a heart attack or gets cancer and then you have the person who smokes, drinks and eats doritos till age 110. That doesn’t mean stop trying to figure it out but be honest and say, we don’t have it figured out.

          • Thea

            rappinronreagan: re: “…while person b who consumes no plants be equally as healthy?” I haven’t seen any evidence of that. Especially for long term health. People who eat no plants or virtually no plants tend to be very unhealthy. That’s what the science shows along with a ton of anecdotes.

            Here is a helpful way to think about it: There are “plenty” of people who smoke a pack a day every day and never get cancer. Conversely, maybe 10% of people who get lung cancer never smoked. Also, you can find over 100 studies showing that smoking is either neutral or a healthy thing to do. There was a time in American (World?) history when people focused on all this information and then claimed that “we just didn’t know whether smoking is really harmful or not.”

            But only people who are willing to ignore the body of evidence (then or now) would believe that smoking is healthy or has nothing to do with cancer. We absolutely have “figured it out” when it comes to smoking.

            What this site tries to educate people on is that the evidence is just as strong when it comes to diet. We may still have more to learn regarding nutrition and human health. But for the big picture, we have it figured out for diet just as well as we have it figured out for smoking. It’s not about one study or a minority of people. It’s about the body of evidence. It’s about the overwhelming number of studies which point in the same direction compared to the relatively few (many/mostly discredited) studies which point in different directions.

          • rappinronreagan

            Those are great points and really the same points I’m making about non plant based diets. The overwhelming majority of studies do not point to an all plant based diet. They just do not unless you only choose to get your information from a biased source such as this. We are far from figuring it out though but if we use a bit of common sense we can easily see humans were meant to eat more than plants. How do I know this? Well luckily for us we have a T.V program that can illustrate perfectly this very point. It’s called Naked and afraid. Drop a couple folks off in a place with no grocery stores and what happens? They either eat animal matter or they lay their waiting to die. The modern convenience of grocery stores and farms is the only thing allowing people on a plant based diet to survive, nowhere else will you find this. Even many of the “but but what about X tribe” shows that while they eat corn or potatoes or whatever, they also consume meat or at very least, lots of insects and spiders. Many of the studies seem to leave this out though focusing on just the plant foods. How about another popular program, Life below zero? What do they eat? Now please don’t misunderstand me I think a healthy diet should include large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetable no doubt but animal flesh, insects, etc.. is just part of what we eat, its funny there is even a debate about that. Should we look at Ketogenic diets? Not much plants there and thus far the studies have shown remarkable progress with Cancer and general health. So not to beat a dead horse I just think we are far from saying ok eat these 3 things and every person on the planet will enjoy perfect health and live well over 100. We also can not say eat only plant based because, again we have no successful populations of vegans running around who have lived, procreated and thrived. Not to mention we have plenty of unhealthy vegans eating all these faux foods oddly trying to duplicate meat products but with “GASP” GMO SOY BEANS! (don’t even get me started on that) Anyway we can all eat how we like but nobody has a monopoly on what’s best aside from in my opinion eating locally raised organic fruits and vegetables and either killing your own wild game or at very least reasonable quantities of fresh caught or grass fed meats. If it comes in box, a can a package etc.. its probably not the pillar of health.

          • Thea

            rappinronreagan: re: “The overwhelming majority of studies do not point to an all plant based diet” How do you know? Have you looked at them all? I haven’t. So, I rely on people who really, really have. And it is an impressive list of experts who back up what I have been saying.

            re: “We are far from figuring it out though but if we use a bit of common
            sense we can easily see humans were meant to eat more than plants. How
            do I know this? Well luckily for us we have a T.V program…”
            This is the first time I have seen someone use a reality TV program as evidence about human nutrition. You are talking about contrived situations. That’s not very compelling evidence to me. Compare reality TV to real human populations. The 4 healthiest populations on the planet are primarily plant based eaters. You are correct that they are not vegan. But they are very close. So, the most anyone could claim when it comes to eating animals is that it is healthy to eat say 3%? animal products. (Some very low, low number.)

            If the subject of “what are humans supposed to eat” interests you, I recommend looking at human biology. The following webpage does an ***awesome*** job of explaining in lay person’s terms what we know about human biology and our natural foods:

          • rappinronreagan

            I don’t claim to have it figured out either but I have been studying and experimenting with diet and exercise for roughly 30 years. I don’t think there is an exact percentage of animal products that you could say is optimal for every person but I feel quite comfortable saying that it’s definitely not 0%. As for the tv program I pointed towards, it’s a good illustration of humans in the wild without modern conveniences. I don’t know the last time I was walking in the forest and stumbled across a loaf of bread and a bunch of beans or a bowl of quinoa or some tofu. I have on the other hand seen lots of animals. Sometimes the answers are right in front of us….

          • Jason

            ” I don’t think there is an exact percentage of animal products that you could say is optimal for every person but I feel quite comfortable saying that it’s definitely not 0%.”

            OK, you are probably right, but Thea (and I and lots of people here) feel that the evidence shows that the people with greatest longevity get less than 10% of their calories from animal products. We are not inclined to buy the Paleo or other HPLC diets which advocate 50% or more calories from animal products.

            10% is a far, far cry from 50%. Additionally, we tend to think that a macronutrient ratio of 60% carbs, 15% protein, and 25% fat makes a lot more sense–is much more aligned with diets in the Blue Zones–than the Paleo-recommended 10% carbs, 30% protein, and 60% fat. There is a fundamental divergence in philosophy, which goes well beyond the avoidance of processed foods, refined carbs and oils, and sweets which is common to all of these diets, the vegan as well as Paleo and the others. And the vegans seem to be the most aligned with environmental demands, while the Paleo folks bury their heads in the sand and try to pretend we’re not living in the 21st century on a planet of 7 billion people. Plant based diets are both more affordable and environmentally sustainable; Paleo, Atkins, and the others are, if anything, worse than the SAD in this regard. Indeed, they are really ‘elitist’ because the most expensive calories come from free-range animal meat and wild fish; only specialty foods like caviar would be more expensive. But this is not to say that a very small portion of one’s diet couldn’t derive from these sources–the same if one happens to live on or near a small farm or in an area where cattle grazing makes economic sense. There are no absolutes. But the preponderance of evidence inclines towards a high carb-low fat and protein whole foods diet for health.

          • rappinronreagan

            I too agree that many of the paleo folks have gone off the deep end a bit as I truly feel that our current proliferation of these factory meats, how they are raised and the synthetic drugs used in the process is a contributor to the problems we see. That said, paleo in its truest form is not really the diet that those on the other extreme of all plants think it is. Food quality matters and I think its the most important aspect of diet. So while many may point to a percentage of meat and say “that’s too much” I disagree in that you also need to ask what is the meat source. Do you live in Alaska out in a small cabin and hunt to survive or do you go to the 99 cent store and purchase slim jims? I think most rational people can agree living in the wild on a diet of caribou, elk and salmon is different than eating Hormel bacon and mcdonalds cheeseburgers. On the plant side of things take bread for example. Are you grinding your own organically raised wheat and adding yeast salt and water or are you buying wonder bread with 115 ingredients? Humans are omnivores there should be no disputing that and we can survive for long periods on anything, just talk to the meth or heroin addict who injects themselves daily with dope and eats Doritos and coke for a standard meal. I don’t consider economics or sustainability as a consideration when talking about diet though but if you want to get technical, animals exist in the wild all over the world, fruits and vegetable are artificially raised, meaning we have to plant them, tend to them harvest them and they wouldn’t exist without us. I say this not to say we should eat exclusively meat because I think we can and do well on a diet of mostly plant based, we tend to start seeing problems though at extremely low or no animal matter. I know some vegans will disagree but it takes work to be a healthy vegan and it takes modern convenience. People live in Alaska on a predominantly animal based diet and research has shown them to be quite healthy with almost no plant foods. Bottom line is if the food quality is on point meaning 100% natural humans can do well on either end of the scale. Just my opinion.

          • Thea

            re: “People live in Alaska on a predominantly animal based diet and research
            has shown them to be quite healthy with almost no plant foods.” This is not true. It is a myth pushed by the paleo crowd. Even ancient Alaskan mummies, where there is no possible contamination of modern processed foods, show signs of heart disease and I believe cancer. Not healthy at all. Just surviving long enough to reproduce. And rarely living past early 50’s. Plant Positive has links to the actual research if you are interested. Contrast that with the predominantly plant-based societies where people live a very long time and heart disease is almost unheard of.

          • rappinronreagan

            You may want to talk to some people who live there I can assure you, your opinion is incorrect but interesting you pointed out “survived long enough to reproduce” Get back to me when we have located a society with generations of vegans living healthy productive lives without the aid of supplementation or modern convenience. Actually get back to me when we have generations of vegans period. You can’t argue nature it is what it is.

          • richard

            Live like they did 10,000 years ago and I do not think you will be consuming as much meat as you seem to think but go ahead and include all the animal products you wish and you really think the percentage living to be over 100 years old is going to be like in Okinawa?

          • richard

            Mummies of wealthy people that lived 5000 years ago were found with heart disease and other issues because they did not consume the better daily diet of the common folks….A focus on whole plant-based products is the way to go and all these other diets like Paleo and others are just noise.

          • Jason

            You say you don’t take economics or environmental sustainability into account when deciding on what to eat, but I think that’s short-sighted. Very few people have the luxury of not worrying about cost, and I maintain the high meat crowd is both elitist and socially insensitive. High meat consumption increases water use and methane in the atmosphere (a potent greenhouse gas). I agree that from a health standpoint naturally raised and caught meat and fish is preferable–has some health benefits without as many drawbacks–but the bottom line is that a HIGH consumption of these foods–say anything above 25% of calories–is not optimal for health and bad for the planet. In a world of 7 billion, I’d go further and limit meat, fish, and dairy to 10%. But that’s just my take.

            Humans indeed are omnivores, but this neglects the fact that our teeth (with only 1/8 canines) and our intestines are better designed for plants than meat. Your analogy to meth and heroin addicts is misplaced. Sure, they “survive”, but hardly thrive on such bad food and drugs, and their life expectancy is even worse than the Eskimos (Innuit), who, as Plant Positive reports, live on average more than ten years less than Canadians or Americans.

          • rappinronreagan

            Well again modern convenience allows for farming. It’s natural though. But Niether is large feedlots of medicated cattle. We are at a place now where I think we can’t go back so we deal with what we have. The interesting thing about science, studies, research is its very easy to design it for the outcome you desire and even if designed properly the wrong conclusions are easily drawn. Pick any topic where there is controversy and likely you will find an equal amount of support for both sides. So, like politics you pick a side and go with it. The enviroment is one such topic. I don’t think plowing fields and growing produce is better or worse for the environment than raising meat, just different. I believe very strongly in anecdotal evidence. In my opinion if what your doing is achieving the results you are after, then all the science and research in the world saying you are wrong means absolutely nothing. If someone is happy eating a food abomination like tofurkey for their own ethical delima or because they think it’s healthy I don’t mind. Likewise is someone wants to live off the land and eat what they kill I don’t mind that either. To each their own.

          • richard

            Are you the one that has been appointed to decide what is “natural”? Your lack of scientific knowledge is showing when you say you do not know if it is better for the environment to grow produce or meat. Really no need for further discussion after you say that…

          • richard

            Nutrition has become like religion and politics. Many do not wish to listen to logic (reason) but they come up with justification for the way they wish to eat. Any thinking person should realize that the whole world can not possibly consume the Western Diet given the land and water that we have on the planet but they want to argue that is the “natural” way to eat. I think the resource that the US will first run out of is money because if we continue the current trend the country will not be able to pay the health costs of people consuming the current diet.

          • richard

            Get a life! Wonder bread is not a whole plant-based product. Nobody in Alaska or on the planet is healthy with almost no plant foods. Put down your comic books and start reading some serious literature.
            No past culture has been vegan so why do you continue to compare Paleo with vegan? Try over 85% of daily calories from whole plant-based products and less than 5% from animal products.

          • richard

            I have read a broad range on the current knowledge and I estimate the general limit on animal products to be 5% of daily calories. Given that many claim humans are influencing global warming and the number of people that now are on the planet I do not know how a thinking person can not see that most of us have to change our focus on consuming animal products. Even the health cost in the US is going to break the country in the not so distant future if the majority do not change their diet to include more whole plant-based foods.

          • richard

            You should use your brain more and your eyes less. I do agree that “maybe” the best amount of animal products is not 0% for most people. Not for the reasons you comment and I am not certain that it is 0% but it is likely given that no culture in the past was vegan. However, with modern supplements like B-12, zinc and others it might just be 0% especially given all the toxins and false labels that exist on fish, meat and eggs. We will not know for sure for at least the next one hundred years. Nutritional studies are influenced by money, government and lack of skills.

          • richard

            Why does everything have to be taken to the extreme? Yes, no culture in the past has been vegan. But there is proof that over 80% of daily calories from whole plant-based foods, small amount of animal products and moderate exercise leads to normal body weight and less sickness.

          • richard

            Nutrition is not complicated but so many people try to talk about it like it is…There are five Blue Zones where a very large part of the population has lived to be over 100 years old compared to those on the Western Diet, Okinawa being the best of the lot. For at least the next one hundred years the only research one needs is how did those reaching over 100 live…Answer: Over 85% of daily calories from whole plant-based foods, small amounts of animal products, lots of Japanese Yams that many incorrectly refer to as sweet potatoes and other life-style details that are available to the public.
            No culture in the past has been vegan but long term studies including B-12 supplements and maybe a couple of other supplements without any animal products may prove to be the way to go but we are not going to have that answer in our life times…You wish to consume plenty of eggs, milk, fish and meat have it but you should not be commenting that you know more about nutrition than those in the Blue Zones that followed the traditional path.
            If you look at the younger population from Okinawa that follow a more Western Diet they are getting sick just as other people on that diet whether they are doing it in Okinawa or as immigrants in other countries.
            How complicated do you want to make the simple? There is proof that it is not the dna, air or water.

          • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

            What research shows folks eating zero plants do as well as those who eat lots of plants? I am confused. Perhaps you’d like this video better that discusses “flexitarian” diets? Again, you are free to post any additional studies you think we’ve overlooked. Thanks for replying.

          • rappinronreagan

   This article which includes sources and studies might be a good place to start if you are interested in broadening your horizons. I do not eat a ketogenic diet, I don’t even promote one and I’m not saying this is better than anything else. I’m simply pointing out that there are other studies and other science out there that does not support an all plant based diet as “The way”. We can all eat how we wish and its not my intent to say plants are bad of course they are not but I have difficulty with anybody on any subject proclaiming they have it all figured out and this is definitely the way to do something especially when their is plenty of evidence to the contrary. What I’m saying is eat how you like, offer up studies and science all day to support it just don’t be so arrogant as to discount everything else out there. We can have different opinions with puffing our chest up and claiming we have the answer.

          • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

            Thanks for the links! I don’t think we proclaim to have all the answers at all. I’m with you that not all studies agree, as you stated above. Perhaps it’s important to look at the totality of the evidence? Many trends in the research support the inclusion of more plants. The degree of how many plants one wants to add to their diet is up to them. We do not promote one “diet” over another.

          • rappinronreagan


          • richard

            “other science”? There is only one science…science has not proven it is best to be vegan nor has any past culture been vegan. The question is maybe over 80% of daily calories from whole plant-based products and some maximum of animal products like 10% is the best for the majority of humans. The exact answer is likely one hundred years away given the money involved. Science does say that without a miracle in agriculture that the present world population can not consume the Western Diet. If you believe that humans influence global warming it follows that we also have to focus more on plants. So science does say that we can not all eat as we wish given our current knowledge of agriculture and nobody in agriculture expects the miracles that are needed. Scientific facts that you can not change are that meat requires much more resources (water and land) than plants and harms the environment much more even not considering global warming.

          • rappinronreagan

   just another source for some studies to look at. Again my position is nothing more than, the there are lots of studies and they all don’t agree.

          • richard

            You either lack an education or have a very poor one. You appear to use the word “studies” as if they all should be consistent and be of the same value. Do you think a study on eggs financed by the egg industry is going to provide the same results as a study by heart specialist at the Cleveland Clinic or Harvard? Have you found the studies the milk industry has funded to come to the same conclusions on strong bones as a high dairy consumption country like Sweden? Use your brain first before typing on the keyboard.

    • Thea

      Barry: Dr. Greger has some great videos on low carb as well as an e-book setting people straight on the topic of carbs. Dr. Greger seems to have some good science to back up his opinion of grains. That said, if you have something that is working for you, that’s great. Good luck.

    • Michel Voss

      Low carb plant based diets may be dangerous: “The associations of low carbohydrate, high protein, and low carbohydrate-high protein scores with cardiovascular outcomes were not, in general, statistically significantly different between women whose protein intake was mainly of animal origin and those whose protein intake was mainly of plant origin.”
      BMJ 2012;344:e4026, June 26.

    • Joe

      I agree that “low carb” diets are not necessarily healthy. But what about claims that you can do a better job of protecting against hypertension (and other problems) by substituting more healthy carb-rich vegetables, like sweet potatoes? In other words, is there some nutrient that whole grains have that you can’t get anywhere else? Or are they just a good, but not ideal, alternative to refined grains?

      • FoodAllergyGuy

        Hi Joe,
        When it comes to whole grains, research has shown that, nutritionally, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, meaning that the nutrients in whole grains work together in a way that you won’t find when the nutrients are consumed separately. Researchers refer to a “dose response” with eating more whole grains. A little whole grain is better than none, but the greatest health protection seems to come with at least 3 servings of whole grain foods a day.. These benefits include: healthy digestion, prevention of weight gain, longer satiety, reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and several cancers and a 15-20% reduction in risk of early death. Dr. Greger has a great video discussing whole grains and their effect on heart disease here:

    • Terry Hughes

      How do you explain the Kempner rice diet then?

  • Cesare Civetta

    is it ok to consume a lot of canned coconut milk (Badia) or (organic) ? both have 10 grams of fat per 1/4 cup. i’m asking because of Dr. Esselstyn’s teachings about fat.

    • Lauren Rae Layton Ard

      Cesare, Dr. Greger has other videos about coconut products which indicate that canned coconut milk is bad for you.

    • Don Forrester MD

      Coconut milk should be avoided… see video’s and It contains no cholesterol as a plant product but does contain alot of saturated fat which your body converts to cholesterol. Not only not a good idea from an arterial disease standpoint but because it is calorie dense it would contribute to increase weight.

      • Cyndi Phillips

        Cholesterol is not and never has been a danger. Indeed, it’s something our bodies have to have. It was disproven way back in 1936 that there is no link between cholesterol levels and heart attacks. There are links to inflammation causing them, and the inflammation coming from carbohydrates, grains in particular. Of course this is kept quiet because it would destroy the market for statins which are dangerous, way more dangerous than coconut milk.

        • Gary

          The Lyon Heart Trials showed a direct link between cholesterol and heart disease, in the long-running Framingham Study, those with cholesterol levels below 150 were virtually heart-attack proof, and that is only the tip of the iceberg of studies showing a correlation between cholesterol and heart disease. No one is saying we need zero cholesterol; as with many substances, problems occur when we have too much. Whole food plant-based diets have been shown to lower cholesterol as well as statins do, without the side effects.

        • shirleycolee

          Cyndi, well put. I agree with you a thousand percent. They’ve also shown that those with very low cholesterol die earlier. It’s inflammation that causes trouble.

          • richard


        • richard

          Judging from your picture it appears that you should not be commenting on nutrition but your comment on cholesterol proves that you do not know what you are talking about. It is a rare person that needs statins but that does not make cholesterol or coconut milk immaterial in long term health. Read about how the Framingham Study indicates that everyone with a cholesterol level below 150 had no heart disease instead of the studies that look at levels between 180 to 250.

          • Cyndi Phillips

            There are a lot of people dying from heart attacks with cholesterol levels that low. As for your comments on my health, I’ve ditched the high blood pressure medications, the diabetes meds and so much more because my health improved so much I don’t need them anymore. Belief in the Great Cholesterol Myth has caused us to neglect the real causes of heart disease while obsessively focused on an innocuous molecule that’s essential for life and has only a minor role in heart disease. MYTH: High cholesterol is the cause of heart disease.

            FACT: Cholesterol is a fairly insignificant player in heart disease.

            MYTH: High cholesterol is a good predictor of heart attacks.
            FACT: High cholesterol is a lousy predictor of heart attacks. Half the people admitted to hospitals with heart disease have normal cholesterol, and plenty of people with elevated cholesterol have perfectly healthy hearts.

            MYTH: Lowering cholesterol with statin drugs will prolong your life.
            FACT: There is no data showing statins have any impact on longevity.

            MYTH: Statin drugs are perfectly safe.
            FACT: Statin drugs have significant side effects, including loss of memory and libido, muscle pain and fatigue, and approximately 65 percent of doctors don’t report those side effects, according to a 2007 study.

            MYTH: Statin drugs are appropriate for men, women, children and the elderly.
            FACT: The only group in which statins have been shown to have even a modest effect is in middle-aged men who’ve already had a heart attack. If you’re not in that group,you’ve got no business on a statin drug.

            MYTH: Saturated fat is dangerous.
            FACT: Saturated fat is mostly neutral and may even have some health benefits. A recent peer-reviewed study has shown no association between saturated fat and heart disease.

            MYTH: The higher your cholesterol, the shorter your lifespan.
            FACT: In the Framingham Study, the people who actually lived the longest had the highest cholesterol.

            MYTH: A high-carbohydrate diet protects you from heart disease.
            FACT: Diets that substitute carbohydrates for saturated fat may actually increase the risk for heart disease.

            We need to stop focusing on lowering cholesterol and start focusing on preventing heart disease.

            They are not the same thing.

  • Lisa Ann Homic

    have your read Primal Body, Primal Mind, please don’t recommend any grains

    • Lauren Rae Layton Ard

      You can ignore the science in this video, but I appreciate Dr. Greger reporting on any and all scientific findings, whether they agree with my diet or not.

    • Lc Starr

      um, it’s his website, so he can recommend whatever he wants. We should listen to you instead because you read one book??

      • Cyndi Phillips

        What a bully! You don’t know how many books she’s read. She gave the name of one book as a reference. Why so mean?

        • richard

          Lots of people like to sell books so what ever point you are trying to support I am sure there are at least ten books saying the same thing. It does not change the facts gathered by valid studies or the five Blue Zones.

    • Joe

      Dr Gregor hasn’t actually recommended anything – he’s presented a few studies and a hypothesis – that is all.

      It’s a far cry from most health gurus, who seem intent on proving everyone else wrong because they know the ‘truth’.

    • richard

      Lisa, I consume whole grains daily and am healthy….you read the comic books if you are in the 5% or so that have special requirements.

  • Lisa Ann Homic
    • Lauren Rae Layton Ard

      This doesn’t look like a science-based website. I’ll take Dr. Greger’s scientific studies any day over this speculation…

    • Joe

      This contradicts the majority of clinical research and population studies – and oh look, they’re selling an e-book!

      • Lisa Ann Homic

        Lauren, Joe, and Lc Starr, you have not read enough studies. Your peer below in the comments here is having blood pressure issues and is confused by this. Keep checking for yourself. You’ll be surprised. I was in the same boat as you all were. We all come around in our own time.

        • Joe

          Lisa, thanks for your concern. I always remain open to new ideas, but for me the evidence isn’t there. The statistic he links to suggest an epidemic of gut and bowel related problems – but if anything the majority of Americans are deficient in fibre. This I can’t get my head around – he talks about the American diet being a high-fibre diet – but the fibre is mostly removed during processing. White bread, pasta and bagels have virtually no fibre! The average American gets 15g of fibre daily – whilst people in developing countries get much more and have much less problems like hemorrhoids. This could of course be down to the sit down toilet – but in this scenario, fibre is a red herring at best. I will remain open, and I might buy the book – but I am skeptical, especially after reading the authors qualifications.

        • Lc Starr

          Lisa Ann, you have no idea how many studies I have read or how much research I have done. One can find studies to support almost anything, which is why it’s important to evaluate each study’s merits and who’s funding it. The website you posted is not credible, so thanks, but no thanks.

  • vademonbreun

    I have heard juicing celery works really well on high blood pressure. What about the gluten and wheat germ agglutinin causing gastrointestinal issues?

  • Kathi Richards

    How much is a serving supposed to be? I certainly do not consider sweetened cereals to be of any benefit to me, whole grain or not.

  • shelly

    Dr. Greger- I cant seem to find the clip on whole grains and weight loss –
    What is it under? thanks

  • Peggy Kellough

    Just wondering… Dr.Mercola recommends against lots of whole grains, saying, “Reduce or eliminate your processed food, sugar/fructose and grain carbohydrate intake. This applies to whole unprocessed organic grains as well, as they tend to rapidly break down and drive your insulin and leptin levels up, which is the last thing you need to have happening if you are seeking to resolve or prevent cancer.” — So, what is it? Eat whole grains, or not eat whole grains?

    • Jesse

      I’d take whatever advice Mercola gives and do the exact opposite.

    • Gary

      The preponderance of human-based scientific studies show that whole grain consumption has a moderate protective effect against certain cancers.


      The 2013 Nutrition Journal published the article “The Potential Role of Phytochemicals in Whole-Grain Cereals for the Prevention of Type-2 Diabetes.” Their findings: Diets high in whole grains are associated with a 20-30% reduction in risk of developing type-2 diabetes… biomarkers of systemic inflammation tend to be reduced in people consuming high intakes of whole grains.

      I’ve seen some of Dr. Mercola’s recommendations that are based on unproven theories and on highly contrived animal experiments that neither mimic human experience nor produce the same results.

    • Just a Mom

      Peggy, I think maybe you are not familiar with the terminology allowed when speaking of whole grains by manufacturers making cereal, bread and any item sold in the center isles of the store. Whole grains cannot be used in a food without being fortified with chemical nutrients such as the B vitamins, folic acid and whatever else they put back into the mix because those nutrients are gone when they make the flour. The only way to get all the nutrients is to eat the whole wheat berry or seed…or grind it yourself. I started doing it with a coffee grinder until I could afford a mill. That goes for flax, millet, and any other whole grain such as rye, kamut, and others. Making your own flour takes a few minutes and the benefits are complete. As far as spiking sugar and all that…not so with whole seeds and berries…the fiber and oils slow down the entire process and you don’t need to consume near as much either. A half sandwich with real whole grain bread is almost equivalent to 6 slices of white bread…maybe more…and the fiber content is over the top. If you started to eat your own flour even to make gravy you would probably drop 5 lbs the first week because your digestive tract would be cleaned out and you would be “regular” like you’ve never been before…in a good way. Just food for thought to live a healthier life and feel great!

    • shirleycolee

      Check out the Hallelujah Acres website, You may not agree or like their concept, but it would be worth your while to see what it is in case you learn something you do find advantageous. They’re all about cancer and chronic disease prevention. I found them twenty years ago when my first husband had leukemia. A psychologist friend I worked with told me his 35 year old brother that had a rapidly metastasizing cancer used their program to get well.

  • Susan

    Does sourdough have nutritional benefits (over and above any whole grains in the recipe?)

  • Robert

    Dr. Gerger,

    Thanks for all your great info.
    Other than being on a vegan diet, are there specific foods that
    naturally lower blood pressure? I already do three servings of grains a day and that does not seem to do the trick.
    I heard L-Taurine can be helpful. This is so important as you know so hope I can address this in the short term.
    Thanks again.

    • Toxins

      Have you eliminated refined grains? Have you eliminated oils in your diet? Are you striving to eat only whole, unprocessed plant foods? Do you eat dark leafy greens regularly? Is your sodium intake less than 1200 mg? All of these things will help lower blood pressure.

      • Cyndi Phillips

        Oils can be bad, such as canola and soy oils but fats are necessary. I use real butter, ghee, beef tallow and coconut oil. I make my own mayo using coconut oil, sunflower oil and olive oil. This keeps me free of soy which is bad for my thyroid. In the long run vegan diets are more unhealthy than diets that include animal fats.

        • Toxins

          You have many faulty statements here.

          Every credible health organization, including the national academy of science, recognizes that consuming excess saturated fat is not healthful, and the fat sources you just named are some of the top sources of saturated fat, making your recommendation unhealthful. As recognized again by the national academy of science, the only dietary fat your body requires from food sources are polyunsaturated fats, that being, omega 6 and omega 3. That is why they are called essential fats. These fats can be found in perfectly adequate amounts in all whole plant foods and one does not need to add pure empty calories to ones diet to achieve proper essential fat intake.

          Soy is not harmful, and is a perfectly healthy whole plant food. Many videos can be found on this website describing the benefits of soy consumption and you will also find that soy does not have a negative hormonal impact. What you are describing is a fad diet that is popular as it gives a free pass to people to continue eating unhealthfully and to continue eating all of the animal products and high fat foods available to them. This is not an effective strategy for health.

          • Cyndi Phillips

            Along with the unjustified and unscientific saturated fat and cholesterol scares of the past several decades has come the notion that vegetarianism is a healthier dietary option for people.
            It seems as if every health expert and government health agency is urging people to eat fewer animal products and consume more vegetables, grains, fruits and legumes. Along with these exhortations have come assertions and studies
            supposedly proving that vegetarianism is healthier for people and that meat consumption is associated with sickness and death.
            Several authorities, however, have questioned these data, but their objections have been largely ignored.

            Although it is commonly believed that saturated fats and dietary cholesterol “clog arteries” and cause heart disease, such ideas have been shown to be false by such scientists as Linus Pauling, Russell Smith, George Mann, John
            Yudkin, Abram Hoffer, Mary Enig, Uffe Ravnskov and other prominent researchers. On the contrary, studies have shown that arterial plaque is primarily composed of unsaturated fats, particularly polyunsaturated ones, and not the saturated fat of animals, palm or coconut.

            Trans-fatty acids, as opposed to saturated fats,
            have been shown by researchers such as Enig, Mann and Fred
            Kummerow to be causative factors in accelerated
            atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, cancer and other
            ailments. Trans-fatty acids are found in such modern foods as
            margarine and vegetable shortening and foods made with them.
            Enig and her colleagues have also shown that excessive
            omega-6 polyunsaturated
            fatty acid intake from refined vegetable oils is also a
            major culprit behind cancer and heart disease, not animal fats.
            A recent study of thousands of Swedish women supported Enig’s
            conclusions and data, and showed no correlation between
            saturated fat consumption
            and increased risk for breast cancer. However, the study did
            show,as did Enig’s work, a strong link between vegetable oil
            intake and higher breast cancer rates.

            The major population studies that supposedly prove the theory that animal fats
            and cholesterol cause heart disease actually do not upon
            closer inspection. The Framingham Heart Study is often cited as proof
            that dietary cholesterol and saturated fat
            intake cause heart disease and ill health. Involving about
            6,000 people, the study compared two groups over several
            years at five-year intervals. One group consumed little
            cholesterol and saturated fat, while the other consumed high amounts. Surprisingly, Dr William Castelli, the study’s director, said:

            In Framingham, Mass., the more saturated fat
            one ate, the more cholesterol one ate, the more calories
            one ate, the lower the person’s serum cholesterol … we
            found that the people who ate the most cholesterol, ate the
            most saturated fat, [and] ate the most calories, weighed the least and were the most physically active.

            The Framingham data did show that subjects who had higher cholesterol
            levels and weighed more ran a slightly higher chance for
            coronary heart disease. But weight gain and serum cholesterol
            levels had an inverse correlation with dietary fat and cholesterol intake. In other words, there was no correlation at all.

            Fad diet? Not hardly. It’s how everyone used to eat before the 1950’s hit and hydrogenated oils, margarine and white bread became our diet. And when people ate that way they weren’t dying of heart attacks like they are now. The fad is eating low fat and the sooner people realize that the faster they will quit dying from heart attacks and cancers. Studies have shown repeatedly that such diets are associated
            with depression, cancer, psychological problems, fatigue,
            violence and suicide.

            Soy has long been associated with ADD/ADHD, depression, anxiety, dementia and other mental health issues. Now it appears that soy
            can aggravate seizures as well. Cara J. Westmark, PhD, and her team at
            the Waisman Center for Developmental Disabilities at the University of
            Wisconsin, Madison, pull no punches when they warn, “These results have
            important implications for individuals on soy-based diets.

            The Weston A. Price Foundation is currently suing the state of Illinois on behalf of prisoners who have suffered grave damage to their
            digestive tracts and thyroid glands due to a high soy diet containing up to a whopping 100 grams of soy product and 100 mg of isoflavones every day. This is real. Damage from animal fats is not real.

          • Toxins

            A clear cut and paste. This discussion should be based on primary sourced studies not second hand accounts of an author’s interpretation of a study. There is no “myth” that animal products and animal fats are harmful. This is sound evidence based on a mass of studies. Health objectives do not change based on 1 or 2 studies but a mass of them. In the case of soy, there is mixed evidence in animal models showing potentially harmful side affects, but we are not mice. Human studies have shown no negative hormonal imbalance as well as decreased risks in most cancers. Soy isoflavones are not xenoestrogens found in dairy which significantly increase estrogen levels in woman, but soy contains phytoestrogens which reduce circulating estrogen. Dr. Greger has several videos on these topics I have discussed. All you have to do is search on this website but I will post a couple as a starting point for you.



            more on soy can be found here


          • Cyndi Phillips

            You complain that I’ve not provided studies when you failed to as well. Videos are not studies. At least I do bring them up. Let’s also make it clear that xenoestrogens aren’t a problem with organic milk. It’s not the milk, it’s the things farmers add to it and how it’s processed. And let’s also mention that almost all soy is now GMO. Here is a link to about 50 studies on soy, including some on actual people.

            Why would I do a search on this website which is obviously and heavily biased? I’m looking for truth. So where are those “mass of studies”? Why are you asking me for things you haven’t been able to provide? I’m done here.

            I’m going to eat like the Eskimos do, high fat. I’m going to eat like many indigenous people do, untouched by McD’s. Whole fresh raw milk, beef tallow, eggs from my chickens and all those things you feel are bad. It’s a fact that most veggie eaters later on change their diets back to that of omnivores and the most common reason for doing so is health or lack of it. Vegetables aren’t bad for you but they should be rounded out with other healthy foods and can’t be a diet to themselves. And I do this after years of studying what is really good for us, not because I read one website. Soy has kicked butt on my thyroid and it has no place in my life.

          • Toxins

            The purpose of is to provide videos that share the studies and the studies are available in the sources cited section for personal viewing, which is what I provided you with. Xenoestrogens are independent of additives to milk, as all lactating cows release xenoestrogens as an inherent compound, as described in the study presented in the video I linked you with.

            Interesting you idolize the inuits who live 10 years less than the average American and idolize populations who’s lifespans are not worth imitating. I have held back on presenting the studies as it is much easier for you to view them through the videos and it saves me the trouble of posting a very long post, but we can go down that road if you wish.

            We can look at dairy and meat, two staples of your diet. We will view these 2 food groups independent of factory farming and regardless of raw, organic, or conventional. Diets of populations who are worth imitating will also be discussed.

            We’ll start with the population study of the Okinawans.

            Back in the 1950’s the Japanese rural Okinawan group of people had
            the most centenarians per capita. How did they live so long? Here is
            their diet

            Caloric Restriction, the Traditional
            Okinawan Diet, and Healthy Aging

            The Diet of the World’s Longest-Lived People and Its Potential Impact on Morbidity and Life Span

            Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1114: 434–455 (2007).

            TABLE 1. Traditional dietary intake of Okinawans and other Japanese circa 1950

            Total calories 1785

            Total weight (grams) 1262

            Caloric density (calories/gram) 1.4

            Total protein in grams (% total calories) 39 (9)

            Total carbohydrate in grams (% total calories) 382 (85)

            Total fat in grams (% total calories) 12 (6)

            Saturated fatty acid 3.7

            Monounsaturated fatty acid 3.6

            Polyunsaturated fatty acid 4.8

            Total fiber (grams) 23

            Food group Weight in grams (% total calories)


            Rice 154 (12)

            Wheat, barley, and other grains 38 (7)

            Nuts, seeds Less than 1 (less than 1)

            Sugars 3 (less than 1)

            Oils 3 (2)

            Legumes (e.g., soy and other beans) 71 (6)

            Fish 15 (1)

            Meat (including poultry) 3 (less than 1)

            Eggs 1 (less than 1)

            Dairy less than 1 (less than 1)


            Sweet potatoes 849 (69)

            Other potatoes 2 (less than1)

            Other vegetables 114 (3)

            Fruit less than 1 (less than 1)

            Seaweed 1 (less than 1)

            Pickled vegetables 0 (0)

            Foods: flavors & alcohol 7 (less than 1)

            Data derived from analysis of U.S. National Archives, archived food records, 1949 and based on survey of 2279 persons.

            Some points

            Their diet was 85% carb, and 6% fat. Sweet potatoes (a Japanese sweet potato) made up almost 70% of their calories. Nuts were less than 1% of calories (the equivalent of 1/10 of an ounce a day) Oil was less than 2% of calories (which is about 1 tsp a day) and sugars were less than 1% of calories (less than a tsp a day)

            The total animal products including fish was less than 4% of calories which is less then 70 calories a day. That is the equivalent of around 2 oz of animal products or less a day.

            This is a population group worth idolizing, not a short lived population of eskimos or blood and raw milk drinking African tribes who live till the age of 40.

            Looking at dairy:

            The consumption of dairy in children has resulted in earlier puberty. “The effect of animal protein intake, which was associated with an earlier puberty onset, might mainly be due to dairy. “An earlier puberty onset has been related to an increased risk for hormone-related cancers in adulthood. For example, a meta-analysis of 26 epidemiological studies reported a9% risk reduction for breast cancer with every additional year at menarche. Additionally, recent study results demonstrated that a 1-y delay in menarche was associated with a 2.4 to 4.5% lower total mortality.


            The concern with dairy and hormone dependent cancer is something to think about as well. It has been shown that consuming dairy significantly increases circulating steroid hormones in woman and that vegetarians have far less of this hormone. “In conclusion, greater consumption of red meat and dairy products might influence circulating concentrations of SHBG and estradiol, respectively. Given the well-established role of steroid hormones in breast cancer etiology for postmenopausal women, these findings may have important health implications” Tumor growth from these hormone imbalances is also evident “A dramatic increase in estrogen-dependent malignant diseases, such as ovarian, corpus uteri, breast, testicular and prostate cancers has been recognized. Ganmaa et al. investigated the incidence and mortality of testicular and prostate cancers in relation to dietary practices. Among various food items, cow’s milk and cheese had the highest correlation with incidence and mortality rate of these cancers” Children are at high risk “Among the exposure of humans, especially prepubertal children, to exogenous estrogens, we are particularly concerned with” These xenoestrogens from lactating preganant cattle (the majority of commercial cattle used for milk) significantly raised estrogen levels in male adults and reduced testosterone levels and did even more so in children. This is significant since these estrogens have mutagenic affects “Toxicological and epidemiological studies have indicated that E2 could be categorized as a carcinogen. Milk is considered to be a rich source of estrogens.” Indeed, E2 concentration is higher in mammary drainage than in the peripheral circulation in high yielding cows.”




            Again, these harms are independent of organic, grassfed, conventional, or raw. Xenoestrogens are inherent of dairy.

            Regarding animal products which includes fish, eggs, meat, poultry and dariy:

            Cancer is said to be a disease of old age, that is because we are living longer, we are encountering more carcinogens which further mutate our DNA which can lead to uncontrolled cell growth. This biological hypothesis goes against what is actually observed “Accordingly, it has been reported that the mortality due to cancer constantly decreases after the age of 85–90 years [3]. Therefore, it seems that centenarians are endowed with a peculiar resistance to cancer.”

            Why do centenarians escape or postpone cancer?
            The role of IGF-1, inXammation and p53


            Cell growth is determined primarily by the growth hormone Insulin like growth factor, also called IGF-1. As a child, this growth hormone is found in much larger amounts and then slowly tapers off during adulthood. Increased levels of circulating IGF-1 as adults can promote unwanted growth, particularly in the form of tumors. An association can be seen in the following meta-analysis between increased IGF-1 levels and prostate cancer. “Our meta-analysis revealed that the body of the world-wide published literature is consistent with an average 21% increased risk of prostate cancer per standard deviation increase in IGF-I”


            A similar association is revealed between increased IGF-1 levels and breast cancer “The results of this collaborative analysis show that plasma concentrations of IGF1 are positively associated with breast-cancer risk.”


            Elevated IGF-1 has also been shown to increase the chance of the cancer to metastasis. This hormone is responsible for cancer proliferation, survival, migration and angiogenesis (feeding cancer with blood supply)


            IGF-1 deficiency leads to dwarfism and one might expect this group of the population to not get cancer, as is the case. “The individuals with GHR
            deficiency (GHRD) exhibited only one non-lethal malignancy and no cases of diabetes, in contrast to 17% cancer and 5% diabetes prevalence in
            the controls.”


            A fascinating study involved studying cell line apoptosis, that is, cancer cell death. “Fasting serum was obtained from postmenopausal women
            participants at the Pritkin Longevity Center Residential Program where they were placed on a low-fat (10-15% Kcal), high-fiber (less than 40
            gm/d) diet and attended daily exercise classes for 2 weeks.” They used the blood of this group and dripped it on cancer cell lines. Significant cell death was observed as well as reduced IGF-1 levels in the blood. This can be seen here in the study below.


            In an attempt to “determine the underlying mechanisms for these anticancer effects”, cell apoptosis was again to be examined when the blood of a group eating a similar diet was dripped on a cancer cell line. What made this study so remarkable, was that not only did cancer cells die off in greater abundance when IGF-1 levels were lowered through diet, but that the cell death benefits were nulled when the researchers put back the IGF-1 into the blood and re dripped it on the cell line. It was also discovered that IGFBP-1, the protein that binds up the IGF-1 hormone, was found in greater quantities on a low fat, high fiber diet.


            “The aim of this cross-sectional study was to determine whether a plant-based (vegan) diet is associated with a lower circulating level of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) compared with a meat-eating or lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet among 292 British women, ages 20 –70 years” It was found that vegetarians and omnivores had very similar numbers in terms of IGF-1 levels, and one truly has to eliminate all animal products to have optimal levels of IGF-1 and IGFPB-1.


            “These considerations enable the prediction that a low-fat vegan diet will be profoundly protective with respect to risk for postmenopausal breast
            cancer. The protein content of this diet will preferentially support glucagon activity and possibly decrease IGF-I synthesis.” As I will discuss, it is indeed the protein “quality” of the food that determines IGF-1 overproduction.


            The protein content of our food triggers IGF-1 production from the liver. “Amino acid availability to the hepatocytes is essential for IGF-I gene expression”. Therefore, excess protein can result in excess IGf-1 levels.


            This raises the question seen with other studies though. “Previous data on the associations between dietary intake and IGF-I levels are sparse. Consistent with our data, other cross-sectional studies have also found no association between total protein intake and serum age-adjusted IGF-I levels in men (17, 18) or women (16). However, these studies have not investigated the effects of different types of protein intake on serum IGF-I and its main binding proteins.” The key phrase here is that different types of protein have different effects on our liver.

            IGF-1 increased with animal protein intake and decreased with plant protein intake. The inverse is true for IGFBP-1 (the binding protein). “In
            summary, these results suggest that total IGF-I concentration is lower among women who adopt a vegan diet. In addition, IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-2
            concentrations are substantially higher in vegan women compared with meat-eaters and vegetarians, suggesting that the amount of bioavailable IGF-I may be lower in vegan women. The nutritional characteristics of the vegan diet that account for these differences are not clear but may be related to vegans’ lower intake of protein high in essential amino acids. These results suggest that even when total
            protein intake is not notably low, a low intake of essential amino acids, as typically found in a plant-based diet, may be sufficient to reduce serum IGF-I and increase serum IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-2 levels.”


            To summarize this biological phenomenon, when a food source is consumed that has similar protein structure and amino acid proportions to our own
            body, our liver reacts by releasing IGF-1 as well as storing IGFBP-1. “Another mechanism through which a vegan diet may influence IGFBP-1 levels is via an enhanced insulin sensitivity. A diet low in saturated fat and high in dietary fiber and complex carbohydrates may reduce insulin secretion, both directly by reducing the postprandial glycaemic response (39, 40), and indirectly by reducing adiposity (41), causing a large increase in the production of IGFBP-1 within the liver (42).”

            Looking at inflammation:

            There is another aspect to developing a chronic
            illness such as cancer, that has yet to be disscussed. Chronic low grade inflammation has been implicated in the development of chronic illnesses and diet is the primary cause of this inflammation. “Inflammation is a pathological condition underlying a number of diseases including cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and chronic inflammatory diseases. In addition, healthy, obese subjects also express markers of inflammation in their blood. Diet provides a variety
            of nutrients as well as non-nutritive bioactive constituents which modulate immunomodulatory and inflammatory processes. Epidemiological
            data suggest that dietary patterns strongly affect inflammatory processes.” Phytonutrients found in plants can regulate inflammatory markers in humans as explained in great detail here.


            The effect of a single high fat meal has been known to impair endothelial function in ones artieries, possibly causing ones risk of LDL cholesterol to oxidize to increase significantly. “The high-fat meal (900 calories, 50 g of fat, 14 g of saturated fat, and 255 mg of cholesterol) consisted of an Egg McMuffin®, Sausage McMuffin®, 2 hash brown patties, and a noncaffeinated beverage (McDonald’s Corporation). The isocaloric low-fat meal (0 g of fat, 13 mg of cholesterol) consisted of Frosted Flakes® (Kellogg Company, Battle Creek, Michigan), skimmed milk, and orange juice. Lipoprotein and glucose determinations were
            repeated 2 and 4 hours after eating.” The effect of inflammation can be seen below, and lasts for several hours following ingestion. This amount of fat is not that uncommon for a meal in the current American diet, and constant consumption of eating these high fat foods results in chronic inflammation.


            This inflammation can also be seen to occur in our lungs after a high fat meal. “These results demonstrate that a HFM, which leads to significant increases in total cholesterol, and especially triglycerides, increases exhaled NO. This suggests that a high-fat diet may contribute to chronic inflammatory diseases of the airway and lung.” The data table showing the inflammation can be seen below.

            Why is it that our body reacts in this way after a meal high in fat? It is an immune response to a percieved threat. It has been hypothesized
            that it is the animal protein itself that causes the body to become inflamed as theorized with Rheumatoid Arthritis in this case report of a women who ceased animal protein intake and recovered from her RA outbreaks.


            Whipped cream caused a similar effect in inflammation. It was discovered that pre and post meal, endotoxins were found in the blood stream. Endotoxins are bacterial toxins that can trigger our immune system to become inflamed.

            The question now is where are the endotoxins coming from. It was hypothesized that the bacteria from the gut was causing the endotoxemia. The saturated fat found in these animal products were acting as a pathway for the endotoxins to enter our blood stream. “Because the human gut is host to 100 trillion commensal organisms, which together contribute to an enteric reservoir of 1 g LPS (8), we hypothesized that most of the circulating endotoxin may derive from the gut and that a small amount of commensally derived ] LPS maycotransit with dietary fat from the gut after a high-fat meal, which thereby increases plasma endotoxin concentrations postprandially”

            This idea that saturated fat acts as a pathway out of our intestines is known as a leaky gut, as in the permeability of our intestines is increased after a high fat meal. “saturated fats also appear to increase the permeability of intestinal epithelium and contribute to the breakdown of the intestinal barrier.”



            As seen in this study, “Subjects from the first group…were asked to ingest a 910-calorie HFHC meal (egg muffin and sausage muffin sandwiches and two hash browns, which contain 88 g carbohydrates, 51 g fat [33% saturated] and 34 g protein [carbohydrates 41%, protein 17%, and fat 42%]), while subjects from the second group (six males, BMI 22.8 0.6 kg/m2, mean age 31.2 1.1 years) were given an isocaloric meal rich in fruit and fiber consisting of oatmeal, milk, orange juice, raisins, peanut butter, and English muffin (carbohydrates 58%, protein 15%, and fat 27%)”

            After the high fat meal, endotoxin level significantly increased

            We now run into a problem. Looking at this chart, we see that the timescale is only 3 hours. If the hypothesis that our own gut flora is causing the inflammation is correct, then we should see the spike in inflammation several hours later, as the large intestine is where the bacteria lie. A new hypothesis must come from this, as our own gut flora cannot be causing this inflammation. One might hypothesize that the endotoxins are coming from the food itself, and this is what we indeed
            find. “We therefore aimed to determine whether common foodstuffs may contain appreciable quantities of endotoxin or other similar agents that
            may be capable of eliciting innate immune activation of human monocytes….Forty extracts were therefore prepared from twenty-seven
            foodstuffs common to the Western diet, and the capacity of each to induce the secretion of IL-6 and TNF-α from human monocytes was measured
            and compared ” The capacity of these foods to cause white blood cells to secrete inflammatory signals was measured.

            “These findings therefore suggest that apparently unspoiled foodstuffs may nevertheless contain at some point in their preparation or processing a
            sufficient microbial load to release TLR2 and TLR4 stimulants into their growth environment. This notion is supported by many previous
            studies showing that certain commonly consumed foodstuffs can contain a high bacterial load before cooking, such as fresh beef mince which has often been shown to contain approximately 105–107 colony forming units/g” It appears as though that the food itself contains the endotoxins, and any food exposed to bacteria, such as with fermentation, will have endotoxins. These endotoxins are resistant to heat as well as changes in ph typically found in the body as the
            bacteria no longer have to be alive for endotoxins to be present. ” LPS and BLP were found to be highly resistant to typical cooking times and
            temperatures, low pH and protease treatment. In conclusion, apparently unspoiled foodstuffs can contain large quantities of stimulants of TLR2
            and TLR4, both of which may regulate their capacity to stimulate inflammatory signalling.” the authors finishing statements “Thus, it is tempting to speculate that the occasional ingestion of meals high in LPS and/or BLP could promote transient, mild, systemic inflammatory episodes that predispose subjects to the development of atherosclerosis and insulin resistance”


            Citing again from the study previously mentioned titled Differential Effects of Cream, Glucose, and Orange Juice on Inflammation, Endotoxin, and the Expression of Toll-Like Receptor-4 and Suppressor of Cytokine Signaling-3
            “Thus, saturated fats may have a more profound role in the pathogenesis of postprandial inflammation, as they may also perpetuate
            inflammation through the increases in LPS and TLR-4.”


            “The combined importance of dietary lipids and LPS in determining inflammatory risk may arise, since endotoxin has a strong affinity for chylomicrons (lipoproteins that transport dietary long-chain saturated fatty acids [SFAs] through the gut wall) as endotoxin crosses the gastrointestinal mucosa (23–25). As such, atherogenic and inflammatory risk may arise through a combination of dietary lipoprotein patterns and an increase in circulating endotoxin, exacerbated by feeding patterns (26,27). Therefore, altering the lipid profile through dietary
            intervention may reduce endotoxin and the arising inflammatory response…. Finally, while the most obvious solution to metabolic endotoxinemia appears to be to reduce saturated fat intake, the Western diet is not conducive to this mode of action, and it is difficult for patients to comply with this request”


            To summarize, inflammation can be attributed to the consumption of endotoxins found in most animal products and the saturated fats found in
            these foods act as pathways for the endotoxins. Since many chronic illnesses are attributed to this inflammation, what we need is to significantly lower intake of animal based foods.

            This is merely a shred of the evidence against the use of animal products and it is abundant indeed. More studies from peer reviewed journals can be found on this website. Nutrition is not a philosophy, it is based on sound science.

          • Guest
  • tony

    Hi Barry,

    Certainly dissagree!!!!
    The longest living nations all have high complex carb diets and not low carb diets.
    Check out Mcdougall.
    Great info for diabetes.

    I agree Vegan plant based is the way to go of course!!!!
    All the best!!!

  • john

    Dear Dr. Greger,
    I recently had a discussion about diet and nutrition with someone who has gone from being vegan back to eating meat. When I asked about the reasons for it, I got an answer I hadn’t ever heard before. I was told that she was concerned about toxins in grains, beans, and legumes. I asked if she was gluten intolerant, and she said that there were things in grains like gluten that are toxic for the body and gave her problems. I’m sure that there must be fewer toxins than in meat, but since I had never heard of it before I went home to look it up. I found some different sites mentioning Lectins, Phytic acids, and Immunoreactive proteins. I found several Paleo diet sites warning against eating grains for those reasons as well. Some sites recommend avoiding grains altogether but others say it is okay as long as they are soaked, sprouted, or fermented.
    My questions for you are as follows:

    Is there any research suggesting grains need to be prepared a certain way or avoided because of toxins?

    I saw your video saying kimchi and other fermented vegetables aren’t good, but what about fermented beans and grains?

    Does sprouting change the levels of these phytochemicals in grains?

    I saw your video that said a gluten free diet can be bad for gut
    bacteria, but it is my understanding that the bacteria in the gut are
    still mostly unknown, has the research progressed since I last heard?

    Thanks again for all the helpful information, and thanks in advance for information related to this. I look forward to seeing your answers to these nutrition questions in the future.

    Kind regards,

    • Toxins

      As long as you cook grains and beans, which everyone does, then lectins, phytates, tannins and other “antinutrients” will be either significantly reduced or completely eliminated. This is well established nutrition knowledge and I am unsure why the myth continues to spread.

      Dr. Greger’s take on sprouting

      • Harriet Sugar Miller

        From the many studies I’ve read, cooking does not reduce phytates. Rather, soaking and sprouting reduces phytates in foods that have lots of phytase, the enzyme that breaks down phytate. Those foods include rye, buckwheat, and quinoa, to name a few. Beans, nuts and seeds generally have little phytase, and with a few exceptions, lots of phytic acid. Yes, phytic acid has good points but it also has bad ones–such as interfering with absorption of amino acids and minerals (zinc probably be the most important one for us vegans).

        While I think your website is wonderful, I disagree with the approach of solving a problem by eating more food. We don’t need to be eating lots of beans, for example. If we do, we risk getting too much methionine and copper.

  • stuart

    No such thing as “healthy whole grains”. Two slices of whole wheat bread spike blood sugar higher than 6 teaspoons of table sugar. See Harvard’s glycemic index of foods.

    • Just a Mom

      The “whole wheat bread” isn’t 100% whole wheat, but milled and separated so that the endosperm is all that remains…pure sugar, so to speak…nothing nutritionally, empty calories. A real whole wheat bread is one make at home by grinding the wheat kernels into flour and making your own bread. If you add other grains, such as millet, flax, or even grind beans, the bread will be a power packed slice that is just like swallowing a vitamin pill…all nutrients listed on the back of a vitamin bottle is in the kernels and you can consume those nutrients in a manner your body was designed to digest and use fully. Read the label of any product and if it is “enriched” it isn’t truly whole grain. It was when it went into he processor, but can’t be shelved or the product will go rancid because of the oils in the kernel. Yes…oils.)

  • Scared of GMO

    I read somewhere that almost all the wheat grown in this country is GMO, and that animal feeds are also GMO. Is it still safe to eat whole grain GMO wheat products? I’ve cut down on meat-eating but what about my past intake? Are GMO foods causing some of our illnesses? Is there a video series on the long-term effects of consuming GMO foods?

    • Thea

      Scared of GMO: I find GMO foods to be frightening myself. However, it is my understanding that *no* wheat is allowed to be GMO in America. According to the recent news stories on the topic, the GMO wheat that Montaso wanted to subject us all to never got approval (more because Montaso pulled it than because our government wouldn’t have sold us out).

      That said, if there is another product that concerns you which *is* heavily saturated by GMOs (for example, corn), you might consider sticking to organic versions of that product. It is my understanding (which may not be correct – can someone confirm?) that part of the definition/criteria for certified organic foods is that they can not be GMO. Just a thought for you.

  • cy12

    What about the ‘paleo-diet’, meaning the apparent fact that all grain and grain based foods are bad for humans because we can’t properly digest them and they cause intestinal damage, with the apparent evidence being the negative effects of the agricultural revolution on humans, as well as the positive effects of cutting out grains from the diet for many people?

    • Thea

      cy12: re: “…apparent fact…”
      It’s neither apparent nor a fact. I recommend that you look up the videos on paleo and atkins diets that Dr. Greger has done on this site. You may also want to check out his Carbophobia book – which is free online.

  • timtango

    Dr. Greger –

    Can Dr. David Perlmutter have any meaningful evidence that indicates grains, even whole, are bad for our brain health?

    Also, is there any real evidence that a super low fat diet (like the one Esselstyn, McDougall, Ornish represent), is better for our heart.

    Or, are these extreme positions not fully supported by research?

    Thank you,

  • Darryl

    This seems like a good place to comment on a recent news item. David Sinclair, the man responsible for introducing resveratrol to the world, injected a NAD+ precursor NMN into aged mice and several biomarkers reverted to youthful values. Scaled up, and at reagent prices, and his intervention would cost $50,000/day. There must be a better way to increase intracellular NAD+ and Sirt1 activation. And there may be:

    Targeting sirtuin 1 to improve metabolism: all you need is NAD+? (2012)

    The function of CD38 as an intracellular NADase was subsequently proven right when mice lacking CD38 displayed a 30-fold increase in intracellular NAD levels. This increase in NAD levels is far superior compared with the 2-fold increases generally observed in most genetic (PARP-1 deletion), pharmacological (NAD precursors), or physiological interventions (fasting, calorie restriction) that enhance NAD content. The increase in intracellular NAD elicited by CD38 deletion significantly activated SIRT1 and prompted clinical phenotypes similar to those expected for SIRT1 activation, including protection against diet-induced obesity and a robust deacetylation of SIRT1 targets.

    Can we do this without reengineering our genes?
    Flavonoids as inhibitors of human CD38 (2011)

    The dire paucity of CD38 inhibitors, however, renders the search for new molecular tools highly desirable. We report that human CD38 is inhibited at low micromolar concentrations by flavonoids such as luteolinidin, kuromanin (cyanidin-3-O-β-glucoside) and luteolin (IC50 <10 μM).

    IC50 < 10 μM is very impressive, especially considering one may need as little as 3-4% inhibition of CD38 to double cellular [NAD+]. Just those?
    Flavonoid apigenin Is an inhibitor of the NAD+ ase CD38: implications for cellular NAD+ metabolism, protein acetylation, and treatment of metabolic syndrome (2013)

    We show that CD38 regulates global protein acetylation through changes in NAD+ levels and sirtuin activity. In addition, we characterize two CD38 inhibitors: quercetin and apigenin. We show that pharmacological inhibition of CD38 results in higher intracellular NAD+ levels and that treatment of cell cultures with apigenin decreases global acetylation as well as the acetylation of p53 and RelA-p65. Finally, apigenin administration to obese mice increases NAD+ levels, decreases global protein acetylation, and improves several aspects of glucose and lipid homeostasis.

    The IC50s for apigenin (14.8 μM) and quercetin (16.4 μM) are a bit less impressive, but comparable to pharmaceutical enzyme inhibitors. What are the best sources for these flavonoids (in descending order)?
    • luteolinidin – black sorghum, sumac sorghum, purple corn
    • cyanidin-3-O-β-glucoside – black rice, purple corn, scarlet corn, blue corn
    • luteolin: oregano, celery seed, juniper berries, thyme, radicchio
    • apigenin: parsley, celery seed, kumquats, celery hearts, oregano
    • quercetin: capers, radishes, dill weed, coriander/cilantro, oregano, onions

    Seems like colored grains are biochemically plausible, inexpensive sources of CD38-inhibiting anthocyanins for increasing cellular [NAD+], activating Sirt1, and improving healthspan. This newly found molecular mechanism for flavonoids shines a new light on older studies like this:

    Dietary cyanidin 3-O-β-D-glucoside-rich purple corn color prevents obesity and ameliorates hyperglycemia in mice (2013):

    Mice were fed control, cyanidin 3-glucoside-rich purple corn color (PCC), high fat (HF) or HF + PCC diet for 12 wk. Dietary PCC significantly suppressed the HF diet–induced increase in body weight gain, and white and brown adipose tissue weights. Feeding the HF diet markedly induced hypertrophy of the adipocytes in the epididymal white adipose tissue compared with the control group. In contrast, the induction did not occur in the HF + PCC group. The HF diet induced hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia and hyperleptinemia. These perturbations were completely normalized in rats fed HF + PCC. An increase in the tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α mRNA level occurred in the HF group and was normalized by dietary PCC. These results suggest that dietary PCC may ameliorate HF diet–induced insulin resistance in mice. PCC suppressed the mRNA levels of enzymes involved in fatty acid and triacylglycerol synthesis and lowered the sterol regulatory element binding protein-1 mRNA level in white adipose tissue.

    Dietary flavonoids, especially some found in the bran of colored grains, have effects that look exactly like experimental NAD+ precursors and CD38 inhibitors which activate Sirt1.

  • Ken

    I eat whole rolled oats every morning. I’ve just read that oats are highly inflammatory in the body. Are or are not oats good for me?

  • Harriet Sugar Miller

    I list those natural plant TOR inhibitors at the end of this article. My source is Dr.Bodo Melnik, a German dermatologist who has been at the forefront of the acne-dairy-prostate cancer research.

    • Thea

      Harriet: Nice! I really liked the article. Well written and chocked full of statements backed by sources. I also appreciated the list of foods at the end. Thanks.

  • Joel Santos

    Hi Dr. Greger. I just saw a video which says that Dr. Esselstyn likes to eat raw oats. It seems to be a very convenient way of eating them for someone too lazy to cook. I’m a little concerned though if there are some food safety issues with eating them raw. What’s your take on this? Thanks!

    • Toxins

      Eating oats raw is perfectly healthy and safe, there are no concerns. Enjoy

  • Tobias Brown

    How does bulgur wheat rank? Seems it’s less calorically dense, which is good in terms of feeling filled up. Nutritionally though?

  • shirleycolee

    I agree that a plant based diet is best and that avoiding grains is a good idea. Check out Hallelujah Acres website, They’ve been around for years. Many reports of cancer remission/cure after adopting a raw green veg diet for a year, then following their no meat, no dairy, no caffeine, no sugar and no salt diet. Also, look at the Seventh Day Adventists, who have excelled at health and longevity with a vegetarian diet and no alcohol, junk food, etc.
    I think keeping the grain in – even whole grain – leads to slippage back to bad carbs.

  • Rob Di Censo

    Hi Dr Gregor, my question is a little off topic but still about grains. I was looking up foods that made the top 100 ORAC list and Raw Sorghum Bran was 4th. I looked into it a bit more and it said in some species and in certain stages of growth it can contain dangerous levels of hydrogen cyanide. But it didn’t specify which species were dangerous to ingest. Do you know if Sorghum is safe or not? and if not, which species are safe to eat?


    • Rob Di Censo

      Sry just to clarify for everyone, the ORAC list is a list of foods that contain the most antioxidants. Here’s more info on it:

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Hey Rob. I always thought of sorghum as safe and healthy. Do you have studies of links that suggests otherwise? It may be similar to the apple seed and cyanide association. That is, you’d have to eat a TON of apple seeds to have any ill effects. I may be going out on a limb there, but that is what came to mind.

  • Kenny Mong

    More study on effect of white rice vs brown rice is needed before ascertaining that they are a risk factor for T2D. As I looked at the study cited, they based the study on an omnivorous diet and not on a plant based diet. A plant based diet may offer different results.