Benefits of Nuts for Stroke Preventoin

Image Credit: Sally Plank

Benefits of Nuts for Stroke Prevention

In the PREDIMED study, from the Spanish “PREvencio ́n con DIeta MEDiterranea,” a whopping 7,447 patients were randomized into three groups. These were folks at high risk for a heart attack.  About half were obese and diabetic and most had high blood pressure and high cholesterol, but they had not yet had their first heart attack or stroke. A third were told to eat a Mediterranean diet and given a free quart of extra virgin olive oil every week. The second group were told to eat a Mediterranean diet and given a free half pound of nuts every week, and the last third were told to follow the American Heart Association guidelines and reduce their fat intake. No portion control or exercise advice was given, and they were followed for about five years. The results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The first thing you do when you look at a diet intervention trial is see what the groups actually ended up eating, which can be very different from what they were told to eat. For example, the so-called low-fat group started out at 39 percent of calories from fat, and ended up getting 37 percent of calories from fat, which is high fat even compared to the Standard American Diet which comes in at 33 percent, something the researchers plainly acknowledged. In fact, the control group didn’t change much at all over the years, so can be thought of as the what-if-you-don’t-do-anything group, which is still an important control group to have. However, the two Mediterranean diet groups didn’t get much more Mediterranean. You can see the charts in my video PREDIMED: Does Eating Nuts Prevent Strokes?

The two Mediterranean groups were told to eat more fruits and vegetables, for example, and less meat and dairy, but didn’t accomplish any of those compared to control. The biggest changes recorded were, not surprisingly, in the consumption of the freebies. The group that got a free jug of extra virgin olive oil delivered to their home every week really did start increasing their consumption, in part by replacing some of the refined olive oil they had been using. And those that got a half pound of free nuts sent to them every week for four years straight did start eating more nuts.

Basically, the researchers designed a study to test two different Mediterranean diets versus a low fat diet, but ended up studying something very different. In essence, they studied what happens when thousands of people switch from consuming about three tablespoons of olive oil a day (half virgin) to four tablespoons of all virgin, compared to thousands of people who all the sudden go from eating about a half an ounce of nuts a day to a whole ounce, compared to thousands of people who don’t make much of a change at all. It may not have been what they were hoping for, but these are important research questions in and of themselves.

With no significant differences in meat and dairy intake, there were no significant differences in saturated fat or cholesterol intake; so, no surprise there were no significant differences in their blood cholesterol levels; and so, no differences in their subsequent number of heart attacks. In the five or so years the study ran, there were 37 heart attacks in the olive oil group, 31 in the nut group and 38 in the neither group. No significant difference. Same with dying from a heart attack or stroke or from any cause—but, those in the olive oil and especially the nut group had significantly fewer strokes. All three groups were eating stroke-promoting diets; some people in all three groups had  strokes after eating these diets for years; and so ideally, we’d choose diets that can stop or reverse the disease process, but the diet with added extra virgin olive oil caused about a third fewer strokes, and adding nuts seemed to cut their stroke risk nearly in half. If this worked as well in the general population, in the U.S. alone, that would mean preventing 89,000 strokes a year. That’s would be like ten strokes an hour around the clock prevented simply by adding half an ounce of nuts to one’s daily diet.

Here are some of my previous videos on the Mediterranean diet:

The PREDIMED study got a bad rap because of how it was reported, but it’s an extraordinary trial that continues to churn out useful results.

More on nuts in:

But what about nuts and weight gain? See Nuts and Obesity: The Weight of Evidence .

For videos on olive oil, see Extra Virgin Olive Oil vs. Nuts and Olive Oil & Artery Function.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

85 responses to “Benefits of Nuts for Stroke Prevention

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  1. Have any other vegans here had positive experiences with taking broad-based multivitamins?

    I know that some
    data advises against it but I am wondering if others had experiences where for whatever reason their food intake
    doesn’t seem to be covering them as far as physical and mental energy, and, thus, feel a direct benefit from a multi.

    Thank you anyone.

    1. A WFPB diet is so concentrated in nutrients I can’t even count that high. Animal products and SAD are all fat; take a multi. WFPB is all nutrients: a multi is a total waste. Just take a B12 and D if you don’t get any sun.

      1. What kind of B12 do you take? The methylcobalamin form gives me anxiety and seems to cut off oxygen for a few seconds, at random, throughout the day. But the cyanocobalamin form has failed to lower my homocysteine and MMA, even on a pure as you can get, adequate vegan diet.

        1. sam sun, You may do well with hydroxycobalamin. I read somewhere (can look for it if you are interested) that hydroxycobalamin works for all genetic types, while methylcobalamin often doesn’t work well for people who have trouble metabolizing caffeine.

    2. If I were you and I was a strict vegan, had high homocysteine . . ., I would take vitamin K2 mk7 which is derived from chickpeas. What that does is helps to remove plaque from your arteries. I would also start taking a digestive enzyme derived from plants such as that sold by designs for health What that does is boosts nutrient absorption and
      does a lot of the work your digestive system would normally do. Now some may say digestive enzymes are not necessary with a good diet. I would absolutely agree if it weren’t for the tens of thousands of chemicals which place significant stress on our bodies. That is why it is a good idea to help it out as much as possible. Plus one reason people that follow a good diet with much nutrient dense plant-based foods die at say 100 instead of living till 120 is that as we age our digestive systems weaken. So we could be eating a perfect diet with lots of fruits and veggies, but how much would that help us if our digestion was not working on par. Hence the digestive enzymes.

    3. If I were you and I was a strict vegan, had high homocysteine . . ., I would take vitamin K2 mk7 which is derived from chickpeas. What that does is helps to remove plaque from your arteries and improve circulation, thus lowering inflammatory bio markers such as homocysteine. K2 also is essential if your going to be taking vitamin d since vitamin d causes more calcium to be activated. Without k2 the calcium will accumulate in your arteries and create calcification deposits. I would also start taking a digestive enzyme derived from plants such as that sold by designs for health What that does is boosts nutrient absorption and
      does a lot of the work your digestive system would normally do. Now some may say digestive enzymes are not necessary with a good diet. I would absolutely agree if it weren’t for the tens of thousands of chemicals which place significant stress on our bodies. That is why it is a good idea to help it out as much as possible. Plus one reason people that follow a good diet with much nutrient dense plant-based foods die at say 100 instead of living till 120 is that as we age our digestive systems weaken. So we could be eating a perfect diet with lots of fruits and veggies, but how much would that help us if our digestion was not working on par. Hence the digestive enzymes.

    4. Thanks for your question Sam.

      You can find a good summary by NF on multivitamins here. And in regards to supplements you can find a similar style summary here.

      Multivitamins are usually recommended as a form of precaution by many dietitians when they feel an individual is having an extremely poor diet or at times of very limited food intake and choice (e.g. at the hospital or while travelling). Whether such practices are useful or not, I am not entirely sure. Apart from certain supplements that are covered on the summary, it seems like food should always be the first choice for covering all vitamins and minerals.

      Hope this answer helps.

  2. “the diet with added extra virgin olive oil caused about a third fewer strokes”

    Doesn’t this contradict things you’ve posted previously about lack of benefit of olive oil, or perhaps I misunderstood something?

    1. “a third fewer strokes” does not necessarily mean healthier. It could be a compromise where you have more heart attacks, more vascular disease, but fewer strokes. Also you could have other secondary effects. So, it is not a green flag. Nut s on the other hand, have always been associate with better health as far as I know.

    2. you didn’t misunderstand anything Berner, the entire study was flawed.

      the addition of ANY fats to a WFPBD is detrimental to health yet this study leads you to believe otherwise.


    3. Berner11, this may seem confusing at first glance, however, notice that the olive oil group did not have any lower risk of dying from a stroke and had no fewer heart attacks. There still is no reason to add olive oil to your diet.

  3. Since I believe eating nuts and seeds may have caused a diverticulitis flare up despite newer findings that do not implicate them I am wondering if nut butters and/or finely ground nuts will still offer the same protection?

    1. Remember this study is saying that compared to people eating a horrible disease causing toxic western diet adding some nuts will provide some protection from having a stroke perhaps by some direct action helping to counter act the damaging effects of other foods still in their diet and also likely by displacing some of those horrible foods so that lesser amounts are consumed to begin with. Also note that the nut group didn’t have any lower mortality from strokes, so the stokes these folks did have on average tended to be more fatal than the control group. So fewer, but more deadly strokes and the same number of heart attacks and same overall mortality. I would not take the PREDIMED study as any kind of endorsement to eat nuts unless you won’t give up the meat, eggs, dairy, pastries, soda and candy in the western diet. Then nuts can reduce your chance of having a non-fatal stroke.

      This study by itself does not say that adding nuts and seeds to a whole food plant based diet will improve one’s health. Not saying that they won’t either, but this study doesn’t say if the net effect of adding an ounce of nuts to a no-oil WFPB diet would be positive or negative. To know that there would have to be another study where the control group actually ate a truly low fat (10% of calories) WFPB diet and the experimental group at the same basic WFPB diet but with the amounts of the other foods adjusted to make caloric room for an ounce of nuts a day. If the WFPB diet + nuts group saw lower rates of some hard health end point (stroke, heart attack, diabetes, etc), only then would I be willing to say that nuts improve health.

      For me personally I do consume nuts and seeds, but I am not under any illusion that doing so is improving my diet. My calculus is that the rest of my diet is indeed a 10% of calories from fat WFPB diet, and so the small hit to health from the nuts is likely within my body’s ability to cope given all the other support I am giving it. But I am trying to eliminate any snacking on nuts and only use them in recipes since I am having difficulty losing the last 10-15 pounds to get down to my ideal weight.

        1. Omnivore Adherent, you ask why nuts and EVOO are bad? Dr. Greger shows in this above article that nuts and EVOO do not protect against heart attack or fatal stroke. Here is another video explaining why olive oil is not beneficial:

          Yes, it is true that our brain has a large fat component, however, we humans can get all of our needed fat from whole foods. We can eat olives, for example, instead of extracting the fat out of them and tossing the fiber and nutrients. Eating the whole food reduces inflammation in the body.

      1. For anyone who may be interested, loma linda university did complete (as of June 2016) a 2 year study of vegetarians and walnuts. Here is the intro from 2013,-be-slimmer;-eat-walnuts,-live-better .. They were looking at a couple of things, including impact on brain health. The study has not been published yet, but because loma linda does define eating styles of vegan and vegetarian separately, I particularly look forward to seeing the results.

      1. Thanks for your response
        I watched the video and have done lots of reading on the issue and what it comes down to is theoretical vs. empirical evidence. Despite the “current” thinking lots of folks besides myself report having issues with nuts and seeds and popcorn. Back to my question….. if I choose to get the benefits of nuts snd seeds will I avoid the problem but get the benefits by using nut butters and/or grinding nuts and seeds?

        1. It’s my guess that nuts, seeds and popcorn you have issues with may be due to non-broken down (undigested) pieces entering your intestinal tract that is already damaged and inflamed somewhat (assumption made since you say you have had a diverticulitis flare up implying you have suffered from it in the past) and irritating the area even more.

          Many people do not chew their food enough; food should be paste-like when swallowing. Or due to the damage you have suffered already then such foods simply cannot be consumed unless ground / blended up… or possibly at all until you’ve reversed the diverticulitis.

          1. I think your point is well made. It is difficult for me to chew my food to that “paste” consistency. This was my second diverticulitis flare up in 5 years and it does seem to have coincided with my recent daily ingestion of nuts and popcorn as a result of reading about the benefits of adding nuts. It could be a false premise and just a coincidence but my fiber intake has always been decent and I have had no issues of constipation (a symptom of lack of fiber). Anyway, thanks for your response. It is always wise to review every aspect of a situation.

  4. once again, a study comes to the conclusion that replacing one bad fat with a lesser bad fat on an already big, fat, sick, medicated population concludes that olive oil is good for you when in actuality the opposite is true.

    if this study was done on a fat free vegan population, the addition of ANY OIL would have negative results but those studies are not done.

    this is just another reason that i don’t give any validity to research studies unless they’re done on indigenous peoples or those on a fat free WFPB.

    think about it, how valid is ANY trial which calls the LOW FAT group the one which eats a 37% fat diet?

    now this false study will be repeated for years and years while deceiving everyone who want’s to continue eating a fat rich, disease causing diet.

    heck, we already have someone in the comments section who is confused and believes that a certain added oil is good for you because of this entirely flawed study.


    1. I agree, but remember Dr. Greger did NOT design or conduct this study. He is simply reporting the findings to help all of us get a better big picture. Your understanding of the big picture is very clear, so to you this seems in like a useless report. However, I have worked with family members that need these simple studies to understand the step like progression of disease with some foods.

      1. i completely agree and understand, dr robert. i had inoperable, progressive brain disease 6 years ago which i beat by going on a NO OILWFPBD. NO OIL was the key. i get frustrated with studies like this on a Plant Based website because they really have no place here as they just add confusion and i want to see studies on healthy WFPBD patients, not big fat sick americans on a 35% fat diet but i also know there aren’t any studies on those people and rural peoples have been poisoned by the SAD.

        we just got my mom off of all added fats, sugar and salt but if she read this article she would assume that olive oil is healthy. it’s frustrating but that’s just the way it is i guess. thanks for the comment.

            1. i (we) eat very simply.

              we never tried to copy the foods we USED to eat, use fake cheese, fake this or that because it will just be a lot of work and most likely a big disappointment.

              we just went WFPB overnight.

              oatmeal blueberries and raisins (great for breakfast or even a snack before bed), rice and a can of black or kidney beans, nutritional yeast and if i’m motivated, chopped onions, green peppers etc.

              whole grain pasta and contadina crushed tomatoes with italian herbs and more beans and a slice or two of bread.

              i have beans with each meal and am typing with an empty bowl of kidney beans, brown rice and mushrooms between my forearms :) .

              we always nuke a few red or white or even old russet potatoes so when we go riding around we have something to munch on. eat it just like an apple although you might get some funny looks at red lights. no, you WILL get some funny looks….

              i very rarely snack, i graze all day but cheerios and nutty nuggets make a great snack for a long ride and i don’t consider them ‘processed’ foods like a candy bar.

              since there’s no restaurants we can go to we have an emergency supply in the vehicle of several cans of beans, fruit and one can of corn along with a can opener and sporks from taco bell or where ever we got them from.

              if we go on a several hour ride like we did to tucson yesterday we make a cooker of rice to go along with the beans, fruit and snacks we bring along.

              fruit by the ton.

              every day at LEAST one BIG bowl of it.

              half cantaloupe, 1 apple, 1 orange and a handful of raisins.

              in between a green medical smoothie chock full of “green” and very expensive ingredients.

              we either make our own whole grain bread or buy it from the local german bakery with no oil, salt or sugar.

              now that mom is down here for the winter she’s going to town making pots of beans and spicing them up and adding other things like purple cabbage, what a treat from our basic diet.

              helpful hint: cranberry sauce is very tart but you don’t want to use sugar or stevia to sweeten it up. just blend up a few dates, mix it all together and you may end up eating the whole concoction all by yourself in one sitting it’s so good. i mixed it up with each meal until it was gone, man was that good.

              i hope this gives you some ideas and helps to get you started.


                1. for the first 4 years of being WFPB i did not consume flax or any seed.

                  then, AFTER i cured myself, i found a great local plant based doctor who twisted my arm to begin consuming it so i took 1 TBS working up to 2 but now settling back into 1 TBS/day. i consume absolutely nothing else with fat as i believe the ratios in plants are what we evolved to consume to be in prime health.

                  HASH BROWNS:

                  here’s another of our favorites.

                  i’ve got a huge electric square frying pan with high sides and a glass dome lid. i put in an entire 2 pound bag of kroger frozen hash browns (nothing but potato), add a little water and turn on the heat. eventually it starts steaming. once the steam slows and stops i add in another cup?? or so of water and it begins steaming again. once the steam stops i flip the entire creation over and do the same thing on the other side.

                  the resulting masterpiece is about a 2 or 3 inch high, square foot+ of hashbrowns perfectly browned. we will devour the entire thing like a couple of neandertals plus you can’t even tell there was no oil used, it’s awesome. it’s a great snack/meal/dessert/treat whatever, lol.


        1. I agree. It wasn’t until I cut out all oil that I was able to reverse T2 diabetes, RA, and a whole alphabet of health issues. It infuriates me when I hear people think they are healthy and believe the advertising hype. Mark Hyman is one of the worst offenders, he uses his degree to spread lies. This goes into detail negating his and other BS claims.

          1. i fully agree with you Vege.
            almost 6 years ago when i went no oil WFPB my T2 was history in 3 days and eventually my 200/200’s BP spikes came down to a constant 95/65.
            when they told me i was inoperable and to go home and die i went cold turkey overnight and haven’t looked back once following the esselstyn protocol to a T, except i do eat a lot of fruit.
            that part i don’t agree with but i wholeheartedly believe that disease states begin when fat in the diet surpasses 10%, possibly even 8% from new research i’ve read/heard.
            seems like you and i (and my wife and my mom and numerous people i’ve convinced) are exactly on the same page.

      1. i followed dr’s esselstyn and mc dougall to a T, without deviation along with my hero nathan pritikin, dr klapper and a little touch of dr dean ornish.

        see dr esselstyns book, “prevent and reverse heart disease”. it’s a very easy, quick read. 24 terminal, end stage heart patients were referred to him. 6 couldn’t stick with the diet and quickly progressed and died. the other 18 lived another 35 years so far and still running. his next study just released with 200 patients showed the same degree of success with the ones who kept consuming oils dying off regularly and the rest who followed the No Oil WFPBD are thriving.

        i figured if it worked on heart vessels then it should stop the progression or even reverse my inoperable, terminal brain disease since i was told that there was nothing left that medical science could do for me.

        i was right.

        in 20 months, all 3 of my blocked anterior cerebral arteries were completely open and clear without trace of any blockage.

        my before/after images will be in dr crawfords upcoming book.

        also watch “forks over knives” and “forks over knives extended interviews”.

        they’re on netflix if you have it and if you don’t, they’ll give you a no strings attached free month to try them out. watch every documentary they suggest after viewing the first two and watch them all several times.

        i have an entire documentary list but everytime i post it it fills up the entire message board in a bad kind of way (if you go back a few months you can find it posted along with my entire life story). usually a long post gets cut off with a “more” button at the bottom but that doesn’t seem to happen with my list because youtube thumbnails pop up all the way thru it.

        definitely search YouTube for “dr esselstyn no oil” and watch all of the different vids. there is a wealth of knowledge there.

        here are a few of my favorites:

        No Oil — Not Even Olive Oil! – Caldwell Esselstyn MD

        Make Yourself Heart Attack Proof – Caldwell Esselstyn MD

        NO OIL! Really, NO oil! Webinar 03/17/16


    2. AZ Donald, I agree this article may easily be misinterpreted by those who aren’t reading carefully. However, Dr. Greger acknowledges that olive oil did not decrease the risk of heart attack or dying from a stroke. Also, he states that the study authors recognize that the “low fat” group did NOT do a low fat diet. Therefore the intended “low fat” control group was really a “no change” control group compared to the SAD-eating general population. That doesn’t mean that this study is invalid; it just means that the study did not end up studying its initial intended hypothesis.

      1. i completely agree with you and made many of the same points in my other posts in this thread.

        when i said invalid i basically meant for us vegans, especially us no fat vegans.

        replacing a bad fat for a lesser bad fat for a big fat, sick american on the SAD diet is no comparison to a vegan like me adding that same fat/oil to my diet.

        the big, fat, sick americans’ blood cholesterol may have improved a little by changing to a less bad oil but i guarantee that if i added even just a teaspoonful of olive oil, my current cholesterol of 102 and LDL of 37 would rise, not lower.

        absolutely-no doubt.

        it’s all in your perspective.

        like i said somewhere on here, i wish there were more studies on rural indigenous peoples or no fat vegans because all of these other studies just muddy up the water for someone like me and just go to confuse the general population.


    1. This is amazing. Thanks for sharing. Now, this is the kind of stuff we should be seeing going forward. Anything less is just confusing everyone. Good work.

      1. I completely agree with you dr robert.

        don’t get me wrong, dr greger is my idol and his work is the best in the world but studies like this one are useless to vegans like us and possibly even detrimental to some who misinterpret them.

        we want to know what is good for US, not some big mac, french fry eating american and that’s basically all this video determined. one fat was better for THEM than another.

        i would like to see information more tailored to the vegan/vegetarian community than these type of studies which the vast majority don’t apply to us and even go further to just confuse us.

        i think the video i posted above, “can a vegan get a stroke” was more informative and specific to vegans than most of the ones produced lately by

        the question about plant fats vs animal fats has been one plaguing me forever and now i know.

        yes, it was only two people but it was powerful enough to convince me to continue on the path iv’e been on that there are enough fats in whole foods and in the proper proportions for good health.

        NO (PLANT) OIL!! (FATS)


  5. “U.S. alone that would mean preventing 89,000 strokes a year” Statements like these need to be reconsidered. It is disingenuous to suggest these changes would prevent that many strokes per year. It may be true for the first year, but statistics and the law of aging tells us that those strokes would just occur later. Yes, some folks might never get a stroke if they change their diets, but the vast majority will only be able to delay that event. Therefore, these statements need to be reconsidered. I appreciate all the work Dr. Michael Greger does and I personally have purchased his book five times last year. It is very important to me that we never embellish the potential of a WFPB diet. I think it is enough that we show a delay in the incidence of life threatening events and the potential to reverse is always out there. However, this study likely only delayed those events for most of that studied population.

    1. Death comes to us all. The question is when. Do we die at a ripe old age, or do we go far too soon. Since we can’t do anything about avoiding death entirely, nearly all studies are focused on that “far too soon” category. Thus the numbers given are usually for “premature” strokes, heart attacks, and death. It gets a bit tricky define which deaths are considered “premature”. Usually a cut-off age is used. Sometime that age is completely arbitrary. Other times it is a few years less than the mean adult life expectancy in a given population. So if the mean life expectancy is 81 years, then 75 might be used as the dividing line.

      So to be complete statement might then be “… preventing 89,000 premature stokes a year in people age 75 and younger, with some of those people going one to have a stroke later in life and some dying from other causes”. But you can see how this gets a little wordy to say each and every time. So usually it is just implied. But a critical part of any communication is clarity, and so perhaps exactly what strokes were prevented should be explicitly stated.

      1. Jim: Your first sentence, which is the only certainty of life, got me thinking: How do whole-food vegans who exercise, don’t drink, nor smoke, nor abuse drugs, nor engage in other irresponsible activities die? of nothing?

        1. Well, people certainly die for a reason. Being unable to fight off an infection, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, etc. The goal for me of eating healthy is to maximize the quality of the time I have left, and to avoid early death by gluttony.

  6. I am very dubious about eating nuts to prevent strokes. First of all many strokes are a result of plaque build up in the carotid arteries. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn has stated repeatedly that one should only eat nuts as a condiment ( like a piece of candy ). He states that the oils and fats from nuts will basically contribute to plugging up your arteries. I think I would rather side on the conservative side and go with Dr. Esselstyn instead of the advice on this article to consume nuts to reduce one’s chance of a stroke.

    1. absolutely correct, see my comments below with attached video of a 17 year raw vegan who had a stroke. his omega 6:3 ratio was around 17:1 !!!! he quickly stopped nuts, seeds, fatty fruit etc.

    2. agreed. BTW these tests only showed relative risks, nuts best, olive oil next best, butter, whatever is worst. But it does not have a ‘control’ group eating NONE of these things. If so, it might come out ALL of them are bad.

  7. When someone removes high sugar fruits and carbs other than leafy greens and some beans, do eating eggs and meat loose become a lot safer? I met someone from Alaska the other day and he said that there are actually lots of people who eat wild salmon most days of the week, or some other type of wild fish or shellfish. How do these cultures do when they live like bears, just eating some low sugar berries, fish, greens, roots, etc.? Is it the breads and butters and over-ripe bananas and other high sugar fruits, when combined in a daily diet, that are creating a lot of the bad data that Dr. G. highlights on animal products in regards to heart health, stroke, cholesterol, etc. (I am not referring to toxins and metals, and other issues like that.)

    1. The consus that I see in all the studies presented here is that a diet is healthy to the degree that it is made up of nutritionally whole plant foods and unhealthy to the degree that it is made up of foods of animal origin and nutritionally reduced/denuded plant foods (refined sugar, refined flours, refined oils, isolated protein).

      Thus a diet with some animal foods could still be fantastically healthy compared to a diet like the standard American diet that gets only about 10% of its calories from whole plant food. But that doesn’t make it the healthiest diet. I seriously doubt that these Alaskans are healthier than say the Seventh Day Adventist vegetarians/vegans or the traditional diet Okinawans who currently set the bar for healthy longevity. Thus I think the Alaskans could still improve their health further if they eliminated the fish and shellfish and replaced them with whole grains, legumes and tubers.

    2. Lou: If you review the evidence on this site, you will see that many of the health risks that come from eating eggs and meat apply even if you remove processed foods. For example, animal protein is linked to cancer growth. This comes from the structure of the animal protein itself as it causes your body to create more IGF-1, a growth hormone, than is healthy. This would happen regardless of whether you were eating sugar also and regardless of whether the animal was (hypothetically) free of contaminants. For an overview of eggs and meat: and
      Also note that you will not want to remove “carbs” from your diet. Low carb diets are associated with increased mortality (shorter life). It’s good to remove sugar and processed foods like foods with flour, but the healthiest and longest lived populations on the planet have a high carb diet. For example, the traditional Okinawans, one of the longest and healthiest lived people, ate 85% carbs and 6% fat.
      It is true that there are populations which live on lots of fish. The traditional Inuit (Eskimos) are an example of this. But these populations do not live very long and are known to have heart disease and cancer. This was found even when they looked at old mummies. For a more in depth look at the Inuit:

  8. LK: Here’s my favorite mushroom trick: The microwave!! Requires a fraction of the work and in my opinion, comes out just like a sauted mushroom, minus the grease.
    Details: I take a 8 to 10 ounce bag of pre-sliced mushrooms, put them directly in a microwave-safe dish and go on high for 5.5 minutes. (Your microwave may require a different time.) They come out perfectly cooked every time without having to add oil or water or anything.
    Works great for cooking onions too, though the time involved is less.

    1. I like mushrooms, green/red peppers and onions done this way.. If I don’t feel like raw onions or mushrooms in my daily cold salad, I nuke ’em. Almost has a sautéed flavor like you said.. A touch of braggs is also nice…

    2. Yay, nice to hear there are others who don’t spaz out over the microwave! I don’t have a decent nonstick pan, so my microwave has opened up all kinds of cool experiments. My latest nutty thing…water popcorn! I had some kinda old popcorn in the pantry that was reluctant to pop very well, and I remembered reading to soak it in water to increase the moisture content for better popping. Then you’re supposed to dry it off, yadda yadda. I figured I’d see what would happen if I just drained it, added a dash of salt (because nothing will stick to fat free popcorn once it’s popped) and popped it in a paper lunch bag. Getting the timing right for your microwave so it doesn’t burn is key, but it comes out awesome! I put about 1/4 cup of my drained pre-soaked kernels in the bag, folded the top, and 3 minutes later I had amazing lightly salted popcorn with hardly any unpopped kernels. :)

      1. Vege-tater: I’ve popped popcorn in the microwave before also. But I’ve never tried sprinkling seasoning on wet popcorn kernels first. Great idea! Thanks for sharing!

        1. i LITERALLY JUST watched a video of a kid making oil free popcorn either with an air popper or microwave (my wife uses the microwave).

          he then just spritzed the popcorn with water, sprinkled nutritional yeast on it, spritzed it again and then sprinkled salt on it.

          they weren’t wet or soggy, just damp enough to hold the seasonings and were crunchy just like they should be.


          1. AZ DONALD: :-) That kid is either more talented than I am and/or has better tools as I have tried the water spritzing option several times and never gotten good results. Well dang, maybe it’s time to try again.

  9. If they ate no nuts and no olive oil and no meat no dairy they might have had NO strokes, NO heart attacks. This is the hypothesis tested by the Esselstyn Diet. So far, it has worked in 200 people out of 225 who adhered to it average 5 years, verus the 25 out of 225 who didn’t. THAT is the diet I am striving to follow. It is going very well after a year, lost 40lbs, chol from 270 to 165, BP from 140/85 to 115/66, no meds, except metformin for pre-diabetic blood sugar, well-controlled. Motivational source: very high coronary calcium Agatston score (596). 400 is considered really bad. No symptoms no heart attack/stroke history. Age 70

    1. Motivational source: very high coronary calcium Agatston score (596). 400 is considered really bad

      To me that’s the inexpensive gold standard… Most places do it for as little as $100 with report… Yes, 596 is high.. It’s the only time in your life you want to be a ZERO!!! We had a guy come in to our scanner a few years ago and had a Coronary Calcium score of will over 4OOO.. No symptoms!! Next day he was on the table getting a quad bypass… SAD diet, SAD outcome..

  10. This is good to know because I fit the parameters of overweight with high total and ldl cholesterol and impaired glucose tolerance. I think I had one mini stroke years ago in my 30’s (at my heaviest) but never a heart attack. Just turned 44 and am realizing how at risk I am. Bring on the veggies!

  11. I’ve become a little confused in that many of the mainstays of the whole foods plant based diet are supposedly high in LECTINS which may be counter productive in that lectins are proteins that latch onto glucose and the carbohydrate moieties (parts) of glycolipids and other glycoproteins to cause increased hemagglutination in the blood and gumming up cell membrane structures to reduce their efficiency. I know this is a mouthful, but how does a mouthful of lectins reconcile itself with a WFPB diet?

    1. Joseph Borkson : Here is what I have on lectins: I found one blog post on NutritionFacts which talks about lectins. Here is a quote:
      “Modern paleo advocates claim that these foods weren’t part of Paleolithic-era diets, but new research challenges that assumption.5 They also argue that lectins naturally present in these starchy foods are harmful to human health. Consuming too many lectins can cause significant gastrointestinal distress. However, because legumes and grains are almost always consumed in a cooked form—and lectins are destroyed during cooking—eating beans and grains doesn’t result in lectin overload. Sprouting also reduces lectin levels in plants, although not as effectively as cooking. Generally, pea sprouts, lentil sprouts, and mung bean sprouts are safe to consume, as are sprouted grains, which are naturally low in lectins. Most larger legumes contain higher amounts and should be cooked.” from:
      Since I eat my grains and legumes cooked, I consider the lectin brouhaha to be much ado about nothing.
      In the past, Tom Goff has posted some additional helpful takes on the subject. Here are some quotes from Tom Goff’s previous posts.
      “…problem with such claims is that people in the past ate huge amounts of (whole) grains (compared to modern-day Americans). Some people still do. There is no record of such people suffering abnormally high rates of toxicity or inflammation-related diseases. If anything, the exact opposite is the case eg
      “This meta-analysis provides further evidence that whole grain intake is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and total cancer, and mortality from all causes, respiratory diseases, infectious diseases, diabetes, and all non-cardiovascular, non-cancer causes. These findings support dietary guidelines that recommend increased intake of whole grain to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and premature mortality.”
      Further, reviews of the health effects of grain lectins do not support the wild claims found on the internet or sensational mass market “health ” books
      “We conclude that there are many unsubstantiated assumptions made. Current data about health effects of dietary lectins, as consumed in cooked, baked, or extruded foods do not support negative health effects in humans. In contrast, consumption of WGA containing foods, such as cereals and whole grain products, has been shown to be associated with significantly reduced risks of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, as well as a more favourable long-term weight management.”
      Sure, it is possible to find toxic effects from grain lectins in the laboratory or in rat studies. You can find toxic effects from virtually anything if you design the study appropriately. Even water is toxic in high doses and specific circumstances. And you can turn such findings into sensational claims that garner a lot of publicity (and sales) – if you leave out all the evidence that does not suit your argument or book sales.”
      And from another post:
      “The Paleo community attitude is certainly strange because there is evidence to show that humans in the Paleolithic period actually did eat legumes – and significant amounts at that – at least in certain locations and in the relevant season eg
      However, it seems that once an idea becomes established in the Paleo canon it becomes sacrosanct and no mere inconvenient fact is powerfu l enough to overturn it.
      On lectins and health specifically, blogger has summarised the (Paleo) argument like this:
      “There is evidence that legumes provide health benefits. There is speculation that lectins cause diseases. Unfortunately, the autoimmune diseases some speculate are caused by legume lectins appear to occur more frequently in nations like the U.S., where legume consumption is rather low, than in Asian nations, where legume consumption is higher.”
      Does that help?

  12. Really interesting reading all of the comments. I am in the UK and feel a bit lonely here as everything on the no oil WFPB diet seems to emanate from the USA. I saute mushrooms in carton orange juice and some sweet chilli in a jar, delicious

  13. Hi, I have a question about Nuts for Heart disease patients.

    Dr Esselstyn says Nuts should be avoided for heart disease patients. I see that Dr Greger recommends Nuts though and this study seems to suggest that it’s a good idea to eat those.

    I had a myocardial infarction last year at 48 years old. I went from 190lbs to 147lbs on a Meditaranean diet with little meat. I now have been eating according to Dr Esselstyn cookbook for the last 2 months.

    But I’m still wondering if I should eat nuts? I would like to gain weight to improve my health.


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