Image Credit: Sally Plank

The Best Way to Wash Fruit and Vegetables

How might we reduce our exposure to pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables? What about staying away from imported produce? Well, it turns out domestic produce may be even worse, dispelling the notion that imported fruits and vegetables pose greater potential health risks to consumers.

Buying organic dramatically reduces dietary exposure to pesticides, but it does not eliminate the potential risk. Pesticide residues are detectable in about one in ten organic crop samples, due to cross-contamination from neighboring fields, the continued presence of very persistent pesticides like DDT in the soil, and accidental or fraudulent use.

By choosing organic, one hopes to shift exposures from a range of uncertain risk to more of a range of negligible risk, but even if all we had to eat were the most pesticide-laden of conventional produce, there is a clear consensus in the scientific community that the health benefits from consuming fruits and vegetables outweigh any potential risks from pesticide residues. And, we can easily reduce whatever risk there is by rinsing our fruits and vegetables under running water.

There is, however, a plethora of products alleged by advertisers to reduce fruit and produce pesticide residues more effectively than water and touted to concerned consumers. For example, Procter & Gamble introduced a fruit and vegetable wash. As part of the introduction, T.G.I. Friday’s jumped on board bragging on their menus that the cheese and bacon puddles they call potato skins were first washed with the new product. After all, it was proclaimed proven to be 98% more effective than water in removing pesticides.

So researchers put it to the test, and it did no better than plain tap water.

Shortly thereafter, Procter & Gamble discontinued the product, but numerous others took its place claiming their vegetable washes are three, four, five, or even ten times more effective than water, to which a researcher replied, “That’s mathematically impossible.” If water removes 50%, you can’t take off ten times more than 50%. They actually found water removed up to 80% of pesticide residues like the fungicide, Captan, for example. So, for veggie washes to brag they are three, four, five, ten times better than water is indeed mathematically questionable.

Other fruit and vegetable washes have since been put to the test. Researchers compared FIT Fruit & Vegetable Wash, Organiclean, Vegi-Clean, and dishwashing soap to just rinsing in plain tap water. 196 samples of lettuce, strawberries, and tomatoes were tested, and researchers found little or no difference between just rinsing with tap water compared to any of the veggie washes (or the dish soap). They all just seemed like a waste of money. The researchers concluded that just the mechanical action of rubbing the produce under tap water seemed to do it, and that using detergents or fruit and vegetable washes do not enhance the removal of pesticide residues from produce above that of just rinsing with tap water alone.

That may not be saying much, though. Captan appears to be the exception. When plain water was tried against a half dozen other pesticides, less than half the residues were removed.

Fingernail polish works better, but the goal is to end up with a less toxic, not a more toxic tomato.

We need a straightforward, plausible, and safe method for enhanced pesticide removal. Is there anything we can add to the water to boost its pesticide-stripping abilities? Check out my video, How to Make Your Own Fruit & Vegetable Wash.

If you soak potatoes in water, between about 2% to 13% of the pesticides are removed, but a 5% acetic acid solution removes up to 100%. What’s that? Plain white vinegar. But 5% is full strength.

What about diluted vinegar?  Diluted vinegar only seemed marginally better than tap water for removing pesticide residues. Using full strength vinegar would get expensive, though. Thankfully there’s something cheaper that works even better: salt water.

A 10% salt solution appears to work as good or better than full-strength vinegar. To make a 10% salt solution, you just have to mix up about one-part salt to nine-parts water (though make sure to rinse all of the salt off before eating!).

There’s not much you can do for the pesticides in animal products, though. The top sources of some pesticides are fruits and vegetables; but for other pesticides, it’s dairy, eggs, and meat because the chemicals build up in fat. What do you do about pesticides in animal products? Hard boiling eggs appears to destroy more pesticides than scrambling, but for the pesticides that build up in the fat of fishes and chickens, cooking can sometimes increase pesticide levels that obviously can’t just wash off. In fact, washing meat, poultry, or eggs is considered one of the top ten dangerous food safety mistakes.

For more on organic foods, see:

The most important reason to wash produce is to reduce the risk of food-borne illness. Ironically, the food poisoning viruses may be found in the pesticides themselves. Check out my video Norovirus Food Poisoning from Pesticides.

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:

Discuss

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 “The Best Way to Wash Fruit and Vegetables

Commenting Etiquette

The intention of the comment section under each video and blog post is to allow all members to share their stories, questions, and feedback with others in a welcoming, engaging, and respectful environment. Off-topic comments are permitted, in hopes more experienced users may be able to point them to more relevant videos that may answer their questions. Vigorous debate of science is welcome so long as participants can disagree respectfully. Advertising products or services is not permitted.

To make NutritionFacts.org a place where people feel comfortable posting without feeling attacked, we have no tolerance for ad hominem attacks or comments that are racist, misogynist, homophobic, vulgar, or otherwise inappropriate. Please help us to foster a community of mutual respect. Enforcement of these rules is done to the best of our ability on a case-by-case basis.

  1. Washing with water is good but I use soap also because it isn’t just the pesticides I am trying to remove. It’s also the bacteria on the surface of the fruit. You really don’t know if your fruit took a tumble down the warehouse floor before you bought it.




    6
      1. I doubt the pesticides that are inside the DNA of MOST vegetables, fruits, roots, etc etc are removed at all with water nor soap, no nothing! It’s better to buy organic food from a reliable place. Those toxins are kept in our gut, blood and fat. The fatter the person the bigger amount of those cancerigens she/he has. If I were you guys, I’ll go and check my blood , and see which pathogens/toxins could be circulating in my blood!




        3
        1. Considering that pesticides are not genetic material, do you have any published peer-reviewed evidence suggesting that pesticides are incorporated into DNA or have an affinity for genetic material?




          7
          1. Hi Dr Ben
            How about those free radicals moving looking for that extra charge hooking up and damaging tissue. Paz may have skipped a step or two but not all that wrong.




            2
          2. Great question! It makes a huge difference if pesticides become part of the food or not. That is what Round-Up Ready means. The pesticide is inserted into the genes so it kills weeds but not the crop.

            Check out these videos:
            https://nutritionfacts.org/video/are-gmos-safe-the-case-of-roundup-ready-soy/
            https://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-monsantos-roundup-pesticide-glyphosate-safe/

            I wrote a paper on GMOs and their effects on human health and scientists are able to see DNA of the food we eat in our blood as well as any modified genes, including pesticides.




            0
      2. I stopped using the soap water because the produce still tasted salty no matter how much I would rinse it under the water. I now use 1 for 3 parts of vinegar.




        0
      3. Hi David,

        Thanks for your question! So the article that Dr Greger cited soaked fruit and veg in salt solution for 20 minutes reduced pesticides by 50% compared to soaking for 20 mins in water.
        As for using soap, as Dr Greger mentions there is no added benefit to using soap over water alone. Therefore to avoid the worry of remaining soap on your food, you could just skip that step!

        Hope this helps!




        1
    1. Chris,
      I don’t think using soap will help, it is primarily effective at washing away dirt/bacteria that is mixed with oil, like on your skin. Soap does not kill bacteria, just washes it away but not any better than water unless it is mixed with a fat.




      0
  2. Question: Yes we can get pesticide exposure from the skin of the produce, but is there risk inside the produce itself in that when the pesticide come off the produce say during a rain storm and ends up in the soil, then taken up by the plant.




    3
  3. As a retired nurse who used good-old fashioned hand washing before the days of hand sanitizers, I have always recommended using soap (diluted castile or similar in a spray bottle) and FRICTION to remove any bacteria, fungus, virus or pesticide residues. The friction is most important. Simply letting produce sit under a running faucet does very little. Washing takes less than 10 seconds. I imagine all the people who came before me to touch, smell, palpate, or arrange that fruit or veggie and feel better washing it before eating. Appeals to my hygienic sensibilities. :-)




    13
  4. I don’t understand why Dr. Greger implies there’s a problem using full-strength white vinegar. It’s cheap, $4.42 for 2 gallons at Sam’s. We have a spray bottle of vinegar beside the sink to spray and then rub, and rinse soft-skinned fruits and vegetables. We also use a vegetable brush with the vinegar on things like potatoes and carrots. I have no way to test how effective this is, but it seems like a reasonable solution.




    17
  5. My fruit/vegetable washing routine includes 1) Buying organic produce as much as possible – referring to EWG “dirty dozen” 2) Scrubbing by hand or veggie brush under tap water, then soak in a solution of filtered water and 1-2 capfuls of raw ACV with a few pinches of salt added. Sometimes I add a squeeze of lemon. 3) Shake/dry off before adding to salad
    This may not work for all depending on your taste, but since I always add some ACV-lemon-lime to my salads anyway, it works out well.




    2
  6. Two part question here:
    I’m worried about the salt water solution. If I have a lot to wash, won’t the basin of salt water turn into a collection of the pathogens I’ve already washed off of the previous produce? At what point do we need to empty it and start again?

    What negative effects come from not washing? Mainly, what points can I use to convince my loved ones to do this also? I’d think the most poinent might be to have them start the intervention and watch their health ailments be reduced. Or is it just a long term fight against the potential of developing cancer?




    0
  7. I thought ozone is the best. Someone was making an ozone water bath product. Not practical for most but I also thought a diluted hydrogen peroxide (food grade concentrated) bath/wash was also great. Anyone know more about h2o2 wash?




    1
    1. We kept chickens for 15 years. I always thought getting shells wet to wash poo off was a bad idea. The shell is a semipermeable membrane and getting it wet risks germs migrating inside egg. We used sandpaper to get the worse off. And just before cracking open I would wipe traces off and try to Crack on the cleanest part of surface.




      3
  8. As part of an experiment I consumed nothing but raw fruits and vegetables for 14.5 years in a row. I did not wash my dark greens or lettuce but rinsed easy things like red bell peppers. I ate zero packaged or canned or bottled food in that 14 and a half years. I did not get one sold, flu, headache, stomach ache – not even a hint of dietary upset or any other symptom imaginable for all that time. And I never actively washed my produce- unless there was debris on it.
    Anyone who has read The China Study is reminded that when our immune system is low that even the least aggressive of microbes can bother us. But having a normal (hard to find in people who eat our society’s varied diet) strong immune system will protect us from all the usual “things” that most are “afraid” of. Apparently I chose the right path since I did not get even the slightest symptom of ANYTHING from cold to a cough sneeze or headache to even a pimple or foul odor in those 14.5 years. Balanced diet? I ate about five or six foods in that time- all properly chosen.




    7
    1. Yes, I am dying to know what your five or six foods are? Are they Dr Fuhrman’s GBOMBS: Greens, Beans, Onion(Allium rich food), Mushrooms, Berries and Seeds(and nuts)?




      2
    2. Agree. As T. Colin Campbell says, the benefits of eating the whole plant food so heavily trump the potential negatives as to make them irrelevant. A healthy liver is a detoxifying machine and can easily handle any pesticide residue on food. A healthy immune system can easily defend against bacteria and viruses. Just look at the abysmal state of health of the average person eating the SAD. Then look at the state of health of people who eat WFPB diets.

      The most important statement in the blog:
      “but even if all we had to eat were the most pesticide-laden of conventional produce, there is a clear consensus in the scientific community that the health benefits from consuming fruits and vegetables outweigh any potential risks from pesticide residues.”




      5
    3. Chris, interesting personal story. It sounds like you did change your diet after the 14.5 years. So then what happened? Did you remain completely healthy without adverse events with a new diet plan? Would be interesting to hear as well. Did you return to your raw diet later?




      1
    4. I want to call you foul names because your statement implies you’re no longer doing this.

      I’ve been eating this way for the past 4 years (in October) and I haven’t been sick, either. When I began, I had arthritis in my knees which went away in the first month.

      I’m now running six miles per day which seems EFFORTLESS.

      I’m eating fruit (berries) for breakfast, vegetables all day (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, carrots, hummus and purple cabbage, spinach salads with cucumber, kiwi, mango, red apples) and beans with a sweet potato for dinner, sometimes red or black rice I stead of the potato but sometimes PURPLE sweet potato.

      I’ve given this prescription to twenty or so people who’ve had cancer and not one of them have died yet, despite their doctors labeling them as the walking dead. I’ve seem this regimen reverse diabetes in more than 50 people and it’s so damn easy.

      Just stuff your face all day, every day and you won’t crave a thing.

      DAMN! Life is GOOOOOD!!

      Stay well, buddy.




      1
  9. A couple of thoughts:
    I would guess, then, that vegetables canned in a salt solution would have more pesticide residue in the canning water, . . yes? Another reason to rinse canned vegg if you’re using them (which I sometimes do in a pinch).
    Also, . . i’m wondering if the pesticide residue on potatoes would be removed when one boils a pot of potatoes. . . ? I would think so but wonder about that.




    0
  10. So you clean under running water–what about the chemicals in the drinking water that comes out the sink faucet. Seems like there is that residue to think about. If you dry them with hand towels or paper towels–what about chemical residue from paper towels or lingering detergent on hand towels that aren’t totally rinsed out in chemical water. I think we all try to do the best we can. Within reason. Every effort helps us.




    0
  11. We’ve been using Grape Seed Extract (GSE) liquid concentrate…a few drops in water… as our fruit & vegetable washing solution. Is there any data out there that addresses the efficacy of this method? Thanks!




    0
    1. Hi Robert!
      I must admit I had not heard of GSE before! After some reading, it looks like it does have potential to reduce food borne disease when used to wash. However, the studies show variation and one shows that its effectiveness decreased when it was used directly on food, rather than on the bacteria or viruses alone.

      Refs:
      http://aem.asm.org/content/78/21/7572.short
      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0740002012002304




      0
    1. I had no idea that watercress carried liver flukes – thanks for bringing this up. Turns out the cress needs to come from an area where endemic grazing occurs as it needs a cow or sheep host. Here’s some info:
      https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/fasciola/prevent.html
      https://www.cdc.gov/dpdx/fascioliasis/index.html

      But purchasing watercress in the store. .. how would one know where it came from. The CDC says to avoid it if you don’t know where it was raised. If cow or sheep is grazing upstream from watercress I would definitely avoid it. yikes!




      1
  12. Great blog post! Personally, I don’t worry about this issue too much. I never wash organic strawberries because they lose their flavor (IMHO). But I am surprised to hear that plain water removes as much as 80% of pesticide residue. That’s impressive!

    While I definitely prefer organic produce, I think you can drive yourself crazy with the idea of who touched your food, or if it fell on the ground, or rolled down a supermarket aisle. I figure as long as it’s not getting moldy, or if it doesn’t smell bad (think Hawkeye Pierce on MASH who smelled everything before he ate it), then it’s good enough for me to eat. I eat a WFPB diet to build & maintain a healthy immune system, which should take care of the nasty germs & pesticide residue.

    If you’re really concerned about who touched your food & where it’s been, then I guess it’s a good idea to grow your own.




    8
  13. Here on Maui we have had 6 recent cases of Rat Lungworm Disease, which is pretty devastating. This disease is transmitted thru veggies and fruits, especially leafy greens. Various washing methods have been recommended. Apparently vinegar has been shown to possibly make it worse. Freezing for 24-48 hours has also been recommended to kill the parasite. I think some people unfortuneatly are eating more produce from the Mainland or buying more canned or frozen produce instead of local varieties. Anyone have any thoughts on this.




    1
    1. Thanks for bringing up Rat Lung Worm disease. It is a horrible disease and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of information available on how to wash vegetables and fruit adequately to avoid it.
      As one article says:

      Take more time with curly leafy vegetables, wash leaves individually. People advise soaking veggies in grapefruit seed extract, hydrogen peroxide, salt water, etc., but there has been no research done to show that any of these will kill the parasite. Avoid bringing slugs into your home with locally grown produce. Check pineapple tops or twist tops off just above the leaf base and leave outside.

      Ozone and Ultrasonic vegetable washing machines for the home are popular in some places, but unclear if they are sufficient for avoiding Rat Lung Worm disease.

      Anyone know of any research on adequate washing methods to avoid getting Rat Lung Worm disease?




      0
      1. Here is a Center for Disease Control link on rat lungworm disease. While unappealing, even if you contract it there is little that doctors do for it as it resolves on its own. The suggestion is to not eat any raw or uncooked snails, slugs, or shrimp. Sometimes a very small slug or snail can be found on leafy vegg so if you live in an area that has lungworm disease check your vegg for it. Hawaii would be one of those areas. Here’s the link to learn more:
        https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/angiostrongylus/gen_info/faqs.html




        1
        1. Hi James and thanks for your question on Rat Lung Worm disease. I could not find much research on it. It is mostly through ingestion of a slug or slug contaminated vegetables/fruits. So making sure to wash the fruits and vegetables as described in Dr, Greger blog is very important. Taking more time with curly leafy vegetables, wash leaves individually. I assume being conscious of eating raw F& V out side home. The slim of slug has the parasite. Also avoding bringing in the slug in our homes by wiping our shoes and also check the fresh fruits and vegetable that was grown in the garden when brought inside the house. Check pineapple tops or twist tops off just above the leaf base and leave outside.

          Flatworms prey on the semi-slug and it is suspected that they may carry even higher loads of parasites. They easily hide in leaves or tight heads of produce and their soft bodies fall apart into small pieces when handled or under water pressure.
          here is the link for further informations
          Giant African snail (Achatina fulica)




          0
          1. Thanks for the reply. There seems to be not much research on what constitutes effective washing to avoid rat lung worm disease. Dr Greger focused on pesticides in his video. For example for vegetables like Lacinato Kale with hightly textured leaves, short of cooking it what can you do to ensure you have removed or killed any parasites? Is there any research or tests showing that salt water, H2O2, vinegar, etc will effectively kill or remove the parasites?




            0
  14. A comment to the “mathematically impossible” comment: stating something like that is of course wrong, and is based on problems counting %. Of course you can double the efficiency on something that reduce the pesticide left after a 80% reduction, but it’s not a 160% reduction. Instead you should measure how much of the pesticide is left on the fruit, and in this case that’s 20%. And double the efficiency and you’re left with “only” 10%.

    Enough on the mathematics: although getting being able to get rid of much of the pesticides on the fruit by rinsing it under water or with some fancier method is nice for the consumers health, the problem is that the pesticides will still end up in the environment, so best thing is if we could minimize it’s usage in the first place.




    6
  15. Ive always used a solution of part hydrogen peroxide, vinegar and soap I read somewhere that it suppose to do the job, I’m still here… guess it works.




    0
  16. I’ve always wondered whether pesticides just SIT ON the produce (and therefore can be washed off), or whether they GET INSIDE the produce as it grows, (and therefore cannot be washed off). There is much conflicting information (natch) on the web about this.

    So it sounds like one COULD get rid of the pesticides using the vinegar or salt method Dr. Greger describes? This is good to know! I do always try to buy organic, but of course sometimes it’s not possible. If there ARE some types of fruits or veggies that pesticides tend to get inside of rather than stay on the surface, it would be great to find out which ones those are.




    0
  17. From post below veg/fruit wash video:
    “…domestic produce may be even worse, dispelling the notion that imported fruits and vegetables pose greater potential health risks…”

    For some more reading: (1998 but still good points):

    “…no clear evidence that health risk due to pesticide residues or microbial bacterial contamination is greater with imported produce than with domestically grown.”

    https://are.ucdavis.edu/people/faculty/emeriti/roberta-cook/articles-and-presentations/imported-vs-domestically-produced-fruits-and-vegetables-there-di/




    0
  18. “for the pesticides that build up in the fat in fish or chicken, cooking can sometimes increase pesticide levels” How is that possible? Surely adding heat to gatty meat doesn’t create new pesticides. Did you mean to say that cooking releases the pesticides from the fats and makes it more bioavailable?




    0
  19. I live in Mexico and we soak all of our veggies in a solution that is either clorox or iodine based. This is also what can be used to purify water. I 12 years we as vegans eat lots of vegetables and don’t have any stomach problems. You didn’t mention these.




    1
    1. While on an immersion course to learn Spanish, I stayed w/ a family close to school. They soaked everything before using it for a meal. I’m not sure of the process: how long, what food was soaked in, whether things were also ‘scrubbed’. But I ate salads ‘at home’ and fresh fruit, and I was never sick. This was 15 years ago, and other students who ate from street vendors did get typical and sometimes acute gastric distress.., often bad enough to miss classes.




      0
  20. Your solution to washing fruits and veggies is simpler than mine. My spray formula is 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice,1 tablespoon of baking soda in 1 cup of water. My formula for soaking is 1/4 cup of vinegar, 2 tablespoons of salt in a medium bowl of water. In both cases I thoroughly rinse under cold tap water. I am looking for easy since we have adopted the plant based life and I thank you. Ruth




    0
  21. I believe there is a typo in the info on “Best Way to Wash Fruit and Vegetables.”

    A sentence in the text relating to the video says:

    “Fingernail polish works better, but the goal is to end up with a less toxic, not a more toxic tomato.”

    It should read:

    “Fingernail polish remover works better, but the goal is to end up with a less toxic, not a more toxic tomato.”

    Hope this helps…




    0
  22. Really easy solutions. There are many countries in Latin America where it is unconceivable not to wash fruits and vegetables because of pesticides and other pollutants. They sell disinfectant liquid to wash some veggies but this is not this case here. Nonetheless I have always been said that everywhere you go you always have to wash all fruit and vegetables during a reasonable time. Thanks for this valuable information. It is important to be aware. Excellent blog!




    0
  23. We place our groceries on a conveyor belt that has had meat on it. We use the mesh reusable produce bags. Does just using plain water get these germs off? Or would the salt or acetic acid work?




    0
    1. Water is fine but what’s best is to ONLY eat whole plant foods with no fiberless foods at all. This takes time for most but after adopting this permanently, you’ll never get sick again. At least not for the next ten years. That’s all I can say for sure.




      0
  24. Hello there! I have taken quite an interest in this blog and the varying comments apart of it! Basically, I have concluded that it boils down to body pH. The more acidic the blood, the more health problems, however, if the blood pH is in a state of alkadosis, then problems arise as well. I don’t mean to sound rash, I’m only just beginning my pre-med journey (a little more than a year in) but it doesn’t seem to me that all these things are incredibly bad for you. If you get meat from a trusted, fresh seller, should be fine (8 oz usual limit). Sugar is the enemy here, it’s been proven as the main cause for heart disease, diabetes, and other health issues. Everything in moderation, I say, but eating a good burger with fruits and vegetables instead of fries is never a bad thing. America has a naturally-acidic food tendency, which means it will need to be counter-balanced with alkaline foods, such as vegetables, fruits, and even some things like wild rice!

    I did have a question though, as I always love to learn new things, ESPECIALLY health-related. Do you think this is somewhat of a good plan? I have drastically reduced my meat consumption over the past year or so, but can’t seem to cut it out. I don’t think I have to in order to live a pretty decent life, but do you think it’s more about blood pH and maintaining a state of homeostasis? Or more about the pesticides themselves both in animal products AND produce? (I have seen you say in the article that the good outweighs the bad in terms of pesticides).




    0
    1. Anonymous College Student: Concerning your idea of moderation: What I have picked up from Dr. Greger and the other experts who really study and understand nutrition (ex: Dr. Barnard, Dr. Esselstyn, Jeff Novick RD, Brenda Davis, etc, etc, etc) is that a diet of whole plant foods is best. Ie: a diet consisting of intact grains, legumes, veggies, and fruit, possibly with some mushrooms and/or nuts/seeds. Don’t forget a B12 supplement.

      If you absolutely must eat animal products, then try to eat like say the traditional Okinawans (one of the healthiest, longest lived people on the planet), where animal products made up about 4% of their diet by calories. That’s a *very* small amount. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-okinawa-diet-living-to-100/ *This* is what moderation means when it comes to meat, dairy and eggs.

      Keeping meat, dairy and eggs in your diet, however, would only make sense for someone who does not already have a disease like heart disease or diabetes etc. And a lot of us have one or more of these problems and may not even be aware of it. Dr. Esselstyn says something like, “moderation kills”. Because the concept is not defined and thus people use the concept of moderation to mean whatever they want to eat. Dr. Greger has been known to jokingly say something like, “Sure, eat in moderation! You can loose just two toes instead of the whole foot!” And most of the experts point out that we don’t tell people to smoke in moderation any more. That idea didn’t work. We tell people to avoid smoking. The same logic applies to eating unhealthy food.

      As for you trying to boil the health issue down to one or two aspects (like PH level and/or pesticides), I wouldn’t do that. I’d recommend spending more time on this site learning all the information we have on the various aspects of eating animal products. Once you see all those angles, I think you will have a more accurate perspective on the issue. One great place to start is with Dr. Greger’s longer summary videos. Here are two of my favorites: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/uprooting-the-leading-causes-of-death/ and http://nutritionfacts.org/video/more-than-an-apple-a-day-preventing-our-most-common-diseases/

      It is so encouraging when students come here to learn vital information about the science that they won’t be picking up in their formal education. Welcome!




      1
      1. Thank you! As much as I really didn’t want to sit in front of my computer for an hour listening to a guy rant on about how even a semi-vegetarian diet can change patterns of illnesses and diseases, I found it interesting all the data he accumulated and found out how we could prevent, reverse, and even cure some diseases with nothing more than a diet change. However, I remain a tad bit skeptical considering his methods for presenting certain cases. I understand meats are not the greatest thing for the body and do tend to wear out the body faster due to the increase in trans and saturated fats and cholesterol. But I have also heard that wheat products are not that great for you either, that they should actually be avoided because of the pesticides used to grow the wheat that is used to make the bread. If this is the case, what’s the best bread to eat? Is there a “good” bread to eat? Also, protein. Peanuts are often seen as an enemy as well, as they are grown under pesticide and pH-imbalanced soil, which contaminates the peanuts. So, should we avoid peanuts too?? Now we’re really limiting our diets. Protein is an important part of our bodies, how do vegans and vegetarians maintain a healthy level of protein WITHOUT supplementation? Is there a way? I would be more than willing to give it a try, but I’d also like to keep my strength and not have to sacrifice that for health. Is there a way to do this, because I have yet to hear anyone speak of this. (Also, sorry for all the questions. I may be starting a semi-vegetarian diet soon that may/may not turn to a major vegetarian diet and want to know all the details before I just jump into it).




        0
        1. Hi Anonymous college student, thanks for your question. I am one of the moderators on the website. Firstly congratulations in finding this website for your refernece information as it is based on scientific research and evidenced based. I recommend you check out the Dr Greger Daily Dozen App that is free to download and it is simple to use and gives you ideas what you need for a day to meet your dietary recommendations. Also, I will point out that food such as beans, lentils and all the Legumes, nuts and seeds have protein.
          Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen Checklist




          0
        2. Anonymous College Student: Good for you for listening to that talk! Since you took the time to do that, I’m happy to answer your additional questions. These are common questions and very understandable.

          First Protein: Following is one of the best articles I’ve read on protein. It is an easy read backed by valid/strong sources. It also begins to address your concern about keeping up your strength. This is basic information that everyone should know. https://michaelbluejay.com/veg/protein.html

          To further address your concern about keeping up your strength, I’ll point out that some of the top athletes in the world (olympic winners for example) are vegan. I have a long post listing examples if you are interested in seeing it.

          I can see that you are very concerned about pesticides. While I agree that it is best to avoid pesticides when possible, I think it is important to have some perspective on the matter. Check this out:

          “A new study calculated that if half the U.S. population ate just one more serving of conventional fruits and vegetables, 20,000 cases of cancer could be prevented. At the same time the added pesticide consumption could cause up to 10 extra cancer cases. So by eating conventional produce we may get a tiny bump in cancer risk, but that’s more than compensated by the dramatic drop in risk that accompanies whole food plant consumption. Even if all we had to eat was the most contaminated produce the benefits would far outweigh any risks. Having said that, why risk any bump at all? That’s one of the reasons I encourage everyone to choose organic whenever one can, but we should never let concern about pesticides lower our fruit and vegetable consumption.” from : http://nutritionfacts.org/2013/06/25/apple-peels-turn-on-anticancer-genes/

          Here’s another important point that provides perspective on the topic of pesticides: Chemicals from pesticides concentrate in the bodies of animals. This is a well understood and non-controversial phenomenon called bioaccumulation. Animals eat and drink and breath in a contaminated world. Whatever the animals take in–it gets *concentrated* in their bodies. What it means is that if you want to avoid pesticides as much as possible, you would avoid animal products the most. (On average/in general. Of course, there are exceptions both ways.)

          You can’t escape animal contamination completely even for animals raised a certain way. For example, they have found pesticides in the flesh of organic and wild salmon. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-problem-with-organic-salmon/ NutritionFacts discusses the concept of bioaccumulation in several videos and blog posts. Here is just one such page as an example: http://nutritionfacts.org/2015/04/28/how-to-reduce-exposure-to-alkylphenols-through-your-diet/ NutritionFacts also has many, many, many pages discussing how contaminated meat, dairy and eggs are.

          You mentioned a couple plants that you were particularly concerned about regarding their safety. One plant that you seem concerned about is wheat. I know that there is a lot of bad press regarding wheat, but that information is not backed up by the science. If you don’t have celiacs disease or a wheat allergy/intolerance (and the vast majority of people do not), then wheat is very good for you. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-gluten-bad-for-you/ and https://nutritionfacts.org/video/update-on-gluten/ That said, you also mentioned bread in particular. If you are talking whole grain bread, that may be healthy for you–depending on whether you need to lose weight or not. (Losing weight being a whole different topic/post.) *Intact* grains (not dry goods made from flour, but whole grains themselves) are generally healthy for just about everyone. You can eat your wheat berries, and groats, barley and quinoa, etc without problem. It’s very healthy. As mentioned previously, intact grains make up one of the 4 main food groups.

          Finally, I’ll comment on what you wrote, “… I remain a tad bit skeptical considering his methods for presenting certain cases.” That’s great. I think it’s healthy to be critical and make sure what you are hearing is legitimate. We don’t have enough critical thinking in the world in my opinion. Consider this: The annual summary videos on NutritionFacts are different, but the daily videos all have a ‘Sources Cited’ button. Everything you see on the annual summaries can be found in one or more daily videos. So, you can learn more about those topics in more detail and most importantly, check out the sources if you want.

          Also note that Dr. Greger is not a lone voice. There are a ton of expert doctors now and some even going back decades who have reviewed the science and determined that a diet of whole plant foods maximizes our chances of being healthy. NutritionFacts has a great presentation format, but this is not about fad diets and one enthusiastic doctor. This is mainstream science as determined by many true experts in nutrition.

          If you would like some assistance in getting from where you are now with your diet to where you want to be, let us know. If the topic of nutrition interests you, I’d also recommend some books in addition to spending some more time here on NutritionFacts. One book worth a read is The China Study. Also, a couple documentaries to check out that I think are also on Netflicks: Forks Over Knives and What The Health. I hope this post helps.




          1
          1. Holy cow! Thank you for that information! I have heard of the last documentaries on Netflix…can’t say I was a huge fan, as they did tend to exaggerate a bit on animal products, which to me is seen as “fear mongering” and I don’t think that’s exactly the best way to approach the situation, ESPECIALLY when trying to show people a method that may be better for them, but would require DRASTIC changes to their diets. It would be the same difference between having a calm, healthy debate and having a shouting-match with someone who disagrees with the perspective.

            I will say though, I do enjoy the articles and the sources provided on here that show that simplicity is, indeed, key for health and nourishment. That, to me, is huge. This site isn’t like others, where they pitch that this way is better, but provide no sources, no background, no explanation, etc. As much as I hate to admit it…our healthcare system (as great as it is) has been bogged down by government and state regulations, insurance companies, and even patients themselves. Hospitals are businesses as well, and to stay afloat, need to have some source of profit or income to keep running. This is where Pharma comes in, profiting off the average person to make up that difference (for some drugs, others are legitimately needed for chronic ailments like morphine or acetaminophen, ESPECIALLY in my field, which I want to end up as an ER Physician).

            I actually jumped for joy when he mentioned a “peer-reviewed (placebo?) control trial” for some of his sources. These are hugely accurate (also as close as we’re ever going to get to perfect) and tend to make places like this more credible from a scientific standpoint.

            The trick mentioned in this article about the salt-solution or pure vinegar solution to remove most pesticides….I have just started doing this and then rinsing them off with running water, which seems to get rid of most, if not all, of the taste from the vinegar or salt. Can’t do this with bread, unfortunately, but as you said, the good outweighs the bad.

            I’ll have to look more into the sources you’ve provided, as the first one didn’t let me down and actually strengthened the argument, which I admire. I’m actually in the process of writing a paper for a class regarding the usage of pesticides and herbicides in our food supply and their effect on the human body, so this insight really helps bolster my paper on what I can and can’t use as sources.

            Finally, I do think that in the grand scheme of things that the vegetarian (or vegan, I know they’re seperate things, I was given the whole run-down by a friend who is a “pescitarian?”) diet seems to be a good way to go, but I’m curious…in the video you initially provided, it talked about chicken consumption and how the strain of E. coli bacteria seemed to overtake the gut, but the positive bacteria regained control after 10 days. So…even though it is not the best thing to have….would you say having meat like that (as an indulgence) once in a while is ok? I assume yes, as your body has developed a strong immunity and healthy style that a little meat couldn’t hurt that much, but I’m also afraid that I will develop a intolerance towards meat products, which I don’t really want all that much. One last question for this thread: While he did say the best way to avoid these various diseases and such is by not eating animal products or those high in cholesterol, saturated, and trans fats, what about sugar? We’ve linked an increase intake in sugar to various things including cardiac diseases and dysfunctions, diabetes, etc. So, should sugar be regulated or cut out entirely? (I’m actually really hoping you say regulated because I have a small addiction to certain candies lol).

            All in all, thank you for the insight! My friend is ready to start helping me transition towards the vegetarian diet, but she’s making sure just to gradually cut down on meat products, because a sudden stoppage could result in a shock to the body and create more problems than prevent. But I did want to thank you for taking the time to read my questions and provide responses, I do really appreciate it! I’m a guy, so I was more afraid of switching diets because most guys I know that are vegan or vegetarian are slim, no muscle, and more feminine than other guys…I do not wish to join their ranks (as awful as that sounds). Is there a way to prevent this? Like….are there certain testosterone-boosting foods that can counter the soy content in others (I know soy can cause hormonal disruptions)?

            Thank you! And best regards!




            0
            1. Anonymous College Student: Lots more good questions.

              Let’s start with: “…would you say having meat like that (as an indulgence) once in a while is ok?” I would agree, “yes” if you are a healthy person and aren’t affected by the slippery slope (see below). My evidence? Go back to my first post to you and consider the traditional Okinawans as an example. They had a *very* small amount of meat in their diet. As people who ate healthy their whole lives, that small amount did not hurt them. I believe that most of the plant based doctors would tell you: based on the evidence at this time, a person who is healthy can likely eat a *small* amount of meat/dairy/eggs and not raise their risk of disease.

              HOWEVER: One of the “gotcha’s” for some people for keeping animal products in their diet is the slippery slope. Have a little here. Then there’s another party and you have more there. Your friend invites you to dinner… By keeping meat/dairy/eggs in your diet, you never lose your taste for it, and you might start to eat more than is healthy. So, like cigarettes, instead of telling people to just smoke a little now and then, we tend to advise people to not eat meat, dairy or eggs at all. Those foods are just too addicting. That said, if this type of slippery slope is no problem for you, then a ***little*** meat/dairy/eggs in your diet should not be a problem.

              Based on what you have explained about your situation and feelings, I’d suggest you consider coming up with some rules for yourself that will help guide you. Ex: I’ll eat whatever I want on New Years, the spring equinox and my birthday. Plus, I get 1 meal a month to splurge. Other than that, I’m going to eat healthy… Or whatever plan makes sense to you. I’m just trying to share an idea that might help you feel like you can still eat some meat but not go down the slippery slope.

              re: “…but I’m also afraid that I will develop an intolerance towards meat products…” I’m not an expert, but I have not seen any evidence that this happens on a biological level. Maybe on a psychological level for some people. Doesn’t mean that would happen to you.

              re: “…what about sugar?” Sugar is not a health food (https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-much-added-sugar-is-too-much/ ), but let’s get some perspective again. Dr. Kempner was able to take people with a death sentence and turn things around with a diet of just white rice, fruit and table sugar! https://nutritionfacts.org/?fwp_search=kempner&fwp_content_type=video Again, table sugar is not healthy, but I’d say that it is not the devil some people make it out to be either. Experts like Dr. Barnard, one of the leading experts on diabetes, agrees. His book on how to prevent and reverse diabetes includes some dessert recipes with sugar in them.

              Another bit to put sugar in perspective: Sugar is not the root cause of diseases like diabetes. NutritionFacts covers the cause of diabetes if you are interested in learning more about that: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/what-causes-insulin-resistance/ and https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-not-to-die-from-diabetes/ Also consider the following from the topic page on this site for diabetes:

              “People who eat a plant-based diet have been found to have just a small fraction of the diabetes rate seen in those who regularly eat meat. As diets become increasingly plant-based, there appears to be a stepwise drop in diabetes rates. Based on a study of 89,000 Californians, flexitarians (who eat meat maybe once weekly rather than daily) appear to cut their rate of diabetes by 28 percent, and those who cut out all meat except fish appear to cut their rates in half. What about those eliminating all meat, including fish? They appear to eliminate 61 percent of their risk. And those who go a step farther and drop eggs and dairy, too? They may drop their diabetes rates 78 percent compared with people who eat meat on a daily basis.”

              Also consider this: Dr. Barnard’s also recently published a book called “The Cheese Trap”. Pages 31 and 32 talk about how sugar consumption in America has actually gone *down* since the late 1990s. But obesity continues to rise–along with the rise in our consumption of fatty, salty and literally addictive foods like cheese.

              And does sugar really raise our risk of heat disease? If this question interests you and you want to get into some details, checking out the videos on Plant Positive’s site can be really helpful. I didn’t have time to find the perfect video on the site, but here’s one that discusses sugar: http://plantpositive.com/blog/2012/3/26/the-futility-of-cholesterol-denialism-3-a-process-of-elimina.html If the topic of heart disease in general interests you, I’d really recommend all of the videos on that site. You can see that he backs up every one of his claims with full references to the studies.

              With all that in mind, as a lay person, my bottom line for you, a presumably young and healthy person who doesn’t want to go cold-turkey, would be: enjoy some of your little sugar candies, especially for now as you go through a transition in your diet. For a more precise idea of how much added sugar per day may be OK, I refer you back to the video I referenced above: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-much-added-sugar-is-too-much/

              —————————-
              re: “… most guys I know that are vegan or vegetarian are slim, no muscle, and more feminine than other guys…” To that I say, “Real men eat plants!” That’s one of my favorite lines from Forks Over Knives. Those firemen didn’t look feminine to me. They looked most FINE. Here’s another article from Michael Bluejay. Check out the pictures. https://michaelbluejay.com/veg/protein-strength.html Look pretty masculine to me. Or check out these guys: http://www.veganbodybuilding.com/. I could go on and on and on and …

              An idea that stuck with me some time ago: We are so used to seeing fat people now-a-days, that healthy people can look off. I found that when I really thought of it that way and looked at the people around me and thought about who looked healthy, the skinny healthy people looked just right. They started to look normal to me again.

              Here’s another thought for you: How does a person stay away from being skinny and instead be “big?” Either by having more fat or by having more muscle. Which one looks bad? More fat. Which one looks really good? More muscles. Which one is healthy? More muscles. What do the ladies like? I can’t speak for others, but this lady is not attracted to excess fat… My recommendation would be: If it is important to you to look bigger, then work on strength training to build your muscles. If you would rather have an extra layer of fat, then consider sticking to higher calorie density whole plant foods (https://nutritionfacts.org/questions/what-is-a-healthy-way-to-gain-weight/ ) rather than eating unhealthy foods like meat, dairy, eggs and oils.

              “…are there certain testosterone-boosting foods…” Men who eat a diet of whole plant foods have more testosterone. https://nutritionfacts.org/2013/02/12/less-cancer-in-vegan-men-despite-more-testosterone/

              “…counter the soy content in others (I know soy can cause hormonal disruptions)?” I think you have some misconceptions about soy. If you are concerned about soy, I would encourage you to review the information on this site. Or just skip the soy. Traditional soy foods (like tofu, tempeh, soy milk, edamame and miso) are very healthy for both men and women, but you certainly don’t have to eat them. Soy is a bean. Eat other beans if that makes you more comfortable.

              Good luck on your paper. :-)




              1
  25. Hello there! I have taken quite an interest in this blog and the varying comments apart of it! Basically, I have concluded that it boils down to body pH. The more acidic the blood, the more health problems, however, if the blood pH is in a state of alkadosis, then problems arise as well. I don’t mean to sound rash, I’m only just beginning my pre-med journey (a little more than a year in) but it doesn’t seem to me that all these things are incredibly bad for you.

    I did have a question though, as I always love to learn new things, ESPECIALLY health-related. Do you think this is somewhat of a good plan? I have drastically reduced my meat consumption over the past year or so, but can’t seem to cut it out. I don’t think I have to in order to live a pretty decent life, but do you think it’s more about blood pH and maintaining a state of homeostasis? Or more about the pesticides themselves both in animal products AND produce? (I have seen you say in the article that the good outweighs the bad in terms of pesticides).




    0
  26. Hello there. We are so glad to hear you like all the information you have found on Nutritionfacts.org
    Dr. Greger often says that what you eat on your birthday and special occasions is not the problem, but what you eat on a daily basis. He uses a traffic light system- green, red, and yellow light. You might light the information in this video “What are the Healthiest Foods?”

    As far as your concerns about being too slim, the best way to avoid that it to increase your calorie intake of healthy, plant based foods- nuts, seeds, nut butters, dried fruits.

    Dr. Greger has several videos on the health benefits of soy. There is no good evidence that soy causes hormonal disruptions. You don’t have to worry about your testosterone You might like the video “Who Shouldn’t Eat Soy”
    soy/”>
    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/who-shouldnt-eat-soy/

    Best of luck on your journey to health!
    NurseKelly
    Nutritionfacts.org Moderator




    0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This