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Why Intact Grains are Even Better than Whole Grains

Fruits and vegetables are the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, and dark green leafy vegetables lead the pack. Each of the top five so-called powerhouse fruits and vegetables were greens. If we blend them up in a smoothie (or soup or sauce), we’re taking the food with the most nutrition and breaking all the cells to dump that nutrition into our bloodstream. Chewing is good, but blending is better in terms of digestive efficiency and nutrient absorption.

But if we take in all that nutrition and none makes it down to our colon might we be starving our microbial selves? The reason intact grains, beans, and nuts are better than bread, hummus, and nut butters is that no matter how well we chew, intact food particles make it down to your colon where they can offer a smorgasbord for our good bacteria. If our grains, beans, and nuts are finely ground up into flour or paste before we eat it, we may be leaving our gut flora high and dry. Would the same be true for fruits and vegetables?

There are special classes of phytonutrients in fruits and vegetables that appear to protect against colon cancer. They can escape digestion and absorption in our stomach and small intestine, and end up in our colon to act as prebiotics. No matter how much we chew, they stay attached to the fiber. But if we use a blender, might we prematurely detach these nutrients? No. Even if you blend in a high-speed blender for five minutes, the phytonutrients remain bound to the fiber for transport down to your colon bacteria. You can do smoothie experiments on people with ileostomy bags that drain the contents of the small intestine and show that most of the polyphenol phytonutrients make it out intact; so, we don’t have to worry we may be robbing Peter to pay Paul when we blend fruits and vegetables. Is there any downside to smoothies, then?

Just as smaller particle size may improve digestive efficiency and gastrointestinal absorption of nutrients from fruits and vegetables, the same may be true for grains. There is, however, a concern that this could boost starch availability and cause a blood sugar spike. In my video Are Green Smoothies Bad for You?, I show you the rise and fall of blood sugar and insulin over four hours after eating a half-cup of brown rice compared with ground brown rice flour (kind of like a cream of brown rice hot cereal). Consuming brown rice flour gives you twice the blood sugar and twice the insulin spike compared to eating the rice intact. Same amount of food, just in a different form. This is why intact whole grains are better than even whole grain flour products.

Simply chewing really well can boost the glycemic and insulin response. If you chew rice really well compared to chewing it normally, the smaller rice particles empty out of your stomach faster, producing greater blood sugar and insulin responses. It’s ironic that there were health crusaders pushing people to chew more to digest their food better, but if what you’re chewing is a five cheese pizza, maybe it’s better not to digest so well. Believe it or not, some have even suggested that diabetics and obese persons should not chew their food so much. But, swallowing diced food without chewing would not only reduce the pleasure of eating—people could choke! Despite this, they suggest it could be a simple way to “allow patients to reduce blood glucose [sugar] levels without fundamentally altering their diets and may thus prove more acceptable” than having to do the unthinkable—just eat high fiber foods like beans, which have been shown to blunt blood sugar spikes.

What about blended beans like hummus? Unlike grains, blending legumes doesn’t affect their glycemic response. So, let’s circle back to the smoothie question: Is fruit more like grains or more like beans? If you liquefy fruit in a blender to make a smoothie, do you risk spiking your blood sugar too high? To find out, watch my Green Smoothies: What Does the Science Say? video.


My general take on beans is simple: the more beans, the better—however you get them. For more information, watch my videos Beans and the Second Meal Effect, The Hispanic Paradox: Why Do Latinos Live Longer?, and Canned Beans or Cooked Beans?.

Want more on smoothies? Here it is:

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.


106 responses to “Why Intact Grains are Even Better than Whole Grains

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  1. As far as fruit, what about mixing the fruit with avocado fat, or nuts, at the same time? Would the
    fat blunt/slow the blood sugar surge? What would it do to insulin? My concern is that the fat would
    prevent the proper absorption of the glucose into cells, thus, in effect, causing diabetes. Some claim
    that mixing fruit with fat is good, some say it is a short-term fix that later sets up bigger insulin and or
    blood glucose issues. Science?




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    1. I have not seen any investigation into this, but looking at the available related evidence points to the following: 1) Never use isolated fats/oils, but avocado itself would be ok; 2) Eat the nuts, don’t process them in a blender, as studies show decreased death and disease from nut eaters but not nut butter eaters. The isolated fats/oils could very well cause insulin resistance.

      Dr. Ben




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  2. “Even if you blend in a high-speed blender for five minutes, the phytonutrients remain bound to the fiber for transport down to your colon bacteria.” Yeah, but isn’t the fiber destroyed during the blending process? The polyphenols may be left intact, but wouldn’t the fiber be altered to some extent leaving less for the bacteria to eat?




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    1. Excellent point Julie. The only nutrient most Americans lack is fiber. Our microbial partners are sufficient to liberate its constituent parts – fine blending deprives them their due (and ours as well.)

      The digestion of fiber by bacteria also produces a plethora of other healthful substances which processing does not.




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    2. I currently eat a mix of blended or cooked plant foods and I have no issue with having not enough fiber for my bathroom routine. A few years ago, I experimented by consuming plant foods by juicing only like some people advocate for better nutrition absorption and my bathroom routine is the same, which means that there is still fiber even after you juice, which is more than blending. Juicing will allow you to eat more plant foods because you take away some of the fiber. You also compensate the loss of fiber by eating more plant foods this way.

      If I have cancer for instance, I will do juicing to allow me to consume more plant foods.




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    3. Watch the videos he’s listed in the transcript above for more info.

      This site used to have really good moderaters/ volunteers and commenters with a science background, i.e Darryl, Toxins, Thea etc. who were aware of (and respected) the NFO/ Dr Greger content/ research and gave constructive feedback (w/o pushing questionable testing). What happened? I think the NFO team need to reassess their online structure.




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            1. Seriously, might it be possible that Thea decided the “no animal foods ever again” life wasn’t working out too well with her? Some of the most dedicated, die-hard vegans (even those who had popular blogs for years) go back to at least a semi-SAD diet.




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    4. Fiber is not destroyed in any kind of house-hold blender. They are just not strong enough. Only very high power industrial blenders are able to destroy fiber.




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  3. There is a problem from the point of tradition.
    We were in the past not in the possession of all kind of blenders, food was traditionally eaten [dependent om the kind of food] raw, cooked or in soups, roasted , pickled ,maybe fried or stir fried
    Most populations have done so for ages.
    Have they deprived themselves because they had no blenders??
    I wonder.




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  4. “Why Intact Grains are Even Better than Whole Grains”

    I’m eating mostly green vegetables, other plant-based foods, lots of fruit and lots of grains. I enjoy brown rice (cooked) as opposed to the “ground brown rice flour.” you recommend. Please REALIZE there are only so many hours in a day and if I can’t make ground brown rice flour due to other commitments, responsibilities, desires and needs, I feel excellent eating the cooked brown rice.

    On a different note, recently you posted an article “Lead Contamination in Fish & Game”. While informative and educational, the only game you referred to was venison (deer meat). I can tell you with certainty that I have ate venison ONCE in my 64 years. I think I’m lead-free (at least as it pertains to deer meat)! The article was mis-leading, in my opinion.




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    1. hi Steven : I did not read where Dr Greger recommended brown rice flour. Quite the contrary! He said that pitting whole brn rice versus brn rice flour resulted in the rice flour causing twice the insulin spike, and twice the blood sugar spike of the intact grain. If in fact I have mistead it, pls correct me. I admire your patience in cooking brn rice. Other than bread, I eat oatmeal in the mornings – that’s it!




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      1. Susan, I might have mis-read it. Though, have others have pointed out, this writing was confusing. If so, I stand corrected.

        I’m not one for extremism but Dr. Greger at times, goes to the extreme and implies that “if you don’t do this or that in this or that way” you may be putting your health at risk. Hardly. His article about lead contamination in fish & game is case in point. Game is a lot of animals. His article targets venison ONLY. I’ve ate venison once. I was probably 12 yrs. old. Scare tactics or scare headlines we can all do without.




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        1. hi Steven, thanks for your comments. Many mornings I will see a video or article posted that may have little to do with me, like the smoothie series for example, or ones having to do with particular disease processes or conditions. I read them anyway, and check the sources out of interest hoping to expand my general knowledge.

          With the lead contamination video, I was mildly interested since I was fed game frequently as a kid. The first 3 paragraphs of that video dealt with contaminants in fish. Then Dr Greger switched lanes by mentioning lead in plants and game and environment. The other videos listed under Doctor’s notes contain related topics. None of game portion applies to me now (other than environmental issues) since I only eat plants. I totally agree there are times when I feel the “bad news” about our food supply is overwhelming, but all the more reason to ‘keep it simple’.

          As a side note, when I recall eating game decades ago, it was the ducks, quail, geese that contained the shot, never the venison! All the best in health to you Steven!




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          1. Susan,

            I’m striving for plants based (only) meals but I do like fish so an occasional piece of salmon is on my plate or shellfish (shrimp). Not often but alas, fish has some benefits. Thoughts?

            Do use any oils in baking or cooking or dressings?




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            1. hi Steven: sounds to me like you are really doing great ! I really enjoyed my salmon (or scallop) dinners in the past, but I just havent thought of it for the past couple of years. I live in the pacific northwest where salmon is promoted but still pricey. From what I have read on NutritionFacts, I dont believe there has been studies comparing 95% plant based versus 100%plant based to distinguish benefits of one over the other. (anyone who does have studies, feel free to jump in here). Dr Greger says time and again, the more plants the better, but don’t worry at all if you ‘just have to have grandma’s chicken soup ‘ once in a while. It’s all good.
              I don’t use oils, but have on rare occassion wiped the botton of a pan with oily paper towel. I use a silpat silicone baking sheet sometimes http://silpat.com/ to roast cubes of seasoned squash or yams etc, for example. I cook curries often, and soften the onions by cooking with a bit of vegetable broth or even water. By the time the soup/curry/sauce is made, you never know the difference.
              It’s important to find a good dressing you like for salads. Many oil-free recipes can be found on the net. http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/oil-free-dairy-free-salad-dressings/ This may inspire you. I do use a commercially made raspberry dressing by Lighthouse sometimes. It has 1 gm fat per tablespoon. I hope this helps a bit Steven, and Im sure others have great ideas to share as well.




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          2. There are efforts to move to steel shot. It is available in some states. I have always found putting lead into our food and rivers to be insane, although I support hunting and fishing.




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    2. Steven

      I disagree that the article was misleading (it was actually a video BTW)

      If you recall the beginning of that video, Greger specifically mentions lead in fish and shellfish. Also, many of the references he quotes and illustrates on screen refer to big game animals generally.

      I’d imagine that small game animals – rabbits, turkeys, waterfowl etc – would be even worse for obvious reasons.




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  5. does anybody know when the dvds from Dr Gregors recent webinar about marijuana will be sent out? I’m pretty sure I purchased a ticket to view the webinar but I wasn’t able to and I have been waiting for the DVDs to arrive. Haven’t received any kind of acknowledgement.




    0
    1. Hi Alison,

      You would have received instructions to access the digital download file. If you didn’t, please use the green “support” button on the bottom right of any page to submit this to our support team. Thank you!




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  6. This one was a bit confusing — harder to follow than the usual blogs. What’s the actual recommendation here? I think I understood that, as I previously thought, whole grains (e.g. whole barley, millet, kasha, black rice, etc) are still preferable to flours and pastas, even if they are made from whole grains. Right?




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  7. Why does this have to be more complicated than necessary. I just want the healthiest bread available. Whole grain, sprouted grain, now I see there is a whole white grain Pepperidge Farms bread.




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    1. As is almost always the case in nutrition intact whole grains are always the more nutritious (naturally occurring vitamins/ minerals) option. Good, better, best is a good guideline, i.e. white bread<white rice<brown rice/ whole oats or groats/ bulgar etc.

      Don’t stress the details or get caught up reductionism (google it). Dr T Colin Campbell has some great books out covering this. Dr Greger reviews studies – a lot of them. You can choose to agree with his advice or not but base it on educating yourself on the subject vs just personal experience.




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  8. Publix bakery department has a great seeded whole wheat bread with no added oils or other funky ingredients. It is not organic, comes in frozen and about $4.99 a loaf. Very dense and chewy, makes a wonderful veggie sandwich. ( I’m not advertising–ingredients if interested –WW flour, water, honey, gluten, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, yeast and salt. Nothing else. Look at the list of your store bought bread and compare.




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    1. Or make your own bread. Then you control the ingredients. Bread makers are pretty cheap. Not much effort either. Slice the bread when it’s done and freeze. Take out what you need.




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  9. I’m confused. This wasn’t written nearly as well or as clearly as usual. Did Dr Greger write this? Perhaps he was in a hurry! I love all the info I normally get here. Thanks Dr. Greger!




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    1. Agreed. I have no bloody idea what he is trying to say in this article. He jumps from fruit to vegetables to grains to blenders, etc. No clue. Completely scrambled article, from someone who I highly respect and follow.




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    1. Whole, intact grains are the harder kernels, pellets, or berries (whatever you want to call them) BEFORE they are ground into flour or “rolled” and flattened. Many don’t even know that rolled oats aren’t really a “whole” grain. Most have probably never even seen whole oat berries or kernels. They are hard little pellets that resemble wheat kernels. Here’s an article I wrote some years ago listing various types of whole grains and a brief description of how to cook them: https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/d30a77_626f6e9da35c42df8e4652bf6b2fe989.pdf




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  10. Hello all,
    I teach nutrition at a community college in Olympia WA. I use information from this website to inform my lectures, and at some time in the recent past, we were told that blending plant food reduced the fiber value of those foods. That made perfect sense to me, so I used that advice, and told my students that if they were making smoothies, they should add the kale right near the end of the blending, so that there remained visible fragments which could retain some fibrosity. That seems to be at odds with the recent series of videos. Can we have some clarification?




    3
    1. “Dietary Fiber” is not plant strands. It is cellulose which is glucose molecules bound together by a chemical bond that cannot be (significantly) broken by any enzymes in your digestive system; hence it passes on down to gut bacteria to be metabolized or is excreted in your feces. Putting plants in a blender does not break this bond either so the dietary fiber is still there even though you’ve blended it.

      Dr. Ben




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      1. Sorry, Dr. Ben, but that does not seem to make sense. Those sharp blades in a blender would likely do more damage to fibre than your teeth would. But that’s just my opinion. Is your comment your personal opinion or do you have anything to back it up? Would love to see some cItations as I’ve been curious about this for many, many years. Thanks!




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        1. You’re suggesting that a covalent chemical bond between two molecules can be cut with a metal blade. Accordingly, to your line of reason, putting water in a blender would break the H20 bond and create hydrogen and oxygen. This obviously does not happen either. This is based on what I learned while obtaining my bachelors degree in chemistry so yes, personal opinion. Could I be wrong? Sure, as I did not look up the bond strengths above.

          Dr. Ben




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  11. Love this site! Made my smoothie yesterday and added chia seeds at the end. Next, I will make blended soups with more goodness from leafy greens in it- and add turmeric for that anti-inflammatory boost!

    A proud and healthy monthly supporter of Nutritionfacts.org




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    1. Labib Atia, I suggest you look up the Dutch studies on vitamin K 2, not to be confused with K1. They did have patients reduce calcification of the Aortic valve.
      Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute has info on it.
      The NIH is currently doing another trial.
      Caveat is, if you are on blood thinners, you would have to work with your doctor to find the right dose.
      Best wishes to you.




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    2. Labib,
      Marilyn’s suggestions regarding K2 are very much on the mark, with a big caveat. You would want to get a more systemic look at your bodies vessels, via ultrasound, to see if there are other underlying causes or if your aortic valve is exclusively affected. This will focus your approach and give you an idea if taking vitamin K2 therapy will be helpful.

      The Rotterdam study looked at the vitamin K2 intake and found an inverse relationship with higher intake resulting in less and aortic valve calcification and CVD. However, keep in mind that without knowing your preexisting vitamin K2 levels you would not know your risks or association with the disease and your vitamin status.
      If you do find that you’re indeed deficient absolutely consider a trial with some vitamin K2. Keep in mind that there are multiple forms of K2, with the trans K7 being the longer duration and higher activity format, but not necessarily the best approach. For a much more in depth article on vitamin K formats etc. see: How-to-choose-the-right-vitamin-k2-supplement/

      Disclaimer I have no association with this mfg. but found the information helpful and their explanation appropriate. As a supplement formulator, in the past, it’s the “rest of the story” that may make the health difference so please read the whole story and purchase appropriately.

      Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger http://www.CenterofHealth.com




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    1. Why should we take meat eaters, such as yourself, seriously when they advocate for animal rights or wildlife preservation? You literally do not care about the environment or wildlife, Jerry. You would never have the integrity to post this comment on your personal Facebook. You will only ever post this on a Vegan/plant-based website. We see right through you. It’s pathetic.

      Do not let perfect be the enemy of good. Most human activity impacts nature in some way. Should we stay home and not move a muscle so as not to disturb nature at all? We need to optimize our behavior in such a way that is the most sustainable. If you eat meat but worry about the environmental consequences of kale production, then you’re brainwashed. Plain and simple.




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    2. Dishonest again. Or just another big logic fail? Which is it Jerry?

      Are you seriously suggesting that calorie for calorie, nutrient for nutrient, there is more damage to the environment and wildlife from eating kale that eating beef? You are unbelievable.




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    3. So according to my informal survey, none of you guys want to sacrifice your health to save wildlife. Even TG does not want to save the animals although he has a magic drug called statin to lower his cholesterol to stay in good health. You all say screw the animals.




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      1. Obviously eating kale saves animal lives compared to eating animals. how stupid is it to pretend otherwise? Your arguments are just embarrassing Jerry. Surely, they don’t fool even you?

        Your post just deliberately misrepresents what people say. And you know, because I have told you several times, that I do not take statins but still you choose to lie about this too. Why, Jerry, why?

        Is it simply trolling or is it indeed the result of cognitive problems?

        We know that that many cranks on the internet rage against statin drugs produced by those evil pharmaceutical companies. But then you are not likely to need them if you avoid high saturated fat diets and eat WFPB. If you do eat high saturated fat and won’t change,though, then statins may be your best hope of avoiding premature death or other adverse event. That’s what the evidence shows and the opposite of what the cranks claim, eg

        “This study evaluated the effect of statin therapy on mortality in individuals with significant
        coronary artery disease (CAD) stratified by age.
        ………………………………………………………..
        Mortality was decreased among statin recipients in all age groups: 80 years: 29.5%
        among patients not taking a statin versus 8.5% of those taking a statin (adjusted hazard ratio
        [HR] 0.50, p 0.036); 65 to 79 years: 18.7% vs. 6.0% (HR 0.56, p 0.001); and 65 years:
        8.9% vs. 3.1% (HR 0.70, p 0.097).”
        http://www.onlinejacc.org/content/accj/40/10/1777.full.pdf




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          1. I believe Tom is doing the right thing. The problem, as I see it, is that the troll provides incorrect information to visitors to this site who ask the troll questions or read incorrect information posted by the troll and then are misinformed. Thanks to Tom, there may be a more balanced presentation of information!




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    4. I will increase my focus on local greens (including but not limited to kale) and locally grown seeds and nuts. We have pecans in NC, plus sunflower, pumpkin seeds… Thanks for sharing that link, JL




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  12. Personally, I don’t like to ‘blenderize’ anything. I don’t feel like I have eaten when I drink my food.
    Can’t handle wheat, I get a rash, but I found a pumpernickel bread made in Germany (Mestemacher brand), from rye only. It is very coarse and dark, has no fat, high in fiber (6gm.) and protein (4gm.) per slice. I can finally have sandwiches again.
    But, is this article saying that it’s not as good because it has a coarse texture? (You can see the rye kernels in it).
    But it doesn’t spike my blood sugar like a smoother bread or cereal, so I think that is important. Don’t we want blood sugar as low as possible?




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    1. Sorry, Dr. Gregor does say that grains should be coarse, but he thinks greens are better when blended. I was not reading it carefully, obviously! :-)




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  13. Dark leafy greens made me ill. The high oxalate content of all these “healthy” foods made my ears ring like crazy, and a host of other symptoms can stem from high oxalate food.

    I was curious why you said to drink 11 cups of tea one day and then it came to me, it would be a massive amount of fluoride; in addition to a testosterone drop. And now you push intact grains? You might as well be giving everyone leaky gut on purpose.

    No wonder you were reported to be working for Russia. Emasculating men with your food propaganda is a great way to destroy a nation. Yes, eat flax seeds too and watch your testosterone drop in half, then wonder why your hair is falling out and have man boobs, just like Dr. Greger.probably. It’s no wonder you don’t show your face anymore because you do have some big eye bags. High oxalates hammer your kidneys hard, and dark circles are a reflection of the kidneys.




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      1. To be fair, flax seeds do seem to lower testosterone levels. On the other hand, testosterone levels in Western countries are higher than in hunter gatherers who are no less macho or fertile than fat sedentary Westerners.
        https://www.livescience.com/19312-tribal-testosterone-levels.html
        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24203318

        Of course, cholesterol levels, BMI and heart disease tend to be lower in hunter gatherers also.. I am not convinced that, because flax seeds lower testosterone and cholesterol levels below “normal” western levels, this is a bad thing.




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  14. “Dark leafy greens made me ill.”

    Bet your bottom dollar you were ‘ill’ long before the ‘leafy greens’ came along.

    A ticking time-bomb.




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  15. I am sorry for the digression but can anyone answer my question?Is there a grain of truth in the allegation that B17,Laetrile,…is an effective cancer treatment ?
    Thank you




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  16. I try to eat as healthy as possible. I do have a question about the main objective of this site though. Vegetables and fruits are exposed to many harmful contaminants, but it seems like that is ignored here. I understand the concerns about meat, fish, and poultry. I don’t eat red meat and I eat fish or chicken once a week. But it seems that Dr. Greger ignores the pesticides and areas where polluted water is used to farm these fruits and vegetables that we eat. You can’t assume that just because something has a sticker on it that says “organic” that it really is.

    Many fruits and vegetables are now imported into this country. How do you know that the farmers in those countries are using healthy methods of growing their crops? Most of these pesticides are born into the fruits and vegetables at the beginning of the growing season and cannot be removed or washed out. What about the fruits and vegetables that are genetically modified? Very few people can afford to buy 100% guaranteed organic fruits and vegetables.

    Of course their is no perfect healthy diet, but let’s not ignore the fact that fruits and vegetables have their own risks, not due to their nature, but by how they are poisoned through the growing and harvesting process. Livestock are fed all kinds of chemical poisons to fatten them up. They then relieve themselves into the soil where the fruits and vegetables are grown and the ground water is also contaminated. Plus the added poison from acid rain. You have to wonder which is worse, eating chicken that was taken from an animal that was only fed pure ingredients, or eating fruits and vegetables that were exposed to poisons. If we are going to push for a strictly plant -based diet, the next step would be for Dr. Greger to talk about ensuring that the fruits and vegetables you are eating, are 100% safe and where to buy them. I remember reading an article about well-known supermarket that has made a name for itself by touting that they only sell “whole” organic foods, getting sued for attempting to sell foods that were labeled organic when they weren’t.




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    1. hi Jack, this link might help show why we want to avoid animal products. https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/protein/ Saturated fat, cholesterol, IGF-1, endotoxins, tmao, and a host of other topics are covered.
      This is just one of many videos about pesticides/organic foods
      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/are-organic-foods-safer/
      And here is the video collection for plant based foods https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/plant-based-diets/ Very worthwhile reading the intro on that page Jack – startling facts about choosing vegan or vegetarian versus eating meat once per week. Hope this helps




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  17. Hello Dr Greger

    I your presentations ,you never mention whether the food tested is organically or GMO or conventionally grown.
    Do you have any science that compares the health advantages or disadvantages of eating foods of the latter three growing options?Also,does the science take the consequences of herbicides like Glyphosate and pesticides used on our food sources into account when assessing health value?




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    1. Great points…… the problem is that the overwhelming number of studies do not utilize OG food products. That’s probably from an access and cost basis.

      From a statistical point of trying to maintain a level field of confounding factors every food based study, except involving those who are not in charge of their intake, think prisoners or volunteers who are rigidly administered food products without other inputs ….. will have multiple factors affecting the study outcomes. So no study is really ideal, however the study still has a basis in being able to give us enough data to formulate additional follow up experiments and gain knowledge hopefully about best practices.

      New data is once again confirming the cleaner the food….ie. sans pesticides the better of our health. OG foods do seem to contain a slight advantage in nutrient value, however statistically it’s not enough to cover the cost, at least per those looking solely at that consideration. On the other hand it’s clear that there is no question that you do reduce body burden of pesticides when you go organic.

      The GMO debate has more than one side to the story. Think about golden rice with it’s higher carotene levels that could conceivably reduce blindness in thousands of kids per year. It’s not based on a pesticide such as those for crops and glyphosate. Has it been in commerce for enough time to draw some conclusions, probably not, as this article portrays however read between the lines it’s about the lower yield and $’s not the safety considerations. Time and more studies will be necessary to tell us how many of the various crop modifications, be that genetic engineering, natural selection or other crop selections will impact our health.

      Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger http://www.CenterofHealth.com




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  18. hi Matteo Ciavarella, you can use the search function located by clicking on menu (on my screen) to look for any number of health/nutrotion topics. As to your questions about gmo foods, this site has put together a few videos and a written introduction. https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/gmo/ You asked if organic foods were more nutritious, and hopefully this video answers that question https://nutritionfacts.org/video/are-organic-foods-more-nutritious/ Hope this helps !




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  19. Hi JC,

    I am a volunteer for Dr. Greger. Thank you so much for your question.

    While beans are relatively high in methionine, the overall nature of a whole food, plant-based diet centered around fruit and vegetable consumption will be low in methionine. In fact, most servings of meat have 2-4 times the amount of methionine in a serving of beans. There is variation of methionine in beans, so selecting beans lower in methionine like lentils, lima beans, and tofu may help to decrease methionine. Soybeans on the other hand, appear highest in methionine. This may differ from tofu because of the processing method of tofu. White beans and tempeh are also quite high in methionine.

    I hope this helps answer your question.




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  20. I am very perplexed that my total cholesterol and LDL has gone even higher and I have been on a WF plant based diet for a year now.
    I have always had high cholesterol Thx to family history ..I excercise 5 days a week
    and weigh 107 pounds and feel really healthy ..anyone come across this?




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    1. it is apparently not that unusual even though people eating WFPB diets have lower cholesterol on average. Sometimes to takes a while to normalise cholesterol levels. Try the Search box above to look for Posts and Questions on cholesterol – it has been discussed quite a few times.

      Also some foods, even vegetarian foods, raise cholesterol. These include unfiltered coffee for example
      https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070614162223.htm

      You can also eat foods that actively lower cholesterol such as oats and legumes
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2888631/
      https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161007085247.htm

      And of course there have been some recent videos on the effects of amla consumption on cholesterol levels
      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-best-food-for-high-cholesterol/
      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/amla-vs-drugs-for-cholesterol-inflammation-and-blood-thinning/




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      1. Cholesterol again. LOL. When will this 50 year old theory die so that fewer people will be harmed? Probably never as long as Big Pharma still exists.




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        1. Another silly comment based on a resolute refusal to accept the evidence that high cholesterol is a risk factor.

          I remember you claiming that all the evidence over the last 50+ years showing that high cholesterol is a risk factor, was “faked”. Do you understand how crazy that sounds?

          Perhaps you do, you just say the cholesterol theory is wrong now without going into full conspiracy theorist mode. Of course, the Big Pharma remark was a bit of a giveaway there.

          You do know that Big Pharma developed cholesterol lowering drugs AFTER high cholesterol was identified as a CVD risk factor? Not the other way around. Or perhaps you think Big Pharma has time travel technology which allows them to travel back in time to plant evidence about high cholesterol and CVD risk?




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          1. I am like the Greek in 400 BC who discovered that the earth is round while you still believe in the old astronomers who have been saying that the earth is flat for several hundreds or thousand of years before.

            And Columbus would have not discovered America thinking that the earth is flat and he would fell off a cliff after sailing to the end of the earth.

            The cholesterol theory is very similar to the theory whereas scientists think that plaque is the cause of Alzheimer’s. Billions of dollars have been pouring in to develop drugs to get rid of the plaque and billions of dollars are still pouring in for more “plaque research”. Yeah the scientists have succeeded getting of the plaque but Alzheimer’s still exists and is not cured. Why? Because the plaque is the consequence of Alzheimer’s and not the cause.

            Similarly, when the arteries are inflamed, the body sent cholesterol to repair it. Then when a person died of cardiac arrest, they do autopsy and found the “cholesterol” in the arteries and said that aha, the cholesterol is the cause of CHD when it is the consequence.

            So high cholesterol is an indication that inflammation may happen, albeit a very lousy indication. CRP is a better test. But you don’t take drug to “lower cholesterol” like you did and fried your liver and pancrea in the process. You need to fight inflammation. A high cholesterol does not necessarily mean CHD is imminent, nor a low cholesterol means it is not.

            And saturated fat does not cause inflammation nor CHD but that is another story to explain. You need to get rid of the “cholesterol” theory first before you can understand further.




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            1. One problem with your THEORY, unproven, is that people who drop their cholesterol below 150 are pretty much heart attack-proof. Jerry, have you read about Caldwell Esselstyn and his patients? He put them on a fat-free diet–yes, fat FREE, and they lived long and healthy after their cardiologists pretty much gave up hope. One woman lived to 90-something after having heart problems in her 60’s.

              Jerry, have you read about Caldwell Esselstyn? His work would seem to prove your ideas aren’t correct.




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              1. They took people who ate a SAD diet and put them on a healthy diet, and in the process “cholesterol” may drop because of less inflammation and their CHD is cured, but cholesterol is not the cause of CHD. And so is saturated fat.




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                  1. They could have put those guys on a *healthy* high fat diet and those guys would do even better. Point is *low fat* has nothing to do with healthy diet, if not helping it more.




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                  2. Wow..didn’t expect these responses ..good info guys .. So I am a very active 58 year old have accomplished 2 Ironman triathlons and in the gym 5 days a week ..weigh 107 pounds have never smoked , drink a glass of red wine on an occasion . I have always run high in the cholesterol department Thx to family history, I refuse to go on statins ..I am low risk .surely!
                    I have been on the whole food /plant based diet strictly for about 10 months now and before that was eating very little animal protein but some dairy like yogurt /creamer in my coffee. Now I make my own plant milks never eat dairy products , I feel great and even leaner ..
                    I just had my labs checked and was so surprised to see that my total cholesterol and LDL is even higher …HDL and triglycerides are normal /ratio went up a little but in the ok range. Could it be the nuts ? How do you do you eat a fat free diet ? You need some fat ..
                    What about red yeast rice ? Increase my oats intake Extra extra fiber …
                    Thoughts ?




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  21. There is a growing trend in the bread industry towards sprouted grain bread products and these are being touted as more nutritious than naturally fermented whole grain products. Is there any solid research that support these claims? I would be interested to hear Dr. Greger’s feedback on this topic.
    Thank you for all your work on this web site. It is an invaluable resource on nutrition for people like me!




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  22. Are there specific foods that a Type 2 diabetic with high blood pressure should avoid on the whole foods plant based diet? Should they limit grains and go heavier on the beans? Are there certain foods that are just not recommended on this diet?




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    1. The main thing to avoid is processed food. Per the above comment about sprouted grain breads, they still have an excess amount of sodium and are highly processed, often with added oils and refined carbs. As Dr. G has explained in his videos, T2D is a disease of fat toxicity, so anything that will increase triglyceride levels such as free oils/fats or processed carbs is a “red light” item (notice I’m not calling it food because it’s not).
      Grains/seeds are fine, but you need to eat the whole grain/seed that has not been ground up. Even smoothies changes the equation, and per the above comment, it’s best to not make em. Dr. G has shown these changes in a recent vid on smoothies. Oatmeal, quinoa, millet is great. Bread is not.
      This vid on CURING T2D and LADA is very entertaining and anecdotal evidence of all this:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pjkC71exKU

      Dr. Ben




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      1. Thanks for your response! I understand now the concept of why certain foods should be avoided and which are better to eat. But does this mean that flax seeds (for Omega 3s) should be eaten whole?




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        1. I don’t think there is any concrete evidence on flax seed yet, but they are so hard and waxy that if you eat them whole, I don’t think you’ll absorb much unless you chew them well. I don’t like the taste unless they are roasted, so I just go with walnuts instead.

          Dr. Ben




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  23. What can someone on the whole foods plant based diet do to prevent herpes outbreaks? Diets that include animal products (yogurts, dairy and meat) seem to keep outbreaks at bay, but for the vegan, these are options. And eating wakame (as suggested in prior posts) seems complicated with radiation issues. What do you all suggest?




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  24. Thank you for your question. There does not seem to be strong science to support certain foods for prevention of herpes. However, there is a suggestion from laboratory studies that some foods may be helpful, these include isoflavones from soy, vitamin E and probiotics. Also, foods that maintain a healthy immune system would be expected to help, such as a diet rich in green vegetables. Green tea may be beneficial. However, I am not sure with the available evidence that a specific recommendation can be made over and above the advice to eat a whole foods plant based diet.




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