Donate to support independent nutrition research

Money has had a corrupting influence in the field of nutritional science. Financial considerations decide which foods get studied, which studies get published, and which findings get disseminated to the public. And when a company funds its own research, you always have to worry if the inherent conflict of interest is biasing the results. Public funding is on the decline, so what about truly public funding–crowdfunding science? If that appeals to you, please consider chipping in.

Any donations made to the NutritionFacts.org Research Fund will be restricted to independent research activities. If you’d like to make a general donation to support our work please go here. Click a donation amount below to donate to the research fund via PayPal:




















Project #1: Testing the Lead Levels in Popular Brands of Nutritional Yeast

California Prop 65 warnings on nutritional yeast packaging alerted us to the potential presence of the toxic heavy metal lead, but how much? As you can see in my video Nutritional Yeast to Prevent the Common Cold, two of the companies ignored our inquiries and we got unsatisfactory answers from most of the others, so we decided to test them ourselves at an accredited lab.

The results can be found here: Three Brands of Nutritional Yeast Contain Detectable Lead Levels But the Risk is Minimal

In short, we found detectable amounts of lead in samples of Frontier, KAL, and Whole Foods brand nutritional yeast, but the lead levels were so low that they all comply with the exceedingly (and justifiably) strict California Prop 65 standards. Still, I advise pregnant women who eat more than a third of a cup a day on a regular basis choose a different brand. No detectable lead levels were found in Bob’s Red Mill, Bragg, Dr. Fuhrman, Red Star, or NOW Foods brand nutritional yeast.


What do you think we should test next? Want to know if there’s heavy metals in popular brands of amla or turmeric? Should we check Eden Foods preliminary bean results? Check for oxidation by-products in DHA supplements? Thallium in Kale? You tell us!

Leave your suggestions and comments below and we’ll post all the results when they come in.


75 responses to “NutritionFacts.org Research Fund

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. Thank you so much for this information. Yes, please test both amla and turmeric as my family and or I consume both daily. I am currently using Terrasoul Superfoods Amla Powder which says it is organic and raw. For turmeric, I have used both Whole Foods 365 Everday Value ground turmeric and Simply Organicbrand ground turmeric.




    0
  2. This is a fantastic idea! I am excited to see the results, and even more excited to see what you test next! And I agree, turmeric and amla are both great, so many of us take these things daily and it is frightening to think that toxic chemicals could be lurking in them. How nice it would be to have a few go-to brands that we can all feel safe about…and what a great selling point for the companies even! There has got to be some decent buying power in the readership of this site, and who knows? We may encourage a small revolution in health food products – no more hiding iffy ingredients, your customers have the power to test for themselves.

    One suggestion (and this may already be in the works) – maybe add a ‘progress to goal’ bar for the funding. :)




    0
  3. I just donated. This is a good project. Could you also test Dr. Furhman’s nutritional yeast. His is the only brand without folic acid.




    0
    1. Thanks so much, David! We appreciate your donations. At this point we are only testing the six brands Dr. Greger listed. Perhaps in the future we can tests more.

      Thanks again,
      Joseph




      0
    2. Just checked the website. Dr. Fuhrman’s brand of nutritional yeast is completely unfortified, which is not a problem for those taking his supplements. But some people cannot take supplements and fortified foods can be quite useful for those people.

      I will stick with Braggs for now.




      0
  4. This is a terrific project—I’m in! I also vote for checking turmeric and alma, as well as Eden beans and DHA supplements. And raw cacao … I love that stuff … Oh please, not the chocolate …




    0
          1. Thank you so much for that update. I’m not surprised but disappointed that there’s just one more company that bellies up to unscrupulous practices. Thanks again!




            0
    1. Yes, we would too. Many folks are asking about Algae-based supplements. We’ll certainly consider, as I know other members are actually asking the companies themselves about their testing methods. Stay tuned…

      Thanks Mer Maid,
      Joseph




      0
      1. Drs. McDougall and Esselstyn, as well as others in the field, believe we can get all the omega-3s we need (largely in the form of ALA) by simply eating a variety of whole plant foods. They say any omega supplements are unnecessary. This resonates with me, since I assume we can get all our nutrition from whole plant foods (Genesis 1:29), and only make exceptions if it has been clearly proven to be needed (which means only B12, and D if not getting much sunshine). Dr. Greger cites studies which give evidence that mothers supplementing with omega-3 supplements benefit their babies in utero. But presumably these studies were done with Standard American Diet people. Have any studies been done proving that people on a whole food plant based diet, or their in utero infants, benefit from omega-3 supplements compared to those on the same diet not taking those supplements?




        0
  5. Hi. I have read Dr. Cass Ingram’s book titled THE CURE IS IN THE FOREST. This book is dedicated entirely to the Chaga Mushroom. It is a mushroom which grows on Birch trees. Chaga is part of the tree’s immune system and matures at 20 years old. Since trees are the oldest plants on the planet, their medicinal value has evolved to be of great benefit. The problem is you can’t eat trees. Chaga takes the outstanding nutritional aspects of the birch tree and converts them to a highly useable human form. If all Dr. Ingram says is true (based on the research which is old) chaga is the most nutrient dense mushroom in the world, easily beating out all other mushroom species. I would like Chaga to be tested. The best places to purchase unprocessed chunk or powdered chaga is on Ebay. Minnesota, has a lot of it growing and the price is good. Lets test chaga and see if it is indeed the king of mushrooms. Joe. J




    0
  6. I donated a bit. Thank you for offering to have the analysis done if there is enough support. I changed my brand of yeast to Braggs based on their disclosure of lead content.




    0
  7. Thank you for doing this! I commented on the lead concern a few months ago (after I saw the Prop 65 label on nutritional yeast) and have been wondering about it ever since. Wondering if it might be due to nutritional yeast being grown on molasses, which sometimes has problems with lead. I just donated to the fund, and can’t wait to see the results of the first project!




    0
  8. Finally heard from Redstar! Just waiting to see if they’ll give me
    permission to post their test results, but they sent me two 3rd party
    reports saying <0.02 mg/kg (ppm). Looks like we're finally getting
    somewhere! Keep an eye on this page to see the results of the head-to-head tests we're
    doing ourselves (thanks to your support!). I think we're going to be ending up doing like a dozen different brands!




    0
  9. I would love to see the Trader Joe’s brand of corn tortillas tested for GMO’s. They claim all of their house branded products are GMO free…yet they will not put that on the product label. Almost all corn (unless organic) contains GMO. If they were using organic corn for the tortillas, you would think they would label as such. Same thing with their canola oil etc…




    0
  10. I’ve been hearing about thallium in brassicas, especially kale. Seems to come from water/soil contamination from ore smelting, oil refining, soluble in water but complexes with alkaline soil. Is bioaccumulated by brassicas, unlike other veggies which only reflect Tl percentage in the soil. Given irrigation water reuse field to field in places like CA, problem could be amplified by irrigation, like selenium–remember Kesterson? Not sure how this could be tested efficiently since it should vary by locale a lot. But something kale eating vegans should be aware of.




    0
    1. Hi Alice. Thanks for your comment. I just saw some studies on thallium. We’ll keep your suggestions in mind. Thanks so much.

      Joseph




      0
  11. +1 on the amla testing! We use “eSutras organics” brand, purchased from Amazon. Also a suggestion, might be nice to have a poll to vote on what to test next!




    0
    1. Good idea! Right now we’re just thinking through some ideas and seeing what interests our members. 10-4 on Amla testing :) Thanks for your input, Devin.

      Sincerely,
      Joseph




      0
  12. What about natural grocers brand of nutritional yeast I would like to see that ? and what are the safety levels at? how much is too much




    0
      1. It’s a store brand. Natural Grocers is a regional chain of health food/supplement stores in the northwest, southwest, and half of the midwest (but not California).




        0
  13. Great idea to do independent testing! Why would we have government departments devoted to food safety if they can’t do it though? Perhaps consider the citizen/open science movement exemplified by Public Laboratories. Very sensitive affordable detection devices will be available in this space within the next decade. There’s a thread ATM about putting CE technology into everyday peoples hands happening on a PublicLaboratory list right now. This kind of tech sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars but post-doc researchers are experimenting with DIY devices at the $3000 price point. This would open up a regime of testing where the human labour component would be the limiting factor.And with volunteer efforts, like most environmental work, it could be very feasible to expose food stuffs providers to genuine accountability and provide an unheard of level of consumer/citizen safety.




    0
  14. Just donated, looking forward to the results. I used nutritional yeast for years and recently stopped after reports of gross contamination. Would love to see more on MS treatments. Thanks for all you do!




    0
  15. Checking for oxidation in DHA supplements from algae sources is of particular interest to me and I think it would help inform many other participants on NutritionFacts.org. I have three product recommendations to start with:

    Diva
    Opti3omega
    nuique

    I propose tests for oxidation, heavy metals, semi-volatile organic compounds (optional), and content to see if the label specifications are correct. Is that a good study design? If yes, what would study cost? I have not delved into food laboratory testing so I could use some guidance on this subject if staff of NutritionFacts.org has reputable analytical laboratories they recommend. Please let me know.

    Dan




    0
  16. I love the Whole Foods Korintje Cinnamon (Indonesian) but have concerns about the coumarin levels which may be toxic to the liver. As I consume about a teaspoon a day, I have switched over to Ceylon cinnamon. I would love to know whether it is safe to return to my favorite Indonesian variety. Donation made!




    0
  17. “Normal” clinical lab values are determined in each clinical laboratory by testing a bunch of “normal” people who don’t seem sick, and from that, deriving a “normal” range. When your blood is tested, your doctors compare YOUR results to the “average” results of those “normal” people in your community. I would like to know what the “normal” ranges are on common clinical lab tests of people on whole food plant based diets. Why should we on a WFPB diet be comparing our results to people who are eating SAD? Shouldn’t we compare ourselves to those who are eating optimally – the ones who can be expected to live longer and better? A lipid panel is the prime example that is already well documented, but what about other common lab tests? Are the “normal” ranges too wide? Would the range be narrower or shifted (and therefor more helpful for early detection of imbalance) if normal ranges for WFPB eaters were determined from the WFPB population?




    0
  18. I love that this fund exists and that you’re taking research into your own hands! Although, and there is no right or wrong or answers here, the first thing I thought after reading the results was, “I wonder what brand my nutritional yeast is.” I buy all my grains, legumes, spices, herbs, and similar items in bulk bins to minimize the packaging waste associated with buying food in the US. If I have to start buying specific brand name products, the amount of packaging is going to increase, and that makes me sad. FWIW, I know the bulk turmeric is Frontier Co-Op brand. Hope you test that and it comes out safe!




    0
  19. I would like to see an organization test chocolate soy milk vs chocolate dairy milk for athletic recovery. It seems to me the soy milk may be as effective, but without the cholesterol. It might even result in a headline that the media take an interest in.




    0
  20. Definitely an investigative report is needed on Stevia. So many companies are using this substitute for sugar as the second ingredient to minimalize the unhealthy first ingredient of sugar, dextrose, or other forms of sugar. There are so many different companies shamelessly getting on the Stevia bandwagon, one needs to check Walmart to believe it. Even Coca Cola got into the game coming out with Coca Cola Life (death, diabetes, etc.). But I have seen no articles from health professionals cautioning the public to read their labels. Sugar in all forms costs a fraction of what Stevia does, but the public reads Stevia and thinks healthy.




    0
  21. Nabeel Abraham

    Hope I am not too late. As a prelude to donating to the Research Fund (I’m a long time supporter of the site), I want to share with you what I was able to get from ZNaturalFoods,com regarding their “organic” Amla powder, dried gogi berries, Triphala powder. In a written statement the retailer assured me that they test both at the country of origin and in the US. I requested copies of their lab tests. It took several weeks and several requests. (Apparently, since I am not buying 100 lb bags wholesale, just a small fry retail customer, they were reluctant to share lab results with me.) I finally received lab breakdowns, things like “Heavy Metals” < 5 ppm; lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury each at < 0.5 ppm for their Amla powder, among other technical jargon etc. Two things stood out in my mind. One, I have no way of knowing whether these ppms are good or bad from a human health perspective. Second, the test results for each product were on the online retailer's letterhead, NOT on lab stationery! I wrote back asking for a facsimile of the lab reports and received a curt response that the retailer does not give out its sources. I retorted I wasn't interested in their sources, but in reputable lab test results. The latest installment is they want to discuss the matter with me by phone, not a promising sign. All this is by way of saying that health conscious individuals want reassurance that what we are buying and ingesting into our bodies is free from toxic matter. So, yes, any testing by NutritionFacts.Org would be most welcome. I am posting my donation to this end immediately.




    0
  22. I hope we can do an Amla study soon. I bought the Terrasoul Superfoods brand. Other ideas: measuring the nutritients lost from almonds when they’ve been steamed or treated (in Calif you can’t buy unprocessed, raw almonds, due to some salmonella scare from the past); aflatoxin levels in common brands of hot pepper sauces; radioactive isotopes in seaweed and nigari (used to make natural tofu) from Japan or the Pacific. Maybe we need to bring a Geiger counter along with us to the grocery store




    0
  23. I’d love to see a crossover study of turmeric on cholesterol. In my own testing on myself, I found an approx. 15 mm/dl reduction in LDL. However, I didn’t have an opportunity to run a real crossover study where I refrain from turmeric for 2 weeks, test, ingest turmeric for 2 weeks, test, and repeat.




    0
  24. I’ve recently been adding a daily teaspoon or so of organic turmeric to my beans and broccoli for health reasons, so I would very much like to know if there’s a heavy metal risk! Thank you so much for all your excellent nutrition and health info–I read How Not to Die soon after it came out and have been following the website, blog, newsletters and videos ever since….




    0
  25. Is the Research Fund still active? I’m curious because there’s only been 1 study in 2 years, that I can tell. Is there a lack of funding?

    +1 vote for adding a funding ticker/goal for your studies.

    Love the site, and much kudos/respect to Dr. Greger and his team.
    Thanks!




    1
    1. Jamie: Thanks for this post. I brought this to the attention of the NutritionFacts staff. They are going to talk about it and get back to us.




      0

Leave a Reply

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

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This