Alzheimer’s Disease, Copper, and Saturated Fat

Alzheimer’s Disease, Copper, and Saturated Fat
4.88 (97.56%) 41 votes

If copper is associated with Alzheimer’s disease, what about healthy, whole plant food sources such as nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains?


Though the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s disease has yet to be found, there is an increasing burden of proof on the role of metals in the development of the disease. Iron and copper, for example, are strongly concentrated within the plaques and tangles that represent the hallmarks of the Alzheimer’s brain.

Alzheimer’s disease victims have higher levels of copper in their blood and in the fluid that surrounds their brain, and inside their brain. Here’s a slice of Alzheimer’s diseased brain tissue showing the amyloid plaques, corresponding to copper hotspots. Copper may then make these amyloid plaques more toxic, leading to increased oxidative stress. Free copper is extremely efficient in the generation of free radicals, and when copper is removed with a chelating drug, the free radical oxidation drops.

Unfortunately, when researchers tried giving that drug to nine Alzheimer’s patients in a pilot study, it did not seem to have any effect on slowing the clinical progression of the disease; so, maybe we need to prevent the copper buildup in the first place.

Organ meats and shellfish are the richest food sources of copper. But should we also consider cutting down on plant sources, such as nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains? Copper intake only seems to be a problem when consumed with saturated fat or transfat.

In the Chicago Health and Aging Project, thousands of elderly Chicagoans were followed for six years. Those who were getting the highest copper doses, largely from multivitamin supplements, combined with a diet high in saturated fats, lost cognition as if they had aged 19 years in a period of six years, tripling their rate of cognitive decline. But copper intake was not associated with cognitive change when the diet was not also high in saturated fats.

Diet-induced high cholesterol has been shown to increase the formation and progression of amyloid plaques in the brain. And dietary copper may interfere with clearance of amyloid from the brain, and may further promote the plaque accumulation that results from elevated cholesterol levels. Copper has been shown to interact badly with amyloid, causing its clumping and the production of hydrogen peroxide, a potent pro-oxidant neurotoxin.

This may help explain why the higher the levels of copper, the quicker Alzheimer’s disease may progress, particularly among people with high cholesterol levels.

This is what we think may be happening. As cholesterol and copper levels rise, cholesterol is incorporated into the nerve cell membrane, causing it to stiffen. The amyloid protein in the membrane detaches to form plaques, at which point, iron and copper generate neurotoxic free radicals. Inside the cell, similar havoc is created, and finally cholesterol-enriched diets can lead to nerve cell death, DNA damage, and blood-brain barrier disruption.

In conclusion, the present systematic review suggests that a diet rich in copper and iron might aggravate the detrimental effects of a high intake of cholesterol and saturated fat on the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. So, diets rich in saturated fat and deficient in antioxidants appear to promote the onset of the disease, while more plant-based diets would likely suppress its onset. There are compounds in plant foods that not only scavenge free radicals and prevent oxidative damage, but are also known to chelate, or bind up, metals, potentially making them additionally be protective against the onset of Alzheimer’s. Therefore, the practical implications could be to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, avoid copper-containing supplements, and avoid high intakes of saturated fat and excessive iron intake.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Geralt via Pixabay.

Though the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s disease has yet to be found, there is an increasing burden of proof on the role of metals in the development of the disease. Iron and copper, for example, are strongly concentrated within the plaques and tangles that represent the hallmarks of the Alzheimer’s brain.

Alzheimer’s disease victims have higher levels of copper in their blood and in the fluid that surrounds their brain, and inside their brain. Here’s a slice of Alzheimer’s diseased brain tissue showing the amyloid plaques, corresponding to copper hotspots. Copper may then make these amyloid plaques more toxic, leading to increased oxidative stress. Free copper is extremely efficient in the generation of free radicals, and when copper is removed with a chelating drug, the free radical oxidation drops.

Unfortunately, when researchers tried giving that drug to nine Alzheimer’s patients in a pilot study, it did not seem to have any effect on slowing the clinical progression of the disease; so, maybe we need to prevent the copper buildup in the first place.

Organ meats and shellfish are the richest food sources of copper. But should we also consider cutting down on plant sources, such as nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains? Copper intake only seems to be a problem when consumed with saturated fat or transfat.

In the Chicago Health and Aging Project, thousands of elderly Chicagoans were followed for six years. Those who were getting the highest copper doses, largely from multivitamin supplements, combined with a diet high in saturated fats, lost cognition as if they had aged 19 years in a period of six years, tripling their rate of cognitive decline. But copper intake was not associated with cognitive change when the diet was not also high in saturated fats.

Diet-induced high cholesterol has been shown to increase the formation and progression of amyloid plaques in the brain. And dietary copper may interfere with clearance of amyloid from the brain, and may further promote the plaque accumulation that results from elevated cholesterol levels. Copper has been shown to interact badly with amyloid, causing its clumping and the production of hydrogen peroxide, a potent pro-oxidant neurotoxin.

This may help explain why the higher the levels of copper, the quicker Alzheimer’s disease may progress, particularly among people with high cholesterol levels.

This is what we think may be happening. As cholesterol and copper levels rise, cholesterol is incorporated into the nerve cell membrane, causing it to stiffen. The amyloid protein in the membrane detaches to form plaques, at which point, iron and copper generate neurotoxic free radicals. Inside the cell, similar havoc is created, and finally cholesterol-enriched diets can lead to nerve cell death, DNA damage, and blood-brain barrier disruption.

In conclusion, the present systematic review suggests that a diet rich in copper and iron might aggravate the detrimental effects of a high intake of cholesterol and saturated fat on the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. So, diets rich in saturated fat and deficient in antioxidants appear to promote the onset of the disease, while more plant-based diets would likely suppress its onset. There are compounds in plant foods that not only scavenge free radicals and prevent oxidative damage, but are also known to chelate, or bind up, metals, potentially making them additionally be protective against the onset of Alzheimer’s. Therefore, the practical implications could be to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, avoid copper-containing supplements, and avoid high intakes of saturated fat and excessive iron intake.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Geralt via Pixabay.

Doctor's Note

Isn’t Alzheimer’s genetic? What about the “Alzheimer’s gene”? Just because we’ve been dealt some bad genetic cards doesn’t mean we can’t reshuffle the deck with diet. See The Alzheimer’s Gene: Controlling ApoE.

If the relationship between cholesterol and dementia is new to you, see Alzheimer’s and Atherosclerosis of the Brain and Cholesterol and Alzheimer’s disease for more.

What else can we do to protect our brain? Check out:

It’s never too early to start eating healthier, because Alzheimer’s May Start Decades Before Diagnosis.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

236 responses to “Alzheimer’s Disease, Copper, and Saturated Fat

Comment Etiquette

On, you'll find a vibrant community of nutrition enthusiasts, health professionals, and many knowledgeable users seeking to discover the healthiest diet to eat for themselves and their families. As always, our goal is to foster conversations that are insightful, engaging, and most of all, helpful – from the nutrition beginners to the experts in our community.

To do this we need your help, so here are some basic guidelines to get you started.

The Short List

To help maintain and foster a welcoming atmosphere in our comments, please refrain from rude comments, name-calling, and responding to posts that break the rules (see our full Community Guidelines for more details). We will remove any posts in violation of our rules when we see it, which will, unfortunately, include any nicer comments that may have been made in response.

Be respectful and help out our staff and volunteer health supporters by actively not replying to comments that are breaking the rules. Instead, please flag or report them by submitting a ticket to our help desk. is made up of an incredible staff and many dedicated volunteers that work hard to ensure that the comments section runs smoothly and we spend a great deal of time reading comments from our community members.

Have a correction or suggestion for video or blog? Please contact us to let us know. Submitting a correction this way will result in a quicker fix than commenting on a thread with a suggestion or correction.

View the Full Community Guidelines

    1. I don’t know what has been circulating around the internet about root canals but if they are done by an experienced Dentist or Endodontist then they can potentially save your tooth. Here is a response from a Plant Based dentist I know very well. This response was left on a previous post a week ago:

      “Not all root canals are the same. Done well, I would always choose the root canal. It can result in healing as effective as an extraction, total. There are several people in town I would choose to deliver superior, thoroughly clean and filled systems. I have done 6 on my wife. All have over 30 year success. Of the two implants, one required great expense and additional surgery to extend its life prognosis and she and I will worry MORE about the longevity prognosis of the implant than my root canal therapy.

      All of the concern about RCT stems from books (I own and have read) drawing from cases from decades ago looking at styles of therapy that are prehistoric. Personally I have done all of my own patient’s root canals for 35 years and when there was only one specialist in town, I did RCT’s for about 8 other dentists on referral.”

      I hope this helps your decision.

    2. This is ridiculous:
      No guarantee that this is safe.
      Decisions you make at your own risk.
      You need be in perfect health to have dead teeth.
      To this day we do not know all of the bacteria that live in dead teeth(= pumice = bacteria volcan ).
      To this day we do not know all toxins from bacteria in dead teeth are trasmiten.
      To this day we do not know how to check death teeth.
      If you start to get sick, you have to first pull out dead teeth!

      If some dentist say that is safe is a scammer.
      Educate yourself people

      1. You obviously don’t know what you are talking about. Root canals are very safe procedures that can prolong the life of your teeth for many many years.

  1. The synchrotron analysis shows zinc having an even greater correlation with amyloid hot spots than copper. Where does zinc fit into this picture? I’ve never taken copper supplements, but have frequently taken zinc.

    1. Hello, As far as I can tell, the literature offers no clear answer to this question either. Zinc has been investigated, and more studies are ongoing, but evidence for a role of zinc in Alzheimer’s disease so far has been mixed.

    2. Knowbeans: Zinc and copper compete for absorption by the gut, meaning the higher the zinc content in the diet; the lower the absorption of copper. But, as you’ve said, if zinc contributes more to Alzheimer’s than copper does, taking zinc supplements or eating zinc-rich foods lower copper absorption wouldn’t help. Like you, I take a zinc supplement because a vegan diet is not rich in zinc, and my concern has been developing copper efficiency.

      1. I seriously doubt you will develop a copper deficiency on any diet. A few years ago I was on a copper chelating drug because it was supposed to help prevent the return of cancer. I took this drug, along with extra zinc, for MONTHS before reaching the therapeutic level of copper in my blood. And when I finally got there, my platelets, white cells, and who knows what else plummeted, as if I were on chemo. After easing off and trying this again several times, it never worked well for me. I was on a forum of others using this drug (Tetrathiomolybdate) and many of us had a hard time getting to and maintaining a low copper level. I finally went off the drug because it was too hard on my immune system. I was eating at least 95% vegan during this time. There were some who were able to reach the therapeutic level more quickly, and even maintain it better than I did, but I don’t think anybody got there solely by increasing zinc, though some tried that first.

        1. For us cancer survivors, new research is showing that flavonols are particularly promising–phytonutrients such as quercetin, myricetin and kaempferol. They appear to selectively target cancer cells, binding copper (which accumulates in cancer cells) and fueling free radicals of oxygen in cancer cells, which leads to their suicide. Here’s Dr. Keith Block on anti-oxidants acting as pro-oxidants in cancer cells. And here’s a summary of new research that shows many flavonols keep cancer cells from utilizing glucose and fatty acids as fuels.

          1. Thank you for this. I hear from cancer patients all the time, asking for information about how to use alternatives to help defeat their cancers. I like being able to send along good information to them. There is so much more available than there was even just six years ago, so it’s hard to keep up.

            In the article from Dr Block it sounds like they were giving antioxidant supplements. I’d love to see research comparing supplements with food, especially in light of those who advocate a ketogenic diet for cancer. I really don’t see how a ketogenic diet would work since animal protein stimulates IGF1, which stimulates cancer growth, but the diet certainly has its’ promoters.

    3. Not too long ago, Aluminum was the leading culprit. I was, in fact, surprised to see that zinc and copper are now the leading bad guys. Nevertheless, a good diet (whole food, plants only, AND low fat) seems to trump them all. Why worry? Be happy.

      1. Agree. I love this website but for newbies to plant based eating, it can be a mine field and actually demotivating. Eat this, don’t eat that, 1/4 teaspoon a day of this, 1/4 ounce a day of that. There’s a lot of minutiae to sift through if you are just coming to this diet. I say eat the plants you like and branch out if you feel like it. The benefits will follow. Bon appetit!

        1. Couldn’t agree with you more Paul. Although I do love to hear the science, it just makes sense to me to eat a variety of the plants we evolved with, spare my fellow creatures, and trust that nature doesn’t make the same blunders that man is so prolific at! I take B12 for obvious reasons, but adding random supplements, because we don’t consume the animals we were taught to, is Russian roulette on so many levels since you never know what you are actually getting nor what it’s affect will actually be. We evolved to get our nutrition from whole food that was available locally and it’s just a no-brainer that we continue to do so. Again, it’s nice to be able to fine tune the proven benefits, but our cumulative dietary problem seems to be much more one of excess than deficiency. It looks like that could be the worse of the two extremes. The ability to handle a certain amount of environmental stress is built into us and even has some benefits, nature can be fickle, but our lives have become so far removed from it we are floundering. I think there comes a point where stressing over so many specifics and trying to control every variable seems counter-intuitive to being “healthy”. Being “gifted” with these big brains is a mixed blessing!

    4. My graduate work was studying copper and zinc reacting with the truncated amyloid beta peptide in 2010. I’ve read hundreds of articles involving metals involved with Alzheimer’s disease. The problem with zinc is that it is *very* difficult to study because it’s considered spectroscopically silent.

  2. How about high intake saturated fat from plant-based sources alongside high copper? Lots of vegans eat a high saturated fat diet full of copper…..the copper from beans, grains, and seeds, can be high. Does the science suggest the potential alzheimers causative factor when coming strictly from a vegan high fat high copper diet?

    1. There’s a lot of debate surrounding the healthfulness of plant-based saturated fats and some evidence both pro and con. I don’t think the research has yet provided clear answers even for healthy people. I think more controlled experiments are needed.

      1. Yes, debate in regards to issues other than what is being discussed today, in this video. But specifically, what does the science say about plant based fats combined with plant based copper, both in excessive intake?

        1. Hello, I meant there is a lot of scientific debate about saturated fats! :D Your question is certainly relevant but the literature is not yet clear about the health risks and benefits of plant based saturated fats even in healthy people, much less combined with copper, or in vegetarians, or with respect to Alzheimer’s disease risk.

          Overall though, the research supports the idea that lifestyle modifications that are protective for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes are also protective against dementia. Hopefully that trend provides some general guidance while we wait for more studies.

          1. Great point! When I eat a lot of nut butters, my LDL shoots up to 110-125, but when I cut them out, I’m down to 85. I’ve tested this several times and it is a very clear correlation. So… could be linked to heart disease.

            Re copper, any thoughts on whether the copper in vitamins derived from plants, i.e. Megafood which Andrew Weil endorsed, would be as risky as copper in other vitamins?

              1. My nut butters are always raw (not roasted), and generally confined to almond and hazelnut butter since they have the lowest sat. fat contents. That said, I have an ApoE4 gene allele (just one, not two) — which 20% of the population has — making me more susceptible to the effects of cholesterol or saturated fat. And no, I don’t eat bread.

                1. Well, thanks. That’s really strange that you are sensitive to nuts, even accounting for your ApoE4 gene. Who knows, maybe you are really just an exception. I don’t think that raw nuts are better than roasted. Heating often makes beneficial compounds more bioavailable.

                  1. The data that I looked at suggests that raw nuts have about 5% lower saturated fat levels than their roasted counterparts. Obviously something to do with the heating/cooking process. But I’m not alone in this. I have another friend with an ApoE4 who has noticed the exact same effect in his testing. Anyway, it’s consistent with what nutritionists have been saying for years. We should expect to see LDL elevations with ANY saturated fats, even plant-based. Not suggesting eliminating them though — nuts have other benefits. But keeping an eye on one’s own LDL is always wise, and if high, nuts could be a factor.

            1. Maybe, even in “healthy” fats, there is no free ride. Plant fats that are mostly monounsaturated do contain some saturated, as well as polyunsaturated fats. Of course the phase “a lot” is relative, but I don’t think your experience is unique. I wonder if oxidation has any relevance here. There’s gotta be some heat generated when nuts are turned into butter, not to mention shelf life, exposure to air, etc. What would be an interesting experiment is, if you replace nut butters with whole nuts?

              1. There’s definitely no free ride with saturated plant fats. That’s why Esselstyn and Campbell tell their heart patients to minimize nuts and avoid avocado. In my case, oxidation isn’t an issue either, since I buy only raw nuts butters, not roasted, and keep them refrigerated at all times.

                1. OK, you do know even “raw” almonds are pasteurized according to US law. And again, turning nuts into butter generates heat, so technically, its a processed food. Your point to minimize nuts/ nut butters is perfectly reasonable.

                    1. Yeah, I found out a few years back we can no longer buy raw organic almond butter. If you like almonds, go ahead and eat them. I wouldn’t worry about it, I mean you’re probably only eating less than a handful a day. Although IMHO, walnuts are still truly raw and are probably “healthier”, but I may be splitting hairs with that comment. Maybe moderation and variety is best, some walnuts, some almonds, not a lot, and not always the same all the time. Or at least that was my conclusion and consider the matter closed… one less thing to be concerned about.

                    2. Yikes! When last I checked, it was heat. I didn’t know about PPo (propylene oxide). Anyway, as far as I know walnuts are still truly raw, and may be “healthier”. Best advice IMHO, eat a variety of nuts, and not a whole lot of them.

            2. I see your logic, but in the absence of information one way or another, I would assume that all sources would be equally problematic. Despite ongoing scientific debate about whether metals are causing Alzheimer’s disease or whether affected cells just can’t get rid of metals, correlations between copper and Alzheimer’s do exist, and I think avoiding excessive intake seems wise. To my knowledge, copper deficiency is not common, suggesting that the average diet contains enough without supplementation.

  3. I wonder what these protective, chelating spices are. I wouldn’t be surprised if turmeric the wonder spice were one of them …

      1. KPLindsey:
        OFF-TOPIC question: Is matcha tea worth the price, not as a beverage but nutritionally and therapeutically? (Those who sell matcha tea claim it to be a panacea.) Thanks

        1. I think there’s widespread agreement about the health benefits of green tea. I’m not aware of research comparing health outcomes from matcha to those from green tea, but Dr. Greger pointed out in the past a good reason why matcha might be advantageous – the leaves are actually eaten!

          Is Matcha Good For You?

          1. Has anyone ever tried pulverizing their own green tea leaves and would that be in the same league, or is there some special quality inherent in matcha that makes it so prohibitively expensive, at least for me? I have a cool little blender that can even pulverize dried seaweed for making furikake, I should probably just try it!

            1. Matcha is a little different from regular green tea because the bushes are covered for a few weeks before harvesting the leaves, making them darker green. Also, the stems and leaf veins are meticulously removed from matcha before grinding it. I have no clue whether these procedures justify the extra expense!

              For me, a key determinant of the health benefit of a thing is… will I use it? I have to say that even though I own some matcha, I reach right past it every time for my favorite jasmine green,

              1. Jasmine is my favorite too, and exactly what I was thinking of! I always get the bags at our Asian market here, but the bulk tea is cheaper and it may be worth sacrificing a few bags to see how well…or not…it grinds. I like making my own herbal blends too, and pulverizing them would save a lot of storage space and probably let me use less too, so worth a try!

    1. Hi , I was curious to find further information and videos that Dr G. has on this topic of spices and antioxidants. I found one that is very helpful. As well as turmeric there are dried herbs marjoram, peppermint, lemon balm and spices such as cloves,cinnamon that have protective power that one can use in their diet for protection from free radicals.
      Antioxidants in a Pinch

  4. If Alzheimer’s is linked to copper & saturated fat, but mitigated by the antioxidants in plant foods, how do chocolate/cacao/cocoa-based foods weigh in?
    With cocoa heavily marketed as a superfood in recent years, this could be important public health information. ;)
    I’ve been tinkering with cocoa powder sweetened with erythritol in recipes…
    Is it time to abandon the bean? Is there a risk threshold?
    Thanks for your insight!

    1. Interesting point Mariposa! Definitely a perfect example of how pros/cons need to be balanced! From most of Dr Gregor’s videos on cocoa and chocolate, such as-

      Cocoa good; chocolate bad

      Dark chocolate and arterial function

      Update on chocolate

      There is definitely support for the health benefits of cocoa… that is once the sugar and saturated fat of chocolate are removed. In saying that, cocoa powder still has around 7g of saturated fat per cup (86g), so the average heaped spoonful or so would bring a few grams of saturated fat per day, so would depend how many cups are being drunk as to how much saturated fat is (the risk factor when coupled with copper as addressed in this video) is consumed.

      As for copper levels, depending on which source you look at, a cup of cocoa powder (86g) has around 3mg of copper, so less than a mg per tablespoon serve. Compared with sources such as shellfish (up to 39mg copper per 1 cup serve), and organ meats (approximately 20mg copper per 100g), the levels for cocoa, whilst still on the higher range of copper containing foods, are significantly lower than the animal sources.

      As for a safety limit? It seems difficult to find an absolute level. The WHO recommends a minimum intake of approximately 1.3mg / day for an average adult. Maximum tolerable copper intake seems to be around 5-10mg per day for an adult, mentioned here in Australian nutrient reference values-

      NRF- Copper

      Depending how many other copper-rich sources you are consuming and how much cocoa.. it could add up fairly fast, but as almost always, it’s about how much and balancing pros and cons!

      Another alternative could be carob?


  5. . . .Just a reminder . . . most of our plumbing is now copper. We know that water interacts with metals and pick up elements of the metal it is in contact with. That was the problem when we had lead pipes and then lead solder after switching to copper. For many years the advice with lead pipes was to let the water run for a minute or two before consuming it to clear out the “polluted” water. That may still be good advice for our copper pipes.
    Also, most multivitamins have copper in them.

    1. My grandmother lived in a house with IRON pipes for almost 50 years and developed Alzheimer’s. How much copper/iron do we pick up from copper pipes or iron pipes?

      1. Copper is much less reactive than lead and iron, but tap water is chlorinated, which creates an acid, albeit a weak one, so GEBrand’s advice is a good one.

      1. Copper leaches out of water pipes when the water has an acidic pH of 6.9 and lower. It should not leach out with a pH of 7 and above. If you have well water you can neutralize it by running it through a tank filled with a calcium carbonate (calcite) and magnesium oxide 3:1 ratio before it goes into your house plumbing. I had this done to my water system and the copper no longer leaches out. The amount of copper that we can pick up from copper pipes depends on how acidic the water is and how long the water sits in the pipes. Before my water treatment my well water had a pH of 6.4 and a copper concentration of 2.3 ppm. After treatment to make it alkaline it had a pH of 8.8 and a copper of 0.3 ppm. It wasn’t down to zero because I still had a small section of copper pipe from the well to the alkalizing tank where the water can’t be treated.

    2. Gotta love civilization, I think ours in the house anyway, are plastic, PVC. I can’t win, if I let the water run to clear some chemicals I feel guilty for wasting a precious commodity we take for granted at the turn of a faucet, when even disgusting, dangerous water is hard to come by, in so many areas of the world. We take so much for granted and I think it’s so ironic that the less we have, the more we appreciate what we do have. At least that’s true for me.

    3. Hi, thanks for your point on the copper plumbing and Alzheimer disease association. This is true as well as copper in multi vitamins and copper in too much meat consumption that we have to be aware of. I was searching how we can protect ourselves to counter effect of the copper. I cam across the protective effect of selenium.

  6. A year ago, my kids and I tested high in copper (blood test) and also had a suboptimal zinc to copper ratio. Our doctor recommended a low copper diet (excluding or at least minimizing, high copper plant foods) and incorporating more animal proteins for the zinc. We followed it for a few months, but I always had a nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right. We’ve now done the complete opposite and have all gone vegan. But the copper issue was always still in the back of my mind. Good to know that saturated fat/cholesterol may then be the key to high copper which of course, would only get worse on an animal protein diet. Would be interesting to get another blood test… I’m going to pass this video on to my doctor!

    1. Another thing I’m always amazed at is the way nutrients in plant sources seem to be utilized by our bodies as needed, where animal sources like calcium, heme iron, etc. disrupt the balance and add to our burden.

      1. Yes, great insight – I’ve read a lot about iron absorption in animal foods versus plant foods on this site (which has helped me tremendously in getting over my fear of eating high copper and iron plant foods)! Maybe it’s the same effect with copper from animal sources versus plant, and we ended up with copper overload due to the animal products in our diet…

    2. Hi Karen, I found this video by Dr G. very interesting. As it indicates in this video the effect of copper can lead to oxidative stress. However, body has an amazing mechanism when it is fed good balanced nutrition, it can help itself in the state of homeostasis. That bring me to an important enzyme in body called Glutathione Peroxidase. It is an important enzyme in cellular antioxidant defense system. It detoxify peroxides and hydroperoxidase. So in order to protect ourselves from harmful environmental factors of metal toxicity one can include some food that are rich in selenium which is a component of this powerful enzyme. Food such as Brazil nuts (2-3) per day, mushroom, chia seeds, flax seeds, broccoli.
      Dr. G. has a good reference to optimal recommendations.

      Optimum Nutrition Recommendations

      1. Excellent – thank you for the reference! If I’m interpreting the copper issue correctly, high copper in the presence of saturated fat/cholesterol is the risk factor for AD (and probably other various brain disorders as well). I’m hoping that since we are now eating more foods richer in selenium (and many other beneficial plant compounds) as WFPB vegans, that homeostasis will occur. Our doctor’s perspective was that my children and I have a genetic inability to regulate copper levels and should therefore minimize dietary copper (mushrooms were off the list)! I’m wondering now if eating a diet including animal foods, could be an epigenetic switch for copper overload and why/or if eating a plant based diet inclusive of high copper foods (such as mushrooms, beans and lentils) would prevent the activation of this switch?

        1. Hi Karen, thanks for your reply. I wanted to point out that please check with your Dr about this issue of genetic inability in your family to regulate copper before making changes in your diet.

          1. Thanks for your reply! It’s not Wilson’s, rather this was his conclusion after reviewing blood tests which showed more copper than zinc, and within his reference range, elevated copper. In terms of diet, after viewing this video, irregardless of the source of the copper, it sounds as if it would not be wise to continue on a higher meat (as advised for zinc) diet due to the saturated fat issue. So I guess my question is, should one avoid high copper plant foods if one has a less than ideal copper to zinc ratio 1.4, 69 for zinc, 97 for copper)? In researching this, I often come across the common statement that vegan and vegetarian diets tend to be naturally high in copper and lower in zinc which in turn leads to a disrupted ratio.

  7. Plant compounds that bind copper include quercetin, myricetin, ellagic acid and EGCG.

    EGCG is in green tea.

    Ellagic acid sources include:

    • some berries: cranberries, gojis, seedy berries (blackberry, black raspberry, cloudberry, raspberry, wild strawberry)

    • other fruits: Surinam cherries, muscadine grapes, pomegranate (seeds, peel and pulp)

    • beefsteak mushrooms

    • pecans and especially walnuts, chestnuts

    For kaempferol and quercetin, scroll down to the end of this piece.

    1. May I ask if you could share your reference for this? Was the chelation associated with other elements, such as zinc? I wonder if (as discussed in this video) if keeping the diet low in saturated fat, would be a safer and more health promoting response than aiming to bind/chelate the copper, especially as it would have to be as a prevention, as chelating the copper later was not shown to slow disease progression..

      1. Yes, the chelation is sometimes associated with iron as well and sometimes increases the uptake of zinc. It depends on which phytonutrient we’re talking about.

        What do you mean by “chelating the copper later was not shown to slow disease progression’? Dr. George Brewer, one of the leading scientists in the field, says that chelating copper with the drug TM does appear to work if you treat early enough, before the cancer has become bulky and advanced.

        Feel free to contact me privately at I share your concern that “everything in moderation” can become an excuse for bad habits.

        1. When I started TM it was only AFTER I had been declared as having no evidence of disease. From what I read, TM works best to prevent a return of cancer. BUT, I have to say, TM is no walk in the park. It really hit my immune system hard when I finally, after months of taking it in increasing dosages, I finally got my copper down to the therapeutic level. And, since using TM this way was off label, Medicare didn’t pay and it had to be compounded, so it was a little expensive, as well.

        2. Thanks for your reply! I quoted what was said in the video, which is in line with your reference- once disease is progressed (often the case in Alzheimers) it is more difficult to reverse.
          Thanks for your email, my question was more from a moderation perspective as evidence-based is always the way here and I was curious to see where your comment came from as it was interesting :)

          And yes I’m glad you can relate! :)

      1. Are the sources your seeing for that basing that assertion on actual impartial studies or is it just declarative statements by people who sell it and/or health advice? I tend to go with just legitimate studies. I haven’t seen one positive one yet presented by Dr. Greger, McDougall, Fuhrman, Campbell, Esselstyn, Ornish……

      2. Adding to what mbglife said, if you do see any studies about coconut oil and Alzheimer’s be especially leery if the paper focuses in on only one type of saturated fat as being potentially protective because it is likely they are pulling a “Bait and Switch” con on you. Not all types of saturated fat are equally harmful. Some are dreadful, some maybe neutral and some might even be somewhat beneficial in very narrow areas. The con artists will point out that coconut oil contains some type of saturated fat and that saturated fat has a positive impacts on some narrow aspect of health, and this is where the switch happens, so they say that coconut oil is health promoting. They don’t go on to say that coconut oil contains a lot of the really unhealthy types of saturated fat, and so on the whole coconut is likely not healthy for anything. The Pritikin website has a pretty good article on coconut oil

    1. You can search for coconut oil on this site for related videos. Dr Greger has repeatedly stated that it’s very bad because it’s one of the few sources of plants that is heavy with saturated fat. Similarly, Dr. McDougall shows study findings that ALL man-made oils, including olive oil, significantly increase cancer risk. I now only get my fats from whole foods like nuts, seeds, avocado.

      Mark G.

    2. This is part of the SAD problem. It only takes a small profitable interest (coconut oil) to push enough claims and falsehoods to create a “belief” among the general populous. It must be that “We love to hear good things about our bad habits” syndrome.

      EVERY single time fats or oils or coconut is mentioned in any video here, SOMEONE is going to inquire about coconut oil and it’s “good” attributes or some other rumor that is being commercially pushed. One can look back through all the lipids videos and see this in the comments section. This is no attack on Peggy or any other inquirer, just a comment on how the “good oil” notions got into their heads.

      Money rules the media, media rules the minds. Limiting ones exposure to media is part of my personal program. I’m much happier without it.

      It’s the safest and most effective way to practice blissful ignorance. One can be ignorant of politics, celebrities, “the hype”, oddities, etc., without ANY increased risk to his health/longevity. Matter o’ fact, it may be quite beneficial in stress reduction and allow closer attention to be paid to the interpersonal relationships, personal development, and all those things that actually make life worth living. But I don’t have studies to back that up. yet.

      1. Thanks everyone! I don’t consume any oil – coconut or otherwise – but I have a close friend who claims it has many health benefits. She gets her info from GreenMed!

    1. Previous videos on iron absorption differentiates between the form of iron in plants (and I would assume leached from the cast iron) and the heme form of iron found in animal foods. Your body has mechanisms to regulate non-heme iron absorption, but not heme iron. So I would stay that cast iron pots and pans should be relatively safe, especially if it is well seasoned since the seasoning layer inhibits the migration of the iron into the food. Just to be on the safe side, I would avoid cooking acidic foods in cast iron, especially for long periods of time. So simmering a chili with lots of tomatoes in it for a couple of hours in a cast iron pot might not be the best idea, and will probably strip all the seasoning off the pot anyway, so a doubly bad idea. If you like the even heating nature of cast iron pots, you could always get a ceramic coated cast iron pot so food never comes into contact with the iron.

    2. If they are well seasoned and you aren’t simmering acid foods, overall I think they are way better than teflon lined pans, Speaking of iron…when my kids were little and one of them was playing with magnets, for whatever reason, he dropped one on a string into his cereal, and lo and behold, out came shavings of metal I assume were the “fortified iron”? We were grossed out!

        1. Apparently it was standard practice at the time because the boys had to test all the boxes we had. After some shaking with the magnet inside, upon retrieval they each had a fine dusting.
          Trivia question: what was the name of that toy (they may still make it, it was fun) that was basically a bald guys head inside a clear plastic casing, with some loose iron filings, and you used a magnet to give him hair, beard, mustache, etc.?

          1. I’ve seen the toy, but don’t recall a name for it. I did get “cornered” into buying “fortified” stone-ground grits a while back. I did not think to check them for magnetic particles. No worries though, I can normally source unadulterated grits of the stone mill. A pound of “fortified” here and there shouldn’t be a problem.

    3. Dr Neal Barnard is not in support of them-

      “If you have a cast iron pan, over time it will rust. That’s oxidation, and that happens to the metals that get into your body. So you need a trace of iron for healthy blood cells, but iron builds up in the brain and oxidizes,” explains Barnard, a nutrition researcher at George Washington University. “That releases free radicals, and destroys brain cells. So a stainless steel pan is better than a cast iron pan.”

      From an interview here-
      Dr Barnard interview

      1. A cast iron cooking utensil, properly used, does not rust. It is kept “seasoned”. When I tried to eliminate oils, I got rusty pans. So I now use enough oil to keep my pans happy and BLACK (not rusty) and will continue to do so.

        IIRC there’s a big difference in animal-sourced iron and elemental. Dr. G has a video or two on the subject.

  8. Study – the risk of getting Alzheimer’s was 3.3 times greater among people whose folic acid levels were in the lowest one-third range and 4.5 times greater when blood homocysteine levels were in the highest one third. Folic acid is from green and leafy vegetables. Note recent study published in journals folic acid pills didn’t work. Duh. Not even the same chemical. Homocysteine is primarily from animal based foods. For more, see p. 221 of “The China Study” (2006) by Cornell nutritional biochemist prof. T. Colin Campbell. There is very strong resistance in the medical community to inform people that food really matters. They’re always looking for “the magic pill”. Three of our relatives died of Alzheimer’s however we do not know what their food intake was. Note, 3.3 times is 330% and 4.5 times is 450% huge numbers compared to the usual study results of tens of percent.

    1. I am not familiar with your exact numbers (do you have a reference link?) but the theory makes sense with regard to high homocysteine levels (often high with animal protein consumption) associated with high cholesterol, high saturated fat intakes and artery disease/atherosclerosis, as well as low fruit/vegetable intake associated with low folic acid, low antioxidant intake and low B vitamins associated with lower cholesterol and lower homocysteine levels.

      More here-
      Can folic acid be harmful?

      Homocysteine and Alzheimers

  9. Dr Greger,

    Thank you for being a continuing source of inspiration.

    One topic I would like you to address is the concept of raising pet dogs on a vegan diet. This appears to be quite a controversial topic – would like some good science from the good doctor!

    Keep up the great work!

    1. I’d love to hear something too because my gut tells me obligate carnivores are called that for a good reason…they stalk prey, not celery. (Ha ha, stalk…celery, I amuse myself!) Yet I don’t like the idea of what has to happen to get that flesh to my cat. I get that it’s nature but my human sensibilities aren’t really thrilled when even he brings me home some tasty carcass to share. I think it might be his way of telling me my vegan cuisine sucks? :D

    2. Thea is the one to address this one. A while ago she mentioned that her dog was vegan. I showed my ignorance by saying that that was not possible because dogs were carnivores. She explained that as a vegan, her dog was fully content, happy, and healthy. If my memory is correct, Dr. Greger says in his book that he has a bunch of cats. I wonder if they’re vegan cats. (How can put a smiley face here?)

    3. I have no veterinary background, but I believe provided their differing nutritional needs are met (especially cats with regards to taurine/amino acids, fatty acids and vitamin A) whether through food or supplementation, it is possible to raise both dogs and potentially cats vegan.

      Maybe try here-

      Vegetarian dogs

      Vegan dog nutrition

      Vegan pet

    4. Cats are the only animal that I know that cannot survive on a vegan diet because Cats require Arachidonic Acid in their food which is only made by animals (except cats).
      Effects of linoleate and arachidonate deficiencies on reproduction and spermatogenesis in the cat.

      Plants, on the other hand, don’t make arachidonic acid. So for Cats Arachidonic acid is an ‘essential’ nutritient. Remember ‘essential’ means you must obtain the nutrient exogenously (from your diet) because your body doesn’t make enough for you/them to survive.

      Anyway, check these eduVideos out to learn more about arachidonic acid and its effects:
      Chicken, Eggs, and Inflammation
      Inflammatory Remarks About Arachidonic Acid
      Plant-Based Diets for Improved Mood and Productivity

    5. Not only are my two dogs vegan, but their coats are just as shiny and beautiful as they were on meat-based diets! I’ll admit that this surprised me.

    6. mykamakiri: It is a good question that pops up from time to time. Dr. Greger has been known to say something like, “I’m a vet of just one species – humans.” So, I don’t know if he will be tackling this topic. I think you have gotten some good replies from other people so far. Assuming you are still interested, I have some more to add to the discussion. And something about your post prompted me to give my most thorough answer yet.
      I like that you asked about the science, because that is the key. To my knowledge, the science is deploringly lacking. It’s deploring because humans LOVE their dogs and dogs do great things for humans and yet proving the saying that familiarity breeds contempt, we have relatively little good science on dogs, especially when it comes to their diet.
      I am aware of only one independent (ie, not paid for by a dog food company), published scientific study on dog food in regard to a vegan diet. The study was on a small number of dogs and was very short term, but the study gives us tantalizing hints. The study was on working Alaskan sled dogs, who have to be in peak condition. And the study looked at objective measures, not asking the owner “Hey, how do you think they did?” The result was that the vegan dogs did just as well as the omnivore dogs in the control group. This tiny study proves nothing. But it does hint at an answer and shows that we need more and better studies. If interested, here is the study:
      In terms of anecdotes, we have many, many additional hints that dogs can thrive on a vegan diet. I understand that one of the longest lived dogs according to the Guiness Book of World Records was a vegan named Bramble. I think Bramble lived something like 27 years and was not a small dog (small dogs typically live longer). And then there are the many, many dogs which are thriving on vegan diets today in people’s homes. I personally know a handful of such dogs, including a lucky dog who has a vet for his human.
      My own dog has been on a vegan kibble for 6 years. My dog is a 12 year old Great Dane whose blood work is still all normal and who most people think is much younger when they meet him. Great Danes usually only live 8-10 years. Certainly no one can say that my dog’s diet has hurt him. When my dog was 6, the food I had been feeding him got bought by the company, Purina. I did not trust that Purina would keep the same quality, so I started doing research, including learning about how tainted the meat supply is in the world, especially in America. So, even feeding my dog human grade meat did not seem to be the answer. After doing lots of research, I finally decided to switch to a vegan kibble. My dog went vegan before I did, and we both got a very nice surprise: My dog’s health didn’t just stay the same, it dramatically *improved*.
      About a year and a half before switching diets, my dog had started peeing blood. Sometimes it was dark red and very scary to me. I had gone to multiple vets about this problem, done x-rays, etc. Nothing helped. I did not expect the diet change to fix this problem, but after a couple months on the vegan kibble, the blood in the pee magically disappeared. The cure was likely *not* just coincidence since as I said, he had been peeing blood for a long time. His coat and nails also got shinier. And his energy/play level went up. In a 6 year old Great Dane, those changes were really something and sold me for life right there on the value of a vegan diet for dogs.
      One important piece to this question is to note a study that came out about 3? of years ago that showed that dogs have a significant biological difference from wolves – one that had to do with having 3 genes that help dogs digest starch. This makes perfect sense to me since one of the current leading theories about how wolves became dogs is that dogs started hanging out around human trash piles, eating human leftover food. Which as we know from NutritionFacts, would primarily have been plants, including a lot of starches. For more about the biological study of how dogs are different from wolves, check out this article from one of my favorite, nationally known dog trainer Patricia McConnell: This information makes me believe that dogs are especially adapted to be able to tolerate (a specially designed for dogs!) vegan diet and that arguments from the other side that look at wolves diet and biology are not so valid.
      FYI: V-dog is the brand I feed my pup. I did several feeding tests and my dog loves his v-dog just as much as he loved his old brand, Innova. If someone reading this post is interested in feeding their dog a vegan diet, it is worth doing some research. Like any diet for any species, there are some potential “gotchas” worth avoiding. There is a vet who speaks around the country trying to help people be successful in getting their dog on a vegan diet. And you can catch her lectures for free on the internet. Here is one example: Vegan Diets For Cats and Dogs, Risks And Benefits:
      I find that most of the people who believe that dogs should eat meat use the same flawed arguments that paleo proponents use for arguing that humans should eat meat. Meat proponents for dogs certainly do not have any more science to back up their assertions than I do for my vegan assertions–at least none that I have seen. Something to think about. Another philosophical point: What do we owe our non-human companions? We certainly owe them physical (as well as mental and emotional) health. And, in my opinion, we owe them a future. A world where they can exist, which will not happen if humans continue to promote the animal food industry. So, even if meat and vegan diets came out neck and neck in terms of general dog health, other factors then weigh the scales to favor the vegan diet.
      After reading all that (assuming you are still with me all the way down here!), what do you think?

      1. Wow – what a terrific post! Glad your dog is doing better.

        A couple of people have mentioned V-dog and I feel compelled to read more about it.

        I wish in a not too distant future we’ll get a video from Michael along the lines of “we used to have zero studies on what to feed our dogs *dramatic pause* until now!”

        Again, thank you!

  10. This is a critical topic. Appreciated the information. Wish “saturated fats” had been a more meaningful term. Was that saturated coconut oil (a few studies have found coconut oil helpful in improvement in Alzheimer’s condition when lots of it is taken in) or saturated animal fat – like eggs?

  11. Yeah but the oldest person in the world 116 yr old Susannah Jones eats bacon Every Day with her eggs and grits. She also chews a pac of gum a day.

    She’s hardly alone among centenarians in her love for bacon. Pearl Cantrell, who died in 2013 at the age of 105, enjoyed bacon so much that Oscar Meyer sent one of its Wienermobiles to her home to deliver some.

    “I love bacon, I eat it everyday,” Cantrell told NBC affiliate KRBC at the time.

    1. My step grandmother smoked a couple packs a day most of her life and lived into her 90’s…but I think there are exceptions to anything. The studies are pretty clear on this, and personally, I just don’t care to play a game of Russian roulette with the odds because I like the way something tastes!

      1. Exception bad habit? It’s pretty clear eating hogs didn’t kill these 2 long living examples. Maybe eating pork extends life.
        The number of long living pork eaters are piling up.
        I haven’t noticed any long living vegans in my casual search.

        Talley always says, “do unto others as you desire them to do unto you,” and insists that’s the secret to living a long life. Also, eating plenty of pork. Every Christmas, she bakes Kinloch a Hog’s Head Cheese – which doesn’t have cheese, but is basically pigs’ ears and feet in a jelly stock. “I personally feel like it’s one of those things that kind of keeps her going,” he says. He may have a point. Last month, a 105-year-old woman in Texas claimed that bacon was her secret to longevity. Talley is also known for her sweet tooth and has made friends walnut pie with walnuts from the walnut tree in her backyard.

        1. Don’t you get that the anecdotal media you are presenting as “proof” is funded by advertiser$ who have a huge share in what is presented…a bit different than the best science my friend. We all love when we can find info that supports our preferences and beliefs, especially if it’s “good news about our bad habits”. It’s a whole lot harder to integrate the factual info we don’t care to hear that challenges what we thought we knew. You can believe anything you want, it’s your life, but the facts about eating animal products are quite clear and would be much more transparent if it wasn’t for the corruption of the industries that support them. They go to great lengths to manipulate your beliefs, and of course, buying habits. Dr Greger presents the science behind nutrition by citing the best studies and has NOTHING to gain financially, he does it for free because he cares, and integrates the information into his own diet. I am here because believing as you do almost killed me, and implementing the information I learned here changed my health dramatically.

    2. Interestingly George Burns lived to be 100 years old smoking cigars, drinking martini’s and eating anything he wanted. These people are exceptions, not the rule.

      There are Vegans who also have heart attacks. Even Heart attacks at young ages! But this is also rare, just like the people who become centenarians eating poorly, smoking and excessively imbibing their whole life.

      Interestingly George Burns, if I remembered correctly, died of a heart attack at 100 years old. So it is interesting to ponder what age he could have lived to if he didn’t have the lifestyle risk factors that allowed him to have the heart attack in the first place.

      Here’s one of my favorite educational lectures from Dr. Greger that discusses this issue:
      40 Year Vegan Dies of a Heart Attack! Why? The Omega-3 and B12 Myth with Dr. Michael Greger

  12. I was wondering if there is a specific blood test for copper that would be useful in identifying a potential risk for Alzheimer’s and what that test would be.

    1. Serum copper can be measured from your blood. And if you measured that level and found it to be elevated then you would have a higher risk of getting Alzheimers Disease. Interestingly the study showed there was no increased risk of Alzheimers Disease in persons who ate a low saturated fat diet. So if you are plant based you should be fine even with an elevated copper level, meaning no increased risk. But if you have high copper levels ditch the multivitamin, which is the main source of copper that was identified in the patients from the study.

      More importantly, however, “. . . persons with high in-takes of either saturated or trans fats (alone) experienced 2 to 3 times the risk of incident Alzheimer disease and faster rates of cognitive decline.” So copper just accelerates the decline it doesn’t cause it. The cause of vascular dementia is still the SAD (Standard American Diet) and copper the cause of the Alzheimer’s type of dementia. “In several case-control studies, patients with Alzheimer disease were distinguished by high serum copper levels compared with patients with vascular dementia or mild cognitive impairment or with cognitively healthy individuals.”
      Dietary Copper and High Saturated and trans Fat Intakes Associated With Cognitive Decline

    1. As long as the copper is not on the cooking surface (where the food would come into contact with the copper) you should be fine.

  13. Hello, Dr. Greger.

    We have a lot of copper in our tap water in my condo – from the copper
    pipes – it leaves a tell tale green-blue residue in my bath tub..

    Should I stop drinking my tap water?

    I hope you can clarify.

    Thanks for your time.

    Best regards,



    1. I want to give my opinion and hope this doesnt sound too pedantic. Dr. G reviews the science and presents his interpretation of the facts. Sometimes he points out the logical flaws in the interpretations of others. The benefit to us is a little more light on various nutrition-related issues. Issues and decisions that ultimately we must make for ourselves.

      If you are worried about the green-blue residue you should have your water tested to be sure that you are happy with the copper levels and act accordingly. How much is “a lot of copper”? How can anyone make a recommendation to you based on the info you have?

      I wanted to post this because many of us, myself included, often turn to authority to keep us safe. At least I used to. One important lesson from my 62 year tenure inside this Machine we call society is that no one is better qualified than me to ensure my safety. You must be your own policeman.

      No offence intended. It is fair to ask if blue-green stains are a danger sign but “Should I stop drinking my tap water?” really thats on your shoulders. And the Vancouver city council, that works to ensure your safety.

      1. Thanks, Rhombopterix
        . So, Dr. Greger, Rhombopterix, anyone else, is the blue-green water a danger sign of too much copper, in the context of brain health?

        BTW – as far as i know, the copper comes from copper pipes in my condo reacting with our pH 6.5 water here in Vancouver, and not from the city water supply.

    1. Hannah: That’s a super great question and one that I share! How likely is it that cooper bits from the IUD would end up in the blood stream? I don’t know, but I hope someone has some medically backed thoughts for us.

    2. It appears that it does not only raise your blood Copper levels but also your blood Zinc levels.

      I do not know what implications this has on human health, if any, but bypassing the evolutionary regulatory mechanisms the body has evolved over the millennia for controlling entry to the body (eg. your digestive tract) can be risky business.

      Changes in copper and zinc serum levels in women wearing a copper TCu-380A intrauterine device.

  14. I’m taking a multivitamin containing 0.5 mg Cu as an aminoate complex daily, more or less. In your opinion, should I discontinue the Cu? Thank you very much. I really appreciate your work.

    1. Hi Steven,

      Do you have any reason to take the multivitamin?

      In general (other than B12 and possible vitamin D and omega 3) supplements are not recommended. See-

      Dr Greger’s optimum recommendations


      Plants not pills

      Diet Vs drugs

      The WHO recommends a minimum intake of approximately 1.3mg / day for an average adult. Maximum tolerable copper intake seems to be around 5-10mg per day for an adult, mentioned here in Australian nutrient reference values-

      NRF- Copper

      So whilst yours isn’t ridiculously high… it can add up to the maximum level quite fast…

      1. Good post. Thanks.

        I take a multivitamin even though Dr Greger and many other experts, whose opinions I also respect, argue that they are unnecessary or even harmful if one is eating a WFPB diet. This is because Professor Bruce Ames’ trage theory made a big impression on me.

        For most of my life I ate the usual Western diet high in heavily processed foods and animal fats. Even now, my diet lacks variety because cooking bores me and I probably don’t consume more than about 15-20 different foods in any one week. Consequently, my previous diet was almost certainly deficient in some vitamins/minerals and even my current WFPB diet may well be.

        I do avoid multivitamin supplements containing synthetics and added iron. However, a good multivitamin is a convenient way of taking B12 and vitamin D without the need for a multitude of pill bottles. My current multivitamin also does not contain copper

        However, I am also conscious of the fact that supplement use may result in over-consumption of some vitamins/minerals and this may be as dangerous as insufficiency. I therefore agree that a varied WFPB diet with supplemental B12 (and possibly vitamin D and DHA/EPA) is optimal. However, my diet is not particularly varied and never likely to become so. Consequently, I choose to take a multivitamin but am fully aware that this is a choice that carries its own risks.

  15. Just to clarify…

    There is no such thing as ‘healthy fat’.

    Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn has made it clear that to be ‘heart-healthy’ a person’s body-fat should be in the zone of at least 11-12 %. The Okinawan diet was just 6% fat.

  16. Is Alzheimer’s the brain damage (plaques and tangles), or the dementia, or both? I assume the journals Dr. Greger reviewed had looked only at people who had exhibited dementia. However, the Nun Study showed that the brain damage can be present without any cognitive impairment. If so, aren’t they two separate conditions? It would be nice to know if people with ravaged brains – but no dementia – also had the same high levels of these metals. Are they still testing nuns?

  17. Excess copper is related to a zinc deficiency. I also think anemia is related to dementia. A diet low in saturated fat can treat Alzheimer’s. Niacin can also reduce high blood lipids. Modern processing of food, particularly heating and milling, is destroying our food.

  18. I’d like to see my question answered by

    Doctor Michael Greger:
    my mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Since then i’ve been learning about it. but i got some doubts:
    which is the most effective drug to treat such a disease in your opinion?

    Is it true that Foods highest in Glutamic acid can increase the release of glutamate in the brain so that it kills lots of neurons?

    Glutamic acid list… (some nuts, oats and other cereals are there)

    Is it true , also, that Foods highest in Aspartic acid (aspartame) can speed up the release of glutamate in the brain so that it kills lots of neurons?

    Aspartic acid list… (eggs, soy-based products are there)

    Glutamic acid and Aspartic acid-based foods should be averted at all since they increase the overall inflamation on the body?

    So it’d be better to avoid them in order to maintain the health of my mother with Alzheimer’s disease?

    Can you provide a complet list of foods/supplemments that should be averted to developing neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease?

    Can you show us a completer list of neurotoxic substances in order to prevent against brain diseases?

    Which is the best cooking oil, the least harmfull unhealthy oil? and which ones are the worst for consumption by a patient with Alzheimer’s disease ?

    I’m looking forward to receiving good news.

  19. Which compounds in plant foods chelate copper and which plants have the most? I have been exposed to a lot of copper from it leaching out of my home’s copper water pipes because my well water turned acidic over the years. I have it fixed now with a water neutralizing system but I don’t know how much is still in my body. Fortunately, I have been eating a diet low in saturated fat for years.

    1. I do not think there is any strong evidence that particular foods or food compounds are good “chelators” .

      In the case of Wilson Disease, a genetic disorder where the body does not remove extra copper, the standard approach is to avoid foods high in copper and preferentially consume foods high in zinc

      This is because zinc is an element which prevents or limits copper uptake from food. Here is a list of foods highest in zinc

      BUT note that molluscs are also the foods highest in copper. In brief, eat whole grain cereals because they are usually high in zinc. If you also want to avoid dietary copper (from plant foods), do not eat sesame seeds, spirulina, soy, nuts, chocolate or mushrooms.

      However, if you have real concerns about your previous copper intake, you should consult your medical practitioner for testing (and treatment if appropriate).

    2. I do not think there is as yet any strong evidence that particular foods or food compounds are good “chelators”. However, my understanding is that the compounds refrred to in Dr G’s video are primarily EGCG (found especially in green tea) and curcumin (found in the spice turmeric). Blueberry extracts may also be effective. You can follow up this topic by viewing the “sources cited” above. The references below may also be useful.

      In the case of Wilson Disease, a genetic disorder where the body does not remove extra copper, the standard approach is to avoid foods high in copper and preferentially consume foods high in zinc

      This is because zinc is an element which prevents or limits copper uptake from food. Here is a list of foods highest in

      BUT note that molluscs are also the foods highest in copper. In brief, eat whole grain cereals because they are usually high in zinc. If you also want to avoid dietary copper (from plant foods), do not eat sesame seeds, spirulina, soy, nuts, chocolate or mushrooms.

      However, if you have real concerns about your previous copper intake, you should consult your medical practitioner for testing (and treatment if appropriate).

      1. Tom, thanks for your detailed reply. Unfortunately, the references links do not completely show up so I can’t access them. Is there another way of writing them so they will come through completely? Like leaving off the https:// front portion so the website doesn’t know they are a link?

        1. Yes, sorry, I keep forgetting that Disqus doesn’t seem to like weblinks. Let us see if it allows click-through for these;

          1. Tom, Yes, removing the http:// worked. I could get the link by clicking on the partial website address with the…. at the end.

    1. Very interesting question. It makes sense and removing iron with the iron chelator desferrioxamine has been documented to slow Alzheimers Disease (AD) progression. So donating 500mL of blood “removes 200–250 mg of iron and reduces serum ferritin levels by about 50 ng/ml in healthy men.”
      So I don’t see any studies that have tested your question but I don’t see how it could hurt. And it looks like the research community is pushing for a study to be done on your very question.
      I must also add that moving the patient to a whole food plant based diet at the same time would maximize benefits to an AD patient.
      Here’s a link to a research article that addresses the question you have:
      Getting the iron out: Phlebotomy for Alzheimer’s disease?

  20. I’ve already written this message under various videos, but no one answered my question.
    So I’ll post my question here, even if it has nothing to do with the topic of this video.

    This question is for Dr. Greger and his team.

    In your opinion, what is the reason why, in some studies, whole berrries don’t have the beneficial effect of extracted and purified berries’ antioxidants?

    I’d like, in particular, a comment on this interesting study:

    Thank you so much for your possible explanation.

        1. Worked for me. I quit reading after I saw “mouse model”. I’ve never had a mouse eat my berries. In all They go after stored grains and nuts or fatty animal products (meat, cheese, lard. etc.). Peanut butter is an excellent trap bait. I’ve never had a mouse gnaw into a banana, orange, apple, or berry. IOW, I don’t see how filling a mouse with non-mouse foods could possibly be relevant to human nutrition.

          1. They are finding out that animal tests are next to useless but there is too much money involved which is a parallel theme to this site with big business involved in the food supply.

        2. Yes, thank you.
          As I understand it, in this study, the powdered blueberry experimental group consumed additional fructose compared to the controls (experiment 1)
          “When the diets were formulated with the freeze-dried powder, we adjusted for energy content and removed 40 g/kg each of corn starch and sucrose from the diet and substituted the blueberry freeze-dried powder, which would have provided about 31 g/kg each of glucose and fructose. This substitution would have increased the amount of fructose some, but this does not appear to be a large enough difference to account for the increased obesity observed with blueberry feeding. Total food intake was increased and caloric intake increased by ∼12% in the blueberry-fed mice in the highfat diet but not with the low-fat diet.”
          So calorie intake increased as did fructose intake. Fructose is known to stimulate fat production ..
          “Fructose, by providing large amounts of hepatic triose-phosphate as precursors for fatty acid synthesis, is highly lipogenic. It has indeed been observed in several studies that hepatic de novo synthesis is stimulated after acute fructose ingestion, with fructose contributing to the synthesis of both the glycerol- and the fatty-acyl parts of VLDL-triglycerides (46, 165). Fructose may, in addition, increase the expression of key lipogenic enzymes in the liver.”
          ” in rats, a diet high in saturated fatty acids (but not in polyunsaturated fatty acids) enhances intestinal fructose absorption” (Note: your link used mice not rats in the study)

          It appears that saturated fat and fructose may work synergistically to promote weight gain (at least in rodents).

    1. Your link is broken. Please repost the link and I’ll take a look.
      Extracts are more concentrated than berries but again I have to see the study you are referencing to get a better idea of the question you ask. Thanks.

    2. OK I got the link and read the study.

      First let me say that mice experiments don’t always correlate well with human experiments so when you see an animal study you must interpret their findings with caution especially when trying to extrapolate the results to humans. Mice aren’t humans.

      That said, in the study whole blueberries (in freeze dried powder form) compared to concentrated blueberry anthocyanins added to water, for mice on a high fat diet, showed weight gain and an increase in obesity. This was only true in the freeze dried blueberry fed mice not the anthocyanin-added-to-water fed mice. The mechanism is unclear and warrants further study.
      Interestingly this effect wasn’t seen in the same experiment when the mice were fed a low fat diet.

      So my take on this is don’t eat a high fat diet in the first place and you won’t have to worry about excess weight gain in the first place. In humans ‘The fat you eat is the fat you wear.’ So eating a whole food plant based diet low in fat and with a cup of blueberries added for their anti-inflammatory and beneficial effects is by far more beneficial than eating a high fat diet with blueberries added.
      I hope this helped.

  21. There’s an excellent group on facebook called ‘Copper Dysregulation and Re-balancing’ that I can’t recommend enough per farther information on copper, it’s relation and purpose in the body, and how to balance it.. ..largely using zinc, though it’s slightly more complex than that.

    …as is Alzheimer’s. Other heavy metals also play an extremely influential role in neurological health (and damage), and properly balancing these, or, more, safely removing them is extremely important as well. Copper is just one of a small number of roles contributing to an A.D. brain.

    Glutathione.. be it maintaining natural levels, and/or supplementing where needed (it usually is needed) is also extremely important. Search YouTube and google-videos, and just google in general for Dr Boyd Haley for more on this. Dr Christopher Shade also has excellent videos on YouTube.. ..and both are pretty much at the forefront on researching into this.

    Here’re some links that will provide more information.

    In addition to that, there are several heavy metal detox -focused groups on facebook, two of which (that I know of.. there may be more) are focused on protocols built around Dr Shade’s protocols specifically.

    1. is there any peer-reviewed science here as opposed to YouTube videos and the like?

      I am not aware of any scientific publications by Dr Shade although I know he runs a very active supplement company which claims that it and Dr Shade are on the cutting edge of scientific research in this area (but without providing any concrete evidence).

      Dr Boyd Haley also has something to sell

      1. Well, you seem pretty good at researching them so I’ll let you figure that out on your own..

        …but, I will say this, there’s a difference between making a living, and being complete scam artists pushing any ol’ product any ol’ way just to make a buck. They’re pretty ‘open’ about the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of it.. such that someone could pretty easily piece it together utilizing a number of products not their own.
        Does baby face = baby d…? ’cause usually when someone’s barking in that tone it tends to imply some other stuff going on.

    2. Just a recommendation – I think that a discussion of the particle size distributions would be more fruitful. Micro-scale particles can be much more easily removed by the body, whereas nanoparticles cannot. Those nanoparticles can also cross the blood-brain barrier very easily.

  22. Good Morning. I have a question about serving sizes in the recent videos (Which Foods Increase Happiness and Reversing Diabetes with Food). Does anyone know what constitutes a serving? 4 oz, 8 oz? Thanks!

  23. Doctor Greger, Is it true that general heartburn drugs such as nexium and lansoprazole, which are in the class of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) (my mother has been using them since 2 years ago for reflux) can lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease?
    Would H2 blockers be less harmfull to the brain than proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)?
    I’m looking forward to receiving good news.

    1. As a regular visitor here, I understand that Dr Greger and this site only review the science around nutrition and health. Analysing the effects of particular drug treatments, or providing personalised medical advice don’t fall within this remit so I suspect he will be unable to answer. These are really matters you should discuss with your family physician.
      However,, as I understand it, both PPIs and H2 blockers have been associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s although there is no conclusive evidence of a causal relationship.

  24. Hello! My name is Katie and I’m a registered dietitian and nutrition moderator for the team. I’m on duty for the next few hours and would love to hear from you!

  25. What can you tell me about the Ayurvedic practice of using copper vessels for water? I am 99% vegan and I read about the positive effects of drinking water that had sat overnight in a copper vessel. I am now concerned about it based upon the above information.

    1. Thanks for your question! I’m not entirely familiar with the risks/benefits of this practice. I’m going to see if I can find any evidence-based info to share with you. I’d also like to leave this question open for other NF moderators to jump in on.

      1. This is a quote from an article from Care2healty living, which Dr. Greger contributes to. “Drink water that has been stored in a copper vessel overnight: While ayurvedic healers discovered the healing benefits of copper many centuries ago, recent studies have corroborated this knowledge: copper is seen to play an important role in cellular respiration, utilization of oxygen and destruction of free radicals. Studies also established the role of copper in maintaining healthy immune function. Ask an Ayurveda expert, and he will tell you that copper leaches into the water during the night, lending its tamra tej, or positive energy, to the water. They advise that this copper-enriched water is beneficial for balancing all three doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.” They cited a study, below:

        Effect of copper on immune function and disease resistance.

        Stabel JR1, Spears JW.

        Author information

        1National Animal Disease Center, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Ames, IA 50010.


        Recent evidence suggests that copper exacts an important role in the maintenance of immunocompetence. Copper deficiency results in decreased humoral and cell-mediated, as well as nonspecific immune function. Impairment of immune function may be highly correlated with an increased incidence of infection and higher mortality rates observed in copper-deficient animals. The actual mechanisms by which copper is involved in immune processes are not well defined. This review addresses the copper-immune function interaction and discusses possible immunomodulatory roles for copper.

        1. It sounds to me like you accepted a low-quality source and an ayurvedic practice for weak reasons. HuffPo has credible contributers too, but it’s a circus overall with relatively little editorial control over credibility of the sources, and where contributers enter the marketplace of ideas to get exposure and/or cash, rather than to merely guard their reputations in a loose way; Care2 seems to me to be even more explicitly about getting cash from readers, as a social networking site for “causes” seeking “donations”. The natural expectation is that people will realize that such extravaganzas are not going to be uniform in quality from contributor to contributor, and that the contributors don’t really endorse each other strongly in a justified way, which would require an understanding of what all the other people in the network are saying. Each author and each argument must be evaluated on its own terms.

          So who’s the contributing author of this article? A travel editor/publisher, basically. Note the marketing connection that I alluded to in the previous paragraph about Care2. No mention of any credentialed expertise in evaluating the science, which is not too surprising given the quality of the article, which is extremely low and doesn’t discuss the science on copper and health in any detail. That itself is a bad sign, given all the other information, and especially so given that a quick PubMed search reveals that there’s much more recent literature on the topic of immunity and copper. Why wasn’t any of this cited or discussed? Why weren’t specific claims from the review article discussed?

          This behavior is all consistent with an author who didn’t really read the literature that she’s trying to cite, which is another very bad sign. Overall what I see is a usual apologetic strategy for alt-med stuff, and a weak one at that: allude to the authority of your alt-med experts, then state that the alt-med belief has been corroborated by science, using literature that is often only tangentially related in substance to the claims of the alt-med system. There’s a huge difference between what is implied by “positive energy” and “help in balancing”, and the general claims of science on nutritional effects of trace metals. You can’t have enough ‘positive energy’ or ‘balance’, for example, and such positive effects are expected to apply diffusely to all aspects of life, while science would expect that there are a number of specific effects of dietary copper, and that copper intake must be at a proper level to strike a balance between deficiency and toxicity.

          There is some validity to the claims of premodern medical systems. The raw power of undisciplined observation can see some patterns about disease, and even stupid animals have the ability to learn to avoid acutely toxic foods. However, a number of factors detract from the value of ayurvedic advice in modern times. There’s less technology and less scientific discipline involved. There’s the corrupting desire to make medical ideas conform with religious or metaphysical doctrines. There’s the inherent difficulty in tracking long-term outcomes without methods to improve data collection and interpretation, and a huge problem in not being as knowledgable about confounding factors as medical research is today.

          Perhaps even more pertinent to the situation at hand, the health concerns of the premodern person laying down ayurvedic doctrine are very different from those that we face today. The copper pot advice looks like it could be quite adequately explained by the antiseptic properties of this metal, which, like those of silver, have been noted without full understanding by premodern cultures around the world. This would also help to explain the preference against cold water found in the same article; premodern cultures with developed agriculture, high population densities, and warm temperatures, such as those of India, would have faced strong risk of infection. Making tea or beer avoids the problem, and different cultures have historically had a general leaning toward one solution or the other.

          So the scientific question is, are you concerned about copper deficiency and trying to supplement somehow from small amounts dissolved in water? Are you even at much risk of dying from infection at present, compared with getting AD? AD seems like the larger concern for most postindustrial citizens in their day-to-day business, except perhaps for the extremely elderly and people under imminent risk of a fatal infection. So if there’s a conflict between recommendations on copper intake to reduce the risk of AD and recommendations to reduce the risk of infection, I’d tend to go with AD reduction unless further information suggested otherwise. There are many strategies for preventing infection, while AD has relatively few countermeasures available, making additional strategies quite welcome.

          Now, it happens that the copper in your pot is quite probably nutritionally significant. This WHO document remarks that drinking water contributes 0.1-1mg/d and that “consumption of standing or partially flushed water from a distribution system that includes copper pipes or fittings can considerably increase total daily copper exposure, especially for infants fed formula reconstituted with tap water”. It’s unclear in the document whether this statement is based on cases where corrosion is an issue, but other sources such as this one seem to confirm that raw metallic copper dissolves nutritionally significant quantities into standing water, and that in fact new shiny copper may be more of an issue as the typical patina which develops with time acts to interfere with the ability for surface copper to dissolve.

          As the IOM adult RDA is only around 0.9mg/d while the adult UI is about 10mg/d, and water consumption congruent with current nutritional fashions (and the tone of your source article) suggests that your water consumption may be significantly greater than average, I see no reason to go out of your way to leach copper into your drinking water based on a source that has very little credibility to begin with and which endorses magical thinking about “positive energy” besides. If you are for some good reason really concerned about negative effects to your immune system due to potential deficiency — which is the only legitimate concern in the Care2 article’s only citation on this copper-pot practice — then try to evaluate your diet systematically and get a ballpark idea of what your copper consumption is like; or, do this with an RD, who may help you to track your diet with better discipline and to produce a more reliable estimate afterwards.

          As it stands, concerns about AD suggest that the UI should be adjusted even lower than it is presently, so if you find this video persuasive, then I agree with you, you should think that your copper pot water practice is a little bit suspect. I see no reason to continue it; certainly the Care2 article does nothing to persuade me that it is in any way important to good health in the WFPB or SAD diets. There may be yet another reason for people to cut back on saturated fat, too.

          But even more important than this, I think, you probably should take greater care in vetting your sources of health advice if this Care2 article is representative of the sort of stuff that you will allow to have authority over you. There’s a lot of nonsense out there and a lot of people pushing advice from a position of low scientific expertise and lazy research standards. We need to protect ourselves from such careless sources of advice, and guard against our own tendencies to pick up a potentially harmful (or economically costly) ritual because we’ve somehow associated itwith warm and fuzzy feelings.

        2. Certainly, copper that leaches from copper pots has antibacterial properties. Copper nanoparticles are already being used in medical products for antibacterial properties.

          I’d be concerned about the particle size distribution though, irrespective of absolute concentrations by ICP-MS. If the copper leachate from the pot is in the form of nanoparticles, chronic exposure is highly damaging in the toxicological studies on copper nanoparticles in animals.

          They are also not good for the microbes and fungi around plants in the environment.

  26. I make copper jewelry, so I saw, sand, solder and buff the metal. Does anyone know how this might effect my chances of developing alzheimer’s?

    1. I took a look at Pubmed and a couple other reputable sites and couldn’t find anything to definitively answer your question KathyKale. Most of the risk seems to come with oral consumption of excess copper via animal foods or perhaps from copper pipes. Therefore, I would think that if you end up inhaling lots of copper dust you may possibly be at some risk, but that is speculation. This is still a relatively new area of research, so lots of questions to be answered. I’ll keep an eye out for new information.

      1. Common sense would tell me to not breathe metallic dust and chemicals of any kind. You never want to be an early casualty of lack of information.

      2. Airborne copper particle levels seem to vary a lot, particularly concentrated around industrial sources. They are fairly high in industrial areas and downstream from coal plants, copper smelters, and the like. See link at bottom.

        I would be far more concerned about the particle SIZE distribution than the absolute concentration. The more we study particle size distributions from everything from diesel exhaust to carbon black, the smaller the particles, the deeper in the lungs they go. And if they’re small enough, they never get out – your body doesn’t have systems for doing that – and they easily enter the bloodstream – or migrate directly from the sinuses. Airborne copper nanoparticles have been shown to easily enter the brain from the nose in mice and cause cognitive impairment.

  27. What percent of the brain if fat, 60% or something? And cholesterol? Not buying that fat and cholesterol damage the brain.
    Why aren’t they looking at aluminum and mercury in people with AD along with the copper/iron and what about neurological LYME DISEASE? I bet other heavy metals are high along with the copper and iron. We can’t do anything about the polluted air we breathe (HAARP). Keep eating your fiber and detox those heavy metals any way you can. Sauna, exercise, lots of fruits and vegetables, and only grass fed organically raised
    animal products

    1. Mercury is a legitimate concern, which is why the EPA/FDA have advisories on eating certain kinds of fish. Lead is a vastly more important one, since older pipes can leach it in high quantities if the water is corrosive (case study: Flint, Michigan), it’s present in lead-based paint in older houses that have not been remediated, still present in old electronic device solder, and so forth. Iron can be a concern, just as she pointed out earlier. That can be mitigated by not taking it in multivitamin form.

      That being said, the picture is a bit more complicated than that. Acid-based foods prepared in stainless steel pans can leach quite a bit while cast iron seems to be, overall, a better choice.

      Neurological Lyme disease is a misnomer. Lyme disease can cause extensive, long-term neurological damage that persists after it is cured, which is better called Post-Lyme syndrome. It also can trigger autoimmune diseases that attack the brain and CNS that persist long after the bacterium itself is gone.

      There are several other viruses and bacteria that Lyme-carrying ticks have that aren’t well recognized that can cause that type of symptoms as well, and we just don’t know the long-term effects of those infections. Some have also been linked to long-term neurological sequelae.

  28. Wow, glad I watched this. Someone I care about just purchased a zinc + copper supplement. I assume this is not a good idea then, and possibly dangerous? I eat a whole foods vegan diet with lots of raw fruit and veggies and seeds and I’ve recently been making dressings with cashews which I know are an excellent source of copper. Occasionally I consume coconut oil, I’ve taken a tablespoon here and there or sometimes I’ll cook with a tiny bit of it. Would this constitute as being high in saturated fat? Also does this saturated fat even count as it’s so different from other saturated fats in regards to how our bodies utilize it? Thanks!

    1. Thanks for your question Shaylen! I am a Registered Dietitian and I have recently joined NF as a Moderator.

      Dr Greger has done some great videos regarding coconut oil, please find them here and here. Furthermore, a very recently published review concluded that replacing coconut oil with unsaturated fatty acids could reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

      My personal suggestion is to avoid oils altogether and perhaps obtain your fats from sources such as nuts, seeds and avocado only. However, if you really must use the oil in certain occasions (e.g. social events), perhaps go for a soybean, olive, peanut or walnut oil. Again, I am not suggesting oils as a healthy fat source, simply providing “better” alternatives compared to coconut oil.

      Hope it helps!

      1. I’m all about olive oil as a dressing and appreciate the health benefits it offers, but I’d definitely stay away from soybean oil as I know how high it is in omega-6. I like coconut oil for cooking because it’s more stable than olive oil but not high in omega-6 like other high heat stable oils such as soy and safflower, etc. But I will definitely check out the videos, thanks for the links!

      2. I’m a big fan of olive oil as a salad dressing and appreciate its many benefits, but I don’t like it for cooking due to recently learning how it can go rancid at higher heat levels. I disagree about replacing saturated fats with fats that are insanely high in omega-6 such as soy, though. For me, I’ll use a tiny bit of coconut oil when baking or cooking because I think it’s better than overwhelming the body with omega-6. I am VERY glad I watched these videos though! They were very helpful! I’m surprised at the abundant misleading information there is out there about coconut oil being some kind of superfood. What a horrible thing to do to a public desperately trying to improve their health. Thanks so much for your time and the links!

        1. Shaylen, the hype for a product, for the most part. It takes time for the research to catch up. There were hints that coconut oil MIGHT improve blood lipid profiles and it immediately became the Next Big Thing. Ironically, coconut oil has real benefits for the skin and has some anti-bacterial properties and some other things, just not as a food product.

          I use olive oil on salads and so forth. Canola’s a good one for cooking, although safflower has a higher smoke point

          1. Yeah… it’s a shame that things work this way and surprising when first realizing it. I do love coconut oil for skin! And yeah I love the smoke point for safflower oil being so high but I try to stay away from it due to the extremely high levels of omega-6 which is a problem in the western world. I recently learned that avocado oil has a high smoke point, but again, pretty sure it’s very high in omega-6, but another oil that’s great for topical use and I think may be more sustainable than coconut oil.

  29. Is it safe to cook in a cast iron pan? And is 100% DV iron in your multivitamin ok? What minerals should and shouldn’t be in your daily multivitamin?

    1. Thanks for your question Shaylen! I am a Registered Dietitian and I have recently joined NF as a Moderator.

      I tried to find information on the safety of cast iron cookware but was not successful, I will see if any other moderator has useful information on this subject. However, you should know that iron cookware does leach iron into cooked food (1, 2).

      On the other hand, I would be careful with iron supplementation, and here is why.

      To answer your question regarding multivitamin use, I highly recommend you check this video and this article.

      Hope this helps!

      1. Some studies have shown that properly seasoned cast iron pans don’t leach very much iron. Aluminum pans may leach some aluminum, but the amount leached – and whether it has any health consequences – is, at best, hard to determine, although some alternative medicine practitioners blame it for all kinds of health problems [Removing thimerasol didn’t reduce the autism epidemic, so the anti-vaxxers have turned to the alum in vaccines as the cause, but THAT is a whole other discussion]

        1. Really appreciate your replies and info! I’ve cooked with a cast iron quite a lot and never experienced any problems but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t doing anything dangerous.

    2. Just spoke with one of the moderators and there is indeed lack of research on the safety of cast iron cookware. However, you are encouraged to check out this video, where Dr Greger addresses aluminum cookware.

      Plus, in 2006 Dr John McDougall stated that “During my 35 years of medical practice I have never seen, or even heard of, anyone be- coming sick or dying from exposure to the components of the non-stick surfaces of pots and pans. However, I have seen thousands, and heard of hundreds of millions, of people made sick by eating grease. The purpose of non-stick pans is to cut out the vegetable oils and animal fats used in cooking and help prevent “lipotoxemia”—that is, poisoning from lipids (fats).”

      Although these may not answer your question specifically, hope it can give you a better insight on cookware and its relation to food.

  30. I came across a study lately that also recommended that people do not use plumbing as an electrical ground in homes due to the grounding setting copper modules into the water supply in the home. Do you know anything about that Dr Greger?

  31. I’m concerned that my risk for developing Alzheimer’s is increased with my use of a copper-containing IUD. Can anyone speak to this? Because of a blood mutation, hormonal contraceptive is not an option for me.

  32. I always feelt Saturated Fat makes me in brain fog, I was also expose a lot to copper throw diet. howerver, was a period in my life where i was vegetrian and my consciousness was high, just because little anixty, i was back animal based diet. where the consume of meats, rich fat dairy products only had worsen my cogentive abilites up to now im feeling very oppsed, it seems the damage is long term.
    at test doctor i have low Ceruloplasmin which means low blood copper link to metabloic syndrome with fat. i think. while takeing zinc supplemtns the copper was 79 copper in urine. after few month of stoping with zinc was it back to 35. I might suffer from excess copper buildup in the brain.
    I just need someone to change my diet. rather then doctor.
    my age is 19, feel confused

  33. This may be an off-topic question, but related to copper. I have not seen any information here about having a copper IUD birth control and possible side effect from having this metal in my body. Has any study be done about possible negative effects of copper exposure in the body?

  34. I’m looking into getting a copper IUD birth control. I see people talking about copper toxicity. Is there any legitimacy to it? Also, I eat a whole food plant based diet, so do I have to worry about it giving me cognitive problems later in life? TIA

  35. Hi – I’m new to this site – have had lots of stuff sent to me about “ketonic diet” – I wish Dr. Greger would address it. There’s a lot of “research” out there – I’m tempted to try it, but there’s so much conflicting information.

    1. corinnemc: I would not recommend a ketogenic diet unless you have epilepsy. Below is an old answer to the ketogenic diet question from moderator Rami. I think the post is really helpful.

      Ketogenic diets (very low carb, high fat) have been shown to be helpful with children with epilepsy for the short term. All other aspects of the diet for the short term show ill health effects. Its not something you want to put your body through. I will share the SHORT TERM evidence below. The long term evidence is also damning, but here is short term data.

      “Cognitive Effects of Ketogenic Weight-Reducing Diets,” researchers randomized people to either a ketogenic or a nonketogenic weight loss diet. Although both groups lost the same amount of weight, those on the ketogenic diet suffered a significant drop in cognitive performance.After one week in ketosis, higher order mental processing and mental flexibility significantly worsened into what the researcher called a “modest neuropsychological impairment.”

      A review over low carb diets revealed that “Complications such as heart arrhythmias, cardiac contractile function impairment, sudden death, osteoporosis, kidney damage, increased cancer risk, impairment of physical activity and lipid abnormalities can all be linked to long-term restriction of carbohydrates in the diet.”

      Low-Fat Versus Low-Carbohydrate Weight Reduction Diets
      Effects on Weight Loss, Insulin Resistance, and Cardiovascular Risk: A Randomized Control Trial

      This study looked at 24 people who were overweight/obese and divided them into 2 groups. One group was low carb, high fat and the other high carb, low fat.
      High carb group: 20% calories from fat/60% calories from carbs
      Low carb group: 60% calories from fat/20% calories from carbs
      In addition, the study was designed so that participants would lose 1 pound per week, so calories were reduced by 500 per day.

      Volunteers were given pre weighed foods given as daily portions and were assessed by a dietician to make sure that they were adhering to the diet. After 8 weeks, this is what was found to be significant between the two groups. The low carb, high fat group experienced arterial stiffness which basically means impaired arterial function. What this means is that the people on this diet experienced low grade inflammation which can lead to the growth of atherosclerotic lesions and can become heart disease. “It is possible that the high fat content of a low-carbohydrate diet exerts detrimental effects on endothelial function, which raises concern s regarding the long-term safety and efficacy of low-carbohydrate diets…Currently, supported by evidence from long-term trials, we believe that a low-fat diet should remain the preferred diet for diabetes prevention.”

      Benefit of Low-Fat Over Low-Carbohydrate Diet on Endothelial Health in Obesity
      20 subjects participated in this study. “The [low carb] diet provided 20 g of carbohydrates daily, supplemented with protein and fat content according to the Atkins’ diet recommendation.19 The [low fat] diet provided 30% of the calories as fat, modeled after an American Heart Association diet.” I wouldn’t exactly call the low fat diet “low fat”, but regardless, its far less fat then the low carb diet. Both groups were given 750 calories less with pre made meals so they would stick with the protocol.
      After 6 weeks, there were significant differences between the low carb and the low fat group. The researchers performed a brachial artery test which basically tests to see if arterial function is impaired or not. Typically, the arm is cut off from circulation for about 5 min., then they release the arm, and measure how dilated the blood vessels are. If the blood vessels are constricted, it represents arterial impairment whereas dilation indicates good arterial health.
      On week 2 of the diet, both low carb and low fat groups had poor arterial health and were not significantly different, but by week 6, those on the low carb diet had far worse arterial health then before, and those eating low fat had far better.
      (See figure 1: )
      This again shows that this type of diet is promoting heart disease risk.

      Low carbohydrate, high fat diet increases C-reactive protein during weight loss.
      Unfortunately, I was unable to find the full text of this study so it is difficult for me to view the details and all I can do is base my conclusions of the study based on the abstract which is not something I like to do. Regardless, the study revealed a very interesting finding. It showed that when subjects of the study went on a low carb, high protein diet for 4 weeks, they had a 25% increase in C-reactive protein. C-reactive protein is a marker of inflammation which basically means that this group of people were promoting the development of a chronic disease. In contrast, the high carbohydrate subjects decreased their levels of C-reactive protein by 48%.

      Comparative Effects of Three Popular Diets on Lipids, Endothelial Function, and C-Reactive Protein during Weight Maintenance
      This study is quite interesting. It examined 18 adults aged 20 or over for 6 months. The aim of the study was to examine their health when on 3 diets, the Atkins diet (high fat, low carb), the South beach diet (Mediterranean) and the Ornish diet (low fat, high carb). They found no significant differences between the 3 diets in terms of calories consumed. The results are interesting as seen in table 1 of the study.
      They found higher LDL in the Atkins diet and lower LDL in the low fat Ornish diet. They also found significantly higher levels of C-reactive protein in the atkins diet as opposed to the Ornish diet. What was also found was that the atkins diet had poor results for the Brachial Artery test which again shows impaired arterial function. “High saturated fat intake may adversely impact lipids and endothelial function during weight maintenance. As such, popular diets such as Atkins may be less advantageous for CHD risk reduction when compared to the Ornish and South Beach diets”

    2. corinnemc: I meant to mention/add that Tom Goff also had a great post on the topic with additional information on the health hazards of a ketogenic diet. See:

      As I’m sure you know, there is all sorts of incorrect information to be found on the internet. Sadly, bad diet is in great abundance. This is one of those cases where it is not just bad info, but potentially very serious in terms of even short term harm.

  36. I am blown away. I just went through my whole food list in Cronometer and found that I take 5-6mg of Copper per day + around 20mg of Iron.
    How is this possible ….. whole foods and I get 500% RDA of Copper. What to do … what to eat :(

  37. I have a question regarding copper. I have a non-hormonal copper IUD inserted about a year and a half ago. Is there any scientific study that addresses the negative impact of a copper device inside the body? Does it influence any kind of other mineral absorption or copper levels in the body? Thank you.

  38. You mentioned chelating metals in this video. Nickel allergy sufferers are told to increase Vitamin C to help chelate nickel in their foods. Most dark leafy greens, legumes, etc. have high concentrations of nickel from the soil, so many nickel allergy sufferers try to go on a low-nickel diet and end up cutting lots of healthy things our of their diet.

    Are there any studies showing the amounts of Vitamin C required to chelate certain amounts of dietary nickel?

    Is there any advice for those allergic to nickel but still would like to eat a healthy diet?

  39. Hello,
    I have been taking note of the research on various plant-based foods (saffron, turmeric, lavander flowers, apples, etc. vitamin B12 shots, no animal products) that may help with Alzheimer and anxiety because my mother started with permanent anxiety and often severe outbursts of anxiety in April: by October, after exhaustive studies by many psichiatrist, neurologists, neuropsichiatrist, etc., she was diagnosed with either a Fronto-temporal dementia or some rare case of Alzheimer. She is under a number of (terrible) medications (rivastigmine, risperidone and some benzodiazepine) that I feel just make her situation worse. She does not recognize us, she cannot speak, read or write because of the medications, she has fallen several times because of the medications. Basically, they just put her off. In 8 months she is gone! And I cannot accept it. I dont have the authority to put her off such medications and no one in the family is going to accept it (I may even face opposition to remove animal products from her diet). However, I want to try the various plant-based foods that might help her, it would be criminal not to. After all, it is just food. Would it be safe to try all those healthy foods while she is under the medications above mentioned? Would it be okay to try all those foods at once? Thank you so much for the research website and all the hope it brings. Please give me some light on those questions.

  40. CBS News just put up a story claiming that copper in natural foods such as greens, avocados, chickpeas, coconut could be excessive and causing depression, anxiety, exhaustion, insomnia and cognitive decline.

    The internist recommends eating beef and chicken to counteract the copper. Dr. Greger in the above video only made general recommendations to eat more fruits and vegetables, but does not tell us which ones. I think this is important information, especially since kale is on the list of high copper foods.

    1. Antillar: The link you shared leads to a story that is sensational in nature. One of the so-called experts quoted is selling an anti-diet book promoting the consumption of meat, and the other sells water filtration systems. I think that advice from people who are selling something supported by that advice should be taken with a grain of salt. As the video above explains, copper in conjunction with saturated fat, as it occurs in animal products, appears to be a problem, while copper without saturated fat, as it occurs in most plant foods, does not. It is also important to note that copper is an important nutrient. It helps the body use iron to make blood cells. Copper also competes with zinc for absorption, so eating zinc-rich foods such as sesame seeds is important. I hope that helps!

      1. Christine Kestner: Thank you for the reply. Appreciate all of the information and it does help. Since Dr. Greger promoted sesame seeds in his videos I have been using them daily. Hoping for the improvement of my arthritis to start kicking in soon.

  41. Interesting news

    “Excess sugar linked to Alzheimer’s: Study finds a ‘tipping point’”

    “Dr Omar Kassaar, from the University of Bath, said excess sugar was “well known to be bad for us when it comes to diabetes and obesity, but this potential link with Alzheimer’s disease is yet another reason that we should be controlling our sugar intake in our diets.”

    The work is published in the journal Scientific Reports.”

  42. Swimming pools that circulate copper ions are becoming more popular–in place of chlorine. Do you know if this research suggests any harm in prolonged frequent swimming in these pools? (I spend many hours per week…)

  43. Copper ionization has been used for some time. It does decrease bacteria and fungi. Pools are still “shocked” periodically with chemicals as well. The copper can stain hair green. I could not find published reports of copper toxicity from contact in pools in a literature search. I’ll let you know if I come upon such reports. -Dr Anderson, volunteer

  44. Doctor, I know you say we can eat 3-4 handfuls of pistachios per day to help with ED. But you also talk a lot about saturated fat. 1 cup of pistachios have 7 grams being 35% of our recommended daily allowance. I am fully plant based and try to eat mostly whole foods. Is it okay to eat that much Saturated per day? I’m sure I get a little more sat. fat from the other plant foods also.

  45. This is a really good question. There is no direct evidence that I’m aware of, but all available evidence points to the fact that just about any nut supports optimal health. Populations that eat nuts have lower BMI, lower disease rates and lower death rates. Just make sure your nuts are unsalted.

    Dr. Ben

  46. Here in the Netherlands I have to choose between RoundUp produce and organic produce that’s been sprayed with copper.
    Which is worse?

    I’m going to grow my own crops the moment I can rent a piece of land, but until then, which do I choose?

  47. Is there any evidence of copper IUD’s affecting Alzheimer’s, or affecting depression? Some of my patients have chosen the copper iuds which can stay in for 10 years, to avoid the hormones in the other IUD’s.

  48. I recently had a blood test taken and my copper:zinc ratio was about 3. It should be less than one, so my doctor put me on Zinc Supreme, a supplement containing zinc and other vitamins. I also learned that the foods highest in zinc are meats and pumpkin seeds and vegetarians tend to have high copper levels. Before my blood test, I was eating more vegetables and reducing my consumption of animal products. Now I’m confused.

  49. Hi Patti – Thanks for your comment! That is great to hear that you are focusing on eating more plant-based foods and less animal products. Other plant-based foods higher in zinc to consider incorporating into your daily diet include legumes (aim for 3 servings of chickpeas/beans/lentils daily) and whole grains (such as 3 servings/day of quinoa/oats/whole wheat/brown rice). Foods including meats, seeds, nuts, shellfish, and dark chocolate for example are higher in both zinc and copper.

    I hope this helps!
    -Janelle RD (Registered Dietitian & Health Support Volunteer)

  50. On on 3/19/2020, there was an article titled, “Copper Destroys Viruses and Bacteria. Why isn’t it everywhere?”

    I would like to see a video regarding people touching copper versus copper in the diet via animal products via copper in the diet via plant products. It seems that touching copper is helping in warding off very serious viruses. Does touching copper objects also encourage Alzheimer’s disease?

Leave a Reply

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

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This