Are Betel Nuts Good For You?

Are Betel Nuts Good For You?
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Areca nuts may be both carcinogenic and damaging to the liver.

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A common question I get asked when I tell folks to eat nuts every day is: “Which nuts count (in terms of cutting our heart disease risk in half)?” Basically, all nuts count, including peanuts, but excluding chestnuts and coconuts, which really can’t be considered nuts, nutritionally.

Last year, though, someone asked me about betel nuts—something I’d never even heard of. It turns out you can find them in Asian markets, advertised as “tasty.”

Betel nuts. Harmful? Not harmful, but don’t really have the benefits of other nuts? Or, betel nuts are like any other nuts—helpful?

It turns out, evidently, the public health community has known for a long time that betel nuts cause cancer. But only recently did we discover they may shut down our kidneys as well.

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 veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to artist in doing nothing via Flickr.

A common question I get asked when I tell folks to eat nuts every day is: “Which nuts count (in terms of cutting our heart disease risk in half)?” Basically, all nuts count, including peanuts, but excluding chestnuts and coconuts, which really can’t be considered nuts, nutritionally.

Last year, though, someone asked me about betel nuts—something I’d never even heard of. It turns out you can find them in Asian markets, advertised as “tasty.”

Betel nuts. Harmful? Not harmful, but don’t really have the benefits of other nuts? Or, betel nuts are like any other nuts—helpful?

It turns out, evidently, the public health community has known for a long time that betel nuts cause cancer. But only recently did we discover they may shut down our kidneys as well.

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 veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to artist in doing nothing via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

For more on nuts:
Nuts May Help Prevent Death
Four Nuts Once a Month
Which Nut Fights Cancer Better?

And check out my other videos on nuts

For further context, see out my associated blog post: Soy milk: shake it up!

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

8 responses to “Are Betel Nuts Good For You?

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    1. Two years ago I began eating a diet extremely high in meat protein. Unaware of the affects they could/would have I believed at age 63 I needed the added protein. Consuming 150-200 grams of fish and some beef. My creatinine levels suddenly went up over 1.1 and as high as 1.4, constantly going up and back down for the entire two year period with my doctor believing it was the beginning of CKD due to my age. I’ve been doing a lot of research and have recently discovered the adverse effects of eating meat protein I am going to the other extreme and going vegetarian. My question to you is “can my kidney function return to normal, at least with regard to my creatinine levels? Ultrasound has shown no disease as yet.
      Thank you so very much!

      1. Hi Denise Hennessee – Thanks for your question and sharing your story! With kidney impairment, it is best to focus on both the quantity and quality of protein.The typical protein recommendation for adults with chronic kidney disease (not on dialysis) is 0.6-0.8 grams per kilogram body weight, which is significantly less than the amount you were previously consuming. Plant-based sources of protein (beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, nuts) put less stress on kidneys and their ability to clear out waste products and toxins. Therefore opting for a vegetarian or plant-based style of eating has been associated with slowing decline in kidney function, lessening kidney damage, and decreasing protein in the urine.

        It’s a good idea to routinely have your doctor check a renal function panel to monitor your creatinine trend, GFR, and kidney function. GFR is a better measurement and more accurate predictor of kidney function, and it also determines the stage (1-5) of chronic kidney disease. It is difficult to predict whether your creatinine will return to normal or not, but improvements in kidney function as well as slowing any further decline in kidney function have certainly been seen with a healthful, plant-based diet.

        Here are a few more links to check out:
        https://nutritionfacts.org/video/treating-chronic-kidney-disease-with-food/
        https://nutritionfacts.org/video/treating-kidney-failure-through-diet/
        https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/can-my-gfr-get-better

        I hope this helps answer your question and gives you some guidance!
        -Janelle RD (Registered Dietitian & NutritionFacts.org Health Support Volunteer)

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