Beans, Beans, They’re Good For Your Heart

Beans, Beans, They’re Good For Your Heart
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Legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, beans and split peas may reduce cholesterol so much that consumers may be able to get off their cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, but to profoundly alter heart disease risk we may have to more profoundly alter our diet.

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I’ve talked previously about the antidiabetic and antiobesity effects of various phytochemicals in beans, but there are protective effects on the cardiovascular system as well. Plant-specific compounds can have a remarkable impact on the health care system and may provide therapeutic health benefits, including the prevention and/or treatment of diseases and disorders. Antioxidant effects, anti-inflammatory, liver protective, cholesterol-lowering, blood pressure lowering, as well as prevention of aging, diabetes, osteoporosis, DNA damage, heart diseases, and other disorders. Those without legumes in their daily diet, for example, may be at quadruple the odds of suffering high blood pressure.

Legumes such as chickpeas have been used to treat high blood pressure and diabetes for thousands of years. Here’s what they can do to cholesterol levels. Researchers took people on a diet high enough in fat to rival the cholesterol levels in the Western world, up around 206. Swapped in chickpeas for some of the grains they were eating, and in five months their cholesterol dropped about 20% to 160, almost down to the target, around 150. A reduction of more than 15% in most of the subjects, and its sustained action during long-term administration, not only indicate a definite benefit, but show that it is superior to many known cholesterol-lowering substances. In a randomized crossover trial, adding two servings a day of lentils, chickpeas, beans or split peas cut cholesterol levels so much that many participants moved below the range for which statin drugs are typically prescribed.

But I want to go back to the study, because they really buried the lead. The participants were started out on a low fat diet. Really low fat, and so their cholesterol started out at 123, well within the safe zone. Only after packing their diet with saturated fat were they able to boost their cholesterol up to typical American levels, which could them be ameliorated by adding chickpeas to their lousy new diet, but it’d be better if they just ate healthy in the first place, or even better healthy and hummus. A healthy diet with lots of legumes.

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 Danielle Griscti via Flickr.

I’ve talked previously about the antidiabetic and antiobesity effects of various phytochemicals in beans, but there are protective effects on the cardiovascular system as well. Plant-specific compounds can have a remarkable impact on the health care system and may provide therapeutic health benefits, including the prevention and/or treatment of diseases and disorders. Antioxidant effects, anti-inflammatory, liver protective, cholesterol-lowering, blood pressure lowering, as well as prevention of aging, diabetes, osteoporosis, DNA damage, heart diseases, and other disorders. Those without legumes in their daily diet, for example, may be at quadruple the odds of suffering high blood pressure.

Legumes such as chickpeas have been used to treat high blood pressure and diabetes for thousands of years. Here’s what they can do to cholesterol levels. Researchers took people on a diet high enough in fat to rival the cholesterol levels in the Western world, up around 206. Swapped in chickpeas for some of the grains they were eating, and in five months their cholesterol dropped about 20% to 160, almost down to the target, around 150. A reduction of more than 15% in most of the subjects, and its sustained action during long-term administration, not only indicate a definite benefit, but show that it is superior to many known cholesterol-lowering substances. In a randomized crossover trial, adding two servings a day of lentils, chickpeas, beans or split peas cut cholesterol levels so much that many participants moved below the range for which statin drugs are typically prescribed.

But I want to go back to the study, because they really buried the lead. The participants were started out on a low fat diet. Really low fat, and so their cholesterol started out at 123, well within the safe zone. Only after packing their diet with saturated fat were they able to boost their cholesterol up to typical American levels, which could them be ameliorated by adding chickpeas to their lousy new diet, but it’d be better if they just ate healthy in the first place, or even better healthy and hummus. A healthy diet with lots of legumes.

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 Danielle Griscti via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

Beans dips like hummus are among my favorite go-to snacks. I like to dip snap peas and red bell pepper slices in them. I’d love to hear everyone’s favorite recipe. You show me yours and I’ll show you mine :)

Canned Beans or Cooked Beans? Click the link to find out!

Beans can help us live longer (Increased Lifespan from Beans), control our blood sugars (Beans and the Second Meal Effect), and help prevent and treat diabetes (Preventing Prediabetes By Eating More and Diabetics Should Take Their Pulses).

What about the purported “anti-nutrient” phytates in beans? You mean the Phytates for the Prevention of Cancer, the Phytates for Rehabilitating Cancer Cells, and the Phytates for the Treatment of Cancer? Phytate-containing foods may also help protect our bones (Phytates for the Prevention of Osteoporosis).

Why not just take cholesterol pills every day for the rest of our life? See my videos Statin Muscle Toxicity and Statin Cholesterol Drugs and Invasive Breast Cancer.

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

115 responses to “Beans, Beans, They’re Good For Your Heart

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  1. Swapped Beans for Grains? Not sure the connection. They were on a good diet to begin with/cholesterol levels et.al. And then they came down to a decent level. But I would have thought they would, at some point, keep the beans but otherwise return to their mostly healthy original “diet”. A little confusing. I would think there may be better experiments et.al. to indicate the value of daily legume/bean intake. Thanks!!!!!! Beans, Beans and more Beans!!!!!




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  2. Popular press: Saturated fat has nothing to do with heart disease. Scientists (Ancel Keys) got it wrong all these years. Eat butter.

    Right. Got another bridge in Brooklyn to sell, you guys?

    Thanks for bigger picture, Doc.




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  3. Dear Dr. Michael Greger,

    First of all, I really have to thank you for all you have been doing, trying to make the world a better place, with a lot of health and harmony between our specie and all the others living beings and nature.

    My name is Filipe Coimbra Castiço and I live in Lisbon, Portugal. I have 23 years old and I have been consuming a whole food plant-based diet since 21.

    I’m a graduate student in physical therapy, and I’m beginning in the next week my college graduation in Nutrition, here in Lisbon.

    I already learned a lot about the relationship between nutrition and health, almost because I’m following daily the NutritionFact website (I’m grateful for all your work), and I already read almost all the books from Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr, Joel Fuhrman and other excellent authors from other fields that make the relation between health and nature. However, I know that I’m just in the beginning of my journey.

    I wanna starting my personal youtube channel to help the portuguese population, making videos that explores all this concepts about the whole food plant-based diet and his effects in all the chronic diseases and also make cooking videos to make practical support about the theory revealed.

    So, I have three questions that can give me much help in starting this project:

    – First, will I have legal problems because of making certain claims about nutrition and health, even if I support all of my sayings with studies’s references? If so, how can I manage my claims to minimize my risk in being sued?

    – Second, how can I make references about studies without harm the authors’s rights?

    – Third, can you give me a reference about the best (in your point of view) human nutrition textbook? I already start reading the book Krause’s Food & the Nutrition Care Process, 13ed (Krause’s Food & Nutrition Therapy), and I’m reading certain claims that does not support the best evidence and do support certain industries.

    I wish you all the luck and all the health and happiness in your life and your loved ones.

    With all the love,


    Filipe Coimbra Castiço




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      1. This question doesn’t focus on the topic at hand here. Maybe delete this and send a personal message to Dr Greger. Just my two cents.




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    1. Nice going. Great idea. You have to consider your country’s position on free speech. It is difficult to believe you would have any legal problems ESPECIALLY if you use solid scientific work to support and refute claims.

      I would look for a forum that discusses internet-related issues and post your concerns there.

      Your last question is the most interesting to me. I have wondered about this too. Maybe we will learn more from others.

      best of luck, con toda mi alma (translators are great, no?)




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    2. Filipe: Thank you for your post. It was very interesting. I think it is so cool that you want to take this project on.

      While I don’t have answers to the specific questions you asked, I do have a suggestion for you: I believe that NutritionFacts has a volutneer program where people can translate videos into other languages. If you did that for the NutritionFacts videos, you could direct people in your country to the NutritionFacts videos and they could hear (or is a written thing only???? – I don’t know) the videos in their own language.

      In addition, to suppliment that work, you could have your YouTube channel where you do your cooking shows and reference the NutritionFacts videos or whatever studies you want to reference.

      That’s just a suggestion for you. Hope it helps! If you are interested in volunteering for NutritionFacts, let me know and I’ll pass on your request to the NutritionFacts staff.




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    3. People can claim anything they want, even if its not based on sound research! (Think of Atkins) Just cite your references when quoting. Why don’t you just translate Dr. Greger’s video into Portuguese? No need to reinvent the wheel.




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    4. Olá Filipe! Eu sou médica e estamos no mesmo barco :) Se quiseres segue a minha página do facebook sobre o assunto (Nice’s Health) e o meu instagram “saudável” @niceshealth e entra em contacto comigo !




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      1. Olá Eunice! Já te sigo no facebook e no Instagram! Hei-de entrar em contacto contigo assim que tornar o website público. Continua, eu vou estar atento as publicações!!




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  4. From following Dr. Greger’s videos, I have decided that I needed to eat two things much more often. Beans and amla, also known as Indian gooseberry. I bought amla gooseberry frozen, thawed it, and found it literally physically impossible to eat. Then I asked the attendant in the grocery store how she eats it. She said, “In pickles”. I put it in my sauerkraut and it was great. I also tried to eat the amla powder. Too sour and astringent. I tried putting it in various things: cottage cheese, ok but not particularly recommend by Dr. Greger. I put it in some sourish tasting hummus and it wasn’t good, but I put it in some hummus with a high olive oil content Trader Joe’s brand, and it was delicious. Now I eat TJ’s hummus with sprinkled amla powder several times a week. Nutritious and delicious. Beans and amla.
    John S
    PDX OR




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    1. John I bought veggie capsules and a capsule “packing” gizmo (The Capsule Machine on Amazon) so I make my own amla (and tonight turmeric) capsules to take daily. I don’t like smoothies, so I needed to find another way to ingest it. I can’t take the taste on its own, so the capsule route is perfect for me.




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    2. I too find amla to make poor taste for any recipe I add it to. So for morning oatmeal I need blueberries and strawberries to overcome the poor taste for just a half-teaspoon of amla. Is there any good supplier where the amla is not expensive($18/lb before shipping cost at bulkherbstore.com)?




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      1. Go to any Indian grocery and you will get it really cheap. Amla powder or if you can find Triphala – that has three fruits in it and amla is one of them. Triphala is considered more potent than taking amla on its own. According to Ayurveda it balances all three humors in one’s body that are known as Mucus (resides in lungs and when high, it creates sluggishness, obesity, cold), Digestive acids (heat – if high creates acidity, ulcers, heat in body, acidic blood), Air – which resides in the intestines and colon. Unbalance in these humors are the start of all the diseases. Amla works on the acid part mainly and calms it down. Triphala meaning three fruits balances all the three humors and amla is one of that fruit in it. I have been taking amla for more than 20 yrs and I cannot describe all the benefits that it has over here as it will fill up the whole book. It is considered as a superfood in Ayurveda which rejuvenates the cells and keeps it young – Anti-Ageing properties. Take it dissolved in half cup of water and it will taste slightly sour. Would advise not to mix with meals as it will domiate with sour taste – which is from the bio available Vitamin C – highest compared to any of the fruit.




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  5. Soaking Beans & Nuts….. You talked about soaking perhaps reducing the effects of key/important Phytates? To soak or not to soak…/& grains too. Soaking/for how long/initiates sprouting (?) Your clarification will be very helpful to all of us.
    Thank for the recommendation to soak “your grains overnight”; some say they cook quicker; you say they don’t need/therefore/cooking?
    Sounds like Beans & Nuts/would be great for Breakfast/as you intimated. So many things/relatively simple/but take time to adjust/recall/make habits.




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    1. Soaking for as little as 8 hours can begin the sprouting process — some legumes like chick peas may require overnight soaking. Drain. Rinse every 6-7 hours and watch for sprouts to appear. You can soak grains and not cook them — they are equally as good just eaten after soaking in water or almond milk or veggie broth. Most dried beans and legumes need to be soaked or quick soaked (bring water and dried beans to a boil – cover and turn off heat. Let sit for one hour. Bring up to simmer and cook until tender) to be edible. I make a big pot of beans and/or grains and have them ready to mix together for a nourishing meal, breakfast, lunch or dinner. I also sprout both beans/legumes/peas and grains like amaranth or kamut. Sprouted beans make great hummus too. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/whole-grains-may-work-as-well-as-drugs/




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    2. I cook my beans in a pressure cooker. No need to pre-soak. Yes, just dry beans from the market, wash and place in about 6 cups of water per pound. The time depends on the bean so you have to use trial and error but I usually cook for about 35 minutes for white or black beans or garbanzos. Then after pressure cooking add whatever else you like in your beans.




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    3. I usually always soak or sprout legumes before pressure cooking them. Sometimes when I haven’t pre-planned meals I just pressure cook from dry. It mostly depends on one’s lifestyle and preferences. From my anecdotal experience, legumes digest better if they are at least soaked beforehand, and some of the larger beans like red kidney beans digest easiest after they have been sprouting for a few days. I also think sprouted legumes taste better and have better textures than compared to cooking straight from dry. While there’s no need to really fear phytates, soaking initiates the sprouting process and has benefits in of itself (which other videos on NutritionFacts have addressed previously).




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  6. I gave up trying to make hummus. It comes out Ok at first, moist and garlic-y but overnight it looses most of its flavor. I thickens and usually ends up going into a soup pot.




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    1. I don’t like chickpeas at all. I have tried hummus premade, making my own, etc. The only way I can tolerate them is if I fully saturate them in an overly flavorful sauce like BBQ. Thankfully, I love other types of beans and lentils. I’m going to try making hummus with green peas and see how that works out.




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      1. Penny: That is so interesting, because I can’t taste much of a difference between any type of bean – with the possible exception of black eyed peas. I think my taste buds are off from a lot of other people. For me, bean differences are about mouth-feel and texture.

        I thought I would share that I once saw a receipt for hummus made out of yellow split peas. So, there’s another option for you.

        Good luck. I hope you find something you like.




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      2. Somehow I’ve come to love them, chickpeas…used to call them “Clayballs” but not now. Yes, the store bought hummus is great but how do they get it to stay flavorful for so long? Please let us know how the green pea thing works out. I love peas




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        1. Lol, I like to call them ‘the potato of the bean world’. I love them so much! When I rinse and strain a can I can’t help eating them right out of the strainer.

          Strangely I’ve never liked store bought versions I’ve tried. They always confuse me, like is this supposed to be hummus or a “hummus flavored dip”? Maybe it’s the texture. Regarding the flavor the store bought versions may have citric acid added in addition to (maybe even instead of) lemon juice.




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    2. • Use a high-power blender rather than food processor.
      • Per 14.5 oz can chickpeas, start by blending a creamy emulsion of 2 Tbsp tahini, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 Tbsp water
      • Add seasonings: I use (per can) 1 clove garlic, tsp cumin, salt to taste, pinch cayenne.
      • Add drained rinsed chickpeas and a bit of water and blend. Add more water and tamp down if the blender stalls. About 1 minute total blending will do.
      • Traditional presentation is drizzled with olive oil and paprika. Oil can be omitted, of course
      • I’m also fond of “Southwestern” variants using lime juice & cilantro and sometimes salsa added at the end.




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    3. I see Darryl shared his hummus recipe below but I thought I’d share mine too as it’s a bit different. Mine comes off the tahini bottle label, only change is water instead of oil. I use a food processor and it turns out great. I’ve made this countless times, always flavorful, always good texture, I’m gonna say pretty impossible to mess up. Favorite easy dinner combo is hummus spread on a plate, topped with a layer of brown rice and then a layer of steamed broccoli, with extra lemon juice, salt and pepper on the broccoli. Have tried a couple “alternative” flavors/recipes, but always come back to this one. :)

      I first have to put one clove garlic in my crappy old processor by itself, otherwise it won’t get chopped up right
      I then add:
      1 can chickpeas (rinsed, strained of course)
      1/4 c tahini
      juice of 1 lemon (should be at least 1/4 c, get out another lemon if necessary)
      up to 1/4 c water, added as necessary to desired consistency

      That’s it!

      While nothing quite compares to perfect freshly squeezed lemon juice and freshly minced garlic, this definitely retains most of its flavor. The flavor of fresh garlic inevitably changes overnight, but if anything it becomes more intense. If it’s been in the fridge a couple days I’ll squeeze another lemon wedge worth of juice onto an individual serving to boost it since citrus juice flavors do tend to fade a bit with time. I don’t detect any change in moistness or texture with leftovers.




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        1. How did the turmeric taste? Was it prominent or drowned out by the other flavors? I find I like the basic flavors the best, but I’m always looking for ways to inject turmeric and other spices into foods. I will definitely try this, perhaps start low and see how much I can add before I can detect it. Thanks for the idea!

          Your talk of turmeric also reminded me of this recipe that I like but haven’t made in a while:
          http://whiteonricecouple.com/recipes/spicy-white-bean-dip/

          It’s good without any oil or even the water. I tried the sesame oil in it once and did not care for it at all. Maybe a few drops would be good but 1 tsp is way too much imo. I like to up the lime juice and include some zest too. Good with my usual rice and broccoli, and also some cilantro on top balances out the curry nicely.




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    4. I always thought chickpeas were kind of bland until I got a pressure cooker. I’ve found that the flavor fresh out of the cooker – without any seasoning – is savory like a comfort food and it seems to keep even when I freeze batches. One other item that I think makes a big difference in hummus is the quality of tahini.

      As far as chickpeas go, during the spring/early summer this year my grocer carried fresh, raw chickpeas (which I had never seen or tasted before). I used them in summer soups – throwing them in at the end just so they had a chance to heat up and stay firm – they add a whole different level of flavor and texture that I found delicious. Unlike the chickpeas I always knew, the fresh ones are green and come in pods similar to edamame but shorter. The only downside is that shelling them is time intensive – 1.5 lbs gave me about 2.5-3 cups of shelled raw beans. I’ve been told they’re also delicious if you prepare them as you would edamame in the shell. I’ll have to try that next time.




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  7. “I’d love to hear everyone’s favorite recipe. You show me yours and I’ll show you mine ”
    I like a nori roll stuffed with lots of greens (any kind or combination – bok choy is great with red leaf lettuce), chopped garlic or onion, turmeric, cayenne, lemon juice (very important), avocado or hemp seeds, AND sprouted black lentils in the middle.




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  8. Beans, Beans the musical fruit. The more you eat the more you toot. The more you eat the better you feel…. Beans – Beans at every meal. Relax & Enjoy – Eat Plants :)




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  9. My diet has been 100% plant based (whole food) for 19 years and prior to that vegetarian from birth…but at 47 my total cholesterol in 251 mg/DL. It has been steadily increasing over the last few years. I consume zero dietary cholesterol. What should I do?




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    1. Hi Tania, there are many things that raise our blood cholesterol besides the cholesterol we eat. Check out Dr Greger’s videos and blogs on saturated fats (animals and vegetable oils, mainly) and trans fats (animals and junk food, mainly) to see how we can avoid eating those. Stress is also implicated, as is lack of exercise, so we need to get moving every day; we need to chill out through meditation or some other form of relaxation, and we need a solid seven hours of sleep in complete darkness, every night. Dean Ornish thinks loving relationships are as important as low cholesterol for preventing atherosclerosis, so… it’s definitely the food, but it’s not just the food… All the best…




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      1. Thanks for your reply Rohan. I eat mostly whole foods (plant based), and the main fat is avocado, since they are readily available where I live. I rarely eat nuts or nut pastes, seeds or tahinin since I find them too heavy and hard to digest. Occasionally I use olive oil or flax seed oil in homemade salad dressing or rice bran oil when I cook. I rarely eat junk food. I’ll have a go at giving up those vegetable oils…But as you said food is only one aspect that needs consideration, other areas of my life need more focused attention – stress, relationships, exercise.




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    2. Yes, I have the same problem despite consuming zero dietary cholesterol and virtually zero saturated fats/transfats.

      Remember, however, that even monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils contain a proportion of saturated fat. About 14% by weight in the case of olive oil. Even if you avoid oils, olives are 2% saturated fat by weight – see
      http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2329?fg=&man=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=&qlookup=olive
      – as are avocadoes.

      As Rohan writes, lack of exercise and stress can cause high high cholesterol. Consuming alcohol and smoking also raise cholesterol, as can certain diseases See this UK Government site: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cholesterol/Pages/Causes.aspx

      Hope this helps and good luck.




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      1. As mentioned above I do eat avocado, probably 1/2 a small one daily.

        I have never consumed alcohol or smoked.

        Will check out those links. Thanks Tom.




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    3. Tania, are you eating chips and crackers that have added oils? The transfats therein could be the culprit….salad dressings too are loaded with oils and chemicals and sodium that may also add to the problem. Just a gentle suggestion; not everything that is non-animal-sourced is healthy.




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      1. I agree, there can be very unhealthy vegan choices. I make my own salad dressings, and only occasionally eat chips or crackers…but probably time to avoid them altogether. Thanks for your input.




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      1. My “good” cholesterol (HDL) is 2.0 mmol/L (lab range says needs to be > 1.0, which mine is.) Though I don’t know what an optimal level would be? My “bad” cholesterol (LDL) is 4.0 (lab range is 2.1-4.0, so it just scrapes in…not so good.)




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    1. One of my favorite: hummus on toast, with thick sliced tomato and super thin sliced onion, with a bit of nutritional yeast/nut “parm” sprinkled on top. Tastes better than it should!




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      1. You know I can’t believe I’ve never tried that, given my love for both baked potatoes and hummus. Have both things in the fridge right now, so you just gave me my lunch menu for today :)

        One thing I have done is white beans (a bit creamier than chickpeas) pureed with lemon juice and a dash of salt. It’s similar to sour cream on top of a baked potato.




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        1. I even dip cold baked potato cubes into hummus sometimes. Chef AJ (do you know who she is?) has a youtube recipe for something called “Yummy Sauce”– she uses white beans for a base as you suggest and it LOOKS fabulous…haven’t tried it yet though. She puts it on steamed veggies, rice, etc.




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  10. I greatly enjoy this website. No personal offense intended, but since you’ve done such a nice job of revamping this website, it might be time to get someone who can do a better job with the oral reports on the videos. You often garble the words and it’s hard to follow. Again, no offense meant, but I’ve often felt this could be done better.




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    1. In my experience, most practicing Docs talk like Dr. Greger. He’s got a lot to say and not enough time to say it. Not always 100% clear, but it certainly adds an air of authenticity to the presentation that would be lost if they were to use a professional reader. His elocution is far better in the context of his lectures, which are posted to YouTube.




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  11. The laziest way I “make” hummus if I’m too busy is to buy favorite commercial hummus (esp buy one, get one free deals), realizing I’d rather eat it with less sodium and fat. So I dump it in a food processor, add a can of drained no-salt garbanzo beans and pulse away. It tastes fine! Freezes great, too. I’ll often add some hummus to a quick thrown-together salad of broccoli/cabbage slaw, radishes, arugula, broccoli sprouts, black beans all tossed together adding a splash of red wine vinegar, topped with chopped tomato. Great lunch on the go.




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  12. Hi Dr.
    Been with the program for a few years and am pleased with my health status. I have a number of friends I try to convince of the benefits of a plant based diet but they don’t agree and seem to have good reasoning. My first concern is my cousin. He is a diabetic and he is his doctor’s “poster child” for treating it with no medication. He is 76 years old and has been a weight lifter all his life. He wakes up each morning at 5 am and works out in order to burn the sugar out of his system. He watches his sugar intake very carefully and complains that he can’t eat things other folks enjoy. He won’t eat fruit because it too sweet, he won’t eat beans because he says the starch will turn to sugar. He won’t eat carrots or many of the foods you say are the best for you. He says your diet is for converting generally healthy people to a better diet, but not for people like him. He seems to be doing okay but he does have some issues with his fingers and a toe. Many people say the proper diet can reverse diabetis. Is he right about his diet????




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    1. “He says your diet is for converting generally healthy people to a better diet” – your friend is absolutely mistaken in this regard. Have you seen the “year in review” videos? All three are at the bottom of the “home page”. Particularly the “Uprooting the leading causes of death” video specifically illustrates how a WFPB diet can prevent, *reverse*, or *treat* 15 of the leading causes of death in the U.S. I recommended the “Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease” book in my other comment to you, which basically provides the ultimate counterpoint for your friend’s statement. It’s the history of Esselstyn getting started in WFPB-based CVD therapy by treating “the worst of the worst”. People whose CVD was so bad they were ineligible for surgery and basically told to go home and wait to die.

      But specifically regarding diabetes, your friend is also mistaken about the role of carbohydrates in the diet and if he wants to truly cure his diabetes rather than “manage” it, he needs to learn about the role of dietary fat and diabetes. Traditional diabetes “management” tries to control the amount of sugar that is introduced the bloodstream (via meticulous and restrictive dietary planning). However the problem isn’t sugar entering the bloodstream; the problem arises when insulin does not effectively do its job, and sugar is not efficiently transported from the bloodstream into the cells. The inhibition of insulin is due to the presence of fat within the cells. Get rid of the fat, insulin does its job, and one can consume carbohydrates and have the body process them naturally and effectively as humans were meant to do. But if we don’t fix the actual problem, then managing the symptoms (too much sugar) is the main approach. Unfortunately not only does this not actually fix the problem, but this approach encourages the removal of the most health promoting foods (beans, fruit, even carrots!) from the diet and tends to promote increased consumption of diabetes/heart disease/cancer promoting foods like meat and eggs.

      I would recommend that your friend become familiar with Dr. Neal Barnard’s work in particular before making a decision as to whether or not he should try a (low fat) WFPB diet for his diabetes:

      “Tackling Diabetes with a Bold New Approach”
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4glv5SVvQw

      “Program for Reversing Diabetes” book on amazon:
      http://www.amazon.com/Neal-Barnards-Program-Reversing-Diabetes/dp/1594868107

      Best of luck, and one more thing – try as you might, you can educate as much as you can, but you can’t by your own willpower infuse others with the same motivation or desire for good health. Some people you will be able to help; others will be unreachable no matter how bad their own health problems become and regardless of your own visible success. All you can do is point them towards the resources, continue being a good example, and make sure they know that you’re there as a resource for help should they ever decide to try.
      :)




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  13. My second concern is an individual at the health club where I work out. He claims he is “genetically predisposed” to having high cholesterol. His father died at a very young age with it and he says nothing about changing to a plant based diet will help him. He says he went on a “total cholesterol free diet” for six months and his numbers didn’t change one point. I don’t know what to say to people like him. Are they condemned to medication forever. I feel like I should stop trying to convince people about the health benefits of what I do. Many of them seem to have a story like this guy. Can they be helped by making the change or not???




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    1. If when your friend said “no cholesterol” diet he meant vegan diet, then that may indeed not have been enough. Dietary cholesterol consumption is only half (maybe less than half) of the equation. The consumption of saturated fat leads to higher cholesterol production within the body. So if your friend was consuming oils, oil-containing processed foods, or even an excessive amount of whole but high fat foods like nuts or avocado, this would have kept his numbers elevated. An interesting illustrative example Jeff Novick likes to use is that a couple tablespoons of olive oil have the same amount of saturated fat as a 4 oz steak.

      Your friend will without a doubt achieve the lowest cholesterol values possible on a low fat whole foods plant based diet. The target value for good cardiovascular health is 150. Make sure your friend knows that 150 is the goal, not the value of 200 which mainstream medicine tends to promote not out of good science but out of a desire to placate the public. I highly recommend the book “Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease” by Caldwell Esselstyn for you and your friend. There’s a good chance you can find it at a public library. If that doesn’t convince him of the power of a low fat WFPB diet for cardiovascular health, I’m not sure anything can.




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    1. Love chickpea salad sandwiches! My favorite is the mock tuna salad by a blog called “yeah, that vegan ****”

      The blog title contains profanity, my apologies; recipe is worth it :)

      For anyone interested in a lower fat vegan mayo, I like the fatfreevegan tofu cashew mayo.




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  14. Just staring making my own hummus. I’m using a VitaMix to make it. I started with this recipe and modified it a bit: http://www.inspiredtaste.net/15938/easy-and-smooth-hummus-recipe/

    Here’s my take:

    Two (2) 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans).

    4 ounces of lemon juice (I use the lemon juice that comes in the plastic containers that looksl like a lemon so I can use it all it pitch it w/o measuring.

    1/2 cup tahini

    Half of a large garlic clove whole. Let the Vitamix take care of it!

    4 tablespoons olive oil

    1 teaspoon kosher salt, depending on taste

    1 teaspoon ground cumin

    Dash of ground paprika for serving

    1. Combine the all the ingrediants EXCEPT the beans and paprika into the blender. Blend for 2 minutes or so, unit everything is nice and creamy.

    2. Add the first can of beans WITH all the juice into blender. Blend until smooth. Maybe 2 minutes.

    3. Add the SECOND can of beans WITHOUT the juice. Blend. Add as much juice as needed from the 2nd can once blending to ease blending and make as smooth as wanted.

    4. Add paprika to top once in containers




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  15. Puree white beans, white balsamic vinegar, cajun spice, garlic and chopped red onion to add protein to Subway vegetable sandwich on whole wheat! We picnic with the sandwich on Schwedenplatz in Vienna when the weather is fine!




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  16. You are suggesting the seemingly impossible here. If one exercises off 500-600 calories per day and eat back all your calories plus and eat legumes more, 2-3 times per day, plus eat plenty of vegetables, even at only an 11% protein intake level, you’ll be consuming 80-100 grams of protein each day. This is far more than the 40-50 grams recommended for an average-sized adult and on the level of the protein consumption in the general population. Aren’t we supposed to be keeping protein down? Or is it only Methionine that we need to minimize? (I’ve noted that even though I’m trying to eat more legumes, Methionine is still only at .7 grams today).




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    1. Its rather difficult to consume less than 10% of calories from protein in whole food diets, generally requiring a lot of sweet fruit, white rice, or skinless potatoes. The most obvious difference in amino acid composition between plant based and Western diets is methionine content, which Dr. Greger addressed in these videos. When I compare sample 2000 kcal diets, my own WPB diet ranges around 150% of the methionine requirement, while my past omnivore diet was in the range 250-300%.

      One of the interesting things I discovered delving into the methionine issue is that while the other sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine spares requirements, glycine and serine (which freely interchange) help regulate excess methionine (1, 2, 3, 4). Among higher protein food groups, legumes have the highest ratio of (Gly+Ser)/(Met+Cys): legumes excl. soy (4.2), soy (3.4), nuts (3.0), mollusks (2.8), grains (2.5), tubers (2.4), red meat, poultry (2.4), dairy, pork (2.3), fish (2.1), egg whites, whey (1.8). I speculate that the glycine+serine content of legumes, and their high ratio to the sulfur amino acids, contributes to the lower harms regularly seen when plant protein replaces animal proteins, and the benefit of beans in particular.




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      1. Thanks for this detailed answer though I don’t understand it. I’m flustered as well that my question was worded so poorly. I’d fix that but I don’t see an edit button. Anyway. Would also love to learn more about your version of WPB… what makes it uniquely yours.




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  17. Red lentil hummus is my current favorite:

    1 cup dry red lentils

    3 cups water
    simmer 20-25 mins and let cool
    scoop resulting “porridge” into your food processor
    add 4 cloves minced garlic
    1/3 cup lemon juice (fresh preferable)
    2/3 cup tanini (make sure it’s not rancid)
    1 tsp salt
    additional water as needed
    process on high for 5 minutes
    It should produce a creamy, lemony hummus with wonderful flavor and superb health benefits (better nutrition than chick peas).




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  18. I used to frequently eat eggs, coconut products, and some butter because I was persuaded they were healthy.

    Resulting lipid panel on March 28, 2013:
    Triglycerides: 55
    Total cholesterol: 314
    HDL: 78
    LDL: 225
    VLDL: 11
    Ratio chol/HDL: 4.02

    My physician advised me to lower my cholesterol, so I dumped those foods and started eating more legumes, sardines, and nonfat yogurt.

    Resulting lipid panel on March 31, 2014 (about a year later):
    Triglycerides: 72
    Total cholesterol: 199
    HDL: 67
    LDL: 118
    VLDL: 14
    Ratio chol/HDL: 2.97

    So in my personal experience it does indeed seem that saturated fat increases cholesterol and fiber reduces it. I have recently committed to 3 months of a smart vegan diet, and will undergo another series of blood tests in mid-November. This smart vegan diet further increases my legume consumption to about 2 cups of beans, peas, and lentils every day.

    Conversely, something that surprised me is that my Pop told me that his physician states that cholesterol doesn’t seem as strongly related to heart disease as previously thought, and that it is more important to stay well hydrated, have a healthy lifestyle, and avoid sugar. This falls in line with a recent article in the New York Times Science Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/02/health/low-carb-vs-low-fat-diet.html?ref=science&_r=0

    What do you folks think of all this?




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  19. Hi Dr. Greger. I’ve been going on a whole food plant based diet for a few months now. When my family asks me where I get my protein, I tell them that I get it mostly from beans. They tell me that I should take it easy on the beans because it will increase my uric acid and give me gout. Is there any truth to this?




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    1. There are a few high-purine plant foods: nutritional yeast and the wild mushroom Boletus sp. when dried. However cooked legumes are moderate in levels, and this paper recommends them as alternatives to higher purine foods like seafood, game and organ meats. Another simple dietary change is to restrict added sugar (including HFCS), as high fructose increases uric acid.




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    2. Joel: If you watch all the videos on the topic of “beans” on this site, I think you will feel very comfortable a good serving or two of beans every day.

      I also wanted to address this issue of “Where do you get your protein?” The following articles will help you to answer the question better the next time it comes up. (Like it comes up for all of us!)

      Here is my favorite website for explaining all about protein. There is a section on the page that talks about the myth of the need to worry about protein combining.
      http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/protein.html

      A close second, to fill in yet some more details is Dr. McDougall article from December 2003.
      http://www.drmcdougall.com/health/education/newsletter/archives/
      You might also check out the January 2004 newsletter article, Protein Overload.

      I hope your new plant based diet is still going well. Good luck.




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  20. I started using Hummus instead of milk in my breakfast oats. I enjoy the taste and mix in Turmeric, black pepper and salsa. I make my own Hummus with any combination of legumes, nut butter and olive oil.
    Its unconventional but tastes great




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  21. I am diabetic since 2008. I have just started plant base diet my fasting suger drops to 110 from 150.my urine protien is 50 can i use beans peas and lentils .




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  22. I tried the grassfed butter diet thing, vegan though, and it brought back tremendous menopause symptoms in 4 weeks after I have almost none on a low fat high carb plant diet.




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  23. I have a question about the effects of legumes on skin. I have been experimenting with plant-based meals and recently made a curry with lentils and chickpeas. One serving of the curry included half a cup of chickpeas and another half cup of lentils. Within three days, my forehead erupted in little whiteheads and red blotches. I noticed this effect previously when I included chickpeas or butter beans in a meal, but then the acne actually reduced when the next lot of meals I had included chicken. Could this be an allergy or did I have too big a serving of beans that negatively affected my digestion? I was kind of peeved about that because I want to adopt a more plant-based diet. Oh one more note, I always have two cups of broccoli and cauliflower with my meals.




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  24. Usually store bought hummus (as well as most recipes) contain olive or safflower oil.
    What is the best way to make heart healthy hummus?




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  25. What about bean consumption for people with G6PD? Many sources on the internet cite the consumption of beans is harmful to people with this condition? It seems very difficult to be vegan without consuming legumes.




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  26. You know who else loves beans? My favorite microbe:

    Akkermansia muciniphila, whose abundance is inversely related to the severity of the obese phenotype, was increased in the high fat + navy bean group versus high fat by 20-fold

    Granted, in mice, but you can beat the rush to buy beans when replicated in humans.




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    1. ketsa: For anyone with normal human biology (ie, not some kind of genetic defect), I don’t think it is possible to lower cholesterol below a point that is healthy. In other words, if you follow all the videos on this site regarding cholesterol, you will learn that:
      a) we are born with our bodies being able to make all the cholesterol we need.
      b) if we eat a healthy diet, our cholesterol levels do not rise above the amount we are born with. The amount we are born with are human-normal levels.
      c) if we have been eating an unhealthy diet and our cholesterol levels are too high, switching to a healthy diet will at most lower our cholesterol levels to human-normal levels.

      Here is a NutritionFacts video that directly addresses your specific question from one perspective: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/can-cholesterol-be-too-low/

      Does that help?




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  27. I understand that beans contain high levels of estrogen. Is this true? I told my wife we should eat less chicken and eggs due to estrogen content – and she countered that beans also contain a lot of estrogen. Please commment




    0
    1. Thanks for your question Jonathan.

      You are making a great decision by taking out eggs, chicken as these like other animal products, contain a lot of estrogen (see here).

      However, beans do not contain estrogen, they contain phytoestrogen (e.g.. soybean), which is slightly different and “phytoestrogens appear to be helpful in the prevention of diabetes and cancers of the colon, liver, brain, breast, ovaries, and skin. “Bad” cholesterol appears to be reduced, cardiovascular risk decreased, and weight loss increased when they are consumed.” (see here).

      On top of that, beans are high in fibre which ” flushes excess estrogen out of the body” (see here).

      Hope this answer helps.




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      1. Could you also please comment on any concerns re: people with g6pd deficiency eating legumes due to the risk for both high and low but chronic levels of hemolysis? Is this outdated information or are the warnings against legumes in people with g6pd deficiency valid? Thank you!




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        1. Fava beans do contain a chemical that folks with G-6-PD cannot metabolize. Because of this they can have episodes of hemolysis. Other legumes do not contain the same chemical but you do have to be judicious to make sure you don’t eat products that contain fava beans or fava bean flour. This has gotten much more common due to the demand for gluten free products and often flour mixtures are used and may contain fava bean flour.




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            1. There does appear to be some debate about this but the most stringent folks recommend avoiding all beans because of the feeling that even though sub-clinical, a small amount of hemolysis could be taking place and it is not worth the risk. See this page from the G6PD society http://g6pddeficiency.org/wp/living-with-g6pd-deficiency/food-to-avoid/#.WFMZ0fkrJaQ Likewise, the laundry list of drugs to avoid is also quite extensive. Here is a website with more information: http://www.g6pd.org/G6PDDeficiency/SafeUnsafe.aspx




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    1. humabrom: Below is some information I gathered about lectins some years ago. It’s not a direct answer to your question, but I’m thinking it may satisfy what you are trying to get at. If this answer is not satisfying, feel free to re-post and I’ll forward your question to our medical moderators.

      ——————-
      I found one blog post on NutritionFacts which talks about lectins. Here is a quote:
      .
      “Modern paleo advocates claim that these foods weren’t part of Paleolithic-era diets, but new research challenges that assumption.5 They also argue that lectins naturally present in these starchy foods are harmful to human health. Consuming too many lectins can cause significant gastrointestinal distress. However, because legumes and grains are almost always consumed in a cooked form—and lectins are destroyed during cooking—eating beans and grains doesn’t result in lectin overload. Sprouting also reduces lectin levels in plants, although not as effectively as cooking. Generally, pea sprouts, lentil sprouts, and mung bean sprouts are safe to consume, as are sprouted grains, which are naturally low in lectins. Most larger legumes contain higher amounts and should be cooked.” from: http://nutritionfacts.org/2014/09/23/will-the-real-paleo-diet-please-stand-up/
      .
      Since I eat my grains and legumes cooked, I consider the lectin brouhaha to be much ado about nothing.
      .
      In the past, Tom Goff has posted some additional helpful takes on the subject. Here are some quotes from Tom Goff’s previous posts.
      .
      “…problem with such claims is that people in the past ate huge amounts of (whole) grains (compared to modern-day Americans). Some people still do. There is no record of such people suffering abnormally high rates of toxicity or inflammation-related diseases. If anything, the exact opposite is the case eg
      .
      “This meta-analysis provides further evidence that whole grain intake is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and total cancer, and mortality from all causes, respiratory diseases, infectious diseases, diabetes, and all non-cardiovascular, non-cancer causes. These findings support dietary guidelines that recommend increased intake of whole grain to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and premature mortality.”
      http://www.bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i2716
      .
      Further, reviews of the health effects of grain lectins do not support the wild claims found on the internet or sensational mass market “health ” books
      .
      “We conclude that there are many unsubstantiated assumptions made. Current data about health effects of dietary lectins, as consumed in cooked, baked, or extruded foods do not support negative health effects in humans. In contrast, consumption of WGA containing foods, such as cereals and whole grain products, has been shown to be associated with significantly reduced risks of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, as well as a more favourable long-term weight management.”
      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0733521014000228
      .
      Sure, it is possible to find toxic effects from grain lectins in the laboratory or in rat studies. You can find toxic effects from virtually anything if you design the study appropriately. Even water is toxic in high doses and specific circumstances. And you can turn such findings into sensational claims that garner a lot of publicity (and sales) – if you leave out all the evidence that does not suit your argument or book sales.”
      .
      And from another post:
      “The Paleo community attitude is certainly strange because there is evidence to show that humans in the Paleolithic period actually did eat legumes – and significant amounts at that – at least in certain locations and in the relevant season eg
      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305440304001694
      .
      However, it seems that once an idea becomes established in the Paleo canon it becomes sacrosanct and no mere inconvenient fact is powerfu l enough to overturn it.
      .
      On lectins and health specifically, blogger has summarised the (Paleo) argument like this:
      “There is evidence that legumes provide health benefits. There is speculation that lectins cause diseases. Unfortunately, the autoimmune diseases some speculate are caused by legume lectins appear to occur more frequently in nations like the U.S., where legume consumption is rather low, than in Asian nations, where legume consumption is higher.”
      http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2011/08/legumes-neolithic-or-not.html




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  28. This isn’t a comment as much as it is a question: I’m following Dr. Greger’s eating suggestions (to EXCELLENT effect in terms of my health & well-being) and use the Daily Dozen app to keep myself on track. RE: BEANS, my question is with regard to soy, a bean. Does my daily cup to 2 cups of Soy Milk (unsweetened, unflavored) count as a BEAN SERVING? or BEVERAGE? or BOTH?




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    1. Hi Patsy, my name is Dr Renae Thomas and I am one of the moderators. Fantastic to hear you are loving the ap! Whilst the ap doesn’t include non-dairy milks, as a glass of soy milk is considered a serve of soy (in general), I would lend towards it counting as a serve of beans per cup, especially if it is whole bean soy milk, similarly to say almond milk being equivalent to a serve of nuts, depending how watered down they are. If it is an unsweetened soy, I would look at the caloric count, and match it to that of a serve of soy beans (roughly 150/half cup cooked) and count it as a serve of beans. Most of the beverages have a higher water content, for example tea and black coffee, with little caloric value, so I feel it fits better in the bean section.

      Hope this helps! :)




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  29. I just found out today about Dr. Gundry and his new pyramid of food: http://gundrymd.com/food-pyramid/

    FORBIDDEN FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
    Peas
    Beans
    Legumes
    Squash
    tomatoes
    Melon
    Zucchini
    Peppers
    Gojiberies
    Lentils
    SOY
    Tofu
    Edamame
    Soy sauce

    Now I’m confused on why he thinks that these are forbidden food?

    He states: These foods can contribute the most to health issues like obesity, fatigue, stiff joints, and unhealthy skin. It’s best to simply forget these foods even exist.

    Is he legit? Anyone has any input on this?




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  30. I had a heart attack in oct 2016. I am now 64. both my hubby and I started a wfpb diet within a couple of wks of the attack. we are 100% compliant. I bought Dr. Esselstyn’s book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease along with Dr. Greger’s book, How Not To Die. loved them both! I was put on generic lipitor starting at 80mg, reduced to 40mg due to pain in shoulders and arms. total cholesterol went down to 110. test a couple of months later, down to 105. test a couple of months later after reducing the lipitor to 20mg, cholesterol at 128. dropped lipitor to 10mg for 3 wks, went off it completely for 3 wks, had another blood test and cholesterol went to 201. do you know what would cause that? do I need to stay on lipitor indefinitely?
    my diet consist of:
    cup of hot chocolate using hersheys unsweetened 100% cacao with almond milk, spoon of date paste, and cinn., food during the morning hours: banana, oat muffin(homemade with oats, date paste, bananas, almond milk(homemade), tsp vanilla, lots of berries(blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries), oatmeal with blueberries/cherries, sometimes Ezekiel raisin slice of bread, orange….. dinner consists of large green salad(usually spring mix), grape tomatoes, red peppers(or orange or yellow), veggie burger made with lentils(main legume), canellini beans, black beans, carrots, celery, red peppers, onions, spices, and oats, side may be brown/black/wild/red rice combo or white or sweet potatoes, or whole wheat rotini, an orange, and maybe some figs. fruit infused balsamic vinegar on salad. everything is homemade….no oils, salt, sugar, processed foods etc.

    I put this under the bean video cuz I do eat the veggie burger everyday and it’s loaded with the beans and veggies. I went back on the lipitor at 10mg and plan on retesting at the end of august. I would really like to be off of this med. I believe it causes me pain in my right leg now on and off a lot. plus the other thing that worries me is that I am borderline diabetic and from what I understand, lipitor and other statins can cause type 2 diabetes. I do not want to go from one disease to another. at the time of the HA, my rca was 100% blocked, other arteries at 70% and 30%. I do not have a doctor that cares about diet and seems to be more about the meds.

    at any rate, any thoughts on what would make my cholesterol go up to 201? I realize that you can only give suggestions, and that’s ok….just looking for some guidance. thanks!!!




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    1. Hey Trisha, you appear to be eating an ideal diet! Don’t be concerned re: your TOTAL cholesterol – much of it may be HDL, or ‘good’ cholesterol. Instead, judge your progress by your LDL, or ‘bad’ cholesterol. You want it to be as low as possible – certainly below 100, more like 70 eventually. It should eventually get there if you continue!




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  31. Anybody ever heard of beans preventing nutrients from being properly absorbed in the body? If so, would love your thoughts/research to prove or disprove … :)




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  32. Any comments on this information about lima beans: “Raw lima beans contain linamarin, which when consumed decomposes into the toxic chemical hydrogen cyanide. Fortunately for lima bean-lovers, cooking the beans for at least 10 minutes renders them safe. Unlike in other parts of the world, Lima beans sold in the U.S. are required to have relatively low cyanide levels.”

    We grow lima beans and are curious if the above information is accurate or just an internet myth.

    Thanks




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