Benefits of Beans for Peripheral Vascular Disease

Benefits of Beans for Peripheral Vascular Disease
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Do legumes (beans, chickpeas, split peas, and lentils) just work to prevent disease or can they help treat and reverse it as well?

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Legumes [by which they mean all kinds of beans, chickpeas, split peas, and lentils] are an excellent source of many essential nutrients…vitamins, minerals, fibers, antioxidants…” And, not just an excellent source; perhaps the single cheapest source. In terms of nutrition density per penny, the four that really pull away from the pack are pinto beans, lentils, black beans, and kidney beans.

And, all that nutritional quality may have beneficial effects on excess body weight, insulin resistance, high cholesterol, inflammation, and oxidative stress—all “major cardiovascular risk factors.” So, do men and women who eat more beans tend to have less heart disease? Yes, suggesting that “increasing legume intake may be an important part of a dietary approach to the primary prevention of [coronary heart disease] in the general population”—meaning prevention of heart disease in the first place. But, maybe those eating more bean burritos are just eating fewer beef burritos? They took that into account, controlling for meat intake, fruits and vegetables, and smoking, and exercise. And, still, the bean-eaters appeared to be protected.

Note the highest category was eating legumes four or more times a week. In my Daily Dozen, I recommend people eat legumes three times—a day! In Costa Rica, they were able to find enough people eating beans every day. And, even after controlling for many of the same things, like intake of saturated fat and cholesterol, one bean serving a day was “associated with a 38% reduction in the risk of [heart attack].” Yeah, but do you actually get to live longer, too? Yes, apparently so: an 8% lower all-cause mortality, again after adjusting for other dietary factors. You can’t control for everything, though. You can’t really prove cause-and-effect until you… put it to the test.

Randomized controlled interventional trials have found that “dietary [bean] intake [does] significantly reduce…[bad] cholesterol levels,” dating back a half century to 1962. Measure cholesterol levels at baseline, and then add beans to their diet, and then remove beans from their diets.

And, look, beans have “a low glycemic index and saturated fat content, and are high in fiber, potassium, and plant protein, each of which independently confers BP-lowering effects.” But, “[w]hether there’s sufficient evidence to emphasize [beans] alone to lower BP…is unclear.” Therefore, what we need is “a systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled feeding trials.” And, here it is. And, what they found is that beans do indeed lower blood pressure, no matter where you start out.

Okay, so, beans may be able to prevent artery disease, but what about reversing it? Can the daily consumption of beans—other than soy—reverse vascular impairment due to peripheral artery disease? Peripheral artery disease “results from a decrease in blood flow to the [legs] due to the [buildup of] atherosclerotic plaque” higher up. Yeah, soybeans may help. But what about other beans? So, they had twenty-six individuals with peripheral artery disease consume one serving a day of a combination of beans, split peas, lentils, and chickpeas for eight weeks.

Basically, how you diagnose and follow the disease is with “the ankle-brachial index,” which is just the ratio of blood pressure at your ankle compared to your arm. Once it dips below point nine, that means you must have some kind of clogs in blood flow to your lower body. But, eat some beans, and you may get a significant increase, enough to push four of 26 participants up into the normal range after just eight weeks, eating some beans! Now, there was no control group, but people tend to get worse, not better. The researchers conclude: “A legume-rich diet can elicit major improvements in arterial function.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: StockSnap via Pixabay. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Legumes [by which they mean all kinds of beans, chickpeas, split peas, and lentils] are an excellent source of many essential nutrients…vitamins, minerals, fibers, antioxidants…” And, not just an excellent source; perhaps the single cheapest source. In terms of nutrition density per penny, the four that really pull away from the pack are pinto beans, lentils, black beans, and kidney beans.

And, all that nutritional quality may have beneficial effects on excess body weight, insulin resistance, high cholesterol, inflammation, and oxidative stress—all “major cardiovascular risk factors.” So, do men and women who eat more beans tend to have less heart disease? Yes, suggesting that “increasing legume intake may be an important part of a dietary approach to the primary prevention of [coronary heart disease] in the general population”—meaning prevention of heart disease in the first place. But, maybe those eating more bean burritos are just eating fewer beef burritos? They took that into account, controlling for meat intake, fruits and vegetables, and smoking, and exercise. And, still, the bean-eaters appeared to be protected.

Note the highest category was eating legumes four or more times a week. In my Daily Dozen, I recommend people eat legumes three times—a day! In Costa Rica, they were able to find enough people eating beans every day. And, even after controlling for many of the same things, like intake of saturated fat and cholesterol, one bean serving a day was “associated with a 38% reduction in the risk of [heart attack].” Yeah, but do you actually get to live longer, too? Yes, apparently so: an 8% lower all-cause mortality, again after adjusting for other dietary factors. You can’t control for everything, though. You can’t really prove cause-and-effect until you… put it to the test.

Randomized controlled interventional trials have found that “dietary [bean] intake [does] significantly reduce…[bad] cholesterol levels,” dating back a half century to 1962. Measure cholesterol levels at baseline, and then add beans to their diet, and then remove beans from their diets.

And, look, beans have “a low glycemic index and saturated fat content, and are high in fiber, potassium, and plant protein, each of which independently confers BP-lowering effects.” But, “[w]hether there’s sufficient evidence to emphasize [beans] alone to lower BP…is unclear.” Therefore, what we need is “a systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled feeding trials.” And, here it is. And, what they found is that beans do indeed lower blood pressure, no matter where you start out.

Okay, so, beans may be able to prevent artery disease, but what about reversing it? Can the daily consumption of beans—other than soy—reverse vascular impairment due to peripheral artery disease? Peripheral artery disease “results from a decrease in blood flow to the [legs] due to the [buildup of] atherosclerotic plaque” higher up. Yeah, soybeans may help. But what about other beans? So, they had twenty-six individuals with peripheral artery disease consume one serving a day of a combination of beans, split peas, lentils, and chickpeas for eight weeks.

Basically, how you diagnose and follow the disease is with “the ankle-brachial index,” which is just the ratio of blood pressure at your ankle compared to your arm. Once it dips below point nine, that means you must have some kind of clogs in blood flow to your lower body. But, eat some beans, and you may get a significant increase, enough to push four of 26 participants up into the normal range after just eight weeks, eating some beans! Now, there was no control group, but people tend to get worse, not better. The researchers conclude: “A legume-rich diet can elicit major improvements in arterial function.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: StockSnap via Pixabay. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video.

Doctor's Note

I’m so glad I’m finally covering peripheral artery disease. If you remember my personal story, that’s one of the conditions from which my grandmother suffered. That was one of the reasons she was confined in a wheelchair waiting to die, until…she was saved by evidence-based nutrition, and inspired me to do for everyone’s family what Nathan Pritikin did for my family.

For more on central artery disease, see How Not to Die from Heart Disease, and the gazillions of other videos I have on heart disease.

What else can beans do? See:

Some questions inevitably arise, though: Canned Beans or Cooked Beans?, not to mention Beans & Gas: Clearing the Air.

What’s this daily dozen thing I mentioned in the video? That’s from my book How Not to Die (see How Not to Die: An Animated Summary), encapsulated in these videos (in two different animation styles!): Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen Checklist or the more fanciful Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen Checklist.

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

86 responses to “Benefits of Beans for Peripheral Vascular Disease

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  1. But they’re dried beans. Soaking and cooking to make them edible will greatly reduce nutrient density. We should be looking at data for cooked beans.

  2. I’m certainly sold on the many benefits of legumes. I don’t find the study on PAD compelling, however.

    Improvement in four of 26 people doesn’t strike me as likely to be statistically meaningful. We know that blood pressure fluctuates by day and even within days, so it seems possible that the measured changes could be random in some cases. That variability should figure into assessing the findings. Were the four who got into the normal range already close or did they show considerable improvement? Did anyone get worse? Even recognizing that people not eating beans generally get worse, would some improve across eight weeks for other reasons?

    I’m not saying the conclusion is wrong. Perhaps there is more in the paper, and we don’t want to bog people down here with statistical significance tests. But the evidence isn’t persuasive as presented, which undermines the credibility.

    1. 4 participants didn’t just show improvements but were able to actually be pushed into the normal range. Was there no signs of improvement in the other participants? It didn’t seem to say.

    2. cg

      The study showed that on average ‘Total and LDL-cholesterol were reduced by 5.0% and 8.7%, respectively. The ankle-brachial index (ABI) showed a 5.5% increase.’

      The authors concluded ‘A legume-rich diet can elicit major improvements in arterial function and serum cholesterol in the absence of changes in either body mass or blood pressure, although the improvements in vascular function and serum lipids were unrelated. Although the positive results obtained with this dietary intervention were not explained by biomarkers of endothelial function and inflammation, altered acylcarnitine levels indicate an improvement in skeletal muscle metabolism due to enhanced tissue perfusion.’
      https://www.atherosclerosis-journal.com/article/S0021-9150(13)00453-X/fulltext

      This is not unpersuasive. However because the article is behind a paywall it is not possible to determine if this was an industry funded study. I am aware. though, that this research team has (subsequently) received industry funding for research in the same area and it’s possible that the 2013 study was also industry funded. If it was, some caution about the results may be warranted.
      http://dcjournal.ca/doi/abs/10.3148/cjdpr-2017-015

      That said, daily legume consumption seems a pretty good idea in general PAD or no PAD

      ‘To identify protective dietary predictors amongst long-lived elderly people (N=785), the “Food Habits in Later
      Life” (FHILL) study was undertaken among five cohorts in Japan, Sweden, Greece and Australia. Between
      1988 and 1991, baseline data on food intakes were collected. There were 785 participants aged 70 and over
      that were followed up to seven years. Based on an alternative Cox Proportional Hazard model adjusted to age
      at enrolment (in 5-year intervals), gender and smoking, the legume food group showed 7-8% reduction in
      mortality hazard ratio for every 20g increase in daily intake with or without controlling for ethnicity (RR 0.92;
      95% CI 0.85-0.99 and RR 0.93; 95% CI 0.87-0.99, respectively). Other food groups were not found to be
      consistently significant in predicting survival amongst the FHILL cohorts. ‘
      http://apjcn.nhri.org.tw/server/APJCN/13/2/217.pdf

  3. I had several PAD symptoms (calf cramping on a nightly basis for months, inability to run long distances > 1 mile without severe calf issues, numbing, etc. I know it’s not ‘scientific’ but after two weeks on a whole food, plant based diet: no night cramps! After one month on WFPB, running again > 4 miles no calf issues. I was not diagnosed with PAD, but, I’m in the medical field and can read the writing on the wall. Call it what you will, WFPB eliminated my symptoms. PERIOD. (I don’t take ANY meds)

    1. Does calf cramping equate to foot cramping?

      I open up my house every night and sleep with a fan on mostly my lower body. As the night wears on and the temperature drops into the lower 70s late, late night, I get a foot cramp (right foot as I recall) that wakes me up. Usually I just pull a sheet over my lower extremities and that stops the cramp.

      I had a nurse take my pulse at my ankle once and she told me that was the strongest pulse she had ever felt. Would really like to know the reason for my foot cramp.

        1. Spring, I suspect you are absolutely correct.

          But I sorta discounted that being the cause since I eat a lot of magnesium rich dark chocolate. Earlier my regimen consisted of drinking raw, organic cacao powder plus about a quarter tsp of magnesium powder mixed in. I only do that about once per week lately as I have on hand some easy-to-get-to dark chocolate in a bar and that satisfies my dark chocolate needs.

          I do have some magnesium vegi-caps so I’ll start taking those and see if they help.

    2. Dojo, I’ve had a similar experience. I used to get horrible cramps in my calves which completely went away after going vegan and adopting a WFPB diet. I had attributed my past experiences with this to poor electrolyte balance but who the hell knows what else was going on inside me.

  4. Do they make a bean tea? ‘-) I’m in to various teas.

    Found it interesting they take blood pressure at the ankle. Will one of these somewhat accurate digital arm cuffs work on the ankle?

    1. Interesting question about bean tea. The obvious answer is of course coffee bean ‘tea’.

      However, I also understand that in Asia, they do make eg black bean tea. Presumably, you jut grind the (dried?) beans as you do coffee beans although you could just boil the whole beans (which is how, it is speculated,coffee drinking first began).

      I must try it some time. It would definitely be cheaper than buying coffee beans – at least where I live and I already have some black beans in the pantry.

      http://www.kansaiben.com/5.TalksinTown/10kuromame1.html

      They usually use a standard arm cuff to take ankle P measurements but you could see if a wrist cuff fits

      1. *I must try it some time. It would definitely be cheaper than buying coffee beans – at least where I live and I already have some black beans in the pantry.*

        http://www.kansaiben.com/5.TalksinTown/10kuromame1.html
        —————————————————————————————————————————————————————

        Hah! Interesting find Tom. Leave it to the Japanese, a most industrious people, to turn beans into tea.

        Please, let us know how it turns out should you try that.

        1. Thanks Lonie.

          However, it seems that the black beans used to make tea in Japan are actually black soybeans not regular black (turtle) beans. You can even buy the Japanese black bean teabags on Amazon
          https://www.amazon.com/Hokkaido-Organic-black-bean-200g/dp/B01LYGCQAK

          That said, I might just put some dried back beans in a blender and use the ground beans like ground coffee to make a cuppa anyway. You have piqued my interest. I’ll report back later this week.

  5. Asking for advice from some of the very knowledgeable folks who participate here. I decided to have a cardiac calcium test done (not covered by insurance) primarily because I have struggled with inherited cholesterol. I felt pretty good going in because I had been WFPB for 4 years, plus do cardio and strength training. Turns out I have high calcium scored in the right coronary and the circumflex arteries, but the left anterior descending is ok. That triggered a visit to a cardiologist and the insurance-covered tests began. I had an echo and a nuclear stress test. Even in my mid-70s, I was able to successfully complete the stress test and did well on both, plenty of perfusion, I was told. Here’s my point: Doctors are all in favor of “heart healthy diet” but aren’t themselves plant based. We don’t speak the same language. I asked if my diet can help reduce the amount of calcium in my arteries, and they said no. I find it hard to accept this answer. Does that mean that a WFPB diet prevents/reverses soft plaque but not that hard calcium stuff? My own feeling is that I saved my life 4 years ago when I went WFPB, plus the exercise regiment I am on. But I wish someone knew if the diet could reverse hard calcium plaque. Dr. Greger??? Thanks.

    1. I’m told it won’t but the calcium is stable. You did save your life 4 yrs ago because you reduced/reversed the dangerous soft plaque.

    2. I know that removing buildup from our circulatory system is much harder than causing it in the first place. It took years of hard eating to build up that plaque! Realistically eating a much better diet would not add more to the pileup, but any reductions are so minor they are hard to even detect in tests. There is something called ‘EDTA chelation therapy’ that is an alternative therapy. In chelation therapy, a dose of a medication called ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) is delivered into your bloodstream through an intravenous (IV) line. This medication seeks out and binds to minerals in your bloodstream. Once the medication binds to the minerals, it creates a compound that leaves your body in your urine. The theory behind using chelation therapy for heart disease is that the medicine used in the treatment binds to the calcium that’s in fatty deposits (plaques) in your arteries. Once the medicine binds to the calcium, the plaques are swept away as the medicine moves through your bloodstream. The safety and effectiveness of chelation therapy for heart disease can’t be determined, even after a large-scale study was conducted to determine just that. Results of the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT), sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, didn’t provide enough evidence to support routine use of chelation therapy for heart disease. The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology have determined that it’s uncertain whether chelation therapy is useful as a treatment for heart disease, and the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved chelation therapy for use as a heart disease treatment.

      1. EDTA chelation has been effectively used to remove calcium plaque for many years. Your kidneys have to be healthy though. Don’t let the negative opinions or ignorance of the allopathic medical establishment (of course Big Pharma is against it) dissuade anyone from looking into it on your own. There is a Society of experienced practitioners. Check the web…

        1. The NIH has a pretty balanced assessment of the evidence and discusses the trial mentioned by Jimbo.
          https://nccih.nih.gov/health/chelation

          Forget all the tinfoil hat consoiracy theories and assess the evidence. Don’t just blindly believe the practitioners who would be delighted to take your money for the infusions and sell you lots of high priced supplements ‘A course of treatment can require 30 or more infusions of several hours each, taken weekly until the maintenance phase. Patients also typically take high-dose pills of antioxidant vitamins and minerals.’ That said, the NIH observed

          ‘Patients with diabetes, who made up approximately one-third of the 1,708 TACT participants, had a 41 percent overall reduction in the risk of any cardiovascular event; a 40 percent reduction in the risk of death from heart disease, nonfatal stroke, or nonfatal heart attack; a 52 percent reduction in recurrent heart attacks; and a 43 percent reduction in death from any cause. In contrast, there was no significant benefit of EDTA treatment in participants who didn’t have diabetes.
          The TACT study team also looked at the impact of taking high-dose vitamins and minerals in addition to chelation therapy. They found that chelation plus high-dose vitamins and minerals produced the greatest reduction in risk of cardiovascular events versus placebo.’

          Sounds like it might be worth considering – but only if you have diabetes.

          1. “Forget all the tinfoil hat conspiracy theories and assess the evidence.”

            Tinfoil. Right, as if Big Pharma paying for ‘objective’ fake studies (with predetermined outcomes), paying off prescribing MDs with various financial perks, influencing (funding) medical journals, medical societies, med schools so they’ll all teach and see things ‘their’ way, etc. etc. Nah, that tinfoil hat stuff would never happen :-)

            1. Yes, it’s much more rational to believe wild claims by people selling stuff on the internet instead, I suppose. After all, they’d never make false statements or pretend that all the evidence refuting those claims is faked as part of a grand conspiracy, just so they could continue to profit from selling snake oil, would they?

              Isn’t it possible that all those internet health entrepeneurs making such claims are just as prone to bending the facts in order to fill their wallets, as the pharmaceutical industry?

              What does the scientific evidence say, that’s what I want to know. I’m not really interested in what some opinionated homeopath/acupuncturist/personal trainer or multi-level/affiliate marketer says. Each to their own though.

    3. Wonder if Serrapeptase might work? It is an enzyme and there are a lot of testimonies that it eats things like calcium plaques.

    4. There’s suggestive evidence that forms of vitamin K (K2 Mk7+, as found in natto, from which its extracted for supplements) may have benefit on vascular calcification. Several trials are ongoing, particularly in hemodialysis patients who are at high risk.

      Caluwé et al, 2016. The effects of vitamin K supplementation and vitamin K antagonists on progression of vascular calcification: ongoing randomized controlled trials. Clin kidne J, 9(2), pp.273-279
      Donaldson, 2017.
      Vitamin K2: implications for cardiovascular health in the context of plant-based diets, with applications for prostate health. In Vitamin K2-vital for health and wellbeing. Intech.

      1. Our bodies convert k1 into k2, I imagine this is sufficient for healthy individuals but wonder if getting a lot of k1 in the diet (abundant in greens) could help even those with a build up.

      2. Thanks to many of you, I’m leaning toward taking K2. Thank you for your response and for your reference. I was shocked to see the list of K2 foods are primarily animal-based. Some exceptions of course. I’m fine on the K1 side I think.

    5. Your intuition was right in the first place to get the test which the doctor likely wouldn’t have ordered, so I think it’s reasonable to follow that same intuition over the typical claim that diet won’t help. It also sounds ridiculous to me that your doctor would give you such a solid answer “no.” … ok, and how does he know this? Was it ever put to the test? And if it was, I doubt he or she would even be aware as their training does not require this kind of knowledge. I would be extremely surprised if a WFPB diet could not help, for one thing, it already has as someone pointed out that you’ve already stopped the buildup with this diet. And I would have been more surprised if your doctor had said yes or “I don’t know,” no matter the actual answer.
      Maybe as you continue on your healthy lifestyle, get a test later on to see if there have been improvements.

      1. Thank you Shaylen for your sympathetic comment. I am researching benefits of K2 supplement. If I go that route I may retake test in a year or so. I will be my own research study of one!

    6. watercress, look up study ‘Vitamins K1 and K2, the emerging group of vitamins required for human health’. 2017.
      Lots of leafy greens in the diet should take care of K1 requirement. But only vegan source of K2 is natto.
      The Dutch have a study going on K2 that will be finished this year, but some smaller studies have shown regression of aortic plaque.
      You can take K2 as a supplement instead of the natto if you choose.

      1. But our bodies convert K1 into K2. If they didn’t, I’m sure Dr. Greger would address this as a major concern and advise that we all supplement or eat natto.

      2. Thanks Mary Kay. I have greens growing in my garden and I just go out and snip some for salad or smoothie or baked. Can’t imagine eating more. But I do need more beans. Will research the vitamins you mentioned. Watercress.

      3. Marilyn Kay, I have just read the article in question.  And the list of food sources or K2 was shocking as they are mostly animal based.  I will research a more exhaustive list.  The only thing confusing is what form of K2, whether MK-4 or MK-7.  While I saw references to prevention of calcium, not sure about the reduction of calcium in arteries.  I might do another calcium scan in a year or so after I begin the K2.  Thank you so much MK!

    7. Take a vitamin K2 supplement in the form of MK7. It states in the body longer and helps to transport the calcium to the bones and teeth where it belongs. Lots of research has been done on this supplement which most are deficient in. Plant-based diets are high in vitamin K1, but as we age it gets harder for our bodies to convert K1 to the more usable K2 form. I hope this helps.

    8. You may already know about vitamin K2…. I take this daily to help direct calcium to where it should go and not to the arteries. It could be helpful for you so good idea to investigate this idea more

      1. Olive thank you. The vitamin K2 seems to be the consensus of the replies, so I am inclined to do that. I just don’t know how much to take especially since I don’t think I’m deficient (but one never knows) because of the large amount of greens I consume. Will have to research.

    9. Hi Watercress, thanks for your question. I was researching about your question and in the literature there was a paper that indicated that the endothelium responds to these activators to control vascular function by releasing vasoactive agents such as nitric oxide (NO) and prostaglandins and by initiating endothelium-dependent smooth muscle hyper polarization. With advancing age, the ability of the endothelium to control vascular tone is attenuated in animal models and in humans [1,2,3,4]. This impairment is characterized by a decreased release of NO and relaxation of smooth muscle cells induced by endothelium-dependent vasoactive agonists such as acetylcholine (ACh) [5,6,7,8]. In addition to functional changes, aging is associated with significant structural changes in the arterial wall, including increased vessel stiffness, luminal diameter, and wall thickness [9,10,11].
      so I would suggest having food that increases NO nitric Oxide such as beet root in one of Dr Greger videos.

      Advancing Age Decreases Pressure-Sensitive Modulation of Calcium Signaling in the Endothelium of Intact and Pressurized Arteries
      Hearts Shouldn’t Skip a Beet

      1. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and provide a reference.  It will take me awhile to understand what you said and also the article (which I may never understand), but I’ll give it a try.  Best, watercress

    10. Hello, watercress. Thanks for your comment!

      Sadly, there’s not too much info about diet and hard calcium plaques on arteries… at least, from reliable sources. What I did could find is a recent study linking dietary potassium intake with atherosclerotic vascular calcification. According to this research, reduced dietary potassium promoted atherosclerotic vascular calcification and increased aortic stiffness compared with normal potassium-fed mice.

      Remember that potassium is found mostly in the foods Dr. Greger mention in the video: beans, soy, lentils and so on.

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5841863/

      Other studies, which target people with chronic kidney disease concluded: “Experimental studies have shown the roles of high phosphorus and calcium diets as promoters of calcification, and magnesium and vitamin K intakes as inhibitory factors”

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5872790/

      This other one was a recent review that would be great if you can read it, as it mention several nutrients, it’s open to read for everyone:

      A Review of the Effect of Diet on Cardiovascular Calcification
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425113/

      1. Janeth, I’m very grateful for all the work you have done on these references.  They will keep me busy over the next few days.  It’s so wonderful to be heard and to get a response from a caring group of folks like you under Dr. Greger.  Watercress.

  6. I apologize for this topic-unrelated question, but I do hope someone will be kind enough to respond.

    Few days ago I had my physical. During this visit I discussed with my doctor certain health issues.

    About a year ago I was in a car accident – when the ambulance took me to the hospital they did serious test.

    I said to my doctor that the chest ex-ray indicated that I have TORTUOUS AORTA, and I asked if I should be concerned

    For some reason my doctor was agitated by this question, but he did eventually answered.

    He said, “don’t worry about it – it is nothing…” I said “what do you mean, can you explain?”

    Then he said, “don’t worry about it, it is just build up of plaque in your aorta, and that is normal for someone who is seventy years old!”

    Since I am not convinced that I should not be concerned, will someone kindly respond. Also, does anyone know if there is anything that I can do to correct this problem?

    I already eat quit healthy, and am physically active…My blood pressure is normal, more on the lower end (105/60). My cholesterol level is on lower end as well. I have never smoked or drank alcohol, and my weight has always been very low normal.

    Thanks.

    1. @ both Watercress and Mary.

      I can’t answer either of your questions directly, but will give you my daily regimen for keeping my blood vessels doing their job. That is, I drink beet juice with Just Blueberry juice in the morning and eat bits of dark chocolate throughout the day. I also take (and eat watermelon for) arginine.

      These three things are known to create the Nitric Oxide that will dilate your arteries and other vessels. Through the dilation, the arteries are less likely to become stiff. I’ve also read (if I find the link, I’ll post it in another comment here) that Omega 3s at night keep your arteries clear and prevent night time heart attacks. I take krill oil supplement at night to protect my own arteries.

      Oh, and one other thing… I take White Willow Bark vegi-cap at night (in lieu of a children’s aspirin) to keep my blood thin. I don’t worry about clotting… I had blood drawn for my labwork recently and when the needle was withdrawn, no blood followed the needle out, so I assume acceptable clotting.

    2. I don’t understand the answer given by that doctor. Here’s a more complete explanation (does not mention plaque build up) from
      https://www.reference.com/science/tortuous-thoracic-aorta-aac95745868e0bef#

      “FULL ANSWER
      The ascending aorta above the heart turns 180 degrees in the aortic arch, toward the left side of the body, before passing as the descending aorta through the thorax and abdomen, according to InnerBody.

      An aorta described as tortuous on the basis of a simple chest X-ray could refer to an enlarged section of the aorta, which might represent the presence of an aneurysm, notes the American Heart Association, or it could indicate that a section of the aorta has more twists and bends than is typical, according to the Texas Heart Institute. Aortic tortuosity is not an uncommon finding in the elderly. To determine the extent of tortuosity, a simple chest X-ray is inadequate, and more advanced imaging such as computerized axial tomography or MRI scans of the chest are required.

      A tortuous aorta is one of the symptoms of a rare disease known as Arterial Tortuosity Syndrome, according to the Institute of Genetic Medicine.”

      If it were me, I’d go to a cardiologist.

      1. Thank you dej46 – your response sounds a lot more serious than the response I got from my doctor. I probably should request to see a cardiologist.
        Thanks again.

    3. Eating healthy is relative to perspective, are you on a WFPB diet and do you follow or roughly follow Dr. Greger’s daily dozen?

      Your doctor sounds like a creep! I hope you’re able to get a new doctor. He sounds like one of those sickening individuals who write people off simply for being a certain age. Do try to get a new doctor, you deserve better.

    4. Here is an article that will shed some light on the term in question and will give you some reassurance:
      http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-a-tortuous-aorta.htm#didyouknowout “Having a tortuous aorta is not necessarily a cause for concern, but patients should make sure that it is noted in their medical charts because it may become relevant during treatment.” It sounds like you are following a healthy diet and exercising with measures showing it’s paying off. The other comments you received on keeping your cholesterol down to avoid building plaques is relevant, so continue to minimize cholesterol intake as suggested.

  7. Its just not true that beans lower BP significantly, the conclusion of the study doesnt reflect the actual results. As far as I can see systolic was reduced by about 2 points and the diastolic by 1.
    The same applies to salt, cutting it out might reduce your BP by a few points but its no solution for hypertension.

    1. Sorry but I think that you may have misunderstood the results of this study.

      ‘significantly’ refers to statistical significance and an average 5.5% drop in the ankle brachial index is not to be sniffed at.

      However, this was probably an industry-funded study so it may well have spun the results in an overly positive way.

    1. David –

      Regarding non-heme iron absorption, if you are not, you could try eating fruit high in C or even C supplements with meal to increase absorption. Also, drinking tea or coffee with or soon after meals will reduce absorption. I had to quite taking a multi with C since it turned out that even though a WFPB vegan, my total iron & saturation % was too high. Doing the two things mentioned has helped bring it down.

      However, 4 cups at a time does sound like a lot. On the other hand, looking at that website, I must say I’m skeptical of their claim that “Daily **moderate** consumption of oatmeal for extended periods of time can do more harm then good.” What’s the evidence for that? I’d seek better references.

      1. I put fresh lemon juice on my greens, kale, spinach and salad. As for tea, I do not drink tea. I need a lot of carbs for my daily workouts at the gym weight training, 5K runs and yoga. I switched from oats to a 50/50 mix of buckwheat and quinoa, 4 cups.

    2. David,

      Thanks for your comment. I disagree with the article’s conclusion that “Daily moderate consumption of oatmeal for extended periods of time can do more harm then good.” It is unlikely that the oatmeal is causing your anemia.
      Responses to the ‘dangers of too much oatmeal’ from the link you provided:

      1) Increased risk of diabetes from flavored types of oatmeal that contain artificial ingredients and significant amounts of sugar
      —– Eat whole grain oats that only have 1 ingredient
      2)Intestinal blockage – eating too much oatmeal that is undercooked or raw may create an intestinal blockage and severe constipation
      —–Cook the oatmeal
      3) Impaired digestion – oatmeal contains Phytic acid.
      —-See Dr G videos on phytic acid: https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/phytic-acid/
      4) Gluten sensitivity (including non-celiac)
      —-All oatmeal is gluten free, but can become ‘contaminated’ by nearby gluten plants. If you are gluten sensitive, Bob’s red mill has a certified gluten free oatmeal.

      Best,

      Julia

      1. Julia, I only read your responses, not the article you’re responding to… Great response but quick question..
        I’ve never heard of raw or undercooked oats causing any kind of blockag (I did go check that part of the article to see where they were getting that from and it was ridiculously vague) but I’ve eaten raw oat cookies in the past and typically don’t like my oats to be very well done and I’ve never experienced any problems, so is there even any validity to their very vague claim in the first place?

    3. david

      Did your haematologist give you a diagnosis? Or a copy of your bloodwork results?

      ‘Vegans’ are often short of B12 which can lead to megoblastic anaemia. In ‘vegans’, B12 deficiency may also be associated with iron deficiency anaemia and putting ‘vegans’ on iron supplements may just be a standard response. You would probably find it helpful to ask your haematologist to explain his recommendations to you.

      Note that we need to take B12 and possibly zinc to facilitate non-heme iron absorption.
      http://www.irondisorders.org/iron-deficiency-anemia

      1. I was referred to the hematologist by my GP because of blood test results. As far as B12 goes, I take a daily supplement and it shows up good on the blood work.
        I have copies of all my blood work.

    1. Joe, thanks for your question.
      Dr Greger recommends three servings of beans a day. (Example serving sizes: 60g of hummus; 130g cooked beans)

      Julia

  8. This is great to know, and I will follow since I Just had an episode of hardening of my main right leg arteries. {Pain, redness, very warm and hardening of skin because of the inflammation} I really got scare, since I also felt some pulsating pain occurring frequently in mi left Lung. Was not clear if the reason for it was related to the leg’s pain. Both are now gone, only left with a area of around 3 inches of the artery still a little inflamed , red, and warm. By the way, visiting the ER on one of the prestigious NY’s hospitals twice, din’t solved at all my problems. I must say that twice my life was close to end and the plant base diet saved it. My problem now is to remain with this life style. What I just experienced , I believe it was because I returned to “normal” diet (MEAT). Now I know I have to keep in it, but it is difficult to avoid all the temptations. OJO I medicated myself using Homeopathic remedy ointment and Voltaren, Pycogenol from Solgar and European Leg Solution from Life Extension. Was tempted to use aspirin, but I resisted and I think it went well. Hope this is helpful to others and will appreciate comments, especially from Dr. Greger.

  9. This is great to know, and I will follow since I Just had an episode of hardening of my main right leg arteries. {Pain, redness, very warm and hardening of skin because of the inflammation} I really got scared, since I also felt some pulsating pain occurring frequently in mi left Lung. Was not clear if the reason for it was related to the leg’s pain. Both are now gone, only left with an area of around 3 inches of the artery still a little inflamed , red, and warm. By the way, visiting the ER on one of the prestigious NY’s hospitals twice, din’t solved at all my problems. I must say that twice my life was close to end and the plant base diet saved it. My problem now is to remain with this life style. What I just experienced , I believe it was because I returned to “normal” diet (MEAT). Now I know I have to keep in it, but it is difficult to avoid all the temptations. OJO I medicated myself using Homeopathic remedy ointment and Voltaren, Pycogenol from Solgar and European Leg Solution from Life Extension. Was tempted to use aspirin, but I resisted and I think it went well. Hope this is helpful to others and will appreciate comments, especially from Dr. Greger.

  10. Carlos,
    It is great to hear that you have adopted a WFPB diet. It is an excellent way to prevent future atherosclerosis (hardening of blood vessels) and even reverse current atherosclerosis in some cases. I’ve found that the key to maintaining this lifestyle is making sure that you enjoy the meals you are making for yourself and finding delicious recipes, so that you don’t feel restricted. Best of luck!
    Julia

  11. My name is Anita Rentz and I am from Marietta, GA, USA. I am in dialysis and I have multiple other problems. I have a great need to consult Dr. Michael Greger. Can I please get help? I tried everywhere. I will like to invite him too.

  12. Off subject but I thought someone here might know… I was just searching the internet for a quick answer but there is just too much crap on the internet to find relevant information without digging. Does anyone know if there’s more nutrition, namely antioxidants, in baby greens compared to mature plants? Not talking about micro greens or sprouts.

    1. My understanding is that young tea leaves (and coffee leaves) have a higher antioxidant content than older leaves.

      It also also appears to be true of noni fruits and leaves
      http://www.micronesica.org/sites/default/files/11_yang_et_al_pp_167-176.pdf

      And since microgreens are basically young/immature plants anyway, I think you would be on a good wicket if you assumed that all baby plants contained more nutrients than mature plants.

      ‘The results showed that the Brassica species microgreens tended to have more complex polyphenols profiles and to contain more varieties of polyphenols compared to their mature plant counterpart.’
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3915300/

  13. Have heard great things about bee pollen. It is technically a whole plant food. A whole lot of claims, and carrying research. Anyone have any solid information?

    1. Bee pollen isn’t a plant food, it’s pollen, nectar and digestive juices of worker bees so it’s actially an animal product. I’m not sure if there are health benefits but if there are I doubt they’d be anything unique that you can’t get from whole plant foods in which case no animals need be exploited, harmed and killed.

    2. Hi, MatthewR. I do not agree that bee pollen is a whole plant food. It is made by bees. It can also cause allergic reactions in some people, as documented here:
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25749764
      You might be interested in reading this abstract, as well:
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27013064
      It is worth noting that the beneficial nutrients listed there for bee pollen are already components of a whole food, plant-based diet.
      I hope that helps!

  14. I’m late to the conversation but wondered if anyone could answer a question about the danger of lectins in legumes. I watched a video by a Dr. Gundry hosted on Mike Adams, the Health News site, where he cautioned about their usage. It turned out to be a sales pitch for his supplement which supposedly blocks the bad effects of lectins. Is there any validity to his findings?

  15. I don’t know if this is the right place to post this but I was wondering what food beverage or spice has the highest amount of antioxidants ounce for ounce in the world last I heard it was amla powder is that still the case and if it is is there a particular brand I should look for or are all amla powders out there the same

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