Which Has More Caramel Coloring Carcinogens: Coke or Pepsi?

Which Has More Caramel Coloring Carcinogens: Coke or Pepsi?
4.61 (92.14%) 28 votes

How many cola cancer cases are estimated to be caused by Coke and Pepsi in New York versus California, where a carcinogen labeling law (Prop 65) exists?


Caramel coloring may be the most widely consumed food coloring in the world.  Unfortunately, its manufacture can sometimes lead to the formation of a carcinogen called methylimidazole, which was identified as a cancer-causing chemical in 2007. And so, for the purposes of their Prop 65 labeling law, California set a daily limit at 29 micrograms a day. So, how much cancer may caramel-colored soft drinks cause? We didn’t know, until now.

A hundred and ten soft drink samples were tested off store shelves in California and around New York. None of the carcinogen was found in Sprite, which is what you’d expect since it’s not caramel-colored brown. Among sodas that were, the highest levels were found in a Goya brand soda, and the lowest in Coke products—about 20 times less than in Pepsi products. Interestingly, California Pepsi was significantly less carcinogenic than New York Pepsi. This supports the notion that labeling laws like Prop 65 can incentivize manufacturers to reduce foodborne chemical risks. Rather than just “wish they could all be California” to protect consumers around the rest of the country, federal regulations could be a valuable approach to reducing excess cancer risk. But how much cancer are we talking about?

Johns Hopkins researchers calculated the cancer burden—an estimate of the number of lifetime excess cancer cases associated with the consumption of the various beverages. So, at the average U.S. soda intake, with the average levels of carcinogens found, Pepsi may be causing thousands of cancer cases—especially non-California Pepsi products, which appear to be causing 20 times more cancer than Coke. Of course, no need for any of them to have any these carcinogens at all. But we don’t have to wait for government regulation, or corporate social responsibility; we can exercise personal responsibility and just stop drinking soda altogether.

Cutting out soda may reduce our risk of becoming obese, and getting diabetes, fatty liver disease, hip fractures, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease, and maybe gout.

In children, daily soda consumption may increase the odds of asthma five-fold, and increase the risk of premature puberty in girls, raising the likelihood they start getting their periods before age 11 by as much as 47%.

If you look at the back of people’s eyes, you can measure the caliber of the arteries in their retina. And the narrower they are, the higher the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. When researchers did these kinds of measurements on thousands of 12-year-olds, and asked them about their soda-drinking habits, children who consumed soft drinks daily had significantly narrower arteries. So, the message to patients can no longer just be “eat less, exercise more.” It matters what you eat. Specific dietary advice should be to significantly reduce the consumption of processed food and added sugar, and to eat more whole foods.

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.

Image thanks to rusticusa via Pixabay

Caramel coloring may be the most widely consumed food coloring in the world.  Unfortunately, its manufacture can sometimes lead to the formation of a carcinogen called methylimidazole, which was identified as a cancer-causing chemical in 2007. And so, for the purposes of their Prop 65 labeling law, California set a daily limit at 29 micrograms a day. So, how much cancer may caramel-colored soft drinks cause? We didn’t know, until now.

A hundred and ten soft drink samples were tested off store shelves in California and around New York. None of the carcinogen was found in Sprite, which is what you’d expect since it’s not caramel-colored brown. Among sodas that were, the highest levels were found in a Goya brand soda, and the lowest in Coke products—about 20 times less than in Pepsi products. Interestingly, California Pepsi was significantly less carcinogenic than New York Pepsi. This supports the notion that labeling laws like Prop 65 can incentivize manufacturers to reduce foodborne chemical risks. Rather than just “wish they could all be California” to protect consumers around the rest of the country, federal regulations could be a valuable approach to reducing excess cancer risk. But how much cancer are we talking about?

Johns Hopkins researchers calculated the cancer burden—an estimate of the number of lifetime excess cancer cases associated with the consumption of the various beverages. So, at the average U.S. soda intake, with the average levels of carcinogens found, Pepsi may be causing thousands of cancer cases—especially non-California Pepsi products, which appear to be causing 20 times more cancer than Coke. Of course, no need for any of them to have any these carcinogens at all. But we don’t have to wait for government regulation, or corporate social responsibility; we can exercise personal responsibility and just stop drinking soda altogether.

Cutting out soda may reduce our risk of becoming obese, and getting diabetes, fatty liver disease, hip fractures, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease, and maybe gout.

In children, daily soda consumption may increase the odds of asthma five-fold, and increase the risk of premature puberty in girls, raising the likelihood they start getting their periods before age 11 by as much as 47%.

If you look at the back of people’s eyes, you can measure the caliber of the arteries in their retina. And the narrower they are, the higher the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. When researchers did these kinds of measurements on thousands of 12-year-olds, and asked them about their soda-drinking habits, children who consumed soft drinks daily had significantly narrower arteries. So, the message to patients can no longer just be “eat less, exercise more.” It matters what you eat. Specific dietary advice should be to significantly reduce the consumption of processed food and added sugar, and to eat more whole foods.

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.

Image thanks to rusticusa via Pixabay

Doctor's Note

Prop 65 is lambasted by vested interests, but as this video shows, it may push manufacturers to make their products less carcinogenic. Other Prop 65 videos include:

For more background on caramel coloring, see my previous video: Is Caramel Color Carcinogenic?

There are other soda additives that are potentially toxic too. See my three-part series on phosphates:

There are other coloring agents that are less than healthy: Artificial Food Colors and ADHD, and Seeing Red No. 3: Coloring to Dye For.

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

141 responses to “Which Has More Caramel Coloring Carcinogens: Coke or Pepsi?

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      1. Words are such a poor vehicle to describe the associated sensory experiences of aroma, flavor, texture, temperature and mood altering experiences of drinking a fortunately brewed beer. The qualities that I once found acceptable are now barely tolerable while others such as how the floral complexity of how the hops integrate into the over all melange of bitterness, sweetness, effervescence, viscosity and yeastiness have become the metric by which I decide whether it is even worth taking a second draught.

    1. Hi Wade. Be on the lookout for where else caramel colouring might be insidiously lurking. I recently discovered that my balsamic vinegar (not organic) which I use regularly for my salad dressing has it, and probably a lot more than soda, considering the very dark colour. I don’t have access to organic vinegar where I presently live (I do know how dark organic balsamic should be), so I just bought two large bottles of the caramel coloured kind, gulp, and now won’t use them.

      1. Yes, I saw caramel coloring in a condiment today and chose to pass on “trying something new”. Now I must go check the balsamic vinegar I bought last week. Thanks for the reminder.

  1. General question – I’m reading a bunch of books from Drs. Campbell, McDougall, Greger, etc and all of them say their ideal, recommended diet is high carb, “low fat”. However, all of these books are from the perspective of someone eating a typical Western diet. I’m wondering if that same recommendation applies to whole, plant fats.

    I ask because I’m someone who tracks my calories in/out, and overall macros, to the best of my ability. But as a 6’1″ guy eating 2500 cal/day, how low is “low fat”? Is it 10% (ala 80-10-10 macros)? If so, that’s only 250 cals/day from fat sources…or about 28g of fat! Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen recommendation is 1/4 cup of nuts/seeds a day – leaving about 10g from non-nut sources per day. Assuming I eat tofu/tempeh/seitan once or twice a day, I’ve now met or exceeded that 10%. Thus, I can pretty much never look at an avocado or heaven forbid, ever eat out. I’m probably obsessing, but especially for people at lower calories (or if I’m trying to lean out), it would get really, really hard to maintain a “low fat” diet.

    1. I follow all these guys, in addition to Joel Fuhrman, Caldwell Esselstyn, Dean Ornish, and many others. I learn from all of them. Dr Greger is my go to guy because he bases ALL his findings on medical research. . . as opposed to just opinions. Nevertheless, what the others contribute to my education is clinical application and the results they achieve with real patients. Many come in with severe health issues and often obesity which is long out of control.

      What I synthesize out of their collective inputs is, if we follow nutritional excellence and only eat healthy foods, our weight will find it’s natural place without counting calories, measuring portions, etc. Some of these doctors take a stand against fat consumption, even healthy fat. McDougall is noted particularly. I eat walnuts and flax seeds everyday because of nutritional characteristics, so I discount that advice. I understand from their talks why they oppose this, but their reasons (typically addictive eating habits) I do not find applicable. Dr Greger dispels the concern about weight gain from nuts and underscores the health benefit in a bunch of his videos. (do a topic search and pick what you like) I still respect McDougall and others taking that stance. I just disagree on this point.

      Broadly, I read a range of nutrition experts knowing they have differing opinions. That provides me a system of checks and balances on my education. I factor both research and clinical observations, as well as my own experience. Though this takes more work and sometimes I may follow advice which is the 2nd best choice, the results of this practice is in 3 years I have reversed chronically inflamed Ulcerative colitis, multi-faceted coronary artery disease including chest pains, hypertension, high cholesterol, and other fun stuff, plus 2 forms of cancer, one of which was laboratory diagnosed. I just had my annual physical and all signs continue to show reversal of these diseases, plus my ulcerative colitis medication has been reduced 80%.

      Bottom line, if I just followed any of these guys you or I mentioned in a vacuum, I believe my health would have dramatically improved. But Dr Greger has been the foundation for all my study. All the others add perspective and broaden my education. But Dr G is the gold standard among a lineup of exceptional teachers.

      1. Thanks, that was really helpful! I’m not really unhealthy or trying to lose weight, but rather build muscle and lose fat. So my calorie/fat tracking has more to do with those goals than anything else. I’ll probably still avoid added, isolated fats (oils) as much as possible…

      2. most doctors will tell you they only recieved one day of nutritional training , so for a doctor to know something about nutritious living they must have been self taught.

      3. basehitz: wow, congrats on resolving all those health issues through diet. i agree 100% with your assessment of the docs, and couldn’t have said it better myself. i do the exact same thing. And you write very well…

      4. Hi Basehitz,
        I like your nickname. Go Mariners.
        I agree with your philosophy about a team of rivals. I think it helps to differentiate between the doctor’s personal preference/personal disgust and what you want to do to be really healthy. FOr example, Dr. Greger mentioned that he loves hot sauce, but that it is not particularly about health, just that he likes it.

    2. My understanding is that the 10% of total calories from fat limit is for people seeking to reverse heart disease, type 2 diabetes etc. If you do not have established heart/diabetes etc diisease, then it is not necessary to aim for this.

      The World Health Organization recommends that the minimum proportion of calories coming from fat should be 15%.

      Animal studies suggest that the key strategy is to ensure that carb consumption is high, protein consumption is low and fat consumption is less than 20% …..

      ‘The team put mice on 25 different diets, altering the proportions of protein, carbohydrates and fat. The mice were allowed to eat as much food as they wanted to more closely replicate the food choices humans make.
      “The healthiest diets were the ones that had the lowest protein, 5 to 10 to 15 per cent protein, the highest amount of carbohydrate, so 60, 70, 75 per cent carbohydrate, and a reasonably low fat content, so less than 20 per cent,” Professor Le Couteur said.
      “They were also the diets that had the highest energy content.
      “We found that diluting the diets to reduce the energy intake actually made the animals die more quickly.”
      The mice that ate a high-carbohydrate, low-protein diet lived about 50 per cent longer than those on the low-carb diet.”

      1. Thanks! Protein for me is necessarily higher because I’m on a building program. That said, none of my protein is animal derived…so at least there’s that. I intend to lower it once I’m maintaining though. Good to know the 15% stat from WHO!

        1. If you haven’t already, you might want to look at Rip Esselstyn (Dr. Esselstyn’s son) for his Engine 2 diet as a way to determine if you really need extra protein while body building. Same with looking at vegan body builder sites. My belief is that if we really do get so much more protein than we need, then a healthy WFPB diet will do you fine, without the extra stress and oxidation from adding even more protein to your diet.


          1. Interesting point – I haven’t looked at Engine 2 yet. I really do feel like there’s a relative dearth of literature on whole foods, plant based body building/leaning for healthy people leading vegan lifestyles. That is, nutrition for these goals within the context of a healthy vegan diet. Almost everything out there is either from traditional body builders (animal based meat, dairy, chickens’ eggs) or is scientific, plant based nutrition for reversing disease. There are a good number of vegan body building personalities, but most of them are primarily social media based and there really isn’t a lot of actual instruction or literature.

            Then again, perhaps it really is that the high carb, low(ish) fat/protein, whole foods, plant based diet is ideal for every goal a human body may have…

            1. check youtube for some of Rip’s videos and interviews. Look at how fit he is for his age. You might try backing off on extra protein and seeing the results in how it feels and how much progress you’re making. I think you’ll find you don’t need the extra and your kidneys will thank you. You can also check Dr McDougall’s website or youtube his thoughts on protein intake. He blames protein in the current SAD as the reason for the very high and growing cause of kidney disease and related maladies. It’s kind of scary. Best of health to you.

              1. Yes – I read all of that but it’s so hard to know if he (or any of these doctors’ books or materials) are referring to “protein” in general or “animal protein” because the context is always about why animal & processed food consumption is bad, directed at people consuming a typical Western diet. T. Colin Campbell calls out plant protein as specifically *not* being associated with the same health problems that he was demonstrating animal protein to be (casein in particular), but then reverts to just referring to “protein” later in the book (China Study).

                1. That’s true, it confuses me too, although I notice that most seem to talk about too much protein in general, especially Dr McDougall who says not to eat more than one cup of beans a day. Dr Fuhrman says to eat at much as you want. Frustrating. I lean more towards Dr Fuhrman. But it’s a guess. I don’t know.

    3. Mike: You already got some really great replies. I’ll just add for interest sake: Renae, one of the NutritionFacts monitors, did a sample Daily Dozen meal plans and then did all the calculations on the fat. It came out to 23% fat. You can see her post here: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/slowing-metabolism-nitrate-rich-vegetables/#comment-2699082846

      Based my readings of the same people you review, I have put it all together to mean that about 15-20% fat might be ideal, but that to stress about the percentage of fat is generally not productive for most people. Instead, focusing on whole foods using a model such as the Daily Dozen or any of the models used by the other doctors you listed is more likely to give good results with least stress.

      Not that thinking about percentages of macro nutrients in theory isn’t also helpful. It gives me a general guideline, among other general guidelines, upon which to evaluate my diet on occasion. I’m just making a point.

      1. Yeah that is how I see it too…for maintaining a healthy body & lifestyle. However, I didn’t see the fat loss I would have liked until I severely cut carbs & calories and raised protein & fat to fill it in. But that diet is neither healthy nor sustainable, so I have not been comfortable continuing it. I think I’ll just have to make the change back to the less rigid (in terms of macros), but still healthful diet proposed by Dr. Greger following the Daily Dozen guidelines and see potentially slower progress.

        1. Mike: Are you familiar with the concept of “calorie density” and how to apply it to weight loss? I can provide several great references if you are interested. It is not about dissing the Daily Dozen, but about recognizing that the Daily Dozen has a wide range of choices for food. I believe that combining both the concepts of low calorie density (but still enough food to make you full) and the Daily Dozen can a great combo for people trying to lose weight. You may already be aware of this. If not and you want some links to some great info, let me know.

    4. The no-fat thing is about healing blood vessels, and applies to cardiac patients. Although Esselstyn is super cautious and forbids all extracted oils, he has acknowledged that a healthy person can have a little of the fatty foods. You should have about 10% or lower of fat in your diet, from plant sources. Having said that, obsessing about every calorie and nutrient is going to make your life miserable. If you eat widely from all plant sources, including olives, nuts, avocados, etc, with an abundance of fresh foods and only limited processed foods, and if you get plenty of sleep, plenty of exercise in the fresh air, enough water (you don’t need as much if you have lots of fruit), and build good friendships and relationships where you support and help others, then your health will blossom, your weight will settle (although you can leave out the fattier foods for a time to lower it if you need to), and your life will feel quietly satisfying.

      1. If you keep track of your meals on eatracker.com you may find your actual fat intake is higher than 10 percent if you’re including even small amounts of “olives, nuts, avocados, etc.” in your diet. I just checked my breakfast and lunch so far today and I’m already up to 17 percent. (About 600 calories so far from oatmeal, canned tart cherries, baked beans, watermelon, and a big bowl of spring mix lettuce — with the only high-fat foods being 1 tablespoon of flaxseed and 2 teaspoons of chia seeds.) Oh, and I ate a little vinegar and sugar.

        1. I just ate a dinner of watermelon, yukon gold potatoes, a piece of salmon and a banana with sliced almonds and flaked coconut. So far a total of 1560 calories that’s 12 percent from fat.

    5. Mike I’d like to add Brenda Davis RD’s perspective on dietary fat. “If you are very physically active or require a lot of calories to maintain your body weight, you could probably aim toward the higher end of the range: 25 to 35 percent fat. If you’re overweight, require fewer calories, or have a chronic disease, like cardiovascular disease, it might be best to aim toward the lower end: 15 to 20 percent fat. A fat intake below 15% of calories can be safe and effective in the treatment and reversal of chronic disease. However, this generally isn’t advised for healthy people, and it isn’t suitable for children or adolescents.” [Becoming Vegan, Express Edition, P 70]

    6. I started out following McDougall and the 10% fat diet decades ago. Back then it was harder to do than it is today. Although, people and food places add so much oil to everything it’s still tough. I agree with the comment that most of these doctors prescribe the super low fats when you’re coming off a SAD diet or heart disease. After that, amounts seems ok. I too use Dr Greger as my final word. So these days I get my fats from either walnuts, flax or avocado, and use consume them with meals to better uptake fat soluable nutrients. I still won’t touch oil because of Dr McDougall’s points that it is carcinogenic (although I don’t know if that’s by itself or only when consumed with animal products). That’s my approach.


    7. I was curious what percentage of my calories I was getting as fat, so I put into cronometer what I ate yesterday.

      Breakfast: steel-cut oats (1/2 cup steel cut oats cooked with 1 cup low-fat vanilla soy milk & 1 cup water, 1 tbsp ground flax seed, 1 tbsp brown sugar), smoothie (1 med banana, 1 cup blueberries, 1/2 strawberries, 1 cup vanilla soy milk)

      Lunch: Bowl (1 lg sweet potato, 1 cup black beans, 1 cup cooked kale, 2 oz sauteed sweet onion in vegetable broth, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar)

      Dinner: Pasta & sauce (2 cups cooked WW spaghetti, 1 cup marinara sauce), Salad (5 cups romaine lettuce, 2 tbsp toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), 1/2 cup broccoli sprouts, dressing (2 oz silken tofu, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp dijon mustard)), 1000 ng B-12, beer (I’m no saint!)

      The total calories came out to 2138 calories. The macro breakdown is 327 g carbohydrates (61.2%), 74 g protein (13.8%), 24.7 g fat (10.4%). So I think it is quite possible to eat a 10% fat diet without eating a punishment diet.

      My food for the day also included 71.7 grams of fiber! And for anybody who is still worried about getting enough protein and especially essential amino acids, yesterday’s meals provided me with 168% of my RDI for protein, and for the EAA the lowest was methionine at 121% of my RDI. The rest of the EAA were even higher, up to 356% of my RDI for cystine.

      Cronometer also gives you a thermometer for each essential vitamin and mineral. I am at or above the RDI for every one except calcium, which cronometer said by “only” consuming 1075 mg of calcium I only got 90% of what I needed. We all know that without the need to buffer all the acid producing food we really don’t need so much calcium, so there goes worries about getting enough calcium. Sodium was a manageable 1775 mg, but potassium was a fabulous 5098 mg. And I ate 22 mg of iron (282% of my RDI, but in a non-heme form so my body can control how much it absorbs). Selenium was 127 micro-grams (249%) and zinc was 11.7 mg (106%). And lastly cronometer breaks out omega-3 and omega-6, and it says that I ate 3.1 g of omega-3 and 7.8 g of omega-6 for an awesome 2.5:1 ratio

      1. Jim Felder: I was just sharing your fantastic post above with someone else on another page. I referred him to this actual post, but I also wanted to quote your macro nutrient percentages from above directly in my post. I’m referring to this line: “The macro breakdown is 327 g carbohydrates (61.2%), 74 g protein (13.8%), 24.7 g fat (10.4%).” As I pasted, I noticed that the percents don’t add up to 100%. Also, when I look at %’s, I’m interested in %s of calories. So, I adjusted the numbers/%s.
        I don’t want to have given incorrect information, so I wanted to share my math with you for a second eye on it. It’s my understanding/from memory that carbs = 4 calories per gram, protein = 5 calories per gram, fat = 9 calories per gram. Using those numbers and the grams you provide above, I came up with your sample daily menu with about 69% carbs, 20% protein, 12% fat. This seems dang ideal to me. I think you could brag about that and have earned it. But do you see any problem with the math? or logic?
        No worries if you don’t have time to reply. I just thought I would ask.

    8. So many great replies here but just to add, almost all interviews I’ve seen with Dr Greger he says he has no problem with fats from whole food plant based sources such as nuts, avocado, seeds… eaten in the context of a WFPB diet that includes his other recommendations on wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, and legumes.

    9. I agree, eating out is dangerous since most of the entrees’ have at least 1,700 calories, high in fat–enough food for a sports star. BTW I heard that 12 NFL players have gone vegan since it makes them lean and more competitive on the field.

      1. Thanks for participating in our discussion! And you’re absolutely correct – there are many vegan athletes that perform well and feel great on a plant-based diet. Check out David’s story: The 300 Pound Vegan

  2. How common are parasites in humans in the USA? Some of us here come with a history of past-sushi eating,
    raw shellfish, etc.

    I know of vegans who claim that diatomaceous earth food-grade is a good product to take. Is this safe, anyone?

    1. OK, it is food grade, but to what end? One site said something about helping to keep your bowels moving. If eating 50+ grams of fiber a day doesn’t keep me moving right along, then I don’t know what a teaspoon of DE is going to do. And plants absorb plenty of silicon (the primary element in DE) and silicon in food is well absorbed. Sounds like yet another “solution” to try to plug one of the many holes in the Standard American Diet.

    2. Depends which type of parastite you refer? Toxoplasmosis gondii for example, can be in up to 85% or so of populations, transient infections are also common…especially in ‘developing’ nations. The idea of ‘having parasites’ has come into vogue with cleanses etc… I would have a stool test or other medical evaluation to confirm if you are concerned.

    3. The therapeutic window for silica is pretty- RDI is about 9-14mg with an upper tolerable limit of about 20-30mg… Because of this I’d be cautious with supplementary silica unless the level is clearly stated (an can you really be sure?). I’m yet to see an epidemic of silica deficiency… with many foods containing significant amounts, even if the soil depletion theory is true.. maybe just have an extra banana?

      * Banana (yellow, peeled), 250g – 13.60mg
      * High bran cereal, 100g – 10.17mg
      * Bread (wholegrain), 200g – 8.94mg
      * Raisin (California seedless), 100g – 8.25mg
      * Green beans (cooked), 250g – 6.10mg
      * Carrot (raw, peeled), 200g – 4.58mg
      * Bread (wholemeal), 200g – 4.50mg
      * Brown rice, 200g – 4.14mg

      1. I’ve been taking a 500 mg cap of horsetail herb (aerial parts) that probably contains ~ 35 mg silica.


        The stems of horsetail contain 5% to 8% of silica and silicic acids.



        Contains 5 mg silica…so I’m likely taking too much.

        Worst move is to take over 500 mg extra calcium?

        1. Personally I wouldn’t recommend going over the upper tolerable limit for most people. What’s your reason for taking it?

          Why are you taking calcium?

  3. Even if caramel coloring were not harmful, there’re a lot of reasons not to drink soda. This video is still very important because there’re many other products that contain caramel coloring. For example, Some supermarket broths have caramel coloring. Since people are very familiar with caramel and caramel is not a chemical name, we tend to think that caramel coloring is safe. That’s what I thought. Thank you Dr. Greger.

    1. George: I couldn’t agree with you more about the importance of understanding “Caramel coloring” in the ingredient list. I don’t drink sodas such as Coke or Pepsi either. But I was starting to get into those “ginger brews”, which is a ginger flavored soda. They are generally clear liquids, with slight coloring. I got so frustrated that the ingredient list contained caramel coloring. NutritionFacts covered has caramel in the past too, so I knew it was bad. I’ve made it a rule not to buy anything with caramel coloring, so it meant I haven’t been able to enjoy that “ginger brew” as a treat much since I saw the ingredient list. Ah well, I know that’s for the best.

      But to the point: You are so right that that caramel coloring pops up in so many processed foods. It is good for people to be on the lookout for it.

      1. Thea: Make your own. I haven’t done it myself (yet!), but the recipe looks pretty easy. Basically it is really strong ginger tea from fresh ginger simmered in water and sugar to make a syrup which is then mixed with club soda to make your ginger ale. Plus you can control the amount of ginger and the amount and type of sweetener you use. And the possibilities of derivatives are endless. You could add peach or mango nectar to give a very interesting soda. And you don’t have to use store-bought nectar either. Nectar is just pealed and sliced peaches or mango simmered in water and maybe a little sugar along with a little lemon juice for 5 minutes and then blended in a Vitamix until very smooth. Here is a recipe for peach nectar. So the nectar can be simmering in the pot next to the ginger syrup.

        Both the ginger syrup and nectar can be frozen in amounts to use to make a couple of glasses of refreshing beverage. And if a little rum somehow ended up in the glass, well I won’t tell. ;-)

        Oh, and I would bet that using fresh ginger and a nice long simmering time would result in most of the healthy aspects of the ginger ending up in the syrup.

        1. :-)

          It’s a great idea. I know I’m too lazy to do it, but I really like the idea of it. Plus, my diet already has too much sugar. But I do really like the idea of making my own. Who knows, maybe some day I will. Thanks for pointing out an example recipe. I’m sure it will benefit others who read your post. Nice!

      2. It’s also in soft capsules of vitamins, like Vit D or algae omega 3. That’s why I use a one-drop/day Vit D and I bite the algae tablet and lightly chew it for a few seconds. Then I spit out the capsule remains. The taste is very very mild and it minimizes my exposure to the caramel, carrageenan and any other crap in the capsule.

        Mark G

        1. Great tips. I agree with Darryl about dose making the poison. I don’t know how much of an issue a gel cap would be. But if it is just as easy for someone to avoid those substances, why not?

          I’m not sure if it was you or not, but someone in the last few months made a specific recommendation for omega 3 drops. I followed up and bought some. I haven’t worked up my courage to try it yet, but I do appreciate the tip.

          1. It wasn’t me. I recently recommended the BlueBonnet Vit D drops. But today I’m shopping on amazon looking for omega 3 algae. Are the omega 3 drops you’re talking about from algae? What’s the brand. I’ll have to look closer for the drops, as I don’t see them yet.

              1. Hmmm. Seems to have too many negative reviews for taste and stomach upset. I think I’ll skip this one. I usually get Source Naturals or Ovega-3 brands. I think I’ll stick with what I know. Thanks, and good luck!

                  1. Thanks for that tip. I knew that there were only a couple of manufacturers of the source product, although I didn’t know that these two were the same. But when one product consistently does not have problems reported with fish taste and stomach upset (signs of rancidity) then it suggests to me that something different is being done in either the processing or transportation and care of those products. It could even be the supplier is exposing them to heat or something. But still, the price difference is almost nothing, so why bother. Also, there must be at least a slight difference since the potency levels are different as well, sometimes, as the “other ingredients”. I see on the Nordic Naturals website that they have drops too. I’m going to try to find those on Amazon.

          1. It does look like that from the ingredients list. I just placed my order with my regular brand on amazon, but I might give these a try next time. Thanks!

    1. Hi, as a dietitian if a client asks me this question I would reply, yes. I would get a food diary and help to wean one out of a food that is not serving them as far as health is concern.
      As Dr. G. also indicates in this video about the caramel and also there are other ingredients in the pepsi or coke that can not serve us well as far as health is concerned.
      Instead I would recommend substituting that with perhaps making a fizzy drink from carbonated water and berries or cooked beet. Or hot herbal tea or home made ice tea. The below link also looks into some other health concern ingredients in these soft drinks as well.
      What the Ingredients in Coca-Cola and Pepsi Actually Do to Your Body

    2. Define harmful? Are you focusing on the caramel colour, or all the constituents and effect of Pepsi/soda drinks? Is this in the context of an otherwise health WFPB diet, or a SAD one, or some other? For a healthy person or one with diabetes, kidney disease etc… Age?? So many variables…

    3. I will have a Zevia once in a while. They cut out caramel color. You’d have to adjust to the taste but they seem pretty safe.

  4. Extremely informative with excellent support. Gave up sodas many years ago; however, this provides more support to my careful and tactful efforts at stopping family and friends from using them.

  5. California’s Prop 65 law is ridiculous. According to the law, everything under the sun causes cancer. In fact, virtually all the dietary and nutritional supplements being sold today have warnings that the supplements are potentially carcinogenic. As a resident of California, I’m having trouble ordering nutritional supplements out of state, because they are alleged to cause cancer, according to Prop 65, thereby preventing the sellers from shipping to California. That Proposition should be repealed, because it’s denying consumers freedom of choice.

    I recently moved into a new apartment complex. On the front of the building is a sign that, according to Prop 65, the building itself is carcinogenic. A health club that I go to also has such a sign.

    How does the government justify this kind of bureaucratic overreach? California is the only state that has this law. What is the basis for the studies justifying these cancer claims? Did the researchers feed the rats huge quantities of a substance, which because of the sheer volume caused the animals to get cancer, and then extrapolated the results to humans? Who knows?

    In any case, the government should stay out of people’s private lives. REPEAL PROP 65!!! RESTORE CONSUMER FREEDOM OF CHOICE!

    1. I would think that by taking part in this website and reading Dr. G. research topics you are an health concern individual. I understand about consumer freedom, however if there are warning regarding environmental factors such as asbestos that could be in old buildings and therefore could have potential cancer warning on them. I would look at that Prop 65 warnings as a point of curisity not fear. Since it brings about curiosity to find out why there are such warning on certain products or buildings. Then, one can make a decision after doing further research into that particular issue.

      1. The building I referred to with the Prop 65 warning sign on it is a brand new building! I don’t “fear” Prop 65; I oppose it, because it violates my right to make my own health decisions. Prop 65 is not simply advisory; it amounts to a legal mandate, and one based on very questionable science. It is the proposition itself that is fear mongering, because it gives the impression that every other commercial product causes cancer. When the government thinks it necessary to impose its will on you, there’s eminently good reason to question its objectivity.

        1. How does it violate your right to make your own health decisions? You can just ignore them and do whatever you want to do. Like you said it is strictly advisory, which you are free to ignore. Could it be that you don’t like the potential health risks of a product to ruin your enjoyment of if and that you would rather have remained ignorant of the risks.

          Now a real objection is contained in your initial comment and that is how is the health risk of a given substance determined. The current methodology is very problematic, as Dr. Greger I believe has covered in a video, in that it does feed large amounts of a potential carcinogen feed to mice and rats and assuming that the dose/response rate can be extrapolated back to the amounts typically consumed by humans. Another flaw is that we obviously not rats or mice, so a substances power as a carcinogen could be stronger, weaker or non existent in humans relative to rats and mice. And a third flaw is that rats and mice are short lived and so if a decade of exposure is needed before cancer occurs it would never show up in animal trials.

          The solution is to test it on people. Obviously we can’t ethically use whole live humans, but we can test it on human tissues in vitro. And by looking for the DNA adducts that are the calling card of a potential carcinogen, we don’t have to test it at super high concentrations or wait for years before the damage caused in a couple of minutes shows up as a visible tumor.

          I’m not sure why a switch away from animal testing to a more effective testing methodology is meeting such strong resistance, but I am sure if we could dig deep enough it would involve money, it always does.

          1. Jim Felder: You wrote, “…a switch away from animal testing to a more effective testing methodology…” That’s one thing I love about PCRM’s (Physician’s Committee For Responsible Medicine) work. They have been working tirelessly to get our society to make just such a switch.

            PCRM has had success in some areas, such as getting medical schools to use more effective training and testing methodologies. And here is a recent announcement about a process PCRM has been involved with: “The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that to “better ensure protection of human health … its immediate goal is to significantly reduce the use of animals” in pesticides testing requirements collectively called the “6-pack.” The EPA says new nonanimal technologies will better protect human health and reduce costs…”
            And here is information about something being done at a congressional level: “VICTORY: This week, Congress passed historic legislation that will reduce animal testing and improve chemical safety. Read comments from the Physicians Committee’s Kristie Sullivan, M.P.H., in The Washington Post.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/sweeping-overhaul-of-nations-chemical-safety-laws-clears-final-legislative-hurdle/2016/06/07/85df0654-2cc2-11e6-9de3-6e6e7a14000c_story.html
            I thought you would be interested to know (if you didn’t already) that at least one group is working on this.

          2. Prop 65 violates my right to freedom of choice, because it prevents me from purchasing certain products out of state. Other states won’t ship to California, because the proposition imposes requirements on them that prevents them from doing so. As a result, I’m not able to get healthful products that I would like to buy. No, I don’t drink soft drinks or consume products that I know are unhealthy, so that’s not my motivation. My motivation for opposing Prop 65 is that it prevents me from consuming products that I do judge to be healthful.

            1. I agree with everything you said, but with reference to your last paragraph.. I only ask you if you read The China Study.

              I see no particular reason for selecting any type of animal protein, vs one with a similar profile from a vegetable source. Check out what Dr T. Collin Campell found out about all this.

              You can get the same immediate benefits without all the deleterious parts.

    2. I see prop 65 as *adding* consumer freedom/choice. If I have the option to move into two buildings and one is sufficiently toxic as to be known to cause cancer and one is not, having the warning gives me a choice I would not otherwise really have. I now have the choice to avoid the dangerous one if I want.

      As for supplements, my understanding is that the supplement companies have a choice: produce supplements that are free from contaminants or put warnings on their products. Prop 65 does not seem to me to be interfering with your choice. Bad or lazy companies are doing that.

      Rather than repeal prop 65 in California, maybe we should tweak it and then expand it to the nation. That way companies like Pepsie and Coke can get the carcinogenic products out of their products or label their products for what they are: carcinogenic.

      1. If I want to buy a product that Prop 65 considers hazardous, then that’s my choice. No out of state company should be required by California law to go to the expense of posting a warning that Prop 65 considers the product hazardous to one’s health.

        You say it is the companies that are denying me freedom of choice by refusing to incur the expense of posting the warning. In fact, it’s Prop 65 that’s denying it by forcing the companies to post the warning to begin with, which in turn denies me the right to buy the product from them without the warning. Because of the Prop 65 mandate, they won’t ship it to me.

        Even if I say that I’m willing to buy it without the warning label, they still won’t ship it to me if they have to incur the expense that California law requires them to. It’s ultimately the law that’s responsible for my not getting the product, not the companies themselves.

        1. William Dwyer: I can totally understand your frustration. If I were in your shoes, I would be equally frustrated and likely downright angry. I would say that you have more of a right to cancer causing supplements than other people have to smoke since your supplements do less damage to innocent by-standards. And yet people can buy their cigs anywhere in America anytime they want. It’s not fair.
          I just think your frustration is aimed at the wrong target for multiple reasons. First, consider that when people buy their smokes, it comes with a health warning. The reason this is not a problem, is because all companies across the nation have to put that warning on the product. A company may be willing to diss people in California (boo on them), but they are unlikely to be willing to give up customers across the entire USA. This is why the answer is not to “drop the prop,” but to fix any issues with the prop and apply it to the nation. Sadly, we are living in a society that is unable to be productive at the Federal level. More and more, states are having to take the lead before the Federal government is able to act. It’s a shame that you are caught in this process. But at the moment, the alternative would be to not make progress in any way. That is not the choice that makes sense to me.
          Another reason your frustration is aimed at the wrong target is that it would be relatively trivial for the supplement companies to change their boxes with the next batch. They had time to do that. Or they could slap a sticker on the box. It’s not a big deal. Or they could clean up their product… They are choosing not to do any of those things for no valid reason I can think of.
          Finally, I also think ignorance is a reason your frustration is aimed at the wrong target. I didn’t comment on it before, but I noticed your original post made a big deal out of pointing out that it is your *new* apartment complex that has the warning on it. Mentioning that it is a new complex makes me think that you are under the impression that is it only old materials in old buildings which are health hazards. From what I have heard, there is still massive use of dangerous materials still being used today, even with brand new products, such as carpets. You can get toxic-free products, but the toxic ones are still legal. This very issue is why the warning on your building is so important. It can serve to educate people (who care!) about the problem. If you don’t care, then no big deal. But for those people who care, the warning gives them a true choice and the ability to control their cancer and other disease risk. This is a perfect example of the prop doing exactly what it should be doing. (Assuming that there is some good science to back up the hazard label.)
          I’ll end by thanking the citizens of California. While I sincerely regret the problems that it has caused you, William, it has helped me tremendously. And I don’t even live in California. I have been in situations where I have been able to choose a product that is not a health hazard over one that is because of the California law. The labeling law gave me the opportunity to make an informed choice. Hopefully we can extend the law across the US in a way that makes sense and take the difficulties off of people like you.

      2. I think what it should be is a complete disclosure of ingredients, full label. No hidden stuff (that must be unlawful, we must have the right to see exactly what we are purchasing).

        But a warning label, screams of nanny state, we only need full disclosure, and then we decide. Folks must assume personal responsibility, and not hope for the better “surely the FDA won’t allow dangerous stuff, we are good to go”, which as we well know is false.

        People should get full labels, full disclosure and then do their own homework. Since most everyone will stop purchasing products with dangerous components, companies will have the most important incentive to stop adding that kind of stuff.

        Regarding dangerous material in buildings (new ones) I think it should fall under criminal laws, an architect would be liable (and the construction company) if a building falls over, this should be the same deal, you cannot build in such a way that people are under serious hazard.

        1. Thule: A warning label *is* part of full disclosure. To take the stance that people are responsible for their own research is to ignore that it takes an expert to make these determinations. It takes someone who has done a great deal of study to be able to do that kind of research and understand the body of evidence and pick out which studies are compelling verses those that are not. It’s why NutritionFacts is necessary. The average person does not have the time nor skills to filter the studies that Dr. Greger filters. We have experts in our society because people don’t have enough time in their lives to become experts in everything. It is not practical or realistic to say, “Here’s a list of chemicals and ingredients that sounds like harmless food (ex: caramel coloring, among 20 others in this one product), and now you are on your own to figure out if this product is known to cause cancer or interfere with reproduction.” People have no clue what is healthy or not, and thus simple disclosure does nothing to affect purchasing decisions.
          It could be argued that a nanny state would not let you sell those products at all. But I can’t see how anyone can argue that a warning based on solid info has anything to do with a nanny state. A warning label of the type and purpose we are talking about is simply government doing exactly what it is supposed to do. A government is about doing those tasks which promote the common good and which are too big for individuals. Roads, water, sewer, building safety, food safety, etc.
          I do 100% agree with you that the ingredient part of labels on food should be complete.
          It’s interesting to me that you are concerned about a nanny state, but argue that people should not be allowed to construct new buildings that are known to be hazardous. I’m not worried about a nanny state in these matters, so I generally agree with your sentiment that harmful buildings should simply not be allowed. But is it that simple? Making a rule that we can’t build carcinogenic or reproductively harmful buildings would require a whole lot of discussion, because it would mean that products which are currently legal would not be allowed to be used any more. And that leads us back to the original problem: What do we do about products which are legal, but known to be harmful? There is no practical way at the moment to get all those products off the market. Do we do nothing? Or should we at least warn people and give them the information they need to then decide what to do? I say, if you can’t do the ideal thing for whatever reason, do the next best thing. Add the warning.

          1. For anyone following this discussion. Here is an article from “Truthout” that I think does an excellent job of explaining what the problem is. Labels may not be the best answer, but it is way better than nothing until we can get our acts together.
            Study Shows Americans’ Bodies Are Filled With Carcinogens
            Julie M. Rodriguez, Care2: A new study from the Environmental Working Group has exhaustively reviewed the existing scientific literature and found that Americans may have up to 420 different carcinogenic chemicals present in their bodies in amounts that exceed Environmental Protection Agency safety standards.
            from: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/36486-study-shows-americans-bodies-are-filled-with-carcinogens
            And that’s just one example. I’ve seen many similar articles over the years. NutritionFacts has covered a couple facets of the issue. Here’s what comes up under one search: http://nutritionfacts.org/?fwp_search=retardant&fwp_content_type=video

          2. Thea, the problem I see with what you comment, is what makes you think that government would do any real, complete disclosure? There are a lot of interests going for that to happen. (No, it never happens)

            And effectively this site is a living proof of that. If governments (with their agencies) would just honestly disclose what it is know, full industry sectors would be seriously affected and some even go out of business.

            You are learning what is what, without being an expert thanks to Dr. Greger and a few other honest doctors and researches, one could argue that there is out there (deliberately) a lot of disinformation and confusion, again protecting interests.

            But the convergence of evidence points in one direction, as you already know. And we are finding out thanks to private individuals, not the government.

            I am sorry, but I don’t think there is any shortcut, people needs to check what is in what they consume, they can check online pretty easily, and then decide if to err in the side of caution or not.

            Also, under full disclosure, first the informed people stop consuming product X because it contains some substance that is better to avoid, as more people stop consuming that product because of it, more reasons for that company to change the composition, if not eventually they could risk losing most of their customers, you would get an snowballing effect “hey avoid product X, it contains substance D, better going for this other brand that is safe” People is doing that more and more; it would be far more relevant if people would know that they cannot relay in the governments agencies for product safety. Then I guarantee you, people would pay way more attention than they do now, being under a false sense of security.

            About dangerous materials in buildings, yes that should be criminal, from asbestos (still legal in some parts) to formaldehyde in carpets, to lead in pipelines.. They must use other materials, otherwise be liable. It is very difficult to do a research on materials used in any building (if you purchase anything built by a third party). Simply put, must be unlawful to use those kind of materials, and must use alternative ones, in the same way they cannot use cheapo or less materials risking a building collapse. It is way too serious to gamble with this.

            1. Thule: I appreciate learning more about where you are coming from. After reading your response and thinking about it, I have some replies of my own.
              Concerning buildings: We are in a situation where we can offer warnings or do nothing. The ideal situation, of not allowing harmful materials in new buildings in the first place, is not available to us at the moment. Are you saying you would rather do nothing / not warn people of the hazards?
              If we are going to be consistent, then we would apply your food logic to buildings: Just do full disclosure on all the materials used in buildings and let people take responsibility for their own decisions and do their own research. Like with the food, I would say, that solution just not practical/realistic for the average person. I know I’m not qualified to figure it out. I think seeing that rule applies to buildings shows how silly it is to apply that logic to food.
              Alternatively, to be consistent in logic, then perhaps instead of applying your food rule to buildings, we would apply your building rule to food: Make harmful products illegal. But again, the reality is, making harmful food products illegal is not going to happen any time soon. Caramel coloring is legal. And already on labels. And producers have done nothing to cut back on it until the California prop. Would you really rather do nothing than give people a warning label?
              I fully agree with you that the government is not going to get all the warnings correct. The government of California, however, seems to be doing a pretty good job. Even if California is not doing a perfect job, is that reason to do nothing? My answer is: The label is better than nothing. The proof of it is in this NutritionFacts video, where having to do the label is both affecting manufacturers use of the stuff.
              As for the idea that the average person can figure out the science of nutrition because there is a convergence of evidence regarding nutrition, I say the evidence on that matter speaks for itself. For every person who watches and follows NutritionFacts and Forks Over Knives, etc, there is at least one person who first read Wheat Belly or found the Weston Price foundation or follows Mercola. And those sites all sound very scientific and appear to the lay person to be showing the scientific evidence. Also consider that it is not at all uncommon for people to post here on NutritionFacts to share their real pain (I feel so bad for them!) at having tried for a long time to do due diligence to figure out what the science says and ended up hopelessly confused with all the conflicting information.
              In the current environment (internet, confused messages from the media, etc.), it is near impossible for the average person to be able to do their own research and figure out what the body of evidence says regarding nutrition. That you have extra skills and time over other people is awesome for you and all those you help influence. But your experience/skill level is not a model that can be applied to the majority of people.
              I may have been able to figure things out at the nutrition level, because that topic interests me and I have been willing to spend hours and hours and hours researching it. I literally can not spend that time on every potentially harmful product out there, such as building materials. To tell people that they are responsible for figuring it all out is to ignore the reality of the situation. While I’m interested in nutrition, someone else may not be and may be focusing their research hours on another topic. We can’t all be experts in every topic. But everyone has a right to eat healthy food and get as much assistance as possible to make that happen in a world where products like caramel coloring is legal. If we can’t make carcinogenic food illegal, then at least label it. Even if the labeling system is not perfect, it is better than nothing.

    3. Does that force you to do anything? Or does it inform you so you can make an informed choice. I have no idea what you are objecting to. Being informed??

    4. I’m entirely in favor of the public knowing what they’re consuming, so if additives in processed foods cause concern, the consumer should have a opportunity to know. There no health downside to reducing processed foods.

      I also favor the public gaining perspective. Most intake of rodent carcinogens consists of naturally occurring food compounds. For example, coffee is a solution of over 1000 compounds, and of the 26 that were tested for carcinogenicity as of 1992, 19 were positive in at least one test. One of these, caffeic acid, is also found naturally in lettuce, apples, pears, plums, celery, carrot, and potato. And yet, coffee drinking is associated with lower cancer risk. The dose makes the poison, and with many of these compounds, there’s evidence of hormesis, wherein low-dose exposure elicits biological stress responses with improved health outcomes compared to no exposure. This runs contrary to the linear at low-dose model common in food regulation and risk estimates (and as featured in this video).

      When lab rodents are fed diets free of known carcinogens in longevity studies, their usual cause of death is still cancer, its the normal fate of a mouse that lives long enough. Genetic errors build up even without exogenous carcinogens. But dietary inverventions like calorie, protein, or methionine restriction can delay that outcome significantly, and appear to target steps in cancer progression / proliferation that occur after the initial genetic insult. If humans are comparable, then perhaps our health would benefit from less anxiety about potential carcinogens and more focus on dietary strategies that lower the chance of genetic errors (which will happen, anyway) becoming fatal.

      1. Darryl, I wonder if we create carcinogens in the process of spicing our foods. I have read that some spices can increase thousand-folds the effect of other spices when they are combined. And some meals have a dozen spices in them, interacting
        in who knows what (sometimes adverse, sometimes beneficial) ways.

        1. You’re probably referring to piperine (from black pepper) increasing bioavailability of curcuminoids from turmeric. Piperine inhibits the enzyme CYP3A4, one of many enzymes the liver uses to oxidize foreign chemicals absorbed from food, so when black pepper is consumed (as with other CYP3A4 inhibitors found in grapefruit, pomegranates etc), more curcumin gets through the gatekeepers. On a related note, other cytochrome enzymes activate dietary carcinogens. So, for example, capsaicin (responsible for the heat of chili peppers) is an inhibitor of CYP2E1, and some suspect this reduces endogenous carcinogen production.

          Spice flavor compounds aren’t appreciably more reactive than other food compounds – indeed to survive shelf storage they tend to be stable. Nations with higher spice consumption tend to have lower cancer rates, but this may have little to do with spices and more to do with overall diet and lifestyle.

    5. Because of prop 65, my Dr. Weil supplements now have a cancer warning. Imagine that? Of course I called to inquire, and they told me don’t worry about it. I pressed the issue and was told it is the caramel coloring used on the capsol’s coating. I then said, well, why do you need that? Who cares what color the supplements are? The answer… dead silence on the other end of the phone. My point: if its not needed, provides no nutritional benefit, why use it in supplements? I don’t believe it should keep you from buying & using a product, but best to be informed regardless.

      BTW, guess the caramel color additive corporations didn’t spend nearly as much as Monsanto, Dow, and friends to defeat mandatory GMO labeling.

    1. I always has been baffled about folks who can stop being thirsty drinking something sugary…

      Water always, with food etc, would be unable to take tea with a meal.

  6. A ways back you raised concern about lead levels in nutritional yeast. Does the same concern apply to brewer’s yeast? And, have you come to a clear conclusion of the safe amount of daily ingestion of each of these yeasts?

    1. From the yeast video, Bragg’s seems the best bet-

      “My favorite response was from Bragg’s, who sent me the analysis certificate from the lab showing less than 0.01 ppm, which means at most less than half the California standard, which I believe is the most stringent in the world”

      1. Thank you so much. I’d like to use the Bragg’s brand but I assume it is chock full of synthetic vitamins, no?
        It seems to me that Brewer’s yeast contains much more natural selenium and protein than nutritional yeast,
        and might have a better amino acid profile. The lead/heavy metal issue is a big concern, obviously, and the
        link you sent me makes me wonder if the heavy machinery used in food production is one of the biggest
        contributors to lead/heavy metal ingestion. Maybe we are better off only eating foods that are 100 % in
        their natural state, even the organic packaged foods maybe should be tossed aside. But if one were to pick
        one over the other, it does seem to me, for now, that Brewer’s yeast is more nutrient dense. It seems to me
        that nutritional yeast is often fortified with synthetic vitamins. I do have a brand that claims not-fortified, but
        nutritional yeast seems to ache my joints (purines/uric acid?).

        1. Ah I haven’t used Bragg’s personally, I didn’t realise it had additives sorry! How frustrating!

          Haha yes like most food comparisons there’s pros and cons! I don’t see much evidence for needing more protein though, though the two seem almost the same from what I have seen.

          Yea I am definitely concerned how much heavy metals and who knows what else gets into processed foods (most of which in plastic as well!)…

          I think they both seem pretty similar really, Brewer’s is higher in selenium, NY higher in B vitamins… take your pick, but keep in mind they are a condiment. The foods are fruit, veg, wholegrains, legumes, nuts/seeds first :)

          I wouldn’t recommend one with added vitamins either!

          With regard to the joints, it’s a pretty high protein food which affects some people, also the glutamate/glutamic acid may affect joints for some also.

          1. Your desired form of B12? Methyl or cyano or Hydroxocobalamin? Ever use the patch/transdermal?
            Methyl form seems to cause me anxiety. Cyano lifts my mood but gives me no energy at all. Seems very
            short lived. I’ve watched all the videos of Dr. G on the B12 issue.

            1. I am yet to find any real evidence as to which is best. My advise is to use whichever feels best/has least side effects and keeps your B12 over 600, and MMA/homocysteine below the upper limits. Also check iodine and cholesterol whilst testing as they are related too.

              I have tried a mix of supplements. I never used to take them as I always had high levels, but used to drink a lot more soy milk/eat more soy foods with added B12. I then had a few injections but my levels went too high, so I stopped for about 12 months. Currently on a methyl sublingual drop and will retest levels in about 6 months. I only take them as a pre-caution, I’m an almost lifelong vegan and have never had a low level. I choose methyl as I have one of those methyl mutations genetically.

              I feel no different supplementing vs not. Some people do, but they are usually people that were deficient!

              Never used a patch or transdermal personally!

              1. Thank you much. Are your MMA and homocysteine levels in range? I have yet to be able to get them in range
                with B12 supplements. I can get B12 to go up with the B12 pill, but just that. Only thing that has lowered my
                MMA and homocysteine is shellfish. Eaten 3 times a week. Tried all the various B12 forms, pills, injections. Very frustrating.

                1. Have you checked your iodine levels and perhaps tried adding seaweed or a supplement? That is linked as well to homocysteine/B12/MMA levels I believe.

                  And could explain why shellfish helped…

                  1. Seaweed seems to help sometimes but the current state of affairs in our oceans, mass dolphin, fish deaths, plastic microbead pollution, other unknown and un-testable toxins, why would anyone eat seaweed from this massive toxic dump, no? This is why I no longer eat the shellfish, but seaweed seems concerning also . My iodine level comes back normal, even in abscence of eating any seaweed, ocean creatures, or salt.

                    I think shellfish helped as they are a complete protein, and full of B12 as well. Some sort of synergy that packages everything together in a complete form, as nature provides. Maybe for some people the vegan methods of adding this, adding that, this supplement and that, and hoping that the synergy gets completed, is just not effective in their case. This has been my experience.

                    1. It is an interesting argument and another one of those issues where we have made our world and lifestyles so toxic we create deficiencies!

                      Along the lines of B12, perhaps if deficient a supplement may be the safest and most reliable choice.. If levels are normal, seems a case to just keep doing what you are doing, you are probably consuming enough elsewhere…

                      Some interesting ideas here-

                      Alternative foods high in iodine suggest potatoes, navy beans, prunes, strawberries, and cranberries.

                    2. Oh yeah, my B12 is extremely low, unless I eat shellfish. I struggle to keep it above 120, but with shellfish i was able to get it around 280-300, and quickly. Thing is, I’d rather not eat shellfish or any animal products. And thus, my B12 stays low for long periods of time…..until i go back to the shellfish.

                    3. There is so many factors for the difficult to treat B12. The first step is try different forms- sublingual, injection, methyl vs cyano etc…

                      And address the co-factors- iodine, selenium, zinc, stomach acid etc…

                      And diet/lifestyle

                      Then the more obscure/less addressed-

                      Micro biome, H.pylori, pro/prebiotics, History of diet, pernicious anaemia, antacid/PPI use (or foods acting similarly), surgeries, vitamin K2 status, zinc, selenium, trace elements, allergies, leaky gut, antibiotics, inflammation, fermented foods, acids, gastritis/other gut disorders, folate levels, surgery, genetics, coeliac, SIBO, medications, parasitic inflection, methyl status, alcohol…. just a few thoughts off the top of my head….

                      I’m sure there’s an answer… but sorry I don’t have an easy one off hand!

                  2. My intuition is that the cyanocobalamin form of B12 does not lower MMA and homocysteine effectively, and that cyanocobalamin might act as a b12 analogue in some folks, thus, blocking ingestion of the true b12. I highly doubt ‘science’ and industry have perfected making the perfect B12 pill. Only nature, i’d think, has synergistically pulled this off.

                    1. That depends on your methylation genes. There are variances in the population and hence methy-cobalamin is required to lower MMA/homocysteine in those with particular mutations.

                      Yes, agreed…. when we drank from streams and had some dirt contamination, B12 was believed to be sufficiently consumed… the price of hygiene and municipal water supply!

                      Did you say you had tried methyl and it didn’t help? Was your B12 actually low?

                      I’ve only seen a few population studies (such as adventist) that show benefits of NO animal products Vs animal products in small amounts. It’s simply hard to study! However on a reductionist level, animal products don’t seem to have many benefits.

                      I’d be interested to know more about struggling vegans, such as microbiome, colon condition, pernicious anaemia, methylation status, the adjustment period (adaoption to pre-formed carnitine), what constitutes ‘vegan’ to them etc…

                    2. Preformed carnitine, what is that?

                      The methylcobalamin form of B12 screwed up my system worse than any other supplement ever. And I tried different brands, fillers, non-fillers. And I do know of others who claim they have never recovered since using methyl B12, that it screwed up their body real bad. Yes, it seems weird.

                      Also, I get lots of small moles on my body within weeks of supplementing B12. Abnormal skin reactions like this that are very noticeable, like the B12 is fueling abnormal skin growth, cell division, etc.
                      It happens every time i go back to the B12 supplements. I wonder what else it might be doing inside me that i can’t see?

                      Regardless, the methyl B12 did not lower my MMA nor homocysteine, neither did the cyano form. The only thing that did, and it did dramatically and quickly, was eating small amounts of B12 rich shellfish. Obviously my body absorbed this. I am open to the fact that shellfish possibly have an effect on stomach acid that is a much different effect that plants do, and this stomach acid production as a result of digesting the shellfish allowed me to absorb the B12. Are you aware of ways that have been proved to safely raise the stomach acid without resorting to animal/fish products? Maybe this could allow me to properly digest and assimilate the B12 supplements. Is HCL safe, the kind one buys over the counter? How about apple cider vinegar. Some claim it raises stomach acid, some claim it does the opposite.

                      Thanks so much. I do feel that there is a vegan solution to this!

                    3. This is the theory-


                      Wow that’s crazy about B12!

                      With all due respect, you sound like a very interesting case-study!

                      I feel there must be something missing, but it’s hard via an internet chat forum! Maybe consider an online appointment with a WFPB doc?

                      Have you tested for hypochlorohydria?

                      So many things to consider to find cause of your issues, and likely multifactorial…micro biome, H.pylori, diet, pro/prebiotics, History of diet, pernicious anaemia, antacid/PPI use (or foods acting similarly), vitamin K2 status, zinc, selenium, trace elements, allergies, leaky gut, antibiotics, inflammation, fermented foods, acids, gastritis/other gut disorders, folate levels, surgery, genetics, coeliac, SIBO, medications, parasitic inflection, methyl status, alcohol…. just a few thoughts off the top of my head….

                      I’m sure there’s an answer… but sorry I don’t have an easy one off hand!

                    4. I believe that can be an issue depending on one’s methylation status. Those with one of the MTHFR mutations often need to use the methylcobalamin instead. It could be possible for sure that if the cyano-form is not being methylated/used efficiently, then sure it could function as an analogue, that makes sense logically.
                      I agree, I am always cautious with supplements, however it’s such a tricky one whereby we substitute hygiene and water-bourne illness for a B12 deficiency…

                      I believe there is a lot of factors to the ‘failed’ vegan… preformed creatinine/carnitine and amino acids are other discussed factors where one may need to wean off meat rather than stop suddenly, caloric density is another fact, and never underestimate social/psychological!

                      There’s one thing to say no long-lived culture consumed NO meat products, and another way to say do we know what’s optimal? Spectrum studies usually seem to trend towards vegans having better outcomes, even in vegetarian or flexitarian Vs vegan studies… are the Okinawans healthy because they do incorporate a tiny bit of seafood, or are they healthy because the amount of seafood is tiny and only a small factor in the midst of a healthy diet and lifestyle… hard to say without a long comparative study of vegan vs non-vegan Okinawans for example…

                      I think it’s always good to be thinking. I’d have to know a lot more about you- exactly what you eat, supplement with, how you live, your blood work, your medical history etc etc before I can really make tailored recommendations, but happy to help whenever I can! :)

                    5. Hey, thanks so much for that. And yes, you bring up some good points as far as the Okinawans.

                      Yes, there are other things (many things) in the human body that could be creating issues as far as B12.

                      You had mentioned seaweed/iodine in earlier reply…..there was a time i got good energy from raw nori.
                      Does not seem to be case anymore. Maybe it is a synergy of iodine, selenium, and B12. I’ve heard that
                      iodine and selenium do best in the body when they are both consumed together, otherwise one crowds
                      out the reserves of the other, and somehow B12 plays a role in the synergy.

                      Thanks again.

                    6. Any time :)

                      Exactly! And the fact that B12 is involved in so many processes whereby any number of things can cause an issue, it’s complicated to say the least…

                      This study supports the iodine/selenium argument-

                      “The normal thyroid gland retains high selenium concentrations even under conditions of inadequate selenium supply and expresses many of the known selenocysteine-containing proteins. Among these selenoproteins are the glutathione peroxidase, deiodinase, and thioredoxine reductase families of enzymes. Adequate selenium nutrition supports efficient thyroid hormone synthesis and metabolism and protects the thyroid gland from damage by excessive iodide exposure. In regions of combined severe iodine and selenium deficiency, normalization of iodine supply is mandatory before initiation of selenium supplementation in order to prevent hypothyroidism.”

                      Whilst not a direct journal article, this is quite an interesting read-

    2. Also updated in 2015-

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


  7. Annnnnnnd….. thats it for soda for me.. With insulin and glucose exploding because of artificial sweeteners, splenda coming from bug spray, caffeine jacking my insulin and blood glucose and raising my blood pressure annnnnnnnnnd now this.. This NY’er says Fughedaboudit!… Ill have a glass of water please :)

    1. You can do this! Keep in mind if struggling with just water, there are plenty of great herbal teas, that can be consumed hot or cold :)

      1. I think sometimes when trying to give something up have a range of alternatives can make the transition harder. The nice thing about “just water” when trying to give up soda is that it is a very bright line . Then you only have to ask “is this water”, and if the answer is no, then you don’t drink it. When there are a range of alternatives it is easy to slip back into drinking “moderate” amounts of the soda.

        1. Agreed. However I find different people respond to different things so I try to suggest all alternative options. Some people need alternatives/transitions, others are better with ‘cold turkey/bright line’ approaches I find…

      2. Actually just like any other food, after a while, its second nature… I simply have decided to stop ingesting things that screw around with my bodies regulatory mechanisms and fooling it to believe and then react in a manner thats detrimental to me. I dont even chew gum anymore because I dont want my body releasing insulin thinking there is food coming down the pipe.

  8. I just want to know if one can of Pepsi produces enough carcinogens to be at the toxic level. Assume I’m healthy.

    1. From what I can find the tested levels of Pepsi varied from 24-31 mcg/serve, with higher levels in places out of California. And as with all testing, there is likely some variation and accuracy errors/standard deviation.

      The prop safe level is below 29 mcg per day… So yes, just one can was more than the toxic level in some of the tested samples.

      1. I don’t think any regular readers on here are really consuming pop. A lot of people are probably worried about a loved one, their kids or grandkids, at least that was my first thought.

        1. Exactly. So many folks including my friends, and my family think they’re doing “OK” with “just one” per day. Others think that “diet” sodas are “okay” and live on them. Most of them are obese. And they won’t listen to anything I say.

          It’s just not hard to quit-your body and soul will thank you, and you’ll feel it.

    2. One can per day? week? year? It’s irrelevant when you decide to eliminate sugarwater (we are not hummingbirds) and other noxious chemicals (diet sodas) and artificial colors from your life.

      I used to drink one or two cans per day. Then one can. Then I cut back to one per weekend as I transitioned to WFPB. After three weekends I didn’t want any more ever. Tastes like straight syrup anymore. Our taste buds are surprisingly dynamic.

      Quantification of minutia can be interesting, but rarely gives us a meaningful way to live.

  9. Ask the Doctor: Off topic for the video, I know, sorry. Dr. Greger, obviously you would recommend a plant-based diet for colorectal cancer. But what specifically should I eat/ stay away from… organic soy milk/ eggs/ lentils/ black soy beans/ how can I best get protein (~100 gr/ day) while staying off all meats and most legumes? Thanks so much.

    1. Why do you want 100 grams of protein?
      100 grams is about 20% of calories if you consume 2000 calories daily so it is not very high. Nevertheless, my understanding is that less may be better when it comes to colonic health.
      “After 4 wk, weight-loss diets that were high in protein but reduced in total carbohydrates and fiber resulted in a significant decrease in fecal cancer-protective metabolites and increased concentrations of hazardous metabolites. Long-term adherence to such diets may increase risk of colonic disease.”

      Also, it has been known for a long time that fat and animal protein are associated with increased cancer risk eg
      “Summary.-The correlation between cancer of the breast, colon and stomach dietary factors, and various indicators of standard of living was examined. Cancer of the breast and colon was highly correlated with fat and animal protein.”

      Also, why why stay away from beans? They are protective.

    2. actually it is simple – stay away from all animal products and most of highly processed products, eat as much fresh products from the plant world as you can, take vitamin b12 daily. you also can follow Dr. Gereger’S daily dozend.
      Maybe, if you like, to read the “China Study” shout help you also. Avoid stress… ;-)

  10. Regarding ‘fats’ in the diet, the problem I see is that just about everybody in the US (and the west) has some degree of heart disease…whether they know it or not. Just because you have not had your first heart attack, does not mean that you have perfectly clean and clear arteries.

    In this regard, I highly recommend the ‘lowest’ possible fat diet at all times.

    1. When we WFPB folks eliminate oils, our fats consumption is ultra low and natural. Our arteries clear themselves when this occurs.

  11. Too bad that all the best stuff are unhealthy, like soda, veggie pizza, or veggie ice cream, veggie cheese , potato chips, salt, sugar, coffee, bread etc.

    And when we finally finds healthy food which is also tasty, too bad he make you fat, like nuts,seeds, dry fruits. life are not easy.

  12. If people are interested, the latest (2015) US dietary guidelines are now available in PDF form together with a range of associated downloadable resources.

    More importantly, the scientific report of the advisory committee is now also available as a downloadable PDF.

    of course, we need to recognise the influence of industry on fine actual guidelines and the effect that the requirement that the advisory committee emphasise research published since 2009 in updating guidelines had in affecting the scientific report. In practice this latter has probably resulted in undue emphasis being given to the many studies conducted by researchers linked to the food industries and the Atkins Foundation. Without wishing to appear too cynical, these have appeared to deliberately “game” prior existing knowledge to deliver results that appear to show that saturated fat and cholesterol are harmless or even healthful.

    And, of course, Dr G has previously done a whole series of videos on this general topic

    1. Thanks for making us aware of these publications, but no thanks to the content of them! As you have pointed out, they differ from Dr G’s recommendations, so I’ll just stick with Dr G’s book “How Not to Die” :-) (I trust Dr G over the Government!)

  13. I’ve been consuming Diet Coke for many years now and in very large quantities. For the last few years I’ve been drinking 4 – 6 litres a day. I would like to stop cold turkey but how long will the withdrawal symptoms last? Secondly what tests should I get done in order to check what damage has been done to my body by drinking Diet Coke?


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