Hibiscus Tea vs. Plant-Based Diets for Hypertension

Hibiscus Tea vs. Plant-Based Diets for Hypertension
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How do the blood-pressure lowering effects of hibiscus tea compare to the DASH diet, a plant-based diet, and a long-distance endurance exercise?

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The latest research pitted hibiscus against obesity, giving hibiscus to overweight individuals, and showed reduced body weight, but after 12 weeks on hibiscus they only lost like 3 pounds, and really only one and a half pounds over placebo—clearly no magic fix.

The purported cholesterol-lowering property of hibiscus tea had looked a bit more promising. Some older studies suggested as much as an 8% reduction drinking two cups a day for a month, but when all the studies are put together the results were pretty much a wash. This may be because only about 50% of people respond at all to drinking the equivalent of between 2 to 5 cups a day, though those that do may get a respectable 12 or so percent drop, but nothing like the 30% one can get within weeks of eating a healthy enough plant-based diet.

High blood pressure is where hibiscus may really shine, a disease affecting a billion people and killing millions. Up until 2010, there wasn’t sufficient high quality research out there to support the use of hibiscus tea to treat it, but we have since seen randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled studies where hibiscus tea is compared to artificially colored and flavored water that looks and tastes like hibiscus tea, and the tea did significantly better.

We’re still not sure why it works, but hibiscus does appear to boost nitric oxide production, which could help our arteries relax and dilate better. Regardless, an updated review acknowledged that the daily consumption of hibiscus tea may indeed significantly lower blood pressures in people with hypertension, but by how much? How does this drop in blood pressure compare to that of other interventions?

The premier clinical trial when it comes to comprehensive lifestyle modification for blood pressure control is the PREMIER clinical trial. Realizing that 9 out of 10 Americans are going to develop hypertension, they randomized 800 men and women with high blood pressure into one of three groups. One was the control group, the so-called advice only group, where patients were just told to lose weight, cut down on salt, increase exercise and eat healthier, here’s a brochure. But in the two behavioral intervention groups they got serious. 18 face-to-face sessions, groups meetings, food diaries, monitored physical activity, calorie and sodium intake. One intervention group just concentrated on exercise and the other included exercise and diet. They pushed the DASH diet, high in fruits and vegetables, and low in full-fat dairy products and meat. And in six months they achieved a 4.3 point drop in systolic blood pressure, compared to the control, slightly better than the lifestyle intervention without the diet. Now a few points might not sound like a lot—that’s like someone going from a blood pressure of 150 over 90 to a blood pressure of 146 over 90—but on a population scale a 5 point drop in the total number would result in a 14% fewer stroke deaths, 9% fewer fatal heart attacks, and 7% fewer deaths every year overall.

And a cup of hibiscus tea with each meal didn’t just lower blood pressure by 3, 4 or 5 points but by 7 points, 129 down to 122. And in fact tested head-to-head against a leading blood-pressure drug, captopril, two cups of strong hibiscus tea every morning, using a total of 5 tea bags for those two cups, was as effective in lowering blood pressure as a starting dose of 25mg of captopril taken twice a day.

So as good as drugs, without the drug side-effects, and better than diet and exercise? Well, the lifestyle interventions were pretty wimpy. As public health experts noted, the PREMIER study was only asking for 30 minutes of exercise a day, whereas the World Health Organization is more like an hour a day minimum.

And diet-wise, the lower the animal fat intake, and the more plant sources of protein the PREMIER participants were eating, the better the diet appeared to work, which may explain why vegetarian diets appear to work even better, and the more plant-based the lower the prevalence of hypertension.

On the DASH diet, they cut down on meat, but are still eating it every day, so would qualify as nonvegetarians here in the Adventist 2 study, which looked at 89,000 Californians and found that those who instead only ate meat on more like a weekly basis had 23% lower rates of high blood pressure. Cut out all meat except fish and the rate is 38% lower. Cut out all meat period—the vegetarians have less than half the rate and the vegans—cutting out all animal protein and fat—appeared to have thrown three quarters of their risk for this major killer out the window.

One sees the same kind of step-wise drop in diabetes rates as one’s diet gets more and more plant-based and a drop in excess body weight such that only those eating completely plant-based diets fell into the ideal weight category. But could that be why those eating plant-based have such great blood pressure? Maybe it’s just because they’re so skinny. I’ve shown previously how those eating plant based just have a fraction of the diabetes risk even at the same weight, even after controlling for BMI, but what about hypertension?

The average American has what’s called prehypertension, which means the top number of your blood pressure is between 120 and 139. Not yet hypertension, which starts at 140, but it means we may be well on our way.

Compare that to the blood pressure of those eating whole food plant-based diets. Not 3 points lower, 4 points lower, or even 7 points lower, but 28 points lower. Now but the group here eating the standard American diet was, on average, overweight with a BMI over 26, still better than most Americans, while the vegans were a trim 21—that’s 36 pounds lighter.

So maybe the only reason those eating meat, eggs, dairy, and processed junk had such higher blood pressure was because they were overweight, maybe the diet per se had nothing to do with it.

To solve that riddle we would have to find a group still eating the standard American diet but as slim as a vegan. To find a group that fit and trim, they had to use long-distance endurance athletes, who ate the same crappy American diet — but ran an average of 48 miles per week for 21 years. You run almost two marathons a week for 20 years anyone can be as slim as a vegan—no matter what you eat. So where do they fall on the graph? Both the vegans and the conventional diet group were sedentary—less than an hour of exercise a week.

The endurance runners were here. So it appears if you run an average of about a thousand miles every year you can rival some couch potato vegans. Doesn’t mean you can’t do both, but it may be easier to just eat plants.

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

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to kattebelletje and Pgoyette via Flickr.

The latest research pitted hibiscus against obesity, giving hibiscus to overweight individuals, and showed reduced body weight, but after 12 weeks on hibiscus they only lost like 3 pounds, and really only one and a half pounds over placebo—clearly no magic fix.

The purported cholesterol-lowering property of hibiscus tea had looked a bit more promising. Some older studies suggested as much as an 8% reduction drinking two cups a day for a month, but when all the studies are put together the results were pretty much a wash. This may be because only about 50% of people respond at all to drinking the equivalent of between 2 to 5 cups a day, though those that do may get a respectable 12 or so percent drop, but nothing like the 30% one can get within weeks of eating a healthy enough plant-based diet.

High blood pressure is where hibiscus may really shine, a disease affecting a billion people and killing millions. Up until 2010, there wasn’t sufficient high quality research out there to support the use of hibiscus tea to treat it, but we have since seen randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled studies where hibiscus tea is compared to artificially colored and flavored water that looks and tastes like hibiscus tea, and the tea did significantly better.

We’re still not sure why it works, but hibiscus does appear to boost nitric oxide production, which could help our arteries relax and dilate better. Regardless, an updated review acknowledged that the daily consumption of hibiscus tea may indeed significantly lower blood pressures in people with hypertension, but by how much? How does this drop in blood pressure compare to that of other interventions?

The premier clinical trial when it comes to comprehensive lifestyle modification for blood pressure control is the PREMIER clinical trial. Realizing that 9 out of 10 Americans are going to develop hypertension, they randomized 800 men and women with high blood pressure into one of three groups. One was the control group, the so-called advice only group, where patients were just told to lose weight, cut down on salt, increase exercise and eat healthier, here’s a brochure. But in the two behavioral intervention groups they got serious. 18 face-to-face sessions, groups meetings, food diaries, monitored physical activity, calorie and sodium intake. One intervention group just concentrated on exercise and the other included exercise and diet. They pushed the DASH diet, high in fruits and vegetables, and low in full-fat dairy products and meat. And in six months they achieved a 4.3 point drop in systolic blood pressure, compared to the control, slightly better than the lifestyle intervention without the diet. Now a few points might not sound like a lot—that’s like someone going from a blood pressure of 150 over 90 to a blood pressure of 146 over 90—but on a population scale a 5 point drop in the total number would result in a 14% fewer stroke deaths, 9% fewer fatal heart attacks, and 7% fewer deaths every year overall.

And a cup of hibiscus tea with each meal didn’t just lower blood pressure by 3, 4 or 5 points but by 7 points, 129 down to 122. And in fact tested head-to-head against a leading blood-pressure drug, captopril, two cups of strong hibiscus tea every morning, using a total of 5 tea bags for those two cups, was as effective in lowering blood pressure as a starting dose of 25mg of captopril taken twice a day.

So as good as drugs, without the drug side-effects, and better than diet and exercise? Well, the lifestyle interventions were pretty wimpy. As public health experts noted, the PREMIER study was only asking for 30 minutes of exercise a day, whereas the World Health Organization is more like an hour a day minimum.

And diet-wise, the lower the animal fat intake, and the more plant sources of protein the PREMIER participants were eating, the better the diet appeared to work, which may explain why vegetarian diets appear to work even better, and the more plant-based the lower the prevalence of hypertension.

On the DASH diet, they cut down on meat, but are still eating it every day, so would qualify as nonvegetarians here in the Adventist 2 study, which looked at 89,000 Californians and found that those who instead only ate meat on more like a weekly basis had 23% lower rates of high blood pressure. Cut out all meat except fish and the rate is 38% lower. Cut out all meat period—the vegetarians have less than half the rate and the vegans—cutting out all animal protein and fat—appeared to have thrown three quarters of their risk for this major killer out the window.

One sees the same kind of step-wise drop in diabetes rates as one’s diet gets more and more plant-based and a drop in excess body weight such that only those eating completely plant-based diets fell into the ideal weight category. But could that be why those eating plant-based have such great blood pressure? Maybe it’s just because they’re so skinny. I’ve shown previously how those eating plant based just have a fraction of the diabetes risk even at the same weight, even after controlling for BMI, but what about hypertension?

The average American has what’s called prehypertension, which means the top number of your blood pressure is between 120 and 139. Not yet hypertension, which starts at 140, but it means we may be well on our way.

Compare that to the blood pressure of those eating whole food plant-based diets. Not 3 points lower, 4 points lower, or even 7 points lower, but 28 points lower. Now but the group here eating the standard American diet was, on average, overweight with a BMI over 26, still better than most Americans, while the vegans were a trim 21—that’s 36 pounds lighter.

So maybe the only reason those eating meat, eggs, dairy, and processed junk had such higher blood pressure was because they were overweight, maybe the diet per se had nothing to do with it.

To solve that riddle we would have to find a group still eating the standard American diet but as slim as a vegan. To find a group that fit and trim, they had to use long-distance endurance athletes, who ate the same crappy American diet — but ran an average of 48 miles per week for 21 years. You run almost two marathons a week for 20 years anyone can be as slim as a vegan—no matter what you eat. So where do they fall on the graph? Both the vegans and the conventional diet group were sedentary—less than an hour of exercise a week.

The endurance runners were here. So it appears if you run an average of about a thousand miles every year you can rival some couch potato vegans. Doesn’t mean you can’t do both, but it may be easier to just eat plants.

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

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to kattebelletje and Pgoyette via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

Those who’ve been following my work for years have seen how my videos have evolved. In the past, the hibiscus results may have been the whole video, but thanks to everyone’s support, I’ve been able to delegate the logistics to staff and concentrate more on the content creation. This allows me to do deeper dives into the literature to put new findings into better context. The videos are bit longer, but hopefully they’re more useful—let me know what you think!

For such a leading killer, hypertension has not gotten the coverage it deserves on NutritionFacts.org. Here’s a few videos with more to come:

So should we all be drinking hibiscus tea every day? This is the first of a four part series on the latest on hibiscus. Stay tuned for the next three:

For now there’s just Herbal Tea Update: Hibiscus and Better Than Green Tea?

For another comparison of those running marathons and those eating plants, see: Arteries of Vegans vs. Runners

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

98 responses to “Hibiscus Tea vs. Plant-Based Diets for Hypertension

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  1. I like this new kinds of video. A litle bit longer, more content and better context focusing on the whole story. Thumbs up for you Michael and the Nutritionfacts.org team.




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    1. Adrien: I fully agree! This length of video, with the bigger picture, is so helpful to me. Having the background info gives me a lot of confidence in the main point of the video. For me, there isn’t much difference in my time between a 4 minute video and a 7 minute one, especially when the extra 3 minutes are put to such good use.




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    2. Yeah I like this better too.
      I commented a while back in Wich Vegetable Fights Bile Best on the frequency of video’s vs quality vs rested Greger.
      This seems the better way to go, 2 somewhat longer video’s a week.

      There is the added risk with providing the bigger context in each video of exhausting the “go Vegan” message to such a point it goes counter productive. Brand Vegan© is heavily tainted by tree hugging and sheep fondling people whose moral high highroadery vs economic hypocrisy is just plain nauseating for the average person. The price difffence between normal d3 and vegan d3 can problably feed 1 cat in a animal shelter for a month, a cat they will euthanize if there is no money for food.

      If I would have encountered a vegan messsage in every video in the first month I came here, I very much doubt I would have stuck around.




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    3. I do like the big-picture presentation, but I would also miss some of the shorties. Such as which mushroom is best, etc. Maybe mix them up? PS – I like to play the videos on 1.5 speed. So if anyone finds them long, they can go to the settings on the video screen (looks like a cog). The speed might take some getting used to, though.




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  2. “Easier to just do plants.” Coming from a man who spends how many hours a day on a treadmill? How about running vegans? Now that would be an interesting study.




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    1. Dr. Greger does have a video comparing sedentary standard American dieters, sedentary vegans, and runners who eat the SAD. He says at the end, “So it appears if you run an average of about a thousand miles every year you can rival some couch potato vegans. Doesn’t mean you can’t do both, but it may be easier to just eat plants.”
      Link:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/arteries-of-vegans-vs-runners/

      So, I take this to mean for for it with running or not running. The majority of our health is a direct result of our dietary choices. That being said, you’re most likely going to recover and sustain your exercise better as a vegan! Hooray!
      Link:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/enhanced-athletic-recovery-without-undermining-adaptation/




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      1. Hi Claire,
        I don’t think we can say the “majority of our health is a direct result of our diet” until we have the group included that is vegan and runs 50 miles per week.




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        1. And the funny thing is that when I went vegan I started sporting a lot more­­ ­— I simply can’t sit still anymore! — and that’s what I hear from lots of vegans.




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          1. I so agree! I hated sports as a child and teenager, mostly because my lungs felt like they were on fire after half a lap around the school oval :(. Now, at the age of 42 and after nearly 10 years on a vegan diet, I’m fitter than I’ve ever been in my life, and I really enjoy running.




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        2. I had the same thought, that it would be interesting to see how vegan runners fared, but with multivariate linear analysis, the data in the study is enough to draw conclusions that meet the highest standard of proof, which if I remember right is one step above causal medical inference – the norm in medicine.




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    2. Does he have his computers running on his mill I wonder. As a ultimate tour de force towards brain stimulation, fitness and all green powered at the same time. :)




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        1. Great story! I agree: A mostly plantbased diet and exercise (and a little wine) will keep you young. In the end we are all a little biased…




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        2. The way I look at it also, is that riding my bike INSTEAD of driving my car, as well as not eating animals makes the PLANET love me and everyone else who eats plants as well as those who walk or bike instead of driving for transportation. In both ways, I as well as those doing the same things, are cutting down on the greenhouse gases we are contributing to the atmosphere. I would also stress that exercise is *complementary* to a whole foods plant based diet, not a competitor. Only diet supplies nutrients. Exercise is better at burning calories and it also helps a person metabolize nutrients better- but of course we have to get the nutrients from our diet. I think of exercise as one important nutrient in our diet, but it is not the only nutrient we need. I lost a lot of weight by exercising combined with moderate calorie control. Adding the plant based diet to this added some additional benefits, such as even lower weight and cholesterol. Strangely enough, when I was obese, my blood pressure was normal. My cholesterol, however, was very high. My partner has high blood pressure, so got him started on Hibiscus tea, walking everyday, as well as eating a more plant strong diet. It has gotten better, but he is not totally cured of the high blood pressure just yet- he still has to take two medicines.




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  3. My husband, some friends and I attended a running camp directed by a former world class college runner. He was a kind engaging person who created a wonderful vacation for his guests. We ate meals together in a cafeteria and although we had healthy choices, many vegetarian choices at each meal, he always selected the worse possible choice. In addition to his fatty, meaty meals, he would devour a bag of potato chips each evening during lectures and we all walked to the little town each evening to his favorite ice cream shop. I had heard friends and family warned him about his eating habits, but because he ran twice a day, biked in the afternoons and was very lean, he felt he burned off the calories and could eat whatever he wanted. A few years after that trip, we heard he was out running in the mountains and dropped dead of a heart attack. I was already convinced that diet is the most important factor in health, and his story was added evidence. Because he was young and active, he did not have strong indicators of the chronic disease that was developing. Intense exercise requires the healthiest of diets to counter the added stress and energy needs. A sad story, but a valuable lesson.




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    1. BB: I’m sorry to hear about your friend.

      I also really appreciate you sharing this story. It is SO important. I would guess that there are a lot of people who equate skinny with healthy. It is very dangerous thinking and akin to linking vegan (without qualifying what is being eating) to healthy. This story can help people to understand how wrong that thinking is.

      Thank you for your post.




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  4. Longer is better in this case. Love the deeper content and analysis of data. Thanks Dr. G!

    Running for 20 years is never a good idea whether you are vegan, carnivore or in between. Most runners do their running on paved surfaces and.20-40 years later they have often worn out the cartilage in their knees, put huge stress on their joints and have had many injuries pre-disposing them to injury-induced arthritis. This happened to two runners I know.

    Look at people around the world who live to very old ages (90-100+) in excellent physical and mental health (eg Blue Zones). They don’t run, they don’t work out in a gym or use exercise videos at home but they do work hard, and remain very active their entire lives, eat a mainly plant based diet, have low stress in their life, strong family support, strong socialization and a spiritual or religious faith. Not a complicated formula to try and emulate. We may not score high in all these important areas but it’s a goal worth striving for. I do. Thanks again Dr. G.




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    1. Hi Tom
      I am away for the computer so I can’t attach the appropriate studies but I will later. Actually that is a myth regarding joint health and running. It actually increases the strength and health of your joints. All of the surrounding tissue does their job better when you train. Runners who have knee issues as they age would have whether they ran or not. But an important point is that if runners have knees that are genuvalgus or varus they should probably pick another sport.




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      1. Hey Veganrunner,

        Thanks for your reply. As I mentioned in an earlier, unrelated, post you can always find studies and experts on both sides of every issue. I work as a health coach. I never tell runners to “not run” I simply suggest they always try to run on unpaved surfaces whenever possible to minimize shock/stress on joints, have high quality running shoes, etc. From a biomechanical and evolutionary standpoint we know that humans are not “designed” for running ultramarathons. Short sprints and huge amounts of walking are what we have done for a million+ years.

        Here’s one study showing the negative impacts of long term running http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1837113/

        and I am fully aware of many showing positive impacts. It really is about using common sense: run on unpaved surfaces, don’t over do it, getting adequate nutrition etc.

        Thanks,

        Tom




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        1. It sound like you might appreciate a good running book than. Born To Run. Good reading. I encourage all my patients to just do something. Running, walking whatever. Just pick something you will stick with. And since it won’t change your mind if I post research I won’t.




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          1. What we have learned from Born to Run is that if you change your running style you can run on paved surfaces. I am a 65 year old runner who runs strictly on asphalt roads and i have no joint issues. I have learned to be a forefoot striker, meaning I run in minimalist shoes landing on the ball of my foot, absorbing the shock by the big hinge of my entire leg. I don’t depend on padded shoes to absorb the shock. There is lots of science now showing that barefoot running reduces the shock to the joints. There’s no need to ever give up running in later years.




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        2. I just had a chance to glance at your posted article. It stated that pace not mileage run was more a predictor of hip degeneration.

          “Among runners alone running pace in 1973 rather than milage run was the stronger predictor of subsequent degenerative hip disease.”




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      2. Runners are self selected to have healthy knee and hip joints. Those of us who have bad biomechanics end up aching so badly after running that a trip down the stairs the day after a workout leaves us in agony. I love running, and I ran cross country in high school, but it’s not for everybody. Wish I could do it, but I’d be needing to invest in a new set of knees in ten years. I do low impact, even running machines (but not treadmills) work well. I envy those who can just strap on a pair of shoes, hit the open road, and get a nice endorphin rush!




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        1. I used to get excruciating knee pain when I ran, but an exercise physiologist analysed my muscle usage and figured out an exercise program which changed the muscles I was recruiting when running. Now I can run for miles with no knee pain.




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        2. It’s a balance thing: Get a pair of shoes with a zero drop sole, converse all stars will do for example. And then bend your knees and keep them bent whenever you stand. This way you will force your leg muscles to work. Standing up straight should be like dancing while nobody can see you moving, a balance game. Then move your hips forward until you feel your weight evenly distribute between your heel and small toe and big toe. Then you can move up your breast bone. All of the sudden you can freely breeze and you’re standing up straight effortlessly.

          That’s the way you should stand. That’s the way you should run! You go faster by moving your hips more forward!




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      3. OK VR, I gotta tell my personal experience on this. You might well have enough experience to keep it in context. I have been running off and on since age 30. However I have manage to develop some stress injuries. I was injured (not from running) a few years back, had surgery, and laid off for years. (I was dancing competitively, a lot.) Then found myself compelled to start back up just because I missed it.
        When I did, all my friends were saying be careful and don’t go too far or that I would probably get hurt. Well, I did start and did an easy walk run for about 3 miles and slowly built up to a run which has since increased to 4- 7 miles per day. During all this time, any time I have felt even the slightest discomfort in a knee, I walk until the discomfort disappears. Slowly all discomfort has completely disappeared.

        At age 65 my knees feel better than ever. My dancing friends all complain about their knees. Based almost exclusively on my own experience, I believe the running and probably a good diet have strengthened my menisci. Again though, I did take great care in building up. Today, the frequent discomfort that presented when I first started, is but a memory.




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        1. Hi Stewart,
          Good for you! You did it perfectly. Slowing increasing your speed and distance. Running isn’t for everyone but for those who can do it, the joints get stronger.

          I am pretty lucky. I live close to the beach so if my legs get too tired I can switch it up and run barefoot on the sand.

          Gale




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  5. Having seen Dr. Greger’s previous video on hibiscus and its antioxidant content, this past summer I drank a cup a day of hibiscus tea. It was sour, meaning it was fairly acidic. Worried about my teeth, I stopped drinking it.




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  6. I don’t watch videos. If you want to share something with me, write a transcript. You can’t skim the unnecessary, extraneous bleep in a video.




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  7. Validation for the plant-eaters over the monster exercisers! I hope to age well and this gives my hope a basis in fact. What a planet this could be, the more this message gets out. Rock on, McGreger team!




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  8. I drink hibiscus tea not as my main tool of health, but so that green tea, black tea and oolong tea aren’t so bitter. I don’t want to ingest sugar. Without hibiscus, I won’t drink those teas plain. Hibiscus tea is very high in antioxidants, which is the main health bonus that it brings. It’s very common in Latin America, and it is usually called “Flor de Jamaica”.
    John S




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  9. Is there something wrong with the audio? The video is playing, but I can’t hear the audio. My speakers are on, everything’s plugged in. Was just listening to internet music, so I don’t think it’s anything on my end. ?




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      1. Nothing is muted. I listen to other stuff on the internet all the time, & I’ve listened to lots of Dr. Greger’s videos in the past. But for some strange reason, there’s no sound. Was something changed or updated recently? Don’t understand.




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  10. Quit taking HCTZ (due to cracking skin and muscle and back pain) two weeks ago and am trying to stick more strictly with a vegan diet, daily exercise, and two cups of hibiscus tea a day. So far my blood pressure is still normal (although in the pre hypertensive range). No more back pain or muscle pain and my skin is already looking better. Drugs being their own variety of sickness. Just wish getting down to that BMI of 21 was a little easier.




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    1. rumicat: Congratulations on the progress you have made so far.

      re: your BMI goal.

      I think the following resources will be helpful for you:

      1) Check out a free lecture available on line by Dr. Lisle. It will really help you get your head straight:
      “How To Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind”
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAdqLB6bTuQ

      2) Jeff Novick’s DVD, Calorie Density; Eat More, Weigh Less and Live Longer. Also check out Jeff’s DVDs in the Fast Food series. Great, affordable food that is easy to make. All of these are available on Amazon. Here is the first one:
      http://www.amazon.com/Calorie-Density-More-Weigh-Less/dp/B003ASP6JE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392424210&sr=8-1&keywords=calorie+density%3B+eat+more

      3) Consider going through the free 21 Day Kickstart program by PCRM. They will hold your hand for 21 days, including meal plans, recipes, videos, inspirational messages, and a forum where you can ask questions.
      http://www.pcrm.org/kickstartHome/
      (Click the green “Register Now” button.)

      Good luck!




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  11. Is it more the fact people replaced their sugary beverages with tea that helped? In other words, the absence of sugar improved their health, not the tea itself.




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  12. I always look forward to your daily videos and occasional written articles, Dr. Michael. However, this new length in videos does not pique my interest as much. I really enjoyed and learned plenty from the shorter versions (took notes, filed some for later reference). Having many note-worthy health articles and info in my inbox, I need to have topics and related info well-covered in the least amount of time. Since you asked, this is what meets my needs and interest. Otherwise, I tend to sigh to myself when I see the time involved and try to set aside more time later.




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  13. Is there any word on whether hibiscus is good, bad, or neutral for those with normal blood pressures? Is there any danger of hibiscus reducing one’s blood pressure to dangerously low levels?




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  14. When you refer to hypertension as a disease are you really talking about the underlying condition, atherosclerosis? It would seem to me that CVD, Stroke, Type 2 Diabetes and Dementia all have the same underlying cause. So, why don’t we refer to it instead of these symptoms? If we acknowledge the underlying cause then surely we can focus our efforts better on prevention and treatment.




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  15. This is my favourite site but i do wonder whether the longer videos will be less appealing to new visitors and perhaps less devoted disciples.




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    1. I take your point. But really, 7:30, isn’t that the same as a typical USAmerican commercial break? I wonder what the optimal time is? Just how long will a person study if there isn’t going to be a quiz?




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  16. It is interesting that this post inadvertently refutes Gary Taubes’ argument that exercise and higher carb Vegan diets are totally ineffective for weight loss. Taubes claims that the amount of exercise Marathon runners do makes them so hungry, that they actually gain weight- this video shows that assumption to be false. He claims that carbs, which plants are rich in, make people fat, but high animal fat consumption makes people lose fat. Taubes’ BMI is 25, which places him in the overweight category. I, and the runners and the Vegans all have a BMI of 21, which is considerably slimmer than Taubes is. Before I really started exercising a lot, my BMI had been as high as 34.5, but now thanks to exercise, calorie control and a plant strong diet, it is much lower now. On what basis is HIS high animal fat, low plant food, no exercise approach more effective than Vegan diets and exercise? His own weight is no argument for that.




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    1. As I am sure you are well aware from viewing plant positive, Tuabe’s makes many unsubstantiated claims. He is quite an untrustworthy character




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      1. Yes, Plant Positive made some good arguments. But also Carbsane also has made some good arguments against Taubes as well. Carbsane thinks Taubes is a liar. James Kreiger has also refuted Taubes’ denial of the calorie theory here http://weightology.net/?p=265. Krieger has made the same argument that you made that Protein or meat stimulates insulin as much as sugar.




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  17. I have formerly avoided the videos because I felt they were too time-consuming; but the video I just watched was excellent, even if it was longer. This site is one of the best I’ve encountered, and as a researcher, I’ve seen more sites than I care to list.




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  18. I wanna know is alcohol really helping some people in small amounts, like whats the different health benefits of beer vs non alcoholic beer? What does the flower of hops humulus lupulus do to us? I feel many people would love to know.




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  19. Been struggling with my energy lavels and I think the hibiscus tea really helps with the amla that you suggested as a recipe though having a bit of trouble with the green smoothy bit on the top. Might need a better blender. You are leaving in the hibiscus leaves when you blend?




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  20. hi i wanted to ask about using hibiscus while taking the drugs treatment. is it safe or its a mess like the side effects of drugs and grapefruit?




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  21. I’ve been a very strict low fat vegan for 3 years. When I started I was taking 3 meds 3 times a day for hypertension and I was in the 150’s – 170’s over 80’s – 90’s range with occasional swings to as high as 200 over 110. Now I’m taking no medications and my blood pressure is normal but unfortunately it’s occasionally going too low down to 90 over 55 with a 45 pulse which can make me so tired I have to nap for a while. Besides the vegan lifestyle I always gotten at least 1 hour of aerobic exercise every day and usually more. I know the diet and exercise have worked really well but is this low blood pressure normal, I’m 68 and otherwise in excellent health. Thanks.




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  22. I am hoping I can get some feedback please? I am in Australia. I am a 74 year old male and as of this morning I weigh 88.3kg, but slowing losing weight . I have been taking Statin and B.P. tablets for a few years now, but I started a vegan diet a few months ago and have slowly cut back my medication and now stopped taking all my medications. My B.P. this morning was 117/55. I had a calcium score test last year and it showed that my score was 280.

    I mentioned to my Doctor that I had stopped medication, but he is adamant that I should still keep taking Statin to stop the build up of the calcium score.

    My question is what are my chances of my calcium score getting lower continuing with the vegan diet and no medication?

    Thank you.




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    1. Thanks for your question! Unfortunately, it’s very difficult for us to give such specific medical advice. Whole-food, plant-based diets have been known to do many wonderful things! Some side effects include weight loss, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, better blood sugar control, and increased energy levels. That being said, your doctor knows you best and it’s best to follow their recommendations. Is you doctor fully aware of the dietary changes you’ve made? If not, it would be a wonderful idea to review your new lifestyle with him in detail. There’s a chance he might be willing to start decreasing your medications depending on your recent lab results and medical history. Best of luck!




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      1. Thank you for your reply. I am sure my Doctor has my best interest at heart and I will talk with him further when I see him next. My thoughts are to stick with what I am doing now without any medications for a reasonable time that then repeat my blood tests and have another calcium score test to see what changes there are if any. I was just hoping there might have been someone else who has actually lowered their calcium score or illuminated it altogether.




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        1. You’re very welcome. Please keep in mind that medication management may be necessary in your case to help prevent a medical event. We recommend that you stay in close contact with your physician to discuss your future plan of care.




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  23. I am reading the book and am in the chapter where it talks about hibiscus tea – and it says it is also called roselle (and other names). I live in Thailand and hibiscus is indeed a flower – but rosella is a totally different animal (so to speak) and grows on a tree. It is sour/tart and the color is much like cranberry. But it is definitely NOT hibiscus flower. Can someone comment on this please?




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  24. Ive recently learned to love hibiscus tea, not sure if im part of the group that is or is not effected but …I can say my family and I have been eating vegan about 2 1/2 months or so. I visited a doctor a couple of weeks back (specialist of kidney) who had to take my blood pressure a number of times in different positions because he was having a hard time believing that my resting rate was 110 / 70. Im more than a hundred pounds over weight but I think since switching our nutrition to plant based, low fat sOOO much of my corp health has improved. yea, now if this weight will just drop off :D…!




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  25. Bad news: turns out HALLUCINATIONS are a side effect of hibiscus tea. My 89-year old mom’s blood pressure did come down using Dr. Greger’s recommendation of 5 bags of hibiscus tea, but she started having hallucinations, seeing people who were not there and having panic attacks as a result. Surely this is a known issue, wonder why I have seen no mention of it on nutritionfacts.org. Would like to hear from the doctor as well as the community. Be forewarned!




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  26. Bad news, my 89-yr old Mom started taking the hibiscus tea as recommended by Dr. G and she started having HALLUCINATIONS which turns out to be a known side effect. Her blood pressure did come down but the hallucinations, seeing people who aren’t there, also resulted in panic attacks. I am disappointed that Dr. G never mentioned this side effect at least not in his book.




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  27. Dear Nutritionfacts.org crew i would like to know, where is the source of “table 1” in 4:34. i have opened the link of cited source
    S Tonstad, K Stewart, K Oda, M Batech, RP Herring, GE Fraser. Vegetarian diets and incidence of diabetes in the Adventist Health Study-2. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2013 Apr;23(4):292-9.

    but such table is not exist in the cited source. please kindly guide me,thank you very much for your hard work




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    1. Hi @nfdev-df4a1c09d895e9cafa606634d20791bf:disqus! Thank you so much for pointing this out. It looks like we may have left out a citation by mistake. The table you are referring to can be found in this article, “Vegetarian diets: what do we know of their effects on common chronic diseases?”. You can find the full-text article here http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/89/5/1607S.full.pdf+html and the PubMed entry here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19321569. This has also been added to the Sources Cited section above. Thank you again!




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  28. I am frustrated because I follow a WFPB diet…mostly because I do have the occasional egg and bit of cheese and some cream in my one cup of coffee in the morning. I eat whole grains, fruits, vegs, nuts, seeds everyday along with turmeric, cinnamon , brazil nuts (1 per day) and add ground flax to anything I can. I am not overweight (122lbs at 5’2 and half inchies tall) with a BMI of 22 (just found this out yesterday). I am fit and exercise regularly if not daily. My BP is still high!!!! Yesterday it was running 170/100 more or less all day…..this morning it is ‘down’ to the 150/90 ish range…. what more should I be doing? I am a devotee of Dr. Greger as well as Dr. MacDougal but still this is quite frustrating….please someone advise.




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    1. Cowgirl, have you talked to your primary care doctor? There may be other things going on (e.g., you could have inherited the high bp, which would require medication). Only other thing I can think of is cutting back on salt and stopping the caffeine (even if only 1 cup) – as well as keeping stress down – to see if there is any change. :(




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  29. Is there any particular brand(s) of hibiscus tea that Dr. Greger recommends? There is so much fraud in the supplement business that I worry about herbal teas, as well. :(




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  30. Prove me wrong but at 2:43, that is an extraordinarily poor study design. First of, they didn’t follow the people long enough, of course, their cardiovascular system would need more maybe, to recover. But which is even more important, to recover HOW? Eating less disease causing food, like dairy and cholesterol? Actually, in such a poor study design, the results are still impressive. The problem is that ordinary people would not notice that, they will only notice that the intervention was not successful enough, not that it was not adequate neither in quality, nor in time span.




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  31. Hi,

    I had my blood pressure checked today (I’ve been a veggie for 10 years and went vegan 1.5 years ago and eat a whole food plant based diet). My blood pressure came out as 136/76? I had a check up and my sodium was:
    SODIUM 144 mmol/L 135 -145 (range)
    UREA 5.3 mmol/L 1.7 -8.3 (range)
    CREATININE * 64 umol/L 66 -112 (range)

    I’ve had 3 nights of broken / rough sleep because my youngest daughter is ill (up every hour or so resulting in about 5 hours of broken sleep).
    I cycle an hour 5 days a week and do yoga for 1-1/2 hours per day. I drink about 5 units of alcohol per week. I also walk a lot as I do not have a car. Also, I meditate almost daily to help relax and control my stress.

    I’m taking the Vegan Society’s VEG 1 supplement along with a EPA+DHA omega 3 (just started this a few weeks ago) and as the creatine was low in my check up I’ve started taking that as well.

    Maybe it is just simply my sodium in take that is too high?

    Any ideas?

    Thanks!




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