Increased Lifespan from Beans

Increased Lifespan from Beans
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The intake of legumes—beans, chickpeas, split peas, and lentils—may be the single most important dietary predictor of a long lifespan. But what about concerns about intestinal gas?

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

Legumes may be “the most important…predictor of survival in older people” from around the globe. They looked at “five [different] cohorts in Japan, Sweden, Greece, and Australia.” And, of all the food factors they looked at, only one was associated with a longer lifespan across the board: legume intake. Whether it was the Japanese eating their soy, the Swedes eating their “brown beans and peas,” or those in the Mediterranean eating “lentils, chickpeas, and white beans,”…”[o]nly for legumes intake was the result plausible, consistent, and statistically significant from [the] data” across all the populations combined. We’re talking an “8% reduction in risk of death for every 20 grams increase in daily legumes intake.” That’s just like two tablespoons’ worth! So, if a can of beans is 250 grams, and you get 8% lower mortality for every 20 grams, maybe, if we eat a can a day, we’ll live forever? Let’s find out!

If you want to increase your lifespan, eat beans. If, however, you’re suicidal, and want to decrease your lifespan, “A bean-free diet” may increase the risk of death.

So, having arrived at the one dietary fountain of youth, what’s the #1 reason people aren’t clamoring for them? Fear of flatulence. So, is that the choice we’re left with? Breaking wind or breaking down? Passing gas or passing on? Turns out that “[p]eople’s concerns about excessive flatulence from eating beans may be exaggerated.”

Add a half-cup of beans every day to people’s diets for months, and what happens? What’s the #1 symptom? Nothing. The vast majority of people experienced no symptoms at all—though a few percent did report increased flatulence. So, it may occur in some individuals. But, “not all people are affected.” Even among those that were, “[s]eventy percent or more of the participants who experienced flatulence felt that it dissipated [no pun intended] by the second or third week of bean consumption”. So, we’ve just got to stick to it.

And, you know, a small percentage reported increased flatulence on the control diet without any beans. People have preconceived notions about beans, such that “just the expectation of flatulence from eating beans may influence their perceptions of having gas.” They didn’t actually measure farts in this study; they just asked people what their perception of the amount of gas they had was. And, we know from previous studies that you give someone a product labeled to contain something that may cause intestinal distress, and it causes more intestinal distress whether it actually contains the ingredient or not. In other words, “just thinking they were eating [it] caused digestive distress, or the perception of it, to a proportion of persons.”

So, people thinking beans are going to cause gas may just be more likely to notice the gas they normally have. Either way, it tends to go away; “after a few weeks of daily bean consumption, people perceive that flatulence occurrence returns to normal levels.”

In this other study, where they added more than a half a cup of kidney beans to people’s daily diets, the research subjects reported that the discomfort they initially felt within the first day or two of adding beans “quickly disappeared.” So, again, stick with it.

Bottom line (no pun intended!): “An increasing body of research and the [latest] Dietary Guidelines…supports the benefits of a plant-based diet, and legumes specifically, in the reduction of chronic disease risks.” In some people it “may result in more flatulence initially.” However, doctors should emphasize that it “will decrease over time” if we just keep it up.

And, “the nutritional attributes of beans in the diet outweighs the potential for transitory discomfort. The long-term health benefits of bean consumption are great.” And, indeed, eating beans in the long term may make your term—on Earth—even longer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

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

Legumes may be “the most important…predictor of survival in older people” from around the globe. They looked at “five [different] cohorts in Japan, Sweden, Greece, and Australia.” And, of all the food factors they looked at, only one was associated with a longer lifespan across the board: legume intake. Whether it was the Japanese eating their soy, the Swedes eating their “brown beans and peas,” or those in the Mediterranean eating “lentils, chickpeas, and white beans,”…”[o]nly for legumes intake was the result plausible, consistent, and statistically significant from [the] data” across all the populations combined. We’re talking an “8% reduction in risk of death for every 20 grams increase in daily legumes intake.” That’s just like two tablespoons’ worth! So, if a can of beans is 250 grams, and you get 8% lower mortality for every 20 grams, maybe, if we eat a can a day, we’ll live forever? Let’s find out!

If you want to increase your lifespan, eat beans. If, however, you’re suicidal, and want to decrease your lifespan, “A bean-free diet” may increase the risk of death.

So, having arrived at the one dietary fountain of youth, what’s the #1 reason people aren’t clamoring for them? Fear of flatulence. So, is that the choice we’re left with? Breaking wind or breaking down? Passing gas or passing on? Turns out that “[p]eople’s concerns about excessive flatulence from eating beans may be exaggerated.”

Add a half-cup of beans every day to people’s diets for months, and what happens? What’s the #1 symptom? Nothing. The vast majority of people experienced no symptoms at all—though a few percent did report increased flatulence. So, it may occur in some individuals. But, “not all people are affected.” Even among those that were, “[s]eventy percent or more of the participants who experienced flatulence felt that it dissipated [no pun intended] by the second or third week of bean consumption”. So, we’ve just got to stick to it.

And, you know, a small percentage reported increased flatulence on the control diet without any beans. People have preconceived notions about beans, such that “just the expectation of flatulence from eating beans may influence their perceptions of having gas.” They didn’t actually measure farts in this study; they just asked people what their perception of the amount of gas they had was. And, we know from previous studies that you give someone a product labeled to contain something that may cause intestinal distress, and it causes more intestinal distress whether it actually contains the ingredient or not. In other words, “just thinking they were eating [it] caused digestive distress, or the perception of it, to a proportion of persons.”

So, people thinking beans are going to cause gas may just be more likely to notice the gas they normally have. Either way, it tends to go away; “after a few weeks of daily bean consumption, people perceive that flatulence occurrence returns to normal levels.”

In this other study, where they added more than a half a cup of kidney beans to people’s daily diets, the research subjects reported that the discomfort they initially felt within the first day or two of adding beans “quickly disappeared.” So, again, stick with it.

Bottom line (no pun intended!): “An increasing body of research and the [latest] Dietary Guidelines…supports the benefits of a plant-based diet, and legumes specifically, in the reduction of chronic disease risks.” In some people it “may result in more flatulence initially.” However, doctors should emphasize that it “will decrease over time” if we just keep it up.

And, “the nutritional attributes of beans in the diet outweighs the potential for transitory discomfort. The long-term health benefits of bean consumption are great.” And, indeed, eating beans in the long term may make your term—on Earth—even longer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Doctor's Note

I’ve previously covered intestinal gas in one of my more amusing blog posts: Beans & Gas: Clearing the Air.

The paleo folks often rail against legumes and grains. But, how do they account for the fact that epidemiological studies clearly show legumes and whole grains are among the healthiest choices?

More on bean benefits (beanefits?) in videos such as:

What about soybeans and breast cancer? See BRCA Breast Cancer Genes & Soy.

For further context, check out my associated blog posts: Top 10 Most Popular Videos of 2013 and Eat Beans to Live Longer.

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

153 responses to “Increased Lifespan from Beans

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  1. I’ve noticed that whenever you talk about beans, you always mention CANS of beans. I’m pretty sure that in most of the countries you mention above, eating beans from a can is a little strange.

    I live in Brazil, where beans are a staple, and was talking to a house cleaner the other day who was really interested in the American diet. She nearly threw up when I told her that we rarely eat beans in the US, and when we do, they come from cans.

    I think most people focused on a plant-based diet will/should frown on eating from cans when there is a suitable alternative. Are there any studies on canned vs dried beans? In the video about the best way to cook vegetables, you showed a study stating that using a pressure cooker is not the best way to prepare vegetables, is this true with legumes also?

    Thanks for all of your hard work!




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    1. The usual objection to canned beans is the high sodium content. Mostly unmentioned is the fact that as canned beans are pressure cooked, they have a higher glycemic index than home slow-cooked beans. The resultant higher insulin surges can have negative effects on serum cholesterol, weight control (and weight control by diabetics on vegan diets), and perhaps cancer risk (1, 2).

      While even canned beans have rather low-glycemic indices compared to white bread or baked potatoes, it seems prudent to to lower glycemic indices where feasible. And beans from the slow cooker just have a nicer texture. I admit to pressure cooking beans weekly (I don’t wan’t to live forever while waiting hours for meals), but I’m also venturing into the slow-cooker realm for beans when I plan ahead.




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    2. I generally have some beans with most meals…in salads and in soups. I usually use canned. I would cook dried beans but have an issue with the NEED to look for the stones that are always in with the beans….one broken tooth is going to pay for a boatload of beans.
      Damned cans are so convenient. Wish the food companies would pack them in glass and with low sodium though.
      Still trying to get my animal protein reduced….beans are a good sub…at least taste-wise.
      Looks like I’ll live forever….




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    3. Roger: Thanks for the bit of international perspective. Very interesting.

      Personally, I think that eating canned beans is like the difference between eating conventional vs organic fruits and veggies. If it is the difference between whether or not you will eat the food, then by all means, choose the less desirable option. You still come out ahead in terms of health risks. In other words, if you are looking at eating canned beans vs none at all, good grief, eat the canned!

      For me, convenience is a huge factor. I love my pressure cooker and I think that pressure cooked beans taste far superior to canned. But I also appreciated the convenience of canned and there are plenty of times when convenience wins out. That’s just my personal take.

      Thanks for starting this conversation.




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    4. What about those few people who really do get more flatulence and it doesnt go away. I need some advice to keep my husband eating beans and cabbage. What do you suggest to neutralize uncomfortable gas in those that are prone to it???? Beano?




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      1. Hello Nancy,
        Thank you for your question. I am a family physician with a private practice in lifestyle medicine, and also a volunteer moderator for this website. I’ve been eating an almost completely whole foods plant based diet for nearly two years now. From my personal experience, it took me staying completely off all animal products for about a week before beans no longer caused a lot of gas. The reason is that it takes a few days before the gut bacteria adapt to the new diet.

        You didn’t specify, but I’m guessing your husband still eats some animal products. If that’s true, then he still has enough unhealthy bacteria in his gut so that he can’t properly digest beans. If he’s willing, as an experiment, to try eating a completely vegan diet for even one week, I’m pretty sure that his gas problem will go away. (However, he can’t expect to never pass any gas; that still happens from time to time no matter what your diet is).

        The following video by Dr. G. emphasizes that your gut flora can change quite quickly, depending on your diet:
        https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-to-change-your-enterotype/

        I hope this helps.
        Dr. Jon
        PhysicianAssistedWellness.com




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  2. Are you concerned about the high temperatures and drastically longer cooking times required to cook canned beans while in the can? The cooking process of canned beans vs. stovetop seems to be night and day. And are you concerned about the BPA-alternatives?

    How about possible leaching of the steal from the cans and or the aluminum from the cans? I am assuming these cans are not as “strong” as actual pots and pans we cook beans with at home. Have there been any studies that have measured the amount of “non-bean” ingredients (metals from can/pan, chemicals, etc. of regular stovetop vs. canned?




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    1. If you soak the beans overnight, the cooking time is greatly reduced. So is are the negative “anti-nutrients” of legumes. Besides, buying dried bulk beans is cheaper, and they can be stored with a long shelf life also.




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  3. Great video! I eat beans, often a whole can, every day. The Eden Organic No Added Salt Beans have low sodium, a BPA free can, and Kombu added which raises iodine intake. Dr. Gregor, I love your videos, follow your advice, and hope one of these days you’ll address the NMR lipid profile, specifically LDL-P.




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      1. Why did you post this? It seems off topic. This article/video by Dr. Greger is about beans. Beans are not even mentioned in the study you posted… just wondering…




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    1. I was relying heavily on Eden canned beans until I researched the seaweed Kombu. Great source of natural MSG (in fact it is the original source from which MSG was first isolated). Since I was having lots of troubles with irregular heartbeats, I had to dig deeper into the food facts of the foods I was eating. Other aspects of canned beans raised more questions: Were the beans pre-soaked to reduce the phytate content? Does cooking the beans “in the can” increase the metal content of the beans? I have since stopped eating Eden beans and have been preparing my beans at home from bulk.

      I appreciate that the cans were BPA free, but the canned beans still were not as wholesome (IMHO) as beans cooked from beans that are pre-soaked. Convenient, yes. As good as home cooked, no. And the home cooked beans are much cheaper and you know exactly what you are eating and how they have been prepared. And it is much easier than I thought to prepare them.




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        1. Yes I saw the significance of your post after I reread Jo Ann’s original post. I tried to delete my post but you saw it before I could delete. Thanks for the post.




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      1. There is really no issue with dried and cooked beans vs canned beans as long as the sodium is low. Dr. Greger will get into this in an upcoming video.




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        1. Thanks for your opinion. If you are referring to Dr. Greger’s video #17 on DVD Volume 15, I have already watched it, and in my opinion his presentation does not get a passing grade for several reasons which I don’t have time to go into right now as I have to leave. I will continue this entry when I get home later…




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        2. From Humzee (can’t seem to log in under my name):
          Thank you for the two links to the “safety” of MSG. I know folks have to put their faith in some source for reliable information, but the indiscriminate dependence on “scientific research” is dangerous given the long history of “science” being subverted by private/commericial interests.

          “It is obvious that the FDA has been captured by the chief MSG manufacturer, the Ajinomoto company, the food industries, and their public relations organization, The Glutamate Association. By producing a multitude of spurious studies purportedly showing that MSG is safe as a food additive they can say with impunity, ‘The weight of the scientific evidence demonstrates that MSG is safe for human consumption'”. – Russell Blaylock, M.D. (board-certified neurosurgeon), from “Excitotoxins, The Taste That Kills,” p. 56.

          In just one example Dr. Olney (who has done experiments showing the harmfulness of MSG) points out how a Dr. W. A. Reynolds published a report claiming that MSG fed to infant monkeys showed no toxic effects to the infant brains, contrary to the studies by Dr. Olney. Further investigation revealed that the researchers failed to report that the MSG was frequently vomited before it could be absorbed, that the monkeys were under anesthesia with a powerful glutamate receptor antagonist (phencyclidine), and that the areas of the brain shown in micrographs were areas of the hypothalamus known to be unaffected by glutamate.

          I find it objectionable and borderline “worthless” when studies are used in presentations such as Dr. Greger’s without a listing or reference so that conscientious seekers can check the validity of the research being quoted. I like the way Dr. Greger occasionally shows the actual research documents he is referring to so that some of the material he presents can be checked. In the MSG studies linked above, this is not the case. The studies are “blurred out” and it is not possible to check the sources of this information. I would recommend showing the entire document in a series of frames so that the studies could be evaluated by the reader. It would not add that much to the total time of the clips.

          I don’t have time to go into my objections to the bean video at this time. It takes a lot of time to document and list references for my statements…something perhaps Dr. Greger and NF Team members might do more of… I know it would increase their credibility in my eyes, and I suspect I am not the only one that feels this way.




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          1. Humzee: Interesting info. about that research. Thanks for sharing.

            From your comment, I’m not sure if you noticed that there is a “sources cited” section under each video. You have to expand it, but all the studies referenced in the videos should be in that section – especially in the more recent videos.

            Hope that helps.




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  4. Canned beans add salt and preservatives so I try to stay away from them. How many cups (0.5, 1) would you recommend daily? What is the maximal amount to extend your life?




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    1. Derrek,

      It’s true that most canned beans add salt, but not all of them. If you want to keep some cans around for bean emergencies, you can look for the salt-free versions. (Eden is one such brand. And their cans also include a good source of iodine in the liquid.)

      Just an FYI.




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    1. There is not a single study showing beans are harmful. Many paleo people try to point to the phytic acid (which actually doubles as an antioxidant), trypsin inhibitors and other antinutrients as reasons to eliminate legumes. They fail to mention that cooking, soaking, or sprouting will eliminate these antinutrients altogether and this is fairly well established nutrition klnowledge. Seeing that most people consume cooked beans, I don’t see the issue.




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      1. You don’t need to soak out the phytates (and nutrients). There is not a single study that shows legum consumption in humans is associated with bone loss. OTOH, there ARE studies that show phytate consumption protects against osteoporosis and a host of chronic diseases.

        The belief that phytates are “anti-nutrients” started with animal studies and has been perpetuated ever since primarily on animal studies. I still see people citing the effects of phytates on cows and how beneficial it is to remove from their feed grains as a reason for humans to avoid phytates, lol. Not only are cows digestive systems entirely different from ours, but grains are not even a good food for cows. They’re supposed to eat grass!




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    2. I drank the paleo juice as a new type 1 diabetic looking for answers. i was ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED to eat ANY carbs for the first two years I had been dx’d. Diagnosed for 30 and a big believer in nutrition, it made sense to me to not eat carbs for maintaining health. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why it was so hard to keep doing my endurance biking, trail running, and mma. Then I met a great health coach that put it into perspective for me. I still need carbs, maybe not that many. My pancreas is broken, I drive stick shift and everyone else has automatic. I am enjoying fruit, beans, and some grains after avoiding them all for 2 years. I still haven’t reached for cake and cookies though. I also converted myself to a mostly plant based diet with yogurt at breakfast and wild caught salmon twice a week. I’m loving it and I am finally having stability in my BGs and losing weight!




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      1. Pardon my general ignorance, but a newly diagnosed type *1* diabetic? Do you have any references for how that occurs in general, or the cause of the diabetes in your particular case? I was under the impression that this doesn’t really occur at all, so it seems like I might have the potential to learn something new here.




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        1. it’s called LADA. you can google it. i don’t think anyone really knows what causes it. basically it is autoimmune like type 1, but it doesn’t usually affect people until they are 30 years or older. hope that helps.




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            1. Thanks, every day is a learning experience. It has helped me decide to go back to school to pursue a degree in nutrition myself. It’s interesting what the body can decide to turn on and maybe off depending on what we eat. That being said, to know that I am a diabetic has answered so many questions about the way I felt after eating things in the past. I remembered thinking there was something special in the orange juice the teachers gave us as kids before tests. Turns out I probably felt weird because of my blood sugar. HA!




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              1. I know this is old Mekaylah. I developed T1 diabetes at age 21.
                Frankly I think that the LADA distinction is a bit overblown. They are both auto immune phenomena with the only distinction being the particular provocateur. I became extremely conscious of this when I developed psoriatic arthritis some 30+ years after developing diabetes. I developed diabetes in the Navy and might have been exposed to agent orange. Then again it might have been some other toxin. Industrial toxins are a primary cause and do accumulate in animals and especially fish. So I eliminated all. Still the other auto immune aspects such as arthritis were more likely caused by a host of pro inflammatory factors in animal products. They are too numerous to even mention.

                So bottom line, I have improved my diabetes control, and eliminated my arthritis by completely eliminating animal as a food source. And my total cholesterol is now under 150.

                You might want to study advanced glycation end products. These are associated with insulin resistance and a higher level of diabetic side effects. The endogenous ones we produce with chronic hyperglycemia. The exogenous ones we can reduce dramatically be eliminating all animal products. They are likely also the reason that diabetics should be treated as though they have already had one heart attack.

                By the way, I am looking to retire and go back to school to study nutrition so I can certainly empathize with that.




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  5. “The paleo folks often rail against legumes and grains, but how do they account for the fact that epidemiological studies clearly show legumes and whole grains are among the healthiest choices?” Well, I will tell you. The Paleo people have talking points for these types of questions. The one I usually get is the usual extreme: that scientific research cannot be trusted because everyone tends to bias their research or is being funded (also often misinterpreted as “paid”) to bias results.




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    1. +1, it’s always their argument. never mind that all the people in the paleo-sphere have something to sell themselves. n=1 is a good concept that they also use a lot…..




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  6. That was a lovely video, thanks Dr Greger!

    For the type 1 diabetic worried about the effects of beans on blood sugar, kabuli black chick peas have far more fibre and far less starch than regular white chick peas. They are also incredibly delicious. You can buy them in any Indian, Pakistani, or South Asian grocery store, or in Middle Eastern stores. What I do is soak them overnight in about three inches of cold water, leaving them out on the counter, and then simmer them for 45 minutes after first bringing to a boil (leave the lid on all the way through). I have substituted kabuli black chick peas (also called Chana Black, or Desi) for many dishes requiring beans. From my reading online of a physician’s blog on type 1 diabetes, they lead to much fewer swings in blood sugar control. Also David Jenkins published a trial showing significant reductions in A1c burden with addition of legumes to the diet of type 2 diabetics. So rock on with your beans!




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      1. Very pleased for you. My brother has LADA and requires insulin as well as BP meds, but he is not a vegan. A very low calorie diet can completely reverse type 2 diabetes, but not LADA, unless the latter is complicated by obesity.




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  7. While I love beans, I find that even after many years as a whole foods vegan, most of the varieties cause me a great deal of digestive issues and I find that yes, flatulence is a problem (no matter what method I use to prepare beans). I’ve now reduced my bean consumption and am feeling much healthier and my stomach issues are gone. I was eating 3-4 servings/day and having issues, but now eating 1 serving a day or 2-3 servings of tofu and find I have no issues. Is there any research about digestive effects relative to quantity ingested?




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  8. Canned beans? Are you kidding me? I cook all types from dried organic, all it takes is time. I am not a great cook and have a limited amount of patience but beans are so easy! Forget fancy recipes, for Pinto Beans (my favorite), cook like rice, stirring progressively more frequently. I start with an onion sauteed in olive oil and then add 3 times water to beans. Takes three hours from boil. Easy to freeze and so yummy.




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    1. As you will see in an upcoming video, low sodium canned beans vs regularly prepared beans have very little differences in terms of nutrition.




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  9. I just put some beans (unmashed) into a cake batter (rolled oats, mashed bannana, oatmilk, apple, vinegar etc) and was quite pleased with the result. Thinking to sneak them into other cookie, cake, pancake recipes.
    Wonderful videos- helps to keep me on the straight and narrow.




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  10. I have learned to add “Fennell Seeds” when I cook dishes with beans. Fennell seeds help decrease the gas. I also make “Fennell Tea” to relieve discomfort from gas. In India they chew “Fennell Candy” after meals for this. I have heard that adding “Baking Soda” while cooking beans also decreases the gas. Linda.




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  11. What about bean sprouts. I take a product which has garbanzo bean and adzuki bean sprouts. I have read that sprouts have a higher concentration of nutrients than the plant. This is certainly true when it comes to sulfuraphane in broccoli sprouts relative to broccoli.




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    1. I noticed that no one responded to your comment. I think there is a way to reach Dr. Greger. Also, try drmcdougall.com in their discussion group , and Dr. Esselstn’s website. Also, there is a cardiologist who has a healthy lifestyle clinic in Montifiore hospital in the Bronx. He is interviewed by Chef Aj: http://www.healthytasteonline.com/chef-aj-teleclasses.html as well as another cardiologist from Texas who she interviews. Try to listen to the interviews she has with the cardiologists and maybe you can contact them.
      Of course, read Dr. Esselstyn’s book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.
      Good luck!




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  12. what i wonder is if there’s a difference between daily intake or a few times a week intake. keeping fresh beans going everyday seems pretty labor intensive for me. i’ve made cake from adzuki beans but figure this doesn’t count – then again i feared putting ground flax in baked goods didn’t count but Dr. Greger mentioned indeed it remained nutritionally sound. i’d be able to guess better if Dr. Greger said exactly what it was about legumes…




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  13. The flatulence issue is due to the increased fiber pushing through your system. Once your system is running at optimal levels it dissipates.




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    1. Yes. I would imagine it’s your gut flora “evolving” from the probiotics in the legume fiber. What I would do, If I rarely ate beans wanted to start, would be to take a probiotic daily for awhile when introducing beans. As the gut adjusts and builds new flora, taper off the supplemental probiotic to individual maintenance level.




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  14. This is good news. Been a ‘beaner’ for many years. I make a 1 lb. pot of beans for the family every 3 days to go with our brown rice as the base for our dinners. The balance is topped with various raw ‘veg de jour’. Anything from a can, bottle, package, box, wrapper, or container…is processed food.

    And…No Oil…!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_o4YBQPKtQ




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      1. Or go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0GI9IBK6Zw
        That may show a little bit about the degree of Veith’s intellectual honesty when it comes to subjects that are emotionally charged by his religion.

        Veith is a creationist, and while he apparently has a doctorate in zoology from the University of Cape Town, he’s not specifically an expert in human nutrition. The creationism shows a willingness to distort science to support a dogmatic worldview, the lack of focused expert training suggests that he would be less likely to be speaking from genuine authority in the subject of human nutrition, and his Seventh-Day Adventism suggests that he has fairly powerful religious preconceptions about human health and nutrition that he will be motivated to cling to and serve.

        I don’t doubt that I could learn many things from him, and the video clip that was suggested is interesting, but because I’d have to check his facts and inferences extra carefully, and because the lectures don’t do a particularly good job of citing primary source material, the learning process would likely be much less efficient.




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      2. That is a VERY good video… along with others by Walter Veith (I watched about 6 of his videos in the Life at Its Best series as well as one entitled “clean and unclean” by him).




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      1. Not only that, but phytates do not affect nutrients in other foods that they are combined with. In other words, if there is any phytic acid or phytates in a food like beans, it is only bound to certain constituents in the bean itself, not to the other foods the beans are prepared with. I think people miss this major but subtle point.




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        1. Dan, I am interested in the evidence for that statement. I had no idea this was the case, can you please share the referenced study? Please know I ask not because I doubt it, but because I like to have proof before I accept an idea. The thought of this is very interesting.




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              1. I think it might be in Jack Norris’s book “Vegan for life”, but then it probably does not have a citation for it. I could look in the book in the section on phytates.




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  15. –I eat 15 bean mix just about every day, without much problem from gas. These are cooked beans and it only takes a couple of hours on low heat. I think canned beans are yucky–they taste like the can. –A little bowl of lentils though will put me on the moon and have my gut blowing non stop gas for three days.
    –I eat beans with kale. Then I can say that I eat “beans & greens.”




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  16. I find this video very interesting, but I’m wonder, is this link between beans and lifespan *correlation* or *causation* ? Can you please comment on that ? This difference is a very common source of confusion.




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    1. Having a long life causes you to eat beans? Or does eating beans cause a long life? Or neither, they are correlated by fluke? (These are all rhetorical questions by the way). We can only rule out the first question.




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    1. You can eat whole plant foods and still gain muscle mass. Its about the stress of the exercise and not how much protein you consume. Consuming protein does not automatically mean your body will create muscles, as protein is used on an as needed bases. Protein powders supply much more protein then necessary and the majority of it is converted to fat. Please see this video regarding plant based body building.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/plant-based-bodybuilding/

      You will never become protein deficient unless you are malnourished. Eating when your hungry, till your full, of whole plant foods will supply all of the protein you need.




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  17. Phfffffff…this NutritionFacts.org sh!t rocks (no pun intended). I so appreciate your sense of humor; it’s totally up my ally (no pun intended). You’re the bomb, Dr. Greger (no pun intended)! No, really, I love me some beans and Dr. Greger




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  18. Are these type of studies peer reviewed or is just some speculation studies looking at one part of peoples living habits. I think lasting good health is more complicated than just eating beans.
    It seems almost like a glorification that does not take into consideration things like phytic acids. So it is hardly the healthiest food type but definitely one of the most diverse and important.
    Regardless not everyone prepares their legumes and beans properly (by soaking, germinating, fermenting or sprout),. It is just a fact that high contents of phytic acid can limit the intake of iron and calcium in some cases.
    Yeah beans and legumes can be very healthy but they are no miraculous food either. Longevity has to do with many factors and not primarily beans. It makes it sound like beans will make you live extra long just by eating beans!
    Paleo people do over exaggerate the harmful effects of grains but people who pretend that there are not inhibitors in grains and legumes are equally delusional.




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    1. Cooking eliminates these antinutrients so this is a non issue. Phytic acid also doubles as an antioxidant. Furthermore, Dr. Greger is merely sharing more research showing the power of plant foods, he has no intention of showing that beans are magical.




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  19. I am a vegan who eats two cups of beans daily, but I have hemochromotosis (iron overload) and must try to limit iron-rich foods. Any suggestions. Thank you.




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  20. Flatulence from cooked beans can be reduced by first soaking your beans with seaweed (kombu or sweet kombu) and then cooking the beans with seaweed. The seaweed helps to release the enzymes that cause flatulence and increase the minerals you intake because of the seaweed! You can purchase radiation free seaweeds at http://www.seaweedmermaid.com We test our seaweed three times a year and have had radiation free seaweed from the Mendocino Coast of California for the past three years! Get your seaweed while you can- we cannot predict the future of the ocean’s conditions!




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    1. Seaweeds store for long periods of time, so you can buy today and have nutritionally dense seaweed far into the future as long as you keep them dry and out of the sun!




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  21. Dr. Greger, you should do a video on protein powder and it’s effect. I saw the heavy metals but so many people use them and I’m just wondering the health risks associated with consuming them. Thanks




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  22. I’m sorry I want trying to ignore them purposefully. I just didn’t know if there were any studies besides the heavy metals conducted on them. I trust you and D. Greger. Thanks!




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      1. From my readings, it seems the research consensus on the polyamines has changed markedly in the past decade – from concern with potential for cancer promotion, to an appreciation of health-promoting benefits. Its not dissimilar to the situation with folate/folic acid, where yes, its a limiting nutrient for tumors, but there’s also recent compelling evidence of vascular benefits. Many nutrients seem to promote both general health and cancer cells, and may always present Scylla and Charybdis dilemmas. Personally, I’m satisfied by the 2004 legume & longevity study that the net effect of a high dietary polyamine diets is positive.

        I’m fascinated at the moment with autophagy (another folder), which is implicated in every lifespan increasing intervention to date, and which may have unique importance in neurodegenerative disorders. Unlike other important general anti-senescence pathways like Nrf2 induction, NF-kB inhibition, epigenetic interventions or glycation inhibitors, there aren’t that many potential levers known at the moment, with the only significant dietary ones being spermidine and the flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol.




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        1. Nice point on the shift in perception on polyamines and health and I appreciate your autophagy articles provided in draft 1. Maybe someday you’ll share your entire collection with us?
          True that the recent Ali paper was not available for the previous Dr. G video, though an earlier Ali paper (and other such papers) listed under his Sources Cited section had supported high putrescine in fruits. Oh well.




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        1. The receptor system reacts differently with p-hytoestrogens unless consumed in huge quantities. Here is a quote from one of our members summing up the issue nicely.

          ” came across a review that clarified my understanding of estrogen receptors, and owe you a revision to my explanation:

          There are (at least) two types of estrogen receptor, an alpha receptor responsible for both the feminizing effects of estrogen and promotion of breast and uterine cancers, and a beta receptor without feminizing effects that appears to suppress cancers of the breast, prostate and colon. Soy isoflavones in dietary amounts have a greater affinity for the beta receptor (and hence one can eat soy without feminizing effects), but in a few animal studies, very high (non-dietary) doses of soy isoflavones can also activate alpha receptors. Another case of whole-plant food good, pill extract bad.”
          http://nutritionfacts.org/video/breast-cancer-survival-vegetable/#comment-1101259182




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  23. My boyfriend hates legumes of all kinds except for Peanuts (which are technically legumes). Do these health benefits apply to peanuts or does it look like I will outlive him by a long time?




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  24. Dr. Greger is correct that beans are among the healthiest plants that we can eat. Only allium vegetables and cruciferous vegetables can match the health benefits of eating legumes. However, Dr. Greger is being dishonest with us when he claims that legumes don’t cause flatulence. Dr. Greger needs to visit a Japanese tofu factory to learn how the Japanese make tofu and unsweetened soymilk from soybeans, which are first boiled and then ground down into soybean puree, which is later separated into okara (soybean pulp) and unsweetened soymilk. The unsweetened soymilk coagulates into soybean curd, which is made into tofu. The unsweetened soymilk and tofu do not cause much flatulence and they retain most of the health benefits of eating soybeans, including the isoflavones, genistein, daidzein, and glycitein. The Japanese locate their tofu factories very close to animal farms because more than 95% of the okara (soybean pulp) is fed to animals (mostly hogs and dairy cows) and about 4% of the okara becomes fertilizer (compost) because it is fairly rich in nitrogen and trace minerals. Despite being rich in fiber and rich in health benefits, less than 1% of the okara (soybean pulp) is fed to humans. Why? Because although they make delicious vegan burgers, okara (soybean pulp) strongly causes flatulence. The fiber in legumes is not that fermentable so technically, most of the flatulence comes from the resistant starches, including raffinose, and not from the fiber. The sugars and digestible starches are quickly absorbed by the human body and so they don’t cause as much flatulence as the resistant starches, which are slowly fermented by our gut microbes:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okara_(food)




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      1. Morrys: That can be one cause of flatulence, but (if I remember correctly) according to a talk I recently heard, the main cause is just swallowed air. The following NutritionFacts article says swallowed air is not the main cause, just one cause, but the article also says that gas is “normal and healthy”. I recommend checking out this very interesting information on the topic:
        http://nutritionfacts.org/2011/12/05/beans-and-gas-clearing-the-air/
        Does that help?




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        1. I don’t fart normally, but only when I eat food I am intolerant to (soy in particular). Therefore it’s not swollen air, otherwise it would recur every day. I think only people who made a intolerance food test in conjunction to an anti-inflammatory diet, and are avoiding all the food that could inflame their body, could be able to see their body response clearly. Tests should be conduced on these kind of subjects perhaps.




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    1. Wil: I have some ideas for you.

      1) Get Lorna Sass’s book, Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure. Several of her bean recipes are simply delicious. I particularly like the Chickpea and Onion recipe. Here is a link to the basic recipe:

      http://mealsteps.com/recipe/chickpea_stew_with_sweet_onions

      I prefer red kidney beans with this recipe rather than the chickpeas. And red onions work just fine.

      2) dips and dressings
      I personally find that beans don’t have all that much of a taste. Mostly they have a shape and texture that changes from bean to bean. So, for me, it is the sauce or seasonings that really matter. You can give yourself a double-bean dose by creating a great bean-based sauce and then putting it over a bowl of grains, veggies and, yes, beans. I like to put the following maple-mustard dressing over a mushroom-barley-broccoli bowl, but it goes great with anything.

      Maple-Mustard Sauce (adopted from somewhere I don’t remember). Blend all of the following:

      > 1/4 cup nut butter (or if using commercial blender, throw in some cashews directly
      > 1/4 cup mustard (more to taste. Try Dijon)
      > 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
      > 1/4 cup fresh/frozen real lemon juice (try frozen Minute Maid)
      > 3 TB low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
      > 3 TB 100% pure maple syrup (to taste)
      > 1/4 to 1/2 cup water (leave out water for great dip)
      > 1 can beans (my favorite: pinto, red kidney, or any white)

      One of my new favorite cookbooks, Let Them Eat Vegan, has a bean-based dip/sauce that I thought was pretty good even though the title had the word “kid” in it. That one goes good on potatoes and other hearty foods.

      3) cookies, cakes and brownies

      While you wouldn’t want to rely on cookies and cakes for your daily bean dose, they can be a good way to sneak in some more beans. More and more dessert recipes are using whole beans or bean flours.

      For example, David Gabbe’s book has an Orange Bean Cake with Orange Maple Glaze that I thought was pretty darn good and not too sweet. It’s dense like a coffee cake. The bulk of the ingredients are homemade oat flour (ground up rolled oats) and cooked beans. The sweeteners are maple syrup and orange juice concentrate. Not bad health-wise for a dessert! Plus, it is easy to make.

      4) Other cookbooks.
      There is actually an entire cookbook with vegan bean recipes. Check out:
      http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_10/192-1007975-9810418?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=vegan%20bean%20book&sprefix=vegan+bean%2Caps%2C294

      You may also want to look into vegan slow cooker cookbooks as those books would likely have several good recipes that involve beans.

      Hope that helps!




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  25. Is there a difficulty between eating beans and lentils on a daily basis, which are high in protein, while maintaining a low overall consumption of protein, in particular of the amino acid methionine, also recommended by Dr Greger in the videos on calorie restriction vs protein restriction for life-extension? It seems that maintaining 40-50 grams of protein per day would be very hard if beans are included…




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  26. I cook beans twice a week and never soak and never get gas. (I’m in the business and only eat new crop beans.)
    the real problem with canned is the slime factor. Most bean broth in cans is nasty and recipes have you rinse the beans. Once you eat good beans, you know that the bean broth/pot liquor is half the fun.




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  27. Soak those none canned beans in salted water…..generally the STONES will fall to bottom of bowl……then carefully pour beans into strainer…….repeat a couple times…..should do the trick: STILL NEVER HURTS TO GRAB A HANDFUL AND CHECK OUT QUICKLY.




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  28. What about the dangers of BPA in canned products? It doesn’t take long to soak legumes if you do it overnight, they’ll be ready in the morning. They taste so much better than canned. My Persian friends peel their chickpeas for hummus. I was shocked! But then I tried it and it doesn’t take too long if they are cooked. I just grab a handfull from the pot, and rub them between my fingers and the skins fall off. It is much easier to digest without the skins. Not as much roughage, but no gas either!




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    1. Hey Leslie. Great question. Have you seen our videos on BPA? There are many! I think Dr. Greger mentions a few brands without BPA if you are looking to avoid it. Please send Super Smooth Hummus to my House ;-) Thank you for your questions let me know if those videos have the answer?

      Best regards, and no you do not have to share your hummus. Enjoy!
      Joseph




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  29. I also add cooked carrots and yams to my hummus sometimes, to make a great spread for rice cakes or rice tortillas. it makes a hearty delicious base for many other toppings. I put in lots of lemon and olive oil and blend it all up in a cuisine art.




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  30. The concern about flatulence is much overdrawn, and a rather obvious explanation lies in what the Cleveland Clinic / Stanley Hazen study (2011) found about GI bacterial populations of omnivores vs. vegans. As expected, omnivores demonstrated a dramatic difference in their native GI bacterial population, and by implication, a corresponding difference in their processing of carnitine and choline (in meat) over vegans.

    In fact, so great was the difference in bacterial populations, Dr. Hazen and peers were driven to attempt a definitive proof that GI bacterial profile mediates the result of a particular diet. In that limited experimental sample, one vegan (free from dietary meat and dairy for at least one year) volunteered to eat meat until his native vegan GI bacterial population was replaced by the omnivore GI bacterial profile (as determined by stool samples).

    That volunteer vegan ate an omnivore diet, replete with carnitine and choline. At least for an initial period, the vegan produced no serum TMA (a precursor to TMAO) in significant amounts, despite eating all the red meat he wanted. .

    But after that, as the former vegan’s GI bacterial colonies were overwhelmed by carnitine and choline-loving bacteria, he began to generate significant amounts of TMA. Eventually, as his stool samples matched the omnivores, he produced as much TMA as his native omnivore peers.

    By implication, switching to a bean-based diet imposes only transitional difficulty (if any, at all), as the native omnivore bacterial profile is replaced by a bean-fiber loving bacterial profile. Executive summary– if we steadily feed the kind of bacteria which love a bean-based diet, they become the dominant GI bacterial culture, and produce no significant issues of any kind.




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  31. why not a crook pot for dry bean cooking, low temp to save nutrients, where is the cook book and menu for this diet, arlene




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  32. Combining Lentils, Navy beans, Squash and other beans together create a soup of essential amino acids. Since I have implemented this to my diet, I have not only saved money by not purchasing Protein Powders but I can make more food for the cost.




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  33. Hi use 6 different beans in my vegetable soups!DELICIOUS I soak them overnight drain then cook with my other veges herbs and spices!
    UNFORTUNATELY WHAT EVER I DO ..BEANS MEANS FARTZ!!(EMBARRASING BUT HEATHLY!!




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  34. Dr. Greger, could I please get your opinion on the consumption of legumes in people with g6pd deficiency. Legumes are often considered contra-indicated for someone with G6PD deficiency given concerns for hemolytic anemia and/or low level, chronic hemolysis.




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  35. I believe the reason to why the gas are only temporary
    is probably because after few weeks of legumes eating
    the number of gut bacteria in the large intestine is much more than what it was in the first day.
    therefore it take much less time to digest the same amount of food when it
    shared by greater number of diners




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    1. But since, fasting proved to be perfectly healthy,
      my conclusion is that the number of the “good” bacteria
      are not really important as we thought,
      probably the ratio between “good” bacteria/”bad” bacteria is what really matter.




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  36. This not make sense to me at all
    I don’t understand why beans, is considered by Dr Greger as necessary for longer living.
    I expect that replacing each beans meal with Whole Grains meal
    will be much more healthier than beans in that regard,
    since beans are richer than grains
    and has much higher protein content than grains.
    The studies found , that the lowest the protein the better,
    even if the protein source is from plant,
    which known to be much less harmful.




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  37. Guy’s forget the about holding a Royal Commmision into canned vs slow cooked vs pressure cooked vs can coating , just eat the beans utilising any method you deem superior, just eat the damm beans .




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  38. Dear Mr Greger, dear NutritionFacts-Team,

    I would like you to post a Video on lectins and their good and bad sides for health. I just read a book from steven gundry (plant paradox), where legumes are described as non-suitable for man (among other lectin-containing plants). Nevertheless plant-based diet is encouraged. As also refers to peer-reviewed articles it is not that obvious who is right in his arguing.

    Thanks,




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    1. Thanks for your question Alexander,

      According to a review published in the AJCN:

      “Antinutrients are found throughout the plant kingdom, but foods containing them can be safely consumed because con- ventional food processing greatly reduces their concentrations and/or because harmful effects occur only after consuming ex- cessive amounts. Beans can be especially high in lectins and PIs. Lectins are plant proteins possessing at least one noncatalytic domain, which bind reversibly to a specific mono- or oligosac- charide. Orally ingested plant lectins remaining at least partially undigested in the gut may bind to a wide variety of cell mem- branes and glycoconjugates of the intestinal and colonic mucosa, leading to various deleterious effects on the mucosa itself as well as on the intestinal bacterial flora and other inner organs (26, 27). However, high temperatures using moist heat can inactivate most lectins”

      Legumes are incredibly healthy are very beneficial for humans, to leave it out of our diet means that we are missing on a key food staple. According to a 2017 review:

      “Dietary pulses are sustainable and affordable sources of fiber, plant protein, and various micronutri- ents that, as part of a healthy dietary pattern, appear to play important roles in modifying car- diometabolic risk. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses of prospective cohort studies assessing the relationship between legumes, which include dietary pulses, and the risk of CHD at doses &4 weekly 100-g servings provide moderate-quality evidence of a benefit. Given the paucity of prospec- tive cohort studies in this area, more prospective cohort studies that directly assess the relationship between dietary pulses and the incidence of vari- ous cardiometabolic diseases are needed to increase our understanding of the role of dietary pulses in the primary prevention of diabetes, CHD, and stroke. A direct benefit of dietary pulses, however, is supported by several systematic reviews and meta- analyses of randomized controlled trials of the effect of dietary pulses on cardiometabolic risk factors. Dietary pulses at doses of 120–132 g/day (0.5–0.75 cups/day, the equivalent of about one serving/day) have shown meaningful reductions in established cardiometabolic risk factors, including HbA1c , LDL- C, body weight, and blood pressure, with the evi- dence for these specific reductions ranging from low to moderate quality. There remains an urgent need for more large, high-quality, randomized tri- als to clarify the benefits of dietary pulses in the prevention and management of overweight/obesity, diabetes, and CVD. In the meantime, the available evidence suggests that there is a potential opportunity for Western populations, which as a whole consume much less than one serving/day/person,11,12 to increase their intake of dietary pulses to improve cardiometabolic health.”

      In addition, according to a 2014 a systematic review and meta-analysis:

      “we showed inverse associations of nut consumption with fatal IHD, nonfatal IHD, and diabetes and of legume consumption with incident IHD”

      A 2016 review also stated that neglecting legumes has compromised human health and sustainable food production:

      “The United Nations declared 2016 as the International Year of Pulses (grain legumes) under the banner ‘nutritious seeds for a sustainable future’. A second green revolution is required to ensure food and nutritional security in the face of global climate change. Grain legumes provide an unparalleled solution to this problem because of their inherent capacity for symbiotic atmos- pheric nitrogen fixation, which provides economically sustainable advantages for farming. In addition, a legume-rich diet has health benefits for humans and livestock alike. However, grain legumes form only a minor part of most current human diets, and legume crops are greatly under-used. Food security and soil fertility could be significantly improved by greater grain legume usage and increased improvement of a range of grain legumes. The current lack of coordinated focus on grain legumes has com- promised human health, nutritional security and sustainable food production.”

      Hope this answer helps.




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  39. Hi all,
    I’m sort of in panic mode after reading some of Dr. Gundry’s books which state that all beans (all legumes and even whole grains) are actively bad for our health due to lectins. Does anyone have any input on this?




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  40. Hi Mary,

    I am a volunteer for Dr. Greger. Thank you for your question.

    I am not familiar with any of the work of Dr. Gundry. However, the research on the consumption of whole grains and legumes is very strong. I have not seen any research that shows otherwise.

    Many of the reasons that some people question the health benefits of beans and whole grains are theoretical. One example that is often given is that beans and whole grains contain phytic acid, or phytates, which can decrease the absorption of several nutrients. While this is true, phytates are actually quite beneficial for us, especially in cancer prevention and bone protection. For more information on phytates, search “phytates” on nutritionfacts.org.

    Other benefits from beans and whole grains include improved glycemic response, lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and improving gut health.

    Based on the balance of evidence, I see no reason to be confused or panicked about the effects of beans or whole grains.

    I hope this helps. If you do see any research or theories for why whole grains or beans may be unhealthful, please share. We’d love to see what evidence there is to support those claims.




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    1. Thank you so much for this! As commented by Alexander on June 1st. The problem Dr. Gundry finds is with lectins that are found in all grains and legumes. He has lots of research on them and states that people are hurting their health if they eat any legumes or any grains, including whole grains.
      His book is called The Plant Paradox.

      http://drgundry.com/philosophy/

      Here is a link to a podcast where he discusses his ideas:

      http://www.jessicamurnane.com/episode-77-the-hidden-dangers-in-healthy-food-lectins-explained-with-dr-steven-gundry/

      I would REALLY,REALLY appreciate any insight into this. As a strict vegan, I rely daily on lentils, quinoa, beans, chickpeas and dark whole grains and now find myself completely rethinking what might be healthy. Thank you!!




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  41. please help! i cannot tolerate beans! i get terrible joint pain. i cannot tolerate gluten, oats, quinoa, millet due to an inflammation response. nor can i eat night shades like potatoes becuase they also cause pain. i was eating a lot of brown rice but now thats out due from arsenic. i have tried enzymes and probiotics and long cooking and draining and fermenting. is there any solution to this? how can i eat plant based with so many restrictions? i really want to. the only nut or seed butters i can handle is sunflower. high arginine seeds and nuts like almonds and hemp give me hsv flare ups so protein powders are out too. am i missing something that could help a sensitive body like mine thrive as plant based?




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  42. Wow, you sound like you are in a difficult situation. The overwhelming majority of individuals typically experience a reduction in inflammation from a plant-based diet. Having proper diagnosis of your food intolerances seems like a good first step. I work with folks who have chronic pain, and very frequently their pain comes from sources other than diet. There are multiple inputs into chronic pain, including lack of sleep, lack of physical activity, and psychological distress, and these are not mutually exclusive. If you’ve got adequate evidence that diet is the culprit, an ‘elimination’ diet seems prudent. One can be found here: https://www.uccs.edu/Documents/healthcircle/…/Allergy%20Elimination%20Diet.pdf




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