Lead Contamination of Tea

Lead Contamination of Tea
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How much green, white, black, and oolong tea can we consume before the benefits of tea start to be countered by the risks of lead contamination for children, pregnant women, and adults in general?

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China burns about half of the world’s coal, spewing heavy metals, such as mercury and lead, into the atmosphere and affecting the development of neighboring children. But what if you don’t live in China or eat anything produced in China? You could still be exposed to mercury that settles in the oceans if you eat fish and seafood, but some people drink something from China: tea. China is one of the biggest exporters, but their rapid industrialization has raised concerns about lead contamination. Lead is a toxin that can affect almost every organ in the body, and the more lead in the soil, the more that ends up in the tea leaves, and the closer the tea is grown to the highway, the higher the levels, suggesting leaded gas, which wasn’t banned until the year 2000, may also be playing a role.

And just like larger longer-living fish accumulate more mercury, longer living leaves accumulate more lead. Young tea leaves appear to have two to six times less lead than mature leaves; so, not only do the young leaves that are used to make green tea and white tea have significantly less lead than the older leaves used to make black and oolong tea, the lead in black and oolong tea appears to be released much more readily into the tea water when brewed. And so, the health risk from lead may be 100 times lower for green tea compared to oolong and black.

Since certain fungicides may have heavy metal impurities, one might assume organic teas would be less contaminated, but in a study of 30 common teas off North American store shelves, there did not seem to be less toxic element contamination than regular tea, though presumably organic tea would have much less pesticide contamination. In terms of lead, the source of the tea, the country of origin, appears to be the most important factor. So, bottom line, how much tea is safe to drink? Based on the most stringent safety limits in the world—like California’s Prop 65 parameters—and the largest studies of tea lead contamination from around the world, this is what I was able to come up with.

If you’re not pregnant, and just drinking green tea, it doesn’t matter where you get your tea from. You can drink as much as you want, but given the average levels of lead in Chinese black tea samples, more than three cups a day would exceed the daily safety limit for lead.

Now that’s if you’re drinking tea, throwing the tea leaves or tea bag away. If you’re eating the leaves, like drinking matcha tea, which is powdered green tea, or throwing tea leaves in your smoothie like I like to do, I wouldn’t add more than two or three heaping teaspoons unless, you’re using Japanese green tea, which is so low in lead that you can safely eat 15 spoonfuls a day—the only reason I would caution no more than eight is that could exceed the daily recommended limit for caffeine for adults.

What about children? If you’re a 70 pound 10-year-old, lead still isn’t a problem drinking green tea, but the safe caffeine intake for children is probably only down around three mg per kg, which would limit you to about four cups a day, though I wouldn’t add more than two spoonfuls of Japanese green tea to a child’s smoothie for caffeine reasons and more than one of Chinese green tea for lead reasons. Similarly, I wouldn’t like to see children drinking more than one cup of black tea a day and wouldn’t want them eating the leaves at all.

Pregnant women should be able to drink a cup a day of green tea throughout pregnancy, regardless of source, based on average tea lead levels, and the limit for Japanese tea is really just the caffeine limit, above four cups a day.  I wouldn’t recommend drinking black tea during pregnancy, though, or eating any kind of tea leaves, unless you know you’re getting tea from a low lead source.

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 Frank Douwes via Flickr.

China burns about half of the world’s coal, spewing heavy metals, such as mercury and lead, into the atmosphere and affecting the development of neighboring children. But what if you don’t live in China or eat anything produced in China? You could still be exposed to mercury that settles in the oceans if you eat fish and seafood, but some people drink something from China: tea. China is one of the biggest exporters, but their rapid industrialization has raised concerns about lead contamination. Lead is a toxin that can affect almost every organ in the body, and the more lead in the soil, the more that ends up in the tea leaves, and the closer the tea is grown to the highway, the higher the levels, suggesting leaded gas, which wasn’t banned until the year 2000, may also be playing a role.

And just like larger longer-living fish accumulate more mercury, longer living leaves accumulate more lead. Young tea leaves appear to have two to six times less lead than mature leaves; so, not only do the young leaves that are used to make green tea and white tea have significantly less lead than the older leaves used to make black and oolong tea, the lead in black and oolong tea appears to be released much more readily into the tea water when brewed. And so, the health risk from lead may be 100 times lower for green tea compared to oolong and black.

Since certain fungicides may have heavy metal impurities, one might assume organic teas would be less contaminated, but in a study of 30 common teas off North American store shelves, there did not seem to be less toxic element contamination than regular tea, though presumably organic tea would have much less pesticide contamination. In terms of lead, the source of the tea, the country of origin, appears to be the most important factor. So, bottom line, how much tea is safe to drink? Based on the most stringent safety limits in the world—like California’s Prop 65 parameters—and the largest studies of tea lead contamination from around the world, this is what I was able to come up with.

If you’re not pregnant, and just drinking green tea, it doesn’t matter where you get your tea from. You can drink as much as you want, but given the average levels of lead in Chinese black tea samples, more than three cups a day would exceed the daily safety limit for lead.

Now that’s if you’re drinking tea, throwing the tea leaves or tea bag away. If you’re eating the leaves, like drinking matcha tea, which is powdered green tea, or throwing tea leaves in your smoothie like I like to do, I wouldn’t add more than two or three heaping teaspoons unless, you’re using Japanese green tea, which is so low in lead that you can safely eat 15 spoonfuls a day—the only reason I would caution no more than eight is that could exceed the daily recommended limit for caffeine for adults.

What about children? If you’re a 70 pound 10-year-old, lead still isn’t a problem drinking green tea, but the safe caffeine intake for children is probably only down around three mg per kg, which would limit you to about four cups a day, though I wouldn’t add more than two spoonfuls of Japanese green tea to a child’s smoothie for caffeine reasons and more than one of Chinese green tea for lead reasons. Similarly, I wouldn’t like to see children drinking more than one cup of black tea a day and wouldn’t want them eating the leaves at all.

Pregnant women should be able to drink a cup a day of green tea throughout pregnancy, regardless of source, based on average tea lead levels, and the limit for Japanese tea is really just the caffeine limit, above four cups a day.  I wouldn’t recommend drinking black tea during pregnancy, though, or eating any kind of tea leaves, unless you know you’re getting tea from a low lead source.

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 Frank Douwes via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

This is one of the things that changed my daily diet.

I’ve long been an advocate of teas. If you look at my smoothie recipe in A Better Breakfast, for example, you’ll see I’ve recommended throwing in tea leaves, and Is Matcha Good for You? doesn’t hide the fact that I’ve been a big fan of matcha. I still enjoy doing both, but am now more careful about where my tea is sourced. As soon as I learned of this, I made announcements on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to inform everyone before I even started making this video. So, if you closely follow my recommendations (which I elaborate on extensively in my book How Not to Die), please make sure to keep an eye on our social media where I can post updates within minutes of learning about the latest news.

I’ve got a whole slew of new tea videos coming out, but here are some of the ones I’ve done over the last year or two:

Where else might you find heavy metal risk (besides my music collection :) ?

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

179 responses to “Lead Contamination of Tea

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  1. Thank you so much for this. It is an important video for me because I drink large amounts of black tea daily (I am a Brit – it’s my birthright). Fortunately my black tea is sourced from Ceylon (or Sri Lanka as we are supposed to call it now, but then we tea folks are very old fashioned). However, I shall be very vigilant from now on. My white tea, on the other hand, while organic, comes from China but that, it appears, is relatively safe.




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    1. Tom, I’m from Sri Lanka. China may be the biggest producer of black tea but Ceylon tea is considered the finest. (You gave us cricket; we gave you tea. Both are wonderful.) I have a hard time finding decent-quality Ceylon tea in bags in the US. Where do you get yours, assuming that you now live in the US? Thanks




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      1. Hi VTl. No, I live in Australia and the Philippines now. There is a lot of Ceylon tea available in the supermarkets in both countries. However, I use iherb.com for my organic white tea. You might give them a try for Ceylon tea also. To be honest, I prefer leaf tea but here in the Philippines there are only tea bags. However, good quality Ceylon tea is always worth drinking!.




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      1. plant_this_thought: Sri Lanka used to have old-fashioned trains pulled by coal-burning engines. They were replaced by diesel engines probably forty years ago. Other than that Sri Lanka didn’t use coal for anything. Most of the electricity comes from hydro power, the rest from burning natural gas and petroleum. That doesn’t mean that Ceylon tea is perfectly clean. Like all other large-scale crops, tea is heavily sprayed with pesticides, but lead I don’t think is a serious problem, at least not as serious as with the tea coming from China.




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      2. I would highly recommend reading the Canadian study (Schwalfeneberg et al) cited by Dr G. It lists contamination by country and type of tea (table 4). Assam and Ceylon teas seem the safer options but the high aluminium content is a concern.




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        1. thanks for the url tom, google is not most friendly when a person types something as loosely based as “canadian study on teas”




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        2. thanks for the url tom, google is not most friendly when a person types something as loosely based as “canadian study on teas”




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    1. I, too drink a fair amount of tea. Lately, I like the Green tea found at Costco and made by ITO EN. Says it’s 100% Japanese tea leaves and is a mix of Sencha and Matcha. As you point out, this video is comforting knowledge … thanks to Dr G for his research.




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      1. HaltheVegan: That’s a great tip! I was mentally gearing up to trying to find Japanese teas – not as a super-urgent thing to do in light of this video, but something that just seems to make sense given the information in this video. I like to drink a huge variety of flavors of tea. I don’t drink just plain green tea very often. But sometimes I do and getting the one you mentioned seems like a fantastic idea.




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        1. What I often do is to mix two different teas together in the same cup (more like a mug!). I find that, say a black tea, like Darjeeling, mixed with the green makes an interesting flavor. Also, sometimes use an herbal like hibiscus with the green and it turns out quite good too. I guess it just depends on one’s taste buds at the moment :-)




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          1. I can’t remember the brand, but I recently finished a green-hibiscus tea. I loved the idea of the combo. I also like green ginger. And green mint (Stash’s Morocco Mint being my favorite). I am constantly buying new flavors, including lots of herbal teas. The ones I buy are not all green. There’s a ‘Cucumber White’ that I really like. Even though I know that most of those flavored teas are really flavored with ‘flavorings’ than the actual stuff the tea is named after, having those options available to me increases the amount I drink over the day. I consider it an overall positive.




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            1. I used to spend a small fortune on herbal teas, but can’t do that anymore, so I’ve taken to making different daily “foraging” blends I gather from my yard or walks. It’s fun to learn about the local “weeds” that are actually more nutritious than our hybrid veggies, and cool to gather them, get some exercise, and combine new flavors, all for free! If it doesn’t turn out too tasty, you can either amend it with another herb or spice from the pantry, a regular tea bag, or just dump it…it didn’t cost a thing! Today’s blend was actually awesome…an orange from my tree that I juiced and added some peel too, a few hibiscus calyces, some fennel the swallowtails were kind enough to leave me with, and some leaves of gotu-kola and pennywort. I used to brew up a big jug of whatever I collected in my sun tea jar, but that is currently filled with a happy kombucha brew, sooo… I’m going to second ferment some with my herbal blend and see how that comes out…the color is gorgeous from the hibiscus! Fun fun fun!




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              1. Charzie: Sounds great! It’s totally true that store bought teas cost and arm and a leg. I have friend who actually grows her own tea plant in her back yard. Pretty cool I think. What you are doing is very creative and still with lots of variety. Also very cool!




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                1. I’ve been thinking I want to buy a tea plant. I think it is cold tolerant enough for here, though we woke to 14 degrees this morning. I could grow it in a large pot and put it in the garage when it’s too cold. There are directions online for how to harvest and process it and it sounds pretty easy. Do any of you out there grow and process your own tea?




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                  1. Rebecca: My friend dries her tea leaves in the microwave. I thought that was pretty clever. She says it works great. Her plant is right up next to the house. I think that helps provide some protection. Good luck!




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                    1. I’d probably use my dehydrator, but it’s nice to know she is growing tea in the Pacific Northwest. Now I just need to find a plant, in spring, that is.




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        2. In summer I drink a green tea-lemon grass-lemon peel-ginseng cold brewed tea…6 bags per gallon in the fridge. Only sourcing info in the package is that it’s asian ginseng. Drink this instead of water mostly. Though the ginseng is the most minor ingredient it is noticable.

          Drink coffee in winter.




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          1. Fred: Funny. I like hot teas more than cold. So, I tend to drink tea more in the winter than the summer–the opposite of you.
            .
            You green-lemon-ginseng tea sounds pretty good. Can you share the brand and product name? I’d be interested in trying it.
            .
            Or my other idea is to win the lottery and take a tour around the country, stopping and drinking various tea with the NutritionFacts community. One or the other.




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            1. Thea: I like your idea of winning the lottery :-) And it would be a lot of fun traveling around and meeting all the NutritionFacts supporters and commenters, but I think it would require a World tour … wouldn’t that be nice! BTW, I live in the Baltimore-Washington suburbs and we do have several WFPB support groups in the area so it’s nice to be able to share ideas in person.




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              1. HaltheVegan: re: World Tour. Good point!! And since I’ll be winning the lottery big, that will be an easy pleasure.
                .
                That’s awesome you have access to WFPB support groups. We have some in the city I live in the pacific northwest. I’m a big fan of the Meetup site for helping people find those types of groups. I totally agree that being able to meet with people face to face who at least share a diet with you is so helpful.
                .
                I’ll be dropping by the Baltimore-Washington area on my world tour. See you then.




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                1. Aye, we use the Meetup site, too, to set up gatherings … really convenient. I’ll be swinging by the pacific northwest on my world tour going from east to west. Hope we’re not competing with each other to win the same lottery ;-)




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            2. If you make that trip, be sure to stop by Olympia, WA and let me know you’re coming. We have a lovely tea and chocolate shop with a sweet little tea and chocolate bar in the adjacent atrium where we can share a cuppa.




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            3. If you make that trip, be sure to stop by Olympia, WA and let me know you’re coming. We have a lovely tea and chocolate shop with a sweet little tea and chocolate bar in the adjacent atrium where we can share a cuppa.




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        3. Thea, I think you have commented in past on this – not sure, but what do you think about eating chocolate, occasionally, when it is part of a chocolate bar with cocoa butter and sugar (no dairy)? So many here shun
          the saturated fats from palm, cocoa, palm, etc. – do you indulge every once in a while, or just eat your chocolate as a fat-free powder?




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          1. Leslie: Oh ouch. Such a hard question for me.
            .
            The short answer: Depending on how much someone is eating and what “occasionally” means, I definitely think that eating high percentage (say 70% or more) vegan chocolate (bars) can be a reasonable treat. Especially if that chocolate was not harvested by slaves. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amanda-gregory/chocolate-and-child-slave_b_4181089.html and http://www.slavefreechocolate.org/)
            .
            The longer tortured answer and a confession (feel free to ignore): You didn’t just ask what I thought was OK in theory. You asked if I indulged. And not just indulged, but indulged every once in a while. Well, I do indulge and sadly, more than every once in a while. It is a problem for me that I really need to work on. As Dr. Greger showed in one of his earlier videos, chocolate definitely leads to weight gain. Chocolate bars are just too calorie dense and do not seem to have the magic properties that nuts have when it comes to health benefits. (And even nuts may not work their magic for everyone. Chef AJ has a good personal story to illustrate that point.)
            .
            Also, I do believe that the saturated fat in cocoa (like palm) is a problem. But the story is hard for me to tease out. It seems like there have been videos on NutritionFacts showing that plant fats did not have the same harmful effects as animal based fats??? (For example a video showing that whole coconut does not pose the problem that processed coconut does?) And yet saturated fat is closely linked with heart disease and we have no reason to think that cocoa butter or palm oil would be any different??? And yet we know that high fat diets in general are generally harmful, regardless of the fat source. (See discussions of ketone diets and the concept on this page of calorie density leading to weight gain). It may be a matter of “the dose makes the poison”. In other words, perhaps like nuts, there is a certain amount of chocolate bar one can eat that is healthy and above that, not so much??? But I don’t know. I need to do more research on this topic.
            .
            But even with more research, my guess is that we do not have all the answers when it comes to cocoa butter and palm oil. Or maybe I’m just very confused on the point of how healthy cocoa butter is. Either way, I think it is better to error on the side of caution and not usually have foods with cocoa butter.
            .
            So, why did my short answer say that I think *some* chocolate *occasionally* is fine? Because I think chocolate is a better treat than a lot of alternatives. Also, as a general rule, I don’t think that very small amounts of almost anything can be all that harmful to most people – in the context of an otherwise whole plant food diet. But there are some caveats to that rule. For example, if a small amount of chocolate (or meat or dairy) keeps someone addicted or unable to lose weight, then eating none of the food may be better for that person. And for someone who is really sick (say someone with heart disease, cancer, etc), then even small amounts may be harmful. So, better to be cautious in those cases and have absolutely none.
            .
            I don’t like my answer, but I felt a need to reply since you asked me directly. What do you think?




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            1. Thea,

              I ‘love’ your answer. I think it was just great, and well said. It is good to get another’s opinion on such matters,
              and it can open another up to a bigger picture. I, for the most part, am in line with thinking that occasional treats, as long as not a problem, is fine. And I do think that there might be a difference in certain people in how their body reacts to saturated fats, as a genetic component could be at play here, as well as macrobiome issues as well.

              I am confused about what I read online regarding whether or not the WHITE solid cocoa butter contains any caffeine and or theobromine, as often there is cocoa butter in products but not chocolate, and I’d like to know
              if a stimulant is therefore in the product or not. Any thoughts on this?




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              1. Leslie: Thank you for your very nice feedback. Made me feel a lot better.
                .
                That’s a very interesting question about white chocolate solids. I usually have my sights on the brown stuff, so haven’t given much thought to the white stuff. But I have given some thoug




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  2. I have a Chinese friend who drinks a lot of tea, and she recommends rinsing the tea with hot water before steeping it. Have you seen any studies that test if that helps remove lead?




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    1. No idea about the lead but I read somewhere that dunking tea in boiling water (and throwing away the water) before steeping it removes some of the caffeine for those of us who are caffeine sensitive.




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  3. Doc, do these charts take into consideration average lead intake from other sources than tea in the diet, or should we factor this in ourselves? Any tips for doing that?

    Also, what should we make of metal contamination in cacao powder? I saw some pretty disappointing figures on ConsumerLab concerning this otherwise healthy food…

    Thanks!




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    1. These charts and studies only reflect potential lead exposure from tea. It may be good to go though all of Dr. G’s videos on lead to see how it may be accumulating.

      There was some discussion about contaminated cocoa and here are the links I saved. Another user posted some studies and links here and 13 studies more to browse thru here.

      Dr. Greger always refers to the fact “it’s what we absorb.” This video on cadmium and cancer explains more.




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    1. Pb content of organic black = 0.86 mcg/I, organic green = 1.64 mcg/l. I agree that this chart seems to contradict the statement that black tea contains 6 times more.




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      1. I have got to think that metal content in plants is not equal, and cannot really be measured in a statistical way suggesting that all teas for example have “x” amount of lead. It would seem to be location, processing, packaging dependent and that these statistical numbers really don’t mean a whole lot. What is the deviation of the measurements in Chinese teas … do they all the the same amount of metals or do they deviate widely? But I get they do have more metals because of pollution that other countries, but other countries could have industrial plants too that pollute.




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        1. Perhaps write to the Lipton Company or e-mail and ask? I need to also do this…I’ve been enjoying Trader Joe’s Organic & Fair Trade Green tea for a few years now…20 teabags for $2.99 but the country of origin is nowhere on the box…so I’m thinking of doing this same thing!




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          1. If the country of origin is not on the box, it’s probably from China. I’ve been drinking Newman’s Own tea bags. After seeing this video, a cursory glance didn’t reveal the country of origin. It’s now in my trash can. American food importers know that people don’t like to consume anything coming from China, so they do everything they can to hid the fact.




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        2. Not at all! Sometimes the benefits may outweigh the risks in many cases. For example, eating vegetables that may not be organic is way better than not eating any at all. Could the same be said for tea? I would think so, but perhaps if it’s a lower quality tea drinking less as a precaution.




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    1. Why would you drink tea bags anyways? Do your taste buds a favor, and get some High Mountain Oolong from Taiwan (loose leaf) and get a nice Yixing teapot and join the real world of Gong Fu Cha.




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  4. This is actually funny that Japanese green tea is safer than Chinese green tea, guess they didn’t consider Fukashima for radiation poisoning in Japanese green tea or anything from Japan.




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      1. yes the consumers there are well educated and extremely tough , so the standards are very high. Otherwise companies will never survive there. But if people are really worried, some famous Green teas are also produced in the Kyushu region (southern end of Japan), Kagoshima, and Yakushima. One high quality green tea from Kyushu that comes to mind is Yame-cha , from Yame city in Kyushu. The Teas are often named after the city, like french perfume used to be named after the street number and name.




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      2. Fukushima is still pouring radiated water into the Ocean. The radiation has been found on the West coast. Although I love green tea I will never buy it from Japan again.




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    1. Authorities admitted for the first time that green tea from Japan’s biggest tea-growing area, the Shizuoka prefecture, contains radiation higher than the officially-permitted level.

      The contamination has opened a furious argument among local and national officials about how to measure the radiation, and what constitutes a safe level of contamination.

      Dried leaves from the year’s first harvest in the Honyama area of Shizuoka were found to contain radioactive cesium at a level of 679 becquerels per kilogram, above the permitted maximum of 500 becquerels. But the discovery was made by chance, and the authorities admit that earlier consignments, which were not examined and have gone to the market, may have also been contaminated.

      Limits on the sale of tea from areas closer to Fukushima have been put in place, but Shizuoka is to green tea what the Champagne region of France is to sparkling wine, and the effect of the news will be devastating.

      http://nypost.com/2011/06/09/japans-green-tea-contaminated-with-radiation/




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        1. I guess things could be worse. We could have the lead poisoned water of Flint Michigan. They’re not worried about tea there. Dec 2015..

          That catastrophe began in April 2014, as the Rust Belt city was under control of an emergency manager, and it moved its water supply from the Detroit system to the Flint River without the proper corrosive controls. Lead leached from pipes, putting thousands of the city’s children at risk of brain damage from the contamination and prompting localoutcry. A local pediatrician has called it an “emergency” situation that is “alarming and absolutely gut-wrenching.”

          http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/12/30/mich-gov-sorry-flints-man-made-water-catastrophe-continues




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        1. I think I’ll stick with my cheap “Great Value” Walmart green tea. Something like 40 bags for under $3.
          I’d be too pissed to find out I’ve been paying big bucks for lead or radiation enriched tea…:)

          I’m now down to using one bag per day after I started having a cup of coffee first thing in the morning.




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  5. For tea, elements such as Aluminum and Fluoride especially, are an important consideration. An individual’s uptake and elimination of various potentially toxic elements is depending on more than simple ingestion or other exposure, but also, factors such as overall and specific nutritional status of the individual. With respect to lead, actual uptake and elimination is dependent on an individual’s nutritional status, such as the minerals calcium, iron and zinc, and sulfur rich amino acids etc. All of these are important to assess regularly in those who adhere to a strictly “plant based” diet.




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  6. This is great, very practical. I’m wondering, though, about tea from India. I’m a fan of Assam teas and I know they’ve also been rapidly industrializing. How safe are Indian teas?




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      1. I don’t but I would highly recommend reading the Canadian study (Schwalfeneberg et al) cited by Dr G. It lists contamination by country and type of tea (table 4). Assam and Ceylon teas seem the safer options.




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    1. Danielle: I don’t have any specific data, but I have a thought that may help: It’s hard for me to image that the teas from India would be *more* contaminated than the teas from China. I could imagine Indian teas being pretty contaminated, but probably (as a complete hunch based on nothing really) not worse. So, it seems reasonable to me to apply the same rules of thumb presented in this video. And those rules allow for a lot of tea drinking in my opinion. So, maybe not worth worrying about too much?

      That’s my thought. What do you think?




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    1. I do, too, but it looks as though it will be okay for non-pregnant adults to keep drinking green and white tea from China. Phew! I can still happily drink my pots of lung ching and bai hao every day. That’s good to know.




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      1. True that, although, there are no safe threshold levels for lead exposure. The only safe exposure is no exposure. I suppose I’ll just have to pull more espresso shots in future. ;-)




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  7. Does re-steeping have any impact on the amount of lead found in each cup? When Dr. Greger says only three cups of black tea is that three separate servings of tea leaves, or three steeps of the same leaves?




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  8. Phew !! As someone who consumes a few pots a day of Chinese green tea that title was a little chilling. I also drink Japanese teas like Gyokuro and Sencha but prefer the Chinese green teas as everyday teas and from the video it didn’t sound like shifting the balance more towards Japanese teas needs to be a priority. I also occasionally drink Taiwanese oolong tea and wonder how much Taiwanese soil is affected by the rapid industrialization of the mainland.




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  9. I decaffeinate my own tea using the 2 steep method. Does the potential lead contamination also get reduced by that method? And if so, is it by the same rate?




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    1. Apparently not – steeping increases our lead intake. So does drinking out of fine porcelain china because of the lead glaze used in its manufacture. I recommend that you read the Canadian (Schwalfenberg study cited by Dr G).




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  10. Dr. Greger you need to register your organization with PayPal. They do not charge any fees to charities registered with them, in fact they are giving 101% of a donation made through them until 12/31: “Enrolling is quick and simple. Invite your charity to visit http://www.paypal.com/givingfund We’d love to have them aboard!”




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  11. I’ve started using gynostemma tea from china, which is a vine. Gynostemma pentaphyllum or jiaogulan tea is suppose to be super healthy, but does it contain lead?!




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  12. It seems to me that the problem of lead contamination in tea applies not just to green tea or black tea from China, but for ALL kinds of herbal teas grown there, whether Camellia sinensis or an herbal tea like peppermint. And that the same rule with regard to the age of the leaf when harvested would apply, that the younger the leaf, the lower the relative lead content. I also wonder about the relative lead content in other parts of plants other than leaves, such as the stem or the roots, or even the fruits (as in goji berries) commonly used in a wide variety of TCM herbal remedies grown in China. Anyone have any data on this?




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  13. This is for a daily recommendation … which I take to mean that if I only eat or drink tea or tea leaves occasionally it should be not a problem … right? As far as I know I’ve only eaten tea once, in a Burmese Green Tea salad/ I don’t know how much was in it, or where it came from since it was in a restaurant, but that should not be a problem, right? I don’t like the idea of eating or being exposed to any lead.

    Is there any vegetarian or vegan practice that will assist with removing lead or heavy metals from the body? All this contamination is scary.




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    1. Many foods contain significant lead, and if I understand how Dr. Greger made his calculations as far as the safe number of cups of tea one can drink each day, this assumes that aside from the tea that one does take in a significant amount of lead from any other source, which doesn’t seem a likely scenario to me for most people.

      Chelation therapy – using EDTA – seems generally accepted clinically as an effective way of removing toxic levels of lead from the body. Higher dietary intakes of Vitamin C (and perhaps some other natural chelators) can apparently lower lead levels as well ( http://www.lead.org.au/lanv10n2/lanv10n2-2.html )




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      1. Thanks alef …

        >> Vitamin C Low levels of Vitamin C [ascorbic acid] are strongly linked to high lead levels. Individuals who consume more than 340 mg of vitamin C tend to have lower blood lead levels than those who consume less than 110 mg. Consumption of 1000 mg a day has been shown to significantly decrease lead levels in some, though not all, cases – apparently more through reduced absorption rather than increased excretion.

        Mostly by not absorbing it though, which is good. Take a little vitamin C with your leaded tea I guess! Is EDTA vegan or Is there something that functions like EDTA that is vegan? I don’t know much about chelation therapy other than it is supposed to draw metals out of the body. It would be good to know if there is a property or component to a vegan diet that can assist with that.




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        1. Although reasonably safe, EDTA seems a synthetic chemical, so does qualify, technically, as vegan, in that it does not derive from an animal source. It has a wide variety of uses as a stable chelator, both industrial as well as medicinal. You can read more about it here; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethylenediaminetetraacetic_acid

          As far as whether a vegan diet can assist with detoxifying from heavy metal contamination, I believe it can – so long as the plant foods you choose to eat don’t seem overly contaminated with lead in themselves!

          As far as healing the body goes, I recently went to the trouble of summing up what I believe in one short sentence: “The body has the ability to heal almost anything, so long as you give it what it needs to heal, and so long as you stop doing what made the body sick in the first place!”

          Of course the tricky bit lies in tuning into what one’s body needs, while also managing to figure out what one did that made the body sick to begin with. Not such an easy task, especially given all of the misinformation out there. Even for those with the best intentions, for most people the gap between knowing what their bodies really need, and what they might believe their bodies need, despite the advances in research, still remains enormous, and involves multiple unknowns.




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          1. > Although reasonably safe, EDTA seems a synthetic chemical, so does qualify, technically, as vegan,

            By that defintition plutonium could be classified as vegan … I think there is more to it than that Alef1. ;-) I think it could need to be a plant product at least … and possibly with as little processing as possible, but there are plant products that need processing to be edible too … life is so complicated! ;-)




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      2. Look into sauna use?

        http://www.drwhitaker.com/health-benefits-of-a-sauna/

        “Sweat does more than regulate body temperature.

        Many of the tens of thousands of man-made chemicals in our environment make their way into our food, water and air. No matter how pure your diet or lifestyle, I guarantee that your body contains traces of hundreds, if not thousands, of chemicals such as pesticides, drugs, solvents and dioxins. There are ways to get rid of stored toxins, and one of them is sweating.

        Sweating mobilizes toxins stored in the fat and enhances their elimination. If you’ve ever been around a heavy smoker or drinker, you know they reek of nicotine or alcohol—it literally pours out of their skin in their sweat. The same is true, although less obvious, of other toxins.

        Here’s where a sauna comes in. On an average day, your endocrine glands put out about a quart of sweat. But when you hang out in a sauna, they pump out that much in 15 minutes.”

        http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2015/03/13/benefits-using-sauna.aspx

        “The featured study1,2,3,4 included more than 2,300 middle-aged men in eastern Finland, who were followed for about two decades. The frequency of sauna use, and length of time spent in the sauna, correlated with a lowered risk for lethal cardiovascular events.

        Sauna use was also associated with a reduced risk of death from any cause, and the more they used the sauna, the better. Men who used the sauna seven times per week cut their risk of death from fatal heart problems in half, compared to those who only used it once each week:

        10 percent of those who used the sauna just once per week suffered sudden cardiac death during the study

        Eight percent of those who used the sauna two or three times week died in cardiac-related events, and

        Only five percent of daily sauna goers suffered a lethal cardiac event

        These findings remained stable even when confounding factors such as smoking, blood pressure, cholesterol- and triglyceride levels were factored in. With regards to time, the greatest benefits were found among those who sweated it out for 19 minutes or more each session. As reported by Reuters:5”




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        1. Interesting–as a person of 50% Finnish ancestry and past partaker of saunas…. It occurs to me that aerobic exercise, in which one produces sweat, ought to work, as well. I noticed “back when” I used to run, I didn’t seem to get sick as much. I thought then it was due to “artificial” temperature elevation–much like a fever might kill a virus(?)




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    2. Brux: I saw your comment and not much later just happened to be reading page 77 of Dr. Greger’s new book, How Not To Die. Here’s a quote: “In addition to keeping you regular, fiber binds to toxins, such as lead and mercury, and flushes them away(pun intended!).130 ” Thought you would be interested.

      Had you asked your question any other day, I either would not have remembered the quote or where to find it. Lead is not mentioned in the index. It’s funny how things work out this way sometimes. Hope you found this helpful.




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      1. Thanks Thea, that is good to know, and probably functions like vitamin C to keep metals from being absorbed, but I don’t think fiber can do anything about metals already inside our bodies. I thought metals get into our fat mostly, but I don’t really know about that, maybe they even get into our bones … but them seems like they might not do a lot of harm there too. I’d guess that heavy metal probably do their worst in our neurological system. It’s kind of odd that the heavy metal cobalt is necessary for our neurological health though … being the center of the B12 molecule … ironic isn’t it.




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        1. Aye. And I agree with you that the fiber quote is about prevention, not removal of what is already in the body. I just thought you would find the information helpful.

          I remember a NutritionFacts video a long time ago that talked about women dumping a large percentage, something like 1/2? of their toxic load (don’t remember which types of toxins) into their babies when they give birth. That’s obviously not an option for half our population. And really a horrifying thought for any mother. But just thought I would mention it.

          Also breast feeding women transfer toxins/pollutants to their infants. But again, not an option for most people to do on a consistent basis. And obviously not the goal of breastfeeding. (breast is still best!) I’m just being complete.

          When it comes to toxins, it’s definitely easier to prevent than cure. Which is sad because so many of us grew up eating diets that were loaded with toxins and light on fiber.




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  14. all vitamin supplements the raw source comes from China packaged and capsuled in the U.S. all from china . don’t buy or eat anything that come from China . stay cancer free don’t burden your liver , kidneys and body taking all the garbage supplements .Grow your own tea , chamomile , sage , peppermint , dont buy China or japan made ..Asia is a sewer pollution dump on this planet .




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  15. I believe that data can be analyzed differently. There is a fine line in the difference between some oolongs with green tea and black tea. The main difference between these types of tea is the level of OXIDATION not fermentation as wrongly stated on one of the papers cited (Shen et al.), second many things can differentiate these types of tea for example region (terroir), when was it harvested, what leaves were used, the cultivar and how old were the leaves. While certain types of tea may ´´follow´´ specific guidelines, each producer has its own secrets or traditions of how to cultivate good quality tea. That is why the flavor variety between for example black teas could be very different even if they follow the same level of oxidation, similar manufactures and are both from China. This could also means that while we could differentiate green tea between black tea in flavor, the compound profile could be very different or very similar. Our taste buds are not chemical experts, think about how some soups could change dramatically of flavor if you add the right spice, same happen with tea just a bunch of compounds can change the flavor. That said, there are so many factors that can alter the compound profile or level of trace minerals and heavy metals of a tea even if we perceive it as green or black tea, at the end is the same plant. Different studies shows different results in contamination, that is because there are many factors involved.

    In my opinion we should not categorize their risk factors as drink more green tea or less black tea, because we are erroneously separating leaves that may only be different in oxidation rate (and all the flavor compounds that belongs with that) this could be for good or for bad, because we could be ostracizing some black teas with low heavy mental content and promoting green with more. Instead in my opinion, we should emphasize or be more specific on the region, age and all the other factors. As a tea enthusiast I believe tea producers should undergo strict quality controls of specific tea productions in order to maintain and certify their levels of contamination.

    While some of these studies are based on samples from 1999-2000 when some contamination restrictions were less strict, we hope that newer tea productions are less contaminated as newer and stricter restrictions were imposed.

    As a fan of Chinese tea, I believe we should very careful in labeling Chinese black or green tea as all the same, there are many producers that are very responsible in their practices (and are also lucky of living in less contaminated areas) that do not deserve to be marginalized because of their fellows and we should not deprive ourselves of their flavors.




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    1. I’m not a chemist, but I’ve had some college chemistry, so maybe you could tell me how what you do to the tea leave after it already has lead it in it or on it affects the lead level? We already mostly know that a lot of stuff coming from China is mislabeled … like the Chinese Pine Nuts that caused problems with people, or milk. From what i am hearing I am not going to try to make any fine distinctions about Chinese products based on labels, but even so, pollution is rampant in China so much that it affects other countries as well. To continue to buy Chinese products is just an incentive for the Chinese not to do anything about their pollution problem.




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      1. The difference between green tea and black tea is the level of oxidation, that means that when the leaves are harvested they are technically the same ( besides the other factors I mentioned). After they are harvested leaves that are intended for black tea will be agitated, In this process the chlorophyll in the leaves is enzymatically broken down, and its tannins are released or transformed by the enzymes(oxidation). For green tea, leaves are heated after harvested to denature the enzymes ( higher chlorophyll content green color). That is why I am saying black tea and green tea are not very different from each other, the lead content could be very similar if they share the same factors that I mentioned early.

        Also take in consideration not everything inside the leaves is released into the water, or in some leaves they would release it quicker than others (but we cannot attribute just oxidation to this). For example in some of the studies cited, tea leaves had significant levels of mercury, but no mercury was found in the brewed teas (in the water). So for some unknown mechanisms just certain things are actually brewed and at different speeds.

        I agree with you China needs to step up to fight contamination and pollution, but if you still want to enjoy high quality Chinese tea(and not blame the farmers for the problems of a whole nation) you can cherry pick the best of the best without detrimental effects to your body.




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  16. Hmm, makes me wonder whether I should be putting my used tea bags in my compost, which ultimately gets put into my vegetable garden. Are there any good methods or websites to determine the source of different tea varieties?




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    1. Sidney: After seeing your post, I looked it up. They claim to be America’s only “tea garden”. That’s pretty cool. I’ll have to see if I can find some to try.




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  17. Off topic:
    I have been following the information on this site very closely for quite a while now (around a year?), and changed from a (20+year) vegetarian diet to a WFPB diet soon after. I have or had a brain tumour (cannot tell for sure without more MRIs), diagnosed 6yrs ago.
    A couple of months ago, my weight plummetted from a low base – it went down by close to 3kg in 1 month, mostly losing muscles AFAICT. I went to my GP, and he said it was because of my diet, and recommended a dietary supplement drink (“Ensure”). I have been taking this 2-3 times daily over the intervening month, and my weight has gone back up by the same amount (mostly as fat rather than the muscle I lost though). Recently, I have been reading about people who have had to give up a vegan or WFPB diet because it made them unwell. http://naturalhygienesociety.org/diet3.html Their symptoms are similar to my recently worsening ones – weight loss, mental alertness loss.
    As I have significant scarring in my brain and possibly an expanding brain tumour, I probably need more nutrition than average. I was taking all the supplements that Dr. Greger recommends, not necessarily in the right quantities. What do you think? Am I missing or deficient in something that is only in animal produce? If so, what is it? I’d like to stay on a WFPB diet, but not if it is killing me :)
    Thanks,
    Bruce




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    1. What you are eating on your version of the WFPB diet? Plenty of legumes, whole grains, starchy veges and nuts/seeds with the fruits and greens? I will not say that there is never a time that an animal product has something that an individual can process better because of a deficiency but since animals (used to anyway) only get their nutrition from plants it is better to get it yourself first hand. Hopefully someone more knowledgeable will chime in here.




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      1. I was eating all of the above, perhaps just not enough? The weird thing is that it was enough to keep my weight stable for a while, and then it suddenly plummeted, without any change to my diet. I suspect that I had a viral infection for that time, or I built up a deficiency in something that only became significant at that time.




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    2. Might take a look at this?

      http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/06/16/ketogenic-diet-benefits.aspx

      “Could a ketogenic diet eventually be a “standard of care” drug-free treatment for cancer? Personally, I believe it’s absolutely crucial, for whatever type of cancer you’re trying to address, and hopefully some day it will be adopted as a first line of treatment.

      A ketogenic diet calls for eliminating all but non-starchy vegetable carbohydrates, and replacing them with healthy fats and high-quality protein.

      The premise is that since cancer cells need glucose to thrive, and carbohydrates turn into glucose in your body, then lowering the glucose level in your blood though carb and protein restriction literally starves the cancer cells into oblivion. Additionally, low protein intake tends to minimize the mTOR pathway that accelerates cell proliferation.

      This type of diet, in which you restrict all but non-starchy vegetable carbs and replace them with low to moderate amounts of high-quality protein and high amounts of beneficial fat, is what I recommend for everyone, whether you have cancer or not. It’s a diet that will help optimize your weight and all chronic degenerative disease. Eating this way will help you convert from carb burning mode to fat burning.”

      I think weight loss is a common issue with cancer… The above approach is contrary to the thesis of this site.




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      1. “A ketogenic diet calls for eliminating all but non-starchy vegetable carbohydrates, and replacing them with healthy fats and high-quality protein.”

        As far as I can tell, there is no significant evidence whatsoever for these claims. Certainly, people who make them like Fred never seem to provide any evidence to support their assertions, which is highly suggestive. . Anyway, the only healthy fats and proteins seem to be those in whole plant foods. The ketogenic diet is just snake oil as far as I can tell.
        However, there is actual evidence for the efficacy of plant foods in addressing cancer eg
        http://nutritionfacts.org/video/1-anticancer-vegetable/
        http://nutritionfacts.org/2015/12/22/which-nut-suppresses-cancer-cell-growth-the-most/
        http://nutritionfacts.org/2015/11/19/sweet-potato-proteins-vs-cancer/
        http://nutritionfacts.org/video/phytates-for-rehabilitating-cancer-cells/
        http://nutritionfacts.org/video/veggies-vs-cancer/
        http://nutritionfacts.org/video/slowing-the-growth-of-cancer-3/

        etc etc




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    3. Bruce: I’m not an expert, but I have some thoughts for you.
      .
      First, you mention that you think you might have cancer. Tom Goff explained that certain plant foods are known to fight cancer. And animal foods are associated with increased cancer risk. I would highly recommend that you research the information on this site regarding cancer. It seems to me that adding animal foods is the last thing to do if you have cancer. Here is a place to start:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/cancer/
      .
      Another point to consider is the weight loss. It is important to maintain a healthy weight and being underweight is as concerning as being over weight. (In other words, I’m totally with you on this point.) As one poster suggested, your weight loss may be related to the cancer. Another possibility (or some combination of both) is that you may not be getting enough calories with the whole foods that you were eating. This is not too uncommon. Baring diseases, weight is generally a factor of calorie density of our food. So, to gain or maintain weight, you may need to focus on whole plant foods that are more calorie dense than others. For example, eat more nuts, seeds, dried fruits (which take up less space in your tummy than fresh), lots of beans (perhaps including lots of traditional soy like tempeh and tofu which is high in fat compared to other beans) and avocado.
      .
      Drinking Ensure to get more calories is a horrifying thought to me. It may be calorie dense, which is why you gained weight with it, but the list of ingredients reads like a who’s who of a nutrition horror show. Other than water, I don’t see any actual food ingredients in it. Drinking Ensure is like drinking Coke for the water in my opinion. Such a bad idea. Drinks can be calorie-dense. How about a nice high calorie plant smoothie instead? Gaining weight through unhealthy means (like Ensure or cake) just can’t be helpful if you are facing other health issues too.
      .
      I hate to say anything bad about doctors, because you need a doctor you can trust to help you through this. I’m not a doctor and no doctor is going to be able to give you all the help you need on the internet. But two things that you describe really disturb me. First that your doctor recommended Ensure, and second that your doctor thinks that a WPFB diet is your problem without any specific reason to back it up. We know that most doctors in the United States have little to no nutritional education. One study found that Joe Blow off the streets know more about nutrition than the doctors surveyed! (There are a couple NuritionFacts video about this general topic.) Not all doctors are clueless however! I would encourage you to find a doctor in combination perhaps with a *carefully chosen* RD in your area who are knowledgeable about nutrition and who could help you with your serious health problems.
      .
      As healthy as a WFPB diet is for the vast majority of humans, there are some humans who are born with a genetic deficiency where their bodies can not create all the amino acids that other humans bodies create naturally. NutritionFacts has a video about this. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/when-meat-can-be-a-lifesaver/ A good doctor should be able to do the tests to help you figure out if you have this problem. If so, the solution is not going to be Ensure. But you will have a choice. You could add animal products to your diet. Or you could keep in mind that food is a package deal. You can get amino acid X without getting the saturated fat, cholesterol, animal protein, contaminants, etc that comes with eating animal flesh. So, you other option would be to take a pill that has that amino acid your body needs and otherwise stick to a WFPB diet. But the important thing would be to first figure out if you even have this problem or some other problem that a WFPB diet can’t address. You need a good doctor for that.
      .
      Finally, were you getting your B12?
      .
      As I said, I’m not an expert, but I feel that everything I said is pretty safe/valid and relevant to your situation. I wish you all the best in figuring this out. I hope these thoughts prove helpful to you.




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      1. Hi Thea, and thanks for your detailed response. :)

        Garlic (+ other alliums) and Broccoli (+ other cruciferous) seem to be anti-cancer winners.

        > First, you mention that you think you might have cancer.

        I was diagnosed with “terminal” brain cancer back in 2009: anaplastic astrocytoma in brain stem & cerubellum. I have had radiotherapy, chemo, and taken artemesia, which may be neuro-toxic, but has probably killed a lot of the cancer cells too. :) I don’t know whether the cancer is in remission or not, and will not know for sure unless I get a couple more MRIs, which my neuro-oncologist says I don’t need.

        > Tom Goff explained that certain plant foods are known to fight cancer. And animal foods are associated with increased cancer risk. I would highly recommend that you research the information on this site regarding cancer. It seems to me that adding animal foods is the last thing to do if you have cancer.

        I thought you might say that :)

        > As one poster suggested, your weight loss may be related to the cancer.

        I’m trying to not acknowledge that possibility – AFAIK there’s not much I can do to get rid of the cancer entirely.

        > Another possibility (or some combination of both) is that you may not be getting enough calories with the whole foods that you were eating. This is not too uncommon. Baring diseases, weight is generally a factor of calorie density of our food. So, to gain or maintain weight, you may need to focus on whole plant foods that are more calorie dense than others. For example, eat more nuts, seeds, dried fruits (which take up less space in your tummy than fresh), lots of beans (perhaps including lots of traditional soy like tempeh and tofu which is high in fat compared to other beans) and avocado.

        OK, I’m now doing that… :)

        > Drinking Ensure to get more calories is a horrifying thought to me. It may be calorie dense, which is why you gained weight with it, but the list of ingredients reads like a who’s who of a nutrition horror show. Other than water, I don’t see any actual food ingredients in it. Drinking Ensure is like drinking Coke for the water in my opinion. Such a bad idea.

        I get the picture ;)

        > Drinks can be calorie-dense. How about a nice high calorie plant smoothie instead? Gaining weight through unhealthy means (like Ensure or cake) just can’t be helpful if you are facing other health issues too.

        I once had a nutritionist recommend ice-cream for me to put on weight!

        > …your doctor recommended Ensure

        > …your doctor thinks that a WPFB diet is your problem without any specific reason to back it up. We know that most doctors in the United States have little to no nutritional education.

        I’m Australian; seems to be similar here, but I don’t know the figures.

        > I would encourage you to find a doctor in combination perhaps with a *carefully chosen* RD in your area who are knowledgeable about nutrition and who could help you with your serious health problems.

        Thanks for the tips :)

        > As healthy as a WFPB diet is for the vast majority of humans, there are some humans who are born with a genetic deficiency where their bodies can not create all the amino acids that other humans bodies create naturally.

        Unlikely, but I’ll keep it in mind :)

        > Finally, were you getting your B12?

        My B12 level was very high a year ago from taking 1/day for years. I stopped taking it for a while, but have started again, just in case it starts to get low.

        > As I said, I’m not an expert, but I feel that everything I said is pretty safe/valid and relevant to your situation. I wish you all the best in figuring this out. I hope these thoughts prove helpful to you.

        Thank you very much again :)

        Bruce




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    4. Bruce, I’m only in learning mode about nutrition, so I can only relay to you my experiences when I went WFPB 2-1/2 years ago. Before that, I ate mostly vegetarian, but did eat occasional meat, eggs, and dairy. I was average weight and BMI and medium build. Within the first few months of going WFPB, I lost about 10 lbs mostly from the abdominal area. From talking to others, the weight loss seems to be a normal occurrence. I didn’t notice any muscle loss nor strength loss. Everything else, including mental alertness, energy, sleep, etc.,has improved! At my annual physicals, my blood work is all within the normal or better range. But I, too, have often wondered if there is something missing along the lines of, say, something like vitamin B12, that hasn’t been discovered yet and doesn’t show up for years. I guess only time and continuing research will tell. Good luck in your quest for health!




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    5. I, too, had cancer and understand your concerns. I certainly agree with Thea, but wanted to mention that I lost 26 lbs going to a WFPB diet. Every so often I change something slightly and continue to lose a little more weight, but I was overweight to begin with. I suggest watching “Forks Over Knives” and reading “The China Study” if you have not done so–while keeping up on this site, of course. Best to you!




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    6. 3kg is nothing to worry. It’s absolutely fine. I can’t imagine being a vegetarian can cause cancer? It’s properly more some pesticides from the food. Some plants can really help to boost your health, try to search Rick Simpson.




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  18. I every now and then ever ask what are the health benefits of drinking the maximum amount of tea? I drink four or five cups of Matcha a day, four or five cups of red tea day, and drink four or five cups of a herbal tea as well (like Gynostemma mentioned above). I try to do everything Dr. Greger says, but the sugar alcohol gives me diarrhea and I do not like fruit smoothies. I enjoy eating a hibiscus tea bag every day. Is tea a new component of the whole foods plant based diet? In Dr. Greger’s excellent book, he recommends five beverages a day. I like drinking tea.




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  19. Organic pumpkin seeds from Whole Foods sold in their bulk-section are from CHINA. Just about all organic pumpkin seeds being sold in USA are from CHINA (heavy metal lead contamination? other metals? PCB’s?) And sunflower seeds known to be accumulators of lead. Looks like the healthy food might not be so healthy anymore.




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  20. My first introduction to concern for tea wasn’t lead… it was and continues to be arsenic levels.
    I’d be interested in similar conclusions Dr. Greger may also provide re that heavy metal,
    including sources, doses, resulting overall toxic burden and recommendations as a result.




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  21. I’m not sure of the scruples of Dr Copperman, but I read in an article in the NY Times that said, “liquid portions of the teas that were brewed and tested contained very little if any of the metal (lead). Dr. Cooperman said. “The majority of the lead is staying with the leaf,” he said. “If you’re brewing it with a tea bag, the tea bag is very effectively filtering out most of the lead by keeping those tea leaves inside the bag. So it’s fine as long as you’re not eating the leaves.” I purchased a bag of goji berries that were labeled organic, but I norticed that they were grown in China. Could I be consuming an undesirable amount of lead tainted in these berries? So, the larger issue is, if grown in a conspicuous location, our foods are going to need to be tested for any products tainted with lead.




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  22. you said you can eat 2 to 3 heaping teaspoons of green tea leaves, but was that measurement for matcha powder or chopped up leaves like you would find in a herb jar?




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  23. Hey, here are a couple of good ideas with regard to health and spreading the word. As I just got my copy of the book yesterday AND I’ll be attending a NYE gathering tonight of friends and family, I’m going to take the book there and be sure it is out where it can be seen. Just to see if it piques any interest at all. Wish I could have bought a dozen for gifts. Maybe next year.

    Also, for personal records (just of curiosity) I’m thinking about keeping a tally of the foods I eat this coming year. I know I go through 5/10 pounds of potatoes each week. Exactly how many pounds of dried beans and rice and nuts and seeds, leafies, fruit and tea and coffee, etc. do I really consume? I think it’d be neat to see an actual annual tally. AND then I’d know how much to store up for hard times.

    2016 Will be my first full year WFPB…nothing else makes sense, as I’m really happy with my health and weight now.




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    1. Wade: re: “I’m going to take the book there and be sure it is out where it can be seen.” I think that’s totally the way to do it! The cover is very inviting and people are more receptive when they reach for something than when it is pressed on them. I plan on trying something similar with my co-workers and our break room. Great idea!




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  24. This great video raised my awareness about checking the country of origin for sure.
    It is also easy to grow mint to make your own herbal tea , but they are quite invasive so it’s best to grow them in containers.

    For people who don’t like the bitterness of Japanese green tea, there is at least 6 varieties you can choose from if you prefer a milder tea, though the bitterness is suppose to be good for your health. The difference is mainly in the purity and the type processing of the leaves.
    Genmai-cha (a kind of light brown tea) may be easier to drink. As for me I stay away from green tea, for some reason it makes me very hyper , even-though green tea is supposed to contain less caffeine.




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  25. :-) Happy New Year NF’ers

    The thing I gotta know is how is it so hard to absorb nutrients like vitamins and
    minerals when we eat them, but seemingly so easy to absorb toxins like lead
    that we don’t eat and don’t want? I still wonder about how hard it seems to be
    to get to your daily RDA or potassium – nearly 5 grams?

    Has anyone seen Michael Pollan’s documentary that debuted last night on PBS
    called “In Defense of Food”. I does talk about what to eat and also a little about
    vegetarian/veganism, but mostly about how when we look back how silly the
    ideas of 100 years ago look, and wonders how silly we will look to people in 100
    years.

    Best in 2016!




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    1. I watched it because a friend of mine had just watched it and it helped him a great deal to understand more about nutrition. He doesn’t have a computer so he can’t follow NF. But actually this site would be just too confusing for him. I’m going to order him the book “In Defense of Food”.




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      1. I just noticed today it was on the PBS website in its entirety, too bad your friend doesn’t have a computer. There are a lot of good themes touched on in that documentary




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  26. I’ve immensely enjoyed teas I’ve ordered from Arbor Teas online. You can shop by region and country of origin. They have a water decaf process and most of their teas are organic. I found them when I was looking for a water decaf chai tea (awesome) because I’ve been a big tea drinker throughout my three pregnancies. I’ve not been to the store as its in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and I’m in Illinois, but I have nothing but good things to say about my purchases from them. arborteas.com. I also saw from consumer labs that Teavanna green tea passed their heavy metals testing.




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  27. Did your lead contamination study include the Charleston Tea Plantation teas or only foreign teas?
    The Charleston Tea Plantation produces a variety of teas such as American Classic (black), Green, oolong, etc. Most of the teas are produced locally with a few exceptions. I enjoy our local green tea but am not an expert on the variety of foreign teas. I can share one experience that my mother had. I gave my mother several boxes of the American Classic tea for a Christmas gift (she loved black tea). She later shared with me that her dentist has asked her if she had stopped drinking tea because her teeth were not stained as before. She told the dentist that she had not stopped drinking tea but switched to the American Classic.
    Thanks in advance for responding to my question above.




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  28. Depressing conclusions, Dr G. I hope this issue gets more attention with respect to cleaning up the contaminants as well as better regional testing and published data. My favorite oolongs originate from Taiwanese mountains. I wonder how that compares to mainland averages.




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  29. Dr. Greger, thanks for the great article, I’ve been curious about this question for a while do you know how many grams of tea you’re assuming as a ‘cup’ of tea? (as a side note, I’ve just discovered how freakin’ delicious Pu-Erh tea is… guess I”ll have to slow down on drinking that stuff)




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  30. I only drink Rooibos tea. Can’t handle ANY caffeine at all, and it helps relax my over active nervous system.
    Does Rooibos have similar lead levels to any of these? Is lead a problem for it? Is there a way to find out?




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    1. The Rooibos Tea I have bought was from the mountain peaks of South Africa. Have not heard of a pollution problem there. The rooibos plant is endemic to a small part of the western coast of the Western Cape province of South Africa. It grows in a symbiotic relationship with local micro-organisms and past attempts to grow it outside this area, in places as far afield as the United States, Australia and China have all failed https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rooibos




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      1. That was my feeling about it. Just wanted to see if Dr. Greger had any data on it. I don’t want to assume it is fine, and then keep downing a bunch of it every day.
        I drink it every single day, so, if it IS high in lead or mercury or something. I might really have to reconsider.

        Thanks so much for your response and info. All the Rooibos tea I get is from South Africa and is Organic, so let’s hope it is just fine.

        Appreciate it.




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  31. i cannot find any doctor or author who will answer the question about whether green vegetables are bad for the liver if someone had yellow jaundice as a kid????anyone out there. I am close to giving up on all ;of this nutrition stuff if I cannot get a plausible answer. thanks.




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    1. Do you know what your yellow jaundice was caused by? I had hepatitis B years ago but my liver healed and have no problem since despite my love for green vegetables. Have you had jaundice or liver problems since then? I’ve read by a quick google search that you can do that green leafys are good for cleaning the liver. Why do you think they are not good for you?




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  32. Very interesting. The video contrasts tea grown in China and Japan. But one of the cited papers that I looked at found lower toxicant levels in “Green tea organic” from Sri Lanka compared to that from Japan. http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jt/2013/370460/tab4/ So why use Japan in particular as the contrast case? In other words is the take home message to choose some non-China tea or to choose Japan tea?




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    1. I should add that the study had a small sample of teas. We can’t draw conclusions about tea from entire regions based on test on the particular tea products that were part of the study sample unless we know that those particular tea samples are reliably representative for the region. Perhaps the other sources go into such issues, I haven’t had time to look at them yet. But I sure am looking forward to more videos on tea nutrition topics!




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  33. Informative video, but frustrating in its complete omission from the discussion of non-Chinese black teas. Where does this video leave those of us (like me) who drink Assam and Darjeeling (about 10g of loose tea daily)? My selections vary between organic and non-organic and between immature and mature leaf varieties. Thoughts, anyone?




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  34. I appreciate your work generally and have shared your site with my colleagues. I am a tea enthusiast to put it mildly and looking forward to taking the tea masters course as a prelude to opening a tea business. My research and subsequent marketing strategy will focus on the health benefits of tea so this article will inform that work. I’m looking forward to your series on tea. Thank you!




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  35. Thank you for the info on tea lead-contamination. Very helpful. But, since many of the Chinese teas have great amounts of lead contamination . . . I’m now wondering about Goji berry lead-contamination. Don’t most of our Goji berries come from China? What kind of lead-ingestion-risk might be associated with Chinese-Goji berry consumption?




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  36. OK, this is a bit scary. I drink a lot of tea and a lot of it is Chinese. I started cold brewing after Dr. Greger did a video on it. I use loose leaf, Indian black, Chinese green and Chinese Oolong, infused up to 12 hours. Is there any information on how cold brewing for this length of time affects heavy metal leaching into tea?




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  37. Thanks. I drink coffee in the morning (2-3 cups) and green tea in the afternoon (2-4 cups) so it’s comforting to know that green is safe regardless of source. China always concerns me for anything I consume and I avoid it as much as possible.

    By the way if you ever get to try green tea from Sri Lanka straight off the plane (a friend went on a trip and brought me some back instead of a T-shirt) then do so. It is noticeably richer and tastier than anything I’ve bought in the store in North America including tea from Sri Lanka.




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    1. All this talk about Sri Lanka is really making me want to go to Sri Lanka! And google images didn’t help much… So it’s pretty official now, I must go to Sri Lanka.




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    1. I find that experience often speaks loudest. So here’s what I have to offer… I consume raw cacao every. single. day. It’s organic, I get it from either Sunfood or Terrasoul but have gotten it from other sources too. I’ve had a tablespoon’s worth a day, but as a rule, I have a teaspoon (usually heaping) a day and sometimes more later on. Sometimes I’ll make the most divine and euphoric hot cacao (warm/hot water, cacao to taste, and just a bit of maple syrup) and I use a TON of cacao powder because I love it lol. Then sometimes I make this amazing dessert of almond butter, lots of cacao (sometimes more than other times but I am very generous with it on occasion, like a half a cups worth maybe lol) sweetened with maple syrup (it makes this awesome fudgy divine manna of desserts) and for a time, I was having that as a treat once a week. Anyways, not only have I not experienced any ill effects and not only do I feel really healthy and always feel amazing after eating cacao, but I had gotten my blood tested for heavy metals last summer and lead and cadmium were on the list of things tested for, I had zero issues with either of them nor any others I was tested for.

      If you’re concerned but want to eat cacao, personally I don’t think there’s a reason to be concerned but I’d get organic and fair trade (fair tread not being a health reason, but just throwing that in there), but you could just get your blood tested after a few weeks of steady consumption.




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      1. Also, he has a video on cocoa here and the Kunaal Indians who drink it everyday live very long lives. Scientists credit this to their regular consumption of cacoa.




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  38. I drank Japanese green tea for 30 odd years, but stopped after the Fukushima disaster. Can we be 100% sure that Japanese tea is not contaminated? I was wondering what Dr Greger’s thoughts are on this. I’m aware that goods exported from Japan are often accompanied by a radiation check certificate, but I don’t know, I’m just not convinced that consuming food grown anywhere near a nuclear fallout is a good idea…
    I’d be interested to hear anyone else’s views on this.




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    1. Well, I’ve been drinking tea sourced in part from Japan (I drink a green tea matcha blend, the matcha is from Japan) every single day (two teabags worth, it’s by Republic of Tea and is organic) and also drink pure matcha from Japan from time to time for weeks at a time (only breaking because it’s expensive), and I have not experienced any ill effects whatsoever. On the contrary, I feel it has helped my health in multiple ways. I’m healthier than those I know who don’t drink their tea daily or at all, so I think that’s pretty telling.




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  39. Greger goes over lead levels in Japanese tea and Chinese tea, but a lot of tea comes from other places such as Africa or India. What about tea from India, for example? Is India a “low lead” source of tea?

    Where to go for organic teas from Japan (especially decaf)? Anyone know some organic black or oolong tea sourced from Japan as well?




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    1. Copying and pasting pie’s comment:

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0bce27193393ab08ce59dbfed201851ab2e1b6b9d1a43ddf801eafeff027bb25.jpg

      “I live in Singapore. We import our matcha from many sources. But, we also have a government dept that imposes stringent checks on imports of tea. The current import restrictions has been eased for Japanese tea. It states: On March 2014, The EU reported that, “ ‘tea from the third growing season has not been found to be contaminated by radioactivity. It is therefore appropriate to no longer require sampling and analysis of tea, originating from prefectures other than Fukushima, before export to the Union.’” – See more at: http://www.greentea.sg/Blog/green-tea-radiation#sthash.BtQJ7YLJ.dpuf




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  40. Does anyone know where I can find some quality English Breakfast black tea or Earl Grey tea that is grown in a country that has low lead contamination? I’m hoping to find a quality brand that I can use to experience English culture, something similar to Twinings or Harney & Sons — something high quality from tea blenders who do it just right, but source their leaves from countries that have low lead contamination in their teas. Also hoping for organic if possible…

    Thanks in advance for anyone who helps with this question!




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  41. I have a question. Does Chinese green tea extract carry the same risk of lead contamination? Or does the extraction process lower or remove the risk?




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    1. Sarah, not sure about the lead, but I urge you to avoid using green tea extract as it has actually caused liver failure. It’s mentioned in another video on this site. For whatever specific reasons, green tea extract is harmful, very different from the real thing.




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      1. And I’m talking about on more than one occasion, it’s been so harmful to liver that they researched it for this reason. I’m not remembering the exact wording or explanation Dr. Greger gave, so my wording is very sloppy, but that’s the gist of it.




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  42. This answered my questions perfectly! Now, will have to do a search about Balsamic Vinegar, which contains a Prop 65 warning here in California. Thanks, Dr. Greger!




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  43. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0bce27193393ab08ce59dbfed201851ab2e1b6b9d1a43ddf801eafeff027bb25.jpg

    I live in Singapore. We import our matcha from many sources. But, we also have a government dept that imposes stringent checks on imports of tea. The current import restrictions has been eased for Japanese tea. It states: On March 2014, The EU reported that, “ tea from the third growing season has not been found to be contaminated by radioactivity. It is therefore appropriate to no longer require sampling and analysis of tea, originating from prefectures other than Fukushima, before export to the Union.” – See more at: http://www.greentea.sg/Blog/green-tea-radiation#sthash.BtQJ7YLJ.dpuf




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  44. I drink 2 teabags of organic double green matcha tea by Republic of Tea a day and also drink whole matcha on occasion. I had my blood tested for heavy metals last summer and I had no issue with lead or any heavy metal. I believe the match they use in their double green tea is from japan. I also drink Mighty Leaf matcha tea and that is from japan.




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  45. I am posting this here because I have a tea related question. In a recent video download Dr. Greger casually mentioned that for a long time he hasn’t recommend drinking tea with a meal. Is that right? I have been a long time subscriber and did a search of the site but I can’t find any reference to this. I think it was something about affecting the iron absorption but I can’t find any reference. Any pointer to information on this would be VERY important, as I usually try to drink tea with a meal.




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