Plants with Aspirin Aspirations

Plants with Aspirin Aspirations
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Should the active ingredient in aspirin be considered an essential vitamin?

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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.

“The results of the recent aspirin meta-analyses—suggesting a reduction of cancer mortality by about one-third in subjects taking [daily low-dose] aspirin…, can justly be called astounding. Yet, the protection from ‘Western’ cancers enjoyed by [those eating more traditional plant-centered diets] is even more dramatic.”

Animal products made up only about 5% or less of the Japanese diets, until Japanese people began to Westernize their diets.  And, here’s their cancer rates, compared to the United States at the time. “Note that age-adjusted death rates from cancers of the colon, prostate, breast, and ovary were on the order of 5-10 [times] lower in Japan than in the US: [with] mortality from pancreatic cancer, leukemias, and lymphomas…3-4 fold lower. But, this phenomenon was by no means isolated to Japan; Western cancers were likewise comparatively rare in other…societies [where]…people ate plant-based diets.”

“The cancer protection afforded by lifelong consumption of a plant-based diet, in conjunction with leanness and insulin sensitivity [that tends to come along with it] may be very substantial indeed.  Therefore, a “lifestyle protocol for minimizing cancer risk” may include a “whole-food plant-based diet.”

Now, if part of this cancer protection arises out of the aspirin phytonutrients in plants, are there any plants in particular that are packed with salicylates? Though salicylic acid, the main active ingredient in aspirin, “is ubiquitously present in fruits and vegetables,…herbs and spices contain the highest concentrations.”

Chili powder, paprika, turmeric have a lot, but cumin is like 1% aspirin by weight. Eating a teaspoon of cumin is like taking a baby aspirin. “Consequently, populations that incorporate substantial amounts of spices in foods may have markedly higher daily intakes of salicylates. Indeed, it has been suggested that the low incidence of colorectal cancer among Indian populations may be ascribed in part to high exposure to dietary salicylates throughout life from spice consumption.”

“The population in rural India” has “one of the lowest [rates of colorectal cancer] in the world, and a diet that could be extremely rich in salicylic acid”—given the “substantial amounts of [plant foods] flavored with large quantities of herbs and spices.” Some have proposed it’s the curcumin in the spice turmeric; but, maybe it’s the salicylic acid in cumin. And, the spicier, the better.

A spicy veggie vindaloo may have four times the salicylates of a milder Madras-style veggie dish. One meal, and you get a spike in your bloodstream like you just took an aspirin. So, eating flavor-filled vegetarian meals, with herbs and spices, may be more chemoprotective—meaning more protective against cancer—than just regular, more bland vegetarian meals.

We may also want to eat organic. “Because salicylic acid is a defense hormone of plants, the concentration…is increased when plants become stressed”—like when plants are bitten by bugs, unlike pesticide-laden plants. And, indeed, soups made from organic vegetables were found to have nearly six times more salicylic acid than soups prepared from conventionally-grown ingredients.

We should also choose whole foods. Whole-grain breads, which are high in salicylic acid, contain about a hundred times more phytochemicals than white bread: 800, perhaps, compared to 8. That does raise the question, though: what about the other 799?

“Interest in the potential beneficial effects of dietary salicylates has arisen, in part, because of the extensive literature on the disease-preventative effects of Aspirin™. However, it should not be forgotten that plant products found to contain salicylic acid are generally rich sources” of a whole long list of other phytonutrients—many of which have marked anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity, as well. “Their potential protective effects should [therefore] not be overlooked.”

“In this context, the importance of dietary salicylic acid should not perhaps be over emphasized. Indeed, some believe that ‘salicylic acid deficiency’ has [such] important public health implications that it should be classed as an essential vitamin—namely ‘Vitamin S’.”

But, what they’re really saying is that we should all just have to eat a lot of plants.

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.

“The results of the recent aspirin meta-analyses—suggesting a reduction of cancer mortality by about one-third in subjects taking [daily low-dose] aspirin…, can justly be called astounding. Yet, the protection from ‘Western’ cancers enjoyed by [those eating more traditional plant-centered diets] is even more dramatic.”

Animal products made up only about 5% or less of the Japanese diets, until Japanese people began to Westernize their diets.  And, here’s their cancer rates, compared to the United States at the time. “Note that age-adjusted death rates from cancers of the colon, prostate, breast, and ovary were on the order of 5-10 [times] lower in Japan than in the US: [with] mortality from pancreatic cancer, leukemias, and lymphomas…3-4 fold lower. But, this phenomenon was by no means isolated to Japan; Western cancers were likewise comparatively rare in other…societies [where]…people ate plant-based diets.”

“The cancer protection afforded by lifelong consumption of a plant-based diet, in conjunction with leanness and insulin sensitivity [that tends to come along with it] may be very substantial indeed.  Therefore, a “lifestyle protocol for minimizing cancer risk” may include a “whole-food plant-based diet.”

Now, if part of this cancer protection arises out of the aspirin phytonutrients in plants, are there any plants in particular that are packed with salicylates? Though salicylic acid, the main active ingredient in aspirin, “is ubiquitously present in fruits and vegetables,…herbs and spices contain the highest concentrations.”

Chili powder, paprika, turmeric have a lot, but cumin is like 1% aspirin by weight. Eating a teaspoon of cumin is like taking a baby aspirin. “Consequently, populations that incorporate substantial amounts of spices in foods may have markedly higher daily intakes of salicylates. Indeed, it has been suggested that the low incidence of colorectal cancer among Indian populations may be ascribed in part to high exposure to dietary salicylates throughout life from spice consumption.”

“The population in rural India” has “one of the lowest [rates of colorectal cancer] in the world, and a diet that could be extremely rich in salicylic acid”—given the “substantial amounts of [plant foods] flavored with large quantities of herbs and spices.” Some have proposed it’s the curcumin in the spice turmeric; but, maybe it’s the salicylic acid in cumin. And, the spicier, the better.

A spicy veggie vindaloo may have four times the salicylates of a milder Madras-style veggie dish. One meal, and you get a spike in your bloodstream like you just took an aspirin. So, eating flavor-filled vegetarian meals, with herbs and spices, may be more chemoprotective—meaning more protective against cancer—than just regular, more bland vegetarian meals.

We may also want to eat organic. “Because salicylic acid is a defense hormone of plants, the concentration…is increased when plants become stressed”—like when plants are bitten by bugs, unlike pesticide-laden plants. And, indeed, soups made from organic vegetables were found to have nearly six times more salicylic acid than soups prepared from conventionally-grown ingredients.

We should also choose whole foods. Whole-grain breads, which are high in salicylic acid, contain about a hundred times more phytochemicals than white bread: 800, perhaps, compared to 8. That does raise the question, though: what about the other 799?

“Interest in the potential beneficial effects of dietary salicylates has arisen, in part, because of the extensive literature on the disease-preventative effects of Aspirin™. However, it should not be forgotten that plant products found to contain salicylic acid are generally rich sources” of a whole long list of other phytonutrients—many of which have marked anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity, as well. “Their potential protective effects should [therefore] not be overlooked.”

“In this context, the importance of dietary salicylic acid should not perhaps be over emphasized. Indeed, some believe that ‘salicylic acid deficiency’ has [such] important public health implications that it should be classed as an essential vitamin—namely ‘Vitamin S’.”

But, what they’re really saying is that we should all just have to eat a lot of plants.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to Food & Function

Doctor's Note

If you missed the first two videos in this series, I discuss the pros and cons in Should We All Take Aspirin to Prevent Heart Disease? and Should We All Take Aspirin to Prevent Cancer?.

The drug-like anti-inflammatory power of certain plant foods may make them a risky proposition during pregnancy. See Caution: Anti-inflammatory Foods in the Third Trimester.

Herbs and spices don’t just have some of the most anti-inflammatory properties, but also the most antioxidant power. See Antioxidants in a Pinch.

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

133 responses to “Plants with Aspirin Aspirations

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  1. I am struck by the wide range in SA content for different samples of a given spice. There is a 550-fold difference between the lowest and highest number.




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    1. Don’t know, but sometimes taste is an indicator – and I’ve found there is quite a bit of variability in the taste of dried herbs and spices by brand.




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    2. PTT: I’m from south Asia and very familiar with spices from that area. These spices are highly perishable although it’s not intuitive because there are no visual or olfactory changes. Indian Stores are not the best places to buy them because the turnover is low, and usually they’re not organic. I buy mine from mountainroseherbs.com.




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      1. I buy the whole seeds and grind them, rather than the powder.

        But this raises the question of whether the difference in salicylic acid content is due to the perishable nature of SA, or to the variable SA content of the source plant material.




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        1. “Visitors to the US often comment on the blandness of our produce.”

          The produce in the USA is selected and breed for appearance: to transport without degradation and to look good on the shelf days or weeks after picking. Flavor is not part of the equation.




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        2. Great question PTT. My guess is that it’s both. In that part of the world spices are still grown in small farms owned by the farmers themselves. Fertilizer used is whatever available to them free, like cow dong, elephant dong, and compost. This means growing conditions vary from region to region, which affects chemical profile of the plant. Spices sold at Indian stores usually come on ships, which could take weeks. So perishability matters too. Salicylic acid, but not aspirin, is a phenol, so it could function as an antioxidant. The older the spice, the lower the antioxidant content.
          I buy whole spices, store in the freezer in air-tight containers, grind them once a week enough for about a week.
          Since Dr. Greger mentioned the high salicylic acid content in cumin, I would like to mention its cousin black cumin (black seed). black cumin is also very rich in salicylic acid.




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    3. Your thoughts also begs the question that I think Dr. C. Campbell might ask: Is it the whole picture- the food in its entirety and its synergy with other plant nutrients that create the outcome?”. I took his ecornell course and I do not profess to be an expert by any means but his thoughts about the context of a food’s nutrient effect (of course the whole food being ideal) really stuck with me.
      I would also add to this perspective that our thoughts add to the efficacy of foods.




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      1. Some thoughts on consuming essential oils v whole spices–As a general principle, I worry about consuming essential oils due to the IARC’s classification of certain compounds in spices (methyleugenol, safrole, pulegone, for example) as potential carcinogens and the EFSA’s banning of some of those compounds in foods and food products. See https://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol101/mono101-013.pdf and http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol1-42/mono10.pdf and https://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol108/mono108-05.pdf On the other hand, I don’t think cumin is rich in any problematic compounds. Cumin is a good source of kaempferol, an important flavonol, and I’d think that the whole seed might contain more kaempferol (as well as other health-promoting compounds) than the oil itself. See http://phenol-explorer.eu/contents/food/779. Your thoughts?




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      1. According to Aqua-Calc ( http://www.aqua-calc.com/calculate/food-volume-to-weight ), cumin weighs 2 grams per teaspoon. At 1% salicylic acid (the concentration cited in the video), it would require 4 tsp of cumin seeds to equal one baby aspirin (81 mg salicilylic acid). I’m not trying to be argumentative, but nitpicking a little about the math. I am in full agreement that cumin is a great source of salicylates.




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  2. This is excellent news for cumin lovers!

    I am not a big turmeric fan. It’s great stuff with powerful health promoting properties, but I find the flavor off putting in quantities much above a 1/3 of a teaspoon per serving. It is a well that black pepper amplifies its effect by blocking the liver from clearing it from our systems because I can only tolerate small quantities of it before my food starts becoming unpaletable, BUT, I absolutely adore the flavor cumin. I have no problem liberally adding heaping tablespoons of cumin seeds and/or power to tomato sauces, curries and the like.

    It is good to see that one of my favorite spices is superior, at least in one area, to one that I can only tolerate in small doses…

    And while I’m at it, I’d like to give a shout out to green cardamon. It’s wonderfully flavorful stuff.




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    1. Perhaps you should try the real thing as in the root. The powdered stuff is often tainted bright orange with carcinogens, which the Asians would never consume.
      With a little onion and ginger and black pepper in olive oil, plus a few tomatoes and garlic, my desert spoon of turmeric root leaves no more of a flavour than any other compound. In fact I can still taste all the veggies through all those ingredients and no salt needed whatsoever. Add a little lovely curry spices and you won’t be tasting the turmeric at all.




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    2. I use them together a lot for the same reason…the flavor of cumin and the benefits of turmeric. I know this is pretty weird but I find I’ve been enjoying turmeric in a blend of chai spices, in my coffee.




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      1. i am inferring that you had to develop a taste for turmeric in chai spices. In any case my taste buds certainly do learn over time. I have come to really like chopped turmeric root cooked with my mixture of mushrooms, sweet potatoes, beans and greens. I did not like it at all to begin with but now find myself being a bit careful to restrain my addition to just about 1.5 inches of root just because I like it so much but don’t want to overdo things.




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  3. hmmm, I am confused by what appears to be a contradiction here. In the first source given, alcoholic beverages are listed as 5 % greater salicylic acid at 22% versus herbs ans spices at 17%. But Dr Greger has already presented info on alcohol being considered carcinogenic in this video here. http://nutritionfacts.org/2013/11/28/breast-cancer-alcohol-how-much-is-safe/
    Otherwise, fascinating video.. I wonder too how much protection against colon cancer in rural India populations comes from the fiber and phytonutrients in beans and lentils, in addition to all the amazing herbs and spices?




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    1. It’s probably the synergistic effect of everything in the diet acting together. Focusing on just the salicylic acid alone is reductionism IMO. It’s the power of a WFPB diet.




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      1. Agreed Blair Rollin, can’t go wrong with fruit , vegies, beans and lentils, and all those spices plus a strong family oriented culture, and living in a rural setting! It all works together..




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    2. I have to make a correction here.. There is no apparent contradiction, it was a study of the estimated daily intake of a scottish population for salicylic acid from various food sources. Apparently their #1 source is alcohol (!) , spices and herbs is next, but vegies are way down the line supplying only 9 % of intake.




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  4. I remember one video Dr Greger did, where he said that eating animal proteins might have an inflammatory effect, but maybe it’s just that we are getting a lot of ant-inflammatory effect from the fruits and veges (and spices) that you don’t get in a traditional western diet.




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    1. A friend just overheard the video. He went and got his spice jar and pulverized an baby aspirin and stirred it in with the spices. He always carries it with him when he goes out to eat and sprinkles his own spices (which includes Tumeric, cumin, garlic, nutritional yeast in one sm shaker). Oh well, time will tell.




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    2. some varieties of whole peppers and cayenne provide the ‘heat’ in indian dishes.. this is what the servers at restaurants refer to when they ask how hot or how spicy you would like your meal. The spices like cumin, coriander, tumeric etc have no heat of their own, but are packed full of all the phytonutrients that we want. Mixed spice blends like garam masala usually do not gave heat unless added, and curry powder often does have cayenne in some quantity added. You can request low or no heat, but still be assured of getting the full compliment of healthful herbs and spices




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  5. This great video motivated me to make this “asa” recipe:
    2 tablespoons (or more) of hummus
    1 tsp cumin (I used my mortar and pestle wth the seeds)
    1 quarter tsp tumeric (just to throw in those benefits)
    Add cayenne if desired.
    Mix and enjoy which I did with asparagus spears
    Yummo!




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        1. I am hoping to hear that vegetable sources do not have the dreaded bleeding effect..Maybe big pharma Aspirin is different in some way than natural plant based products.




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            1. But if I am understanding the videos correctly, it is saying just that- benefits without the hazards. Did you see the previous ones in this series?




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    1. Hi Amanda, If you go to the Health Topics and look under the letter “p” you will find “psoriasis”. If you click there, it will get you to tow videos on psoriasis and diet. I hope that is helpful.




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    2. Only anecdotal Amanda, though I didn’t have it that bad, since I went WFPB it’s gone, and Dr McDougall has testimonials at his site about several others who have had similar results, especially with psoriatic arthritis.




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    3. Amanda I don’t have the 100% success rate that Vege-tater has but I have alleviated the worst of my plaque psoriasis with diet and completely eliminate my psoriatic arthritis. Also the recent video on turmeric was useful. My largest plaque area has completely cleared since I began using turmeric much more liberally.
      So to summarize; a wfbpd cured my psoriatic arthritis and helped the plaque psoriasis. Added turmeric helped the plaque psoriasis further but did not completely eliminate it.




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  6. WOW!!!! WAIT!!! Dr. Greger and TV???
    .
    Here’s an blurb that I just read on Meatout Mondays:
    “You may have heard of TV shows like The Biggest Loser, Bar Rescue, and Extreme Weight Loss but did you know that the producer of these shows is vegan? And that he has decided to launch a plant-based version of the famed, The Biggest Loser? The Big Fat Truth will aim to have participants eat a plant-based diet—while under the watchful eye of the amazing Dr. Michael Greger. In an interview with VegNews, Roth said, “a group of six diabetic participants featured on the show completely ceased taking medication after theinitial 10-day, plant-based transition—just from eating plants!” The show is set to air in April 2017 on the Z Living network. Plant-based TV shows by ‘big deal’ producers? Yes please!” Full article on: http://vegnews.com/articles/page.do?pageId=8736&catId=1
    .
    So cool! How is it we are hearing about this from 3rd parties?
    .
    And hey, did you note this part? “a group of six diabetic participants featured on the show completely
    ceased taking medication after the initial 10-day, plant-based transition—just from eating plants!” That needed repeating. For the first time probably ever, I wish I had cable…




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    1. That’s great! Unbelievable. You never know what’s going to be the tipping point. It could be this. I must say though, I rank getting rid of my TV years ago right up there with becoming vegan and ultimately switching to WFPB.




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      1. Blair Rollin: I don’t know how much impact this show will have since it is on a small station, but I do think that every bit helps move us toward that tipping point.
        .
        One factor that puts some weight behind the possibility that this show will have a significant impact: People think that reality TV is real. I would not have thought anyone would be so taken in until some time ago when I had several conversations on NutritionFacts with a person who considered it absolute proof that humans need a significant amount of meat in our diet because people on those survivor type reality TVs shows had to eat meat to survive.
        .
        I kid you not. This guy was 100% convinced that the “reality” TV show revealed an innate truth about humanity. While I don’t think that most people are that gullible, I do think that watching these types of shows influences people subconsciously. If we can get this new show to a wide audience, it really could have an impact, especially after the failure of the people in the older lose-weight reality shows to stay healthy.
        .
        Fingers crossed…




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        1. You know Thea, the thought that crossed my mind is that the show could offer a real window of opportunity here to get snippets of essential info out to a very attentive audience. While I love personal testimonies, I usually avoid the reality type shows with all their hype… but many people love them, and will be totally captivated by the week to week progress and successes of participants. Accompanied by some narrative by our own Dr G, and it can’t help but do a lot of good for a lot of folks.




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    2. That is so cool! I have clients that I teach and those who are suspicious of the efficacy of a WFPBD and I will sure tune in to this (if I can get in Canada). Thank you so much Thea!! Keep announcing this!




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    3. Thanks for sharing that Thea, that is incredibly awesome! Now who is gonna grill him about why we didn’t get the news FIRST from him instead of from a third party? :)




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    1. Hi Kasia, Allergies vary in their intensity and expression, and generally the advice is to avoid foods that cause you an allergic reaction. Having said that, there is some amount of salicylate in many fruits and vegetables, not to mention spices, so he probably is taking in some amount of salicylate if he is eating any of these. I will share that I have in the past developed hives all over my body from an aspirin, but never from eating food, and I like spicy things and they don’t disagree. So I think it depends on the individual…I hope that is helpful!




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  7. And this is the mechanism I give credit to for removing all those aches and pains that I had heretofore thought were just a part of aging. I literally FELT better all over within the first three days of kicking meat/sugar/oils to the curb. Three whole days.

    I’m sure that the rest of the Western world (with their nutritional naiveté) yet believes that it’s “aging” and not nutrition. WE know better!

    And I’ll never quite understand anyone who won’t give such a “possibility” a 3-day trial run.

    I started with one meal. Then three, the three days…I was hooked and then the weight started fixing itself. I never thought it could be so easy.




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    1. Isn’t it? It’s almost a miracle. And the food taste so much better it’s not even a comparison. I never enjoyed eating like I do now. And I’m fitter and leaner than when I was in my teens and twenties 30 years ago.




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      1. Great to hear, Blair! I had to combine Weight Watchers with my plant based diet because i was over eating the healthy carbs and now I am seeing great results. So you inspire me- thanks!




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        1. The starches like taters, rice, corn, wheat, and beans are going to be your calorie dense items. Vegetables, on the other hand, are going to be the nutrient dense ones. For lunch, I normally eat an equal mix of collards, baby lima beans, and sliced taters, microwaved. Pretty calorie dense with the beans and taters. What I do, if I think I’m getting too many calories, I will eat a can each of beets, spinach and green beans to start off my lunch before I ever go for the starches. Then I’m not as hungry when I dig into the starches and start to feed.




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    2. Wade, I wish everyone I know who could benefit so much would have the moxie to do as you did, just TRY it! In fact, I get such disbelief and incredulity that something so low tech could be that miraculous, I’ve taken to presenting it as a challenge to the hard core meatheads…go ahead and try it and prove me wrong!




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    1. Interesting question, Linda! From what I could find in the medical literature (which wasn’t much), it is possible for those with an aspirin allergy to have a reaction to plants rich in salicylates. I don’t think you need to start avoiding foods that you’ve never reacted to before, but, if you’ve had trouble tolerating a particular fruit or vegetable in the past, this may be an explanation.




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      1. hi christine, just a brief comment in response to your “why take a pill” statement. I think its important to recognize that we know very little about participants in this forum or their circumstances – I say this because in my case my cardiologist had two things to say to me re aspirin. First, my exercise routine and wfpb diet is awesome.. truly bringing about tangible results when lived in a consistent manner. Second, while whole foods and herbs do contain salicylic acid, their is NO way to quantify if in a reliable way.. especially since I eat locally, and seasonally most of the time. Even spices obtained from the same supplier will fluctuate in their salicylic acid values.. A pill delivers a known quantity and can be administered as needed.




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        1. Susan,

          High five on your exercise and wfpb diet…excellent to hear you’re seeing results !

          Just a bit of amplification on your comment. First so true that the amount of phytonutrients will vary dramatically from season to water intake from changes in soil to……. so without some high tech checks, it’s a guess as to what’s really in your food vs someone else’s.

          Regarding the variations in actual vs delivered amounts in various manufacturers pills, it’s not a given that the stated label will be totally accurate. Unfortunately Consumer labs has not looked at aspirin.

          As to aspirin because it’s so inexpensive and the cost is more of the packaging and delivery, vs the active ingredient, it should be typically consistent. There are also some confounding considerations including methodology of testing, With that aside…. most brands were found to be within the 90-110% of indicated active ingredient as required by law. Curiously, other than some international studies, I found little comparing the typical OTC aspirin brands in the US. There have been some recalls: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm357909

          One more point is that there is a significant difference in the binders used in the pills and they will have some, albeit limited, effect on bioavailability and blood concentrations. So we can get close to our desired intake, but not necessarily exact dosages, regardless of source even with over the counter products.

          Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger




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          1. Thank you so much for your response Dr Kadish! I think my doctor’s only point to me is that my diet , though really good, may vary a lot in salicylic acid content, and since I had heart surgery she feels I just cant mess around ie I could possibly have days where intake is very low. However, she did say she is comfortable in my taking a baby aspirin on alternating days.

            Thank you for the link on recalls. It is not surprising to me that dosages vary in pills ..Dr Greger has pointed this out on occassion regarding various vitamins. Interesting too about the binders.. maybe that is part of what is noticable in different brands of the same drug. So thanks again for taking time to comment Dr Kadish, all the best to you




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  8. QUESTION would a ketosis diet that had all nutrients including 200 mg of vitamin c 150000 of vitamin a (or more) and bunch of vitamin k all from whole plant foods be healthy in your opinion (keep in mind cancer is an obligate glucose user and Alzheimer’s can also be cured/helped/stopped by a ketosis diet)




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    1. There is some evidence from animal studies that long term adherence to a keto diet actually promotes tumour growth. Eating this way would be a brave decision.

      The World Cancer Research Fund has provided advice on a cancer prevention diet based on the evidence. That’s a better option than believing the dubious claims of snake oil merchants.




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        1. I have seen it referred to on keto diet websites but, since I think keto diets present long term health risks, I have never paid much attention.




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          1. well if you can show me a study saying that a ketogenic diet is bad that has at least 1 carb refead every other week then i wont advocate it. also limiting your carbs that much actually can become quite expensive so i just eat a diet with at least 60% fat




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            1. I can point you to studies that show low carb diets deliver higher mortality. I can point out that there are no studies showing a long term health or mortality advantage to eating keto diets. I can point out animal studies showing half a lifetime on high fat diets delivers much higher mortality rates than standard lower fat diets.

              But if you want to be believe that a keto diet is for you, despite the lack of any long term evidence of benefit and quite a bit of evidence to the contrary, then you are a braver man than I am, Gunga Din.




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    2. The two women I knew who had the same diagnosis as me (aggressive, triple negative breast cancer) ate keto diets and both are sadly gone, and much younger than me. Stick with plants to fight cancer.




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    3. Hi, Charles. I am Christine, a NF volunteer. I am not sure how you would design a diet like the one you describe from all whole plant foods. If you have a plan for such a diet, please share it! I would caution against 150000 (I assume the standard unit for this nutrient, micrograms, since you did not specify units) of vitamin A. The Tolerable Upper Intake Limit, above which adverse effects could result, is 3,000 mcg. In general, a whole plant food diet including whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds is healthy. I hope that helps! I have not seen any credible scientific evidence that any diet can cure or stop Alzheimer’s disease, but there is much evidence that whole plant foods can play a role in prevention. I hope that helps!




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        1. I am not sure where you are getting your information. According to the USDA, https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2983?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=50&offset=&sort=default&order=asc&qlookup=raw+kale&ds=&qt=&qp=&qa=&qn=&q=&ing= kale, for example, provides about 1598 IU or 80 RAE of vitamin A per cup. When getting vitamin A from whole plant foods, the body will generally only absorb as much as it needs. Taking high dose vitamin A supplements, however, has been associated with a number of health risks, and I would not recommend it. I hope that helps!




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    1. Not a very good study in my opinion. By just reading the abstract the following quick points are obvious.

      1. The study only lasted 12 wks. Ketogenic diets are effective for losing weight in the short term. Nothing new.
      2. The study compared a moderate fat diet (30% of calories that the authors call a “low fat” diet) with a high fat diet (70% of calories). The diet recommended at NutritionFacts.org was not included in the study.
      3. The subjects were selected for a high BMI and large waist lines and are classified as either overweight or obese. Were some subjects spilling fat into their blood stream from adipose tissue during the study?
      4. Both groups energy intake decreased. Accordingly, they lost body weight, abdominal subcutaneous fat mass, and visceral fat mass. Very predictable.
      5. Blood lipid values improved as did variables related to diabetes risk factors. No surprise with the loss of body weight.
      5. Among the variables measured, the only significant differences between the two dietary groups was a lower LDL in the 30% fat group and a higher HDL in the 70% fat group. As we know, it is better to reduce LDL.

      No reasonable person would conclude from this study that a diet high in saturated fat is good for you, especially in the long term.




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    2. I read the link. This study examined an increase in fat, that is true. What this study also looked at was the removal of flour-based processed foods and simple sugars. This, also, would improve vital measurements. WFPB diets also advocate removal of processed, non-whole, items (I can’t call them foods) from the diet. To surmise that saturated fat is “good” from this “research” would be a severe mistake.




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    3. The link by Chris Hartley above is to a “science news service” called Science Daily. Interestingly, on their current front page there is a link to one of their articles entitled, “Cancer spread is increased by a high fat diet, ground-breaking evidence shows”.
      https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161207132117.htm

      The news release is based on a paper recently published in Nature, which is one of the top two biomedical science journals.
      http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature20791.html

      So, yet another reason to avoid a high fat diet.




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    4. Hi, Chris Hartley. I am Christine, a NF volunteer. It is true that fat is a necessary nutrient, but it is also true that a whole food, plant-based diet, such as the one outlined in the Daily Dozen, provides enough fat. I agree that a study of 38 men is a very small sample from which to draw broad conclusions and apply them to the general public. I do agree with the authors on one point, and that is that food quality is important. Cheers!




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    1. So-called pesco-vegetarians do have significantly lower risk of cardiovascular diseases than omnivores.

      In the 7th Day Adventist studies,.for example, male pesco vegetarians had just 66% of the risk of cardiovascular disease experienced by nonvegetarians. However, male “vegans” had only 58% of the risk. And when it came to ischaemic heart disease, pesco-vegetarians had 77% of the risk … but “vegans” had only 45% of the same risk. So, I am not convinced that combining eating fish with an otherwise completely vegetarian diet is necessarily better than a completely vegetarian WFPB diet.

      That said, among women, pesco-vegetarians did have lower risk than “vegans”. . It is not clear why there was this difference between males and females.

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4191896/




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      1. It’s interesting that the associations mentioned in that Adventist study include decreased mortality risk for low-carb vegetarian diets, and increased risk for high glycemic load diets and, separately, potatoes.




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        1. The study
          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18503250
          cited for its result on potatoes assessed dietary components by questionnaire. In the western diet potatoes are usually consumed with butter, milk and salt and perhaps gravy (mashed potatoes); butter, sour cream and salt (baked potatoes), oil and salt (French fries); milk/cream, butter, cheese and salt (scalloped potatoes and twice baked potatoes). I doubt that the questionnaire ruled out the confounded variables (unhealthy additions to the naked potato).




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          1. Yes that’s a good point. It’s odd that the authors singled out potatoes that way. It would be useful to see if the correlation disappears as fast intake goes down. The same point goes for overall glycemic load




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        2. Thanks Todd. Yes, I had first thought that different results for male and female “vegans” might possibly have been explained by perhaps a greater likelihood of women to be junk food vegans.

          However, there is no evidence of this and the authors commented:
          “Effects were generally stronger and more significant in men than women. Previous studies40–42 among Adventists have demonstrated effect modification by sex of the association of vegetarian diets with reduced ischemic heart disease mortality. It is possible that within dietary groups the diets of men and women differ in important ways; however, a recent evaluation38 of the nutrient profile of the dietary patterns in this cohort did not reveal striking differences. Alternatively, the biological effect of dietary factors on mortality may be different in men and women. Future analysis will evaluate possible effect modification by sex for particular foods or nutrients, which may suggest sex-specific mechanisms.”




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          1. I wonder whether there is a non-zero “sweet spot” for animal food consumption that is quite low, maybe in the 3-5% range, and for some reason women are better at staying in that range. Maybe men are more likely to overindulge if they eat any animal food at all, so they’re better off as strict vegans. That’s utterly speculative, of course, but it’s one of those ideas that flits through my mind.




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            1. The traditional Okinawan Diet was about 3-4% animal foods so, in the absence of supplementing with B12 etc, there may well be a “sweet spot”. Certainly, most traditional WFPB diets seem to have an animal food content in the range you discuss and seem very healthy.

              As you say, this is speculative though. No trials have been conducted. Another speculation is that perhaps women have higher iron requirements than men. Or hormonal differences may play a role. Or the difference may be entirely the result of cultural factors.




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              1. Low caloric intake is mentioned, and I wonder if that isn’t one of the key factors. I remember reading about the Masai diet some years ago, and the debate about how they are able to maintain good health (low rates of “lifestyle diseases”) despite a diet in which about two thirds of energy is from animal fat. Many theories were offered to explain this apparent paradox, but I also recall that the average daily caloric intake of the Masai was quite low. I don’t recall where I read that, however.




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                1. Todd: Plant Positive has covered the Masai in 2 videos. He talks about your low calorie intake point. He also has lots of other interesting things to say, including: “The Masai diet is usually described as almost all milk, meat and blood. Look at old accounts like this one and you’ll see this is an oversimplification. Only the young excluded other foods. After the age of twenty-five, they then ate more vegetables and even grains. This 1925 book makes clear that diets varied by age and gender and include flour. These Masai weren’t very committed to the Paleo diet.” Some of the information in those videos also questions how healthy the population really was, including pointing out the cancer rate.
                  .
                  If you want to watch the videos: http://plantpositive.squarespace.com/blog/2012/3/25/tpns-29-30-the-masai-model.html
                  .
                  Moderator Rami once wrote the following about the Masai: “Autopsies of the Masai indicate advanced atherosclerosis by age 40, something you might observe in older American adults. Due to the shorter lifespans, walking, and naturally larger arteries, atherosclerosis is not observed as a significant cause of death, despite their diseased arteries.” http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/95/1/26.short
                  .
                  Hope you find that interesting or helpful.




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                  1. Thanks, I’ll look at the plantpositive videos. I agree that the situation of the Masai isn’t entirely what the paleo crowd tends to assert. I guess my main idea is that low caloric intake (and no doubt walking, stress management, etc) may have a protective effect in addition to, or in the case of the Masai, in opposition to, the expected effects of the type of food eaten. In simple English, if you don’t eat much, maybe you can get away with eating stuff that would otherwise cause chronic illness.

                    Even if that’s true, it’s cold comfort in the developed world where virtually every study ever done shows that “not eating much” fails every time. Paraphrasing Doug Lisle and Dr. McDougall, the only way to not eat much is to eat lower-density foods the vast majority of the time. That excludes by definition most meats, fish, cheese, etc.




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    2. The lowest rates of heart disease occurs in populations that eat the most whole plant foods and the least animal foods from any source. Dr. Greger discusses this study in his video. The 1960 study looked for evidence of myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) in over 1400 Ugandans who died from any cause only one had any evidence of having had a heart attack and that one was small and healed, so it was not the cause of death in that individual. In contrast 632 autopsies on age and gender matched African Americans found evidence of 136 heart attacks. Thus in native Africans the heart attack rate was 0.07% while in African Americans it was 21.5%. Since the genetics was similar the difference heart attack rates between the two groups had to be environmental and the major difference in environment was their diet. And this wasn’t an isolated result either. Many studies from the 1920s to the 1960s found similar results for not just heart attacks but all the chronic, non-infectious diseases that kill westerners but simply are not present in native Africans eating their traditional diet which is less than 5% animal foods.

      These population results have been backed up by clinical research such as that by Ornish and Esselstyn where dietary changes were able to reverse advanced heart disease in a majority of patients. No other studies that included any type of meat, even fish, in the diet were able to do this.




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    3. The Nutrition Source put out by the Harvard School of Public Health is inconsistent with facts. For example, they claim that vegetarians need to be careful because non-meat foods lack one or more essential amino acids!? They recommend taking a daily multivitamin pill. They conclude that an Eco-Atkins diet is healthy based on a brief 4 week study comparing it to a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet. They recommend eating refined vegetables oils. They say that poultry is way more healthy than red meat.

      The author of each article is anonymous. They don’t provide a way to comment or to contact them to consider a different point of view. They seem to have a strong bias against a strictly vegetarian diet.




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  9. Great series of videos. The videos as of late have been current and enlightening. I am liking the direction of the past month or two of uploads. Keep it up.




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    1. Kresser is an acupuncturist. He is not a relaible source of information on health and nutrition matters. He seems to hold every possible “alternative health” belief there is, no matter how obviously ridiculous. And Chris Masterjohn, whom he quotes, started writing for the Weston Price Foundation crackpots when he was a schoolboy. And he hasn’t looked back since then.

      But, in any case, what has that link got to do with Dr G’s video about plants and aspirin?




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  10. I did a little browsing of the web and kept coming across the idea that SA is also known as Vitamin B11. It is made in the body so it is not considered “essential”, to reference Dr Gregor’s question in the heading of this page. But I haven’t been able to find any real documentation that this is in fact the truth. There are numerous sites indicating that B11 is salicylic acid ( http://www.dailyhealthmagazine.com/vitamin-b11/ for example ) . So is SA really actually vitamin B11? And since it’s found in many foods, is the problem that we’re just not getting enough of the raw “ingredients” required for our body to make it’s own SA?




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  11. WAIT a minute Dr. Greger. At 1:20 in the video, you just glossed over what they said.. “rich in plant foods… low in omega 6” Forgot to mention or cover that last part. Unfortunately, that is an oxymoronic statement. Plant foods (by definition) are almost universally “high omega 6 foods”, making any diet you plan containing a lot of plants, a “high omega 6 diet”.




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    1. No. A high plant diet is naturally high in complex carbohydrates and naturally low in protein and fat (unless you are living on nuts, olives, coconuts and avocadoes).

      The “low in omega 6” reference surely is to diets that make little or no use of cooking oils..




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  12. Greetings! I have been trying to find out if Dr Greger has any information regarding Argan Oil. I have been using it for many years and would be most interested in any scientific information regarding its properties and how it compares to other oils. Argan oil is only found in one part of Morocco and organically (and ethically) grown.
    Thanks in anticipation.
    Millreef




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  13. Thank you for your question. Turmeric/curcumin at high doses found in supplements may have a mild blood thinning effect and so if you are taking turmeric in pill form it may be best to avoid for 2 weeks prior to a major operation. However, turmeric used in cooking is unlikely to have a significant blood thinning effect.




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    1. Thanking you for prompt reply. I take turmeric powder with black pepper in smoothie every morning. May just cut out pepper so not as powerful until after operation.




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