What Percent of Americans Lead Healthy Lifestyles?

What Percent of Americans Lead Healthy Lifestyles?
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Death row nutrition offers some insight into the standard American diet.

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Generally, adherence to a healthy lifestyle pattern has decreased during the last 18 years. Obesity is up, exercise is down, and eating just five servings of fruits and vegetables a day dropped like a rock. And we didn’t start out that great to begin with. Guess what percentage of Americans at the turn of the century had the following four healthy lifestyle characteristics: not smoking, not overweight, five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and exercising half an hour a day at least five days a week? 3%. And whether people were wealthy, college-educated, no sub-group even remotely met clinical or public health recommendations.

Where are people falling down the most? If you look at heart disease risk factors, most people don’t smoke, shown here in green. About half are exercising. But check out the healthy diet score, which gives folks points for drinking less than four cups of soda a week. On a scale of zero to five, only about 1% score a four or a five. So the American Heart Association's aggressive 2020 target to improve that by 20% would bring us up to 1.2% of men and women.

Given that we’ve known for decades that advanced coronary artery disease may be present by age 20, and that coronary atherosclerosis is often even present in young children, it is particularly disturbing that healthy lifestyle choices are declining rather than improving in the U.S. And it shows.

In terms of life expectancy, the U.S. is down around 27 or 28 out of the 34 OECD free market democracies. The people of Slovenia live a year longer than citizens of the United States. Why? Well, according to the most rigorous analysis of risk factors ever published, the #1 cause of death and disability in the United States is our diet. What about our diet is so bad? The worst five things about our diet is that we don’t eat enough fruit, we don’t eat enough nuts and seeds, we eat too much salt, too much bacon, hot dogs, lunch meat, etc., and not enough vegetables.

That’s based on data like this, on diet quality and chronic disease mortality risk, which found that those scoring higher using a variety of different systems that all agreed on more whole plant foods, reduced the risk of dying from heart disease, cancer, and all causes of death combined. There is now an overwhelming body of clinical and epidemiological evidence illustrating the dramatic impact of a healthy lifestyle on reducing all-cause mortality, and preventing chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.

So why do we eat so bad? Aren’t we scared of dying from some of these horrible chronic diseases? It’s almost as if we’re eating as though our future didn’t matter. And there’s actually data to back that up. Death row nutrition.

The growing macabre fascination with speculating about one’s ‘‘last meal’’ offers a window into one’s true consumption desires when one’s value of the future is discounted close to zero. If that future didn't matter, what would we eat?  Well, in contrast to pop culture anecdotes, this group of Cornell researchers created a catalog of actual last meals–the final food requests of 247 individuals executed in the United States during a recent five-year period.

Meat was the most commonly made request. The researchers go out of their way to note tofu never made the list. And no one asked for vegetarian. In fact if you compare the last meals to what Americans normally eat, there’s not much difference.

If we continue to eat as though they were our last meals, eventually, they will be.

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.

Generally, adherence to a healthy lifestyle pattern has decreased during the last 18 years. Obesity is up, exercise is down, and eating just five servings of fruits and vegetables a day dropped like a rock. And we didn’t start out that great to begin with. Guess what percentage of Americans at the turn of the century had the following four healthy lifestyle characteristics: not smoking, not overweight, five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and exercising half an hour a day at least five days a week? 3%. And whether people were wealthy, college-educated, no sub-group even remotely met clinical or public health recommendations.

Where are people falling down the most? If you look at heart disease risk factors, most people don’t smoke, shown here in green. About half are exercising. But check out the healthy diet score, which gives folks points for drinking less than four cups of soda a week. On a scale of zero to five, only about 1% score a four or a five. So the American Heart Association's aggressive 2020 target to improve that by 20% would bring us up to 1.2% of men and women.

Given that we’ve known for decades that advanced coronary artery disease may be present by age 20, and that coronary atherosclerosis is often even present in young children, it is particularly disturbing that healthy lifestyle choices are declining rather than improving in the U.S. And it shows.

In terms of life expectancy, the U.S. is down around 27 or 28 out of the 34 OECD free market democracies. The people of Slovenia live a year longer than citizens of the United States. Why? Well, according to the most rigorous analysis of risk factors ever published, the #1 cause of death and disability in the United States is our diet. What about our diet is so bad? The worst five things about our diet is that we don’t eat enough fruit, we don’t eat enough nuts and seeds, we eat too much salt, too much bacon, hot dogs, lunch meat, etc., and not enough vegetables.

That’s based on data like this, on diet quality and chronic disease mortality risk, which found that those scoring higher using a variety of different systems that all agreed on more whole plant foods, reduced the risk of dying from heart disease, cancer, and all causes of death combined. There is now an overwhelming body of clinical and epidemiological evidence illustrating the dramatic impact of a healthy lifestyle on reducing all-cause mortality, and preventing chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.

So why do we eat so bad? Aren’t we scared of dying from some of these horrible chronic diseases? It’s almost as if we’re eating as though our future didn’t matter. And there’s actually data to back that up. Death row nutrition.

The growing macabre fascination with speculating about one’s ‘‘last meal’’ offers a window into one’s true consumption desires when one’s value of the future is discounted close to zero. If that future didn't matter, what would we eat?  Well, in contrast to pop culture anecdotes, this group of Cornell researchers created a catalog of actual last meals–the final food requests of 247 individuals executed in the United States during a recent five-year period.

Meat was the most commonly made request. The researchers go out of their way to note tofu never made the list. And no one asked for vegetarian. In fact if you compare the last meals to what Americans normally eat, there’s not much difference.

If we continue to eat as though they were our last meals, eventually, they will be.

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.

Doctor's Note

A few years ago I did a similar video, Nation’s Diet in Crisis. It’s sad that it doesn’t seem like much has changed.

How Many Meet the Simple Seven? is another video in which you can see how your own habits stack up.

For more on fruits and veggies and living longer, see Fruits and Longevity: How Many Minutes per Mouthful? Surprised that nuts made the longevity list? See Nuts May Help Prevent Death. What about legumes? Unfortunately not something considered in the study, but one indeed may get an Increased Lifespan from Beans.

The reason public health professionals are so keen on measuring lifestyle characteristics is because modest improvements may have extraordinary effects. See for example:

Didn’t know the beginnings of heart disease may already be present in children? See my video Heart Disease Starts in Childhood. Is it too late if we’ve been eating poorly most of our lives? It’s Never Too Late to Start Eating Healthier.

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

75 responses to “What Percent of Americans Lead Healthy Lifestyles?

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  1. Great video as usual. The last study is consistent with, but certainly does not prove a causal relationship regarding healthy eating and lower rates of crime.




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    1. Just as an anecdote, my husband is a corrections officer in a youth facility, and the young inmates all go for the crappy processed food because that’s what they were raised on. They offer them beautiful oranges and apples and salads, and they go into the garbage. A high number of these thin young men already have diabetes as well.




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      1. Interesting observation. My sister in law is a teacher in rural central California and the majority of kids are from farm worker families (as is she). She also had noted that much of the fresh produce wound up in the garbage. By law if a child touches an apple and puts it down it must be discarded. Then someone decided that whole fruits and vegetables posed a choking hazzard to the developmentally disabled students. As a result they started slicing the apples and peeling/separating the orange segments. And guess what. Consumption among all students increased substantially. Dr. Greger did a video on getting kids to eat more veggies but cutting them up into cute shapes. Maybe it wasn’t actually the shapes but rather the convenience of converting them into bite-sized finger foods. We have noticed the same thing with our psychiatric patients since offering them packages of apple slices vs. whole apples. I, myself, eat 2-3 pre-sliced apples a day at work whereas I rarely chomped into a whole apple before.




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  2. Hi Dr. Greger, I ran across a news article about some latest research on cancer that you may want to check out: Subject: “Most cancers are caused by bad luck not genes or lifestyle, say scientists”
    Web link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11320497/Most-cancers-are-caused-by-bad-luck-not-genes-or-lifestyle-say-scientists.html I personally hope this article isn’t true because it basically means that most cancers happen in spite of eating a whole plant based diet. Best Wishes and thanks very much for your dedication to spreading your wonderful information. Stan Hamilton




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  3. Great video. However, I don’t know how reliable the prisoners’ last meals should be considered as indicators of typical diets. If I was facing execution the next day, I would allow myself foods I rarely eat for health reasons but find to be very tasty, e.g. I love battered tempura, greasy/salty sweet potato fries, and pie a la mode but rarely consume them.




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    1. The video actually compared the last meals to typical diets, it didn’t try to use them as any kind of indicator for typical diets. The last meals were used as representative of a diet when “there is no tomorrow.” Seems that the death row meals contained more meat and less starch than the typical meal.




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  4. My daughter was in grade school in 2000 when the research study showing that 3% of us follow the healthy guidelines was published. Last summer my daughter worked at a day camp and noticed how much healthier the kid’s lunches are today than when she was their age. The campers arrived with food from home that included nuts, veggie sticks, fruit, hummus. My daughter commented that 15 years ago everybody brought white bread sandwiches (except her and she always felt left out) and now everybody packs whole wheat bread sandwiches. So things are changing here, slowly. Hopefully this trend is occurring throughout the country.




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  5. This was a great video but I just thought the last line was funny: “If we continue to eat as though they were our last meals, eventually they will be”. If we eat healthy meals, they’ll also eventually be our last :P I get what you’re trying to say though lol




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    1. Yes, we are all going to have our last meals some day, but if our meals are healthier now then we should be able to prolong that last meal for a few years. Plus our present days will be more pleasant without the aches and pains that a bad diet brings !!




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  6. It would have been interesting if the research asked people to characterize three diets:
    – how you would eat if there were no negative health consequences
    – how you think you should eat, knowing there are health consequences
    – how you currently eat
    I’ll bet a bunch that the way people currently eat is a lot closer to how they would eat when it doesn’t matter than how they would eat when it does.
    And I wonder if awareness of this pattern would cause people to rethink how they eat.




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  7. Does somebody know about Dr. Henry Munro who lived long time ago? He hypnotized his patients to sleep good, eat good and breathe deeper. The truth is the human mind can heal the body. If people are sick it means their minds are not peaceful. Take care of your mind and you will be healthy! You are welcome to visit my website: http://www.hypnosisrapport.com




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  8. A pessimist is just a realistic optimist. Humanity will destroy itself within the next generations. We should have been the top of the evolutionary ladder. I am ashamed – what have we become – for quick satisfaction of needs – we exploit animals, ignore their suffering, we fill ourselves with sugar, animal protein and fat, we are getting fatter and fatter, we blame our genes, we hope that an injection or a pill is the solution, we exploit the earth’s resources at an alarming rate, our goal is money and prestige. Also highly educated and intelligent people follow the wrong path. Introspection and relationships are obsolete. We know that Europeans are a few years behind Americans when it comes to “fashion” and right after follow other nations. Legislators do not change practice because re-election depends on the supply of money – and the money comes from those who mass produce disease. Grassroots are the only option – but I fear we are too few.




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  9. The question that should be raised by the poor diet practices of the masses documented in these studies is, WHY? There are many potential culprits. But my favorite is the reduction in leisure time described in the book “The Overworked American”. According to it, the average American has just 6 hours of free time per week which is not sufficient to pursue a healthy lifestyle.




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    1. Sure, it isn’t the poor choices they make, they are over worked. I’d go for they are eating how they were brought up because they don’t know any better and they are too busy being entertained to care. If it tastes good go for it.




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    2. Thank you! Lifestyle can not be separated from economics, the two hand and hand, always have, always
      will. No one talks about the macroeconomics of a “healthy lifestyle”.
      We work longer days, commute further than ever, and spend more time sitting in
      traffic than exercising. So many more of our jobs are at a desk, instead of
      physical labor, with more stress than ever. Mothers just 2 generations ago were
      afforded the time to stay home, food shop, and cook instead of working.

      When I was a kid, we played outside. Today kids are driven from place to place to
      place. Diet, industrialist cheap food, yes, it all factors in. But it’s so much
      more than a lifestyle “choice”. Many of us don’t have a choice.

      I don’t know about the rest of country, but food prices, especially the
      “good” stuff, like perishable fruits & veggies, have skyrocketed
      near me. Supermarket produce sections, despite consumer demand, are shrinking.
      Independent farmers are near extinct, and local produce, once abundant, is all
      but gone in my state. Farmers markets? I’ll have to get up early on a Sunday
      and drive 30 miles to the nearest one, and that’s seasonal.

      Food shopping once, I saw an elderly, overweight woman at the checkout with a
      cupcake next to her. It was 9:30pm at night. I hadn’t even gotten home from
      work yet over 12 hours prior. The lines were all busy because there are now
      fewer and fewer checkouts open. One way to drive down costs and raise profits I
      guess. “Didn’t even have time to eat your cupcake…”, I said to her.
      She replied, “I have to eat something, otherwise my sugar will drop and
      I’ll pass out.” She went on, “I’m a diabetic on insulin, and this is
      my second job. I didn’t have time to eat because the bus was late over from my
      first job…” What do I say to her? Eat a salad?

      Her situation is not unique. Yes, we got fat while the economy was good because we ate the wrong
      stuff, and too much of it. But let’s not separate the macroeconomics from
      health. In my local supermarkets, salad bars are now $7.00/ lb. Yes, I can buy
      lettuce cheaper, make a salad, and bring it to my job if I get up early enough
      to do so. Time management is such a burden these days.

      Education, will power, better choices, yeah, that’s all good. But no one, in our
      government or otherwise, addresses the issue of affordability and accessibility
      of healthy food. In my urban city where I was born and raised, there are no
      supermarkets left… all gone. No car? Then you can only shop in walking
      distance.

      Sure, these preventable diseases are not limited to those with lower income, but I
      argue they get hit the worse. Sometimes, it’s a matter of pure fuel. If you
      have less than a hundred bucks to spend on food for the week, and need to feed
      2 or more, what are you going to buy? Carrots? Broccoli? Maybe some. But you
      need calorie dense food. Now I know what you’re going to say, no one is dying
      of malnutrition in the US. But that’s not true. Just because someone is
      overweight, doesn’t they’re not undernourished or malnourished.

      In case you ask, I had the time to write this because I’m stuck at my desk waiting on a delivery, otherwise I could be exercising right now..




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      1. You make some very good points Baggman 74. We as individuals can work on our diets, but as a culture we have to value people’s lives enough to make it reasonably likely that people can create healthy lives. In other industrialized countries, people don’t work as many hours and there aren’t nearly as many poor. Go to Europe. Where do you hide your poor people. Answer: we don’t have giant ghettoes like you do. We try to take care of all of our people. The rich here can also hijack the economic system to opt out. In other cultures all people are considered important.
        John S




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        1. Careful someone might label you with the dreaded “S” word (socialist). Most of western Europe is suffering it’s own economic woes right now, except Germany, which is doing quite well. That sucking sound we hear of the money being pulled away from us and to the top, is global, not just in the US. Its been going for decades. I whole other subject I know. But there is, and always will be a direct relationship between health/wellness and prosperity. And in MHO, any discussion without it is well, incomplete at best.




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        2. When comparing the USA with Europe, many people don’t seem to realize that the USA has
          been subsidizing Western Europe since WWII (70 years) by providing
          them with military protection from aggressors such as the Soviet
          Union, which occupied Eastern Europe for many years. If the European
          countries had been spending their money on their own defenses, they
          would have much less to spend on social welfare and the European
          worker would have been working many more hours per week just like we
          have in the USA. In my opinion, the USA has done a fantastic job of
          balancing social welfare programs with military protection for
          ourselves as well as other Democracies throughout the whole world
          including Europe. Nothing comes free … in the grand scheme of
          things someone is paying for it through their labor. And the USA is
          one of the most generous countries in the history of the world! What
          other country has rushed to the aid of other countries when a natural
          disaster strikes or famine hits?

          Now getting back to Nutrition, it never ceases to amaze me how much good nutritious safe
          food (fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, etc.) is available in
          the USA. It’s unfortunate that more people choose not to take
          advantage of this good food and choose the junk food instead. At
          least in this country the choice is there.




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        3. John S, what’s with the politics? Also, it’s pretty misinformed. There are ghettoes around many large European cities. Paris comes to mind, where the ghettoes erupt into civil unrest every few years.

          “In October and November of 2005, a series of riots by mainly Arab, North African, and black second-generation immigrants occurred in the suburbs of Paris and other French cities, involving the burning of cars and public buildings at night.”

          I find it pretty offensive that you write “In other cultures all people are considered important,” as if Americans don’t care about people or something. I know there’s a lot of anti-American propaganda in the European media, but seriously, we’re all just human beings here. No need for the simplistic and insulting stereotypes.

          In the interests of civility, I’m toning this post down from what I really wanted to write.




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  10. Awesome – pretty much an uber-summary for every study on this site! Guess you can skip the YIR video this year Dr. Greger….you just knocked it out in a few short minutes here (just kidding – please do the YIR video)




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  11. Because of all your amazing hilarious speeches, I start being a vegan today, and never ever go back… It will be life changing event and it is going to be a good one. Thank you so much




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  12. And yet….seems that a lot of commentors on this site seem to follow some rather rarified dietary habits/choices….especially compared to the avg Am diet as shown in the video. I probably consume maybe 90-95% fruit/veggies by volume…most either raw or at least non-processed….plus some animal protein…mainly wild salmon/ground beef….cost…ease of access. Some olive oil/MCT oil.

    It’s the extreme comparison between what the avg Am is eating vs many of the posters on this site which is interesting. So what’s the point? I’m not sure.

    My main impression/experience is that it is difficult enough to change one’s own dietary habits…let alone change other peoples. People are walking alimentary canals…many are apparently sleepwalking…zombie eaters.

    At some point you realize that you need to husband your resources and save yourself? Of course if Dr. Greger felt this way…this site would not exist. So I’d guess some sort of balance is required.

    You can’t help people who don’t understand that they need help…so I’d guess that some knowledge is the first requirement….then some discipline…and some practical ways to apply the knowledge.

    I’ve resorted to asking myself….what can I do to improve my own diet/lifestyle…rather than getting sidetracked into helping people who do not want to be helped….and who will likely attempt to negatively reinforce my old habits.* Usually I can find something I’ve overlooked and which needs work.

    * As with a brother who thinks avoiding toxics is a joke and a waste of time…and thinks I need to justify toxic avoidance and re-educate him on the subject. I derive from the same “toxic” background and still need to watch my own choices.

    Reminds me of a comment made by someone when I rented a boat to go out on a lake to look for driftwood to carve…he jokingly mentioned that I’d want to be careful to not try to pull out any waterlogged stuff….cause it could pull me in. So be careful out there….




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    1. One of my parents and one of my best friends have gone vegan, the other parent, my partner, and another of my best friends eat mostly vegan. I share tasty food, and information when requested, but that’s about it. I don’t think I had much to do with these transitions, I think it’s about 99% the other person being ready and eager to help themselves. At first I thought to myself, that I can’t really relate to the sense of it being a zero sum game or the personal toll that you describe, but then I realized that that’s because I’ve already subconsciously limited my engagement to the progress of the unwilling. I do have a brother who is determined to lose weight through the traditional and ineffective restriction of crappy food route, and I know how disappointing that can be. I don’t bother too much with him at this point, because I know it’s futile. Someday maybe he’ll see my parents’ and my own well being and decide to make a change and at that point I’ll be there for him. Honestly if you can show someone all the books and lectures and the results and they remain entrenched in resistance, that’s just cognitive dissonance at that point and no amount of conversation is going to turn the tide. But for those who have a more open mindset towards life, I find it’s no work at all. Just my two cents.




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  13. The last meal data is pretty interesting!

    What would everyone on nutritionfacts.org deem their last meal?

    Tough choice between my pasta recipe and fruits. But I think a huge meal of every possible fruit would be great for me. mangoes…. figs…, and all the exotic fruits e.g. sapote, I haven’t tried yet.




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  14. I would imagine that as more and more fruits and veggies contain higher and higher amounts of glyphosate (Monsanto raised the tolerance levels which is suppose to be the safety margin but is now Monsanto’s additional profit margin), and more and more people have symptoms of acid reflux, that the consumption of fruits and vegetables will go down further. I’ve found that even eating organic produce bought through grocery and health food stores is contaminated with glyphosate. I can feel the clinical effects of the chemical hours after eating the fruits especially, but also some veggies.

    Additionally, glyphosate was patented as a mineral (metal) chelator. It binds minerals into the soil and disallows them from being taken up by the plants and hence the animals and people who eat the plants to build bone (for example) and maintain their health. Glyphosate was also patented as an antibiotic by Monsanto, and it is my understanding (if I interpret the studies correctly) that while beneficial bacteria in the gut is susceptible and being widely killed by Glyphosate at less than 1 part per million, the really nasty bacteria like Salmonella, E-coli and others were highly resistant. A. Shehata et al.: Effect of Glyphosate on Potential Pathogens and
    TThe Effect of Glyphosate on Potential Pathogens and Beneficial Members of Poultry Microbiota In Vitro
    AwAwad A. Shehata et al, 2012,




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  15. I notice that nuts and seeds are listed as important foods to eat. Yet, some plant based doctors suggest not eating nuts and seeds. What is the best advice for us to follow to eat a truly healthy plant based diet. Thank you!




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    1. Hi Nancy,
      I am assuming you are talking about the Drs. who are specially treating patients with CVD. They do recommend limiting most fats (including nuts) as part of the healing process.




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    2. Hi Nancy, the only real “bans” on nuts and seeds come from

      a) Dr. Esselstyn if you have advanced heart disease
      b) Dr. McDougall if you are trying to lose weight per his Maximum Weight Loss plan. Note that he allows an ounce per day on his regular Starch Solution plan, which still results in rapid weight loss for most people.

      In regards to other plant based docs/rd:

      Barnard allows 1 oz per day.
      Novick allows 1 oz nuts/seeds + 1/2 avocado per day (or equivalent combination).
      Greger appears to recommend 1-2 oz per day.
      Fuhrman explicitly recommends at least 1 oz per day.

      When it comes to official recommendations, there is not as much of a nut/seed debate as some would have you believe. However some bloggers/followers of these plans take recommendations out of context or are biased by their own dietary preferences and health/weight loss histories, and sometimes confusion stems from the advocates themselves. I think McDougall and Esselstyn in particular sometimes come off as being “against” nuts/seeds, because it’s easier to tell people simply not to eat them than to explain the nuances of caloric density, satiation, omega-6 and overall fat content, and the caveat of portion size.

      Ultimately the decision to eat nuts/seeds rests on your personal experiences with them and how they benefit or detract from your own healthy weight, biomarkers, and dietary satisfaction.




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      1. I did have a bypass operation using the mammory artery for the bypass about 7 months ago. Should I avoid nuts and seeds?

        Thank you!

        Nancy




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        1. PS…I am 75 years old and fairly slim. I follow the diet, exercise at least 30 minutes a day and try to keep stress levels down. I attended 36 heart rehab classes after my bypass operation

          Nancy




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          1. Nancy, that’s really inspiring to hear how you have turned things around and are doing so well :) Really, all I can do is repeat what the much more qualified docs and RDs have said themselves. Someone on this site did say that Dr. Esselstyn personally responded to their family member’s email, so you can try contacting him to see what he says about it (though if I had to guess I would say no nuts). I guess the only thing I’m not sure about is at what point a person is considered to have reversed their disease and no longer be considered an advanced CVD patient.
            http://www.dresselstyn.com/contact.htm

            Also, you can take a look at the discussion forums on Dr. McDougall’s site. Jeff Novick, RD responds to posts fairly often. Again, based on what I’ve heard both Novick and McDougall say, I think for someone who is in the process of reversing advanced heart disease, I would predict no nuts. However if you eat just a small amount of nuts so that your overall fat content remains < 10%, I'm not sure if they would agree or disagree with that. From what I've heard from Novick, it seems to me that he considers the positive hype around nuts to be overblown.
            https://www.drmcdougall.com/forums/index.php

            You can see this really interesting video in which Novick mostly discusses the benefits of nut consumption for diabetes. He talks about their effect on lipids/heart disease as well, but unfortunately that portion of the talk is only available for purchase on a dvd. It would be interesting to see.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvYq6WTm258

            Dr. Ornish allows nuts (and even some animal foods) in his plan which is specifically recommended for reversing heart disease, but still stresses the 10% recommendation:
            http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/td_020909p48.shtml

            One thing you can do yourself is track your cholesterol levels. It seems for different people, nut/seed consumption can have either negative or beneficial effects on cholesterol. Perhaps depending on the quality of the rest of their diet, their starting point, or genetic predisposition.

            I'm sorry I can't be of more help. If you find out any more information from these doctors or figure out what works for you, I hope you'll come back to let us know.




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        2. Nancy, I recommend reading “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” (Esselstyn), many of his patients have had a bypass operation before following his recommendations, and 23 years later they are still alive. I think you should avoid nuts and seeds but take a plantbased DHA/EPA supplement.




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    3. There is no such thing as a truly healthy plant based diet, not unless you include meats in it. A plant based diet has been shown to reduce life expectancies by 10-15 years.




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  16. I am from Slovenia and ‘yes’ we might live longer since older population is not that “fat”….yet. But OECD report from 2014 says we already have more overweight and obese children than US. So we’re catching up …. and it’s not hard to do that since McDonalds is on “every corner” in Slovenia by now.




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  17. I think the life expectancy as compared to other countries is an interesting fact. Should give us room to pause before we eat that next convenience packed meal.
    Thanks for another great video. Looking forward to the day when ONLY 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day is considered unhealthy.




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    1. Interesting question but to me it almost seems like an oxymoron. Based on my personal experience I don’t see how someone can truly be a vegan and obese at the same time. At least not a whole food plant-based vegan, unless one is averse to “real” exercise. ie. toning and building muscle via resistance training vs. essentially just moving your legs for hours a week walking on a treadmill. I also fast every day from 9 PM to the following noon. I am amazed at how much I eat and don’t gain an ounce. I’m headed to the kitchen now to prepare dessert: rolled outs, oat bran, flax meal, chia seeds, walnuts, pecans, almonds, pistachios, raisins, cinnamon, and cocoa powder drenched in almond milk.




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  18. Eating a vegetarian diet can add 10 years to your life. We don’t know how much longer eating a vegan diet would add because the term is a recent idea, since 1944. Perhaps no true vegan has yet to die. One would ask if vegans live longer. At least 2/3 of Americans are lactose intolerant. However, milk is incredibly sustaining, especially because it has vitamin D added to it. You can add vitamin D to your diet for extra punch. Most Americans avoid the sun, knowing that it is very painful to the heart. Also, most Americans probably have an iodine defiecency. However, it is important to be safe and stable when trying to add these nutrients back to the diet. They can cause heart palpatations and make driving hard. The can feel like an onerous ordeal. There is a way to be a vegetarian without the diet, which is with niacin. There is a way to work yourself up into being Iodiene resistant, which means you don’t have to hear your heart beat, which is by eating one sheet of nori a day slowly until you are up to three, which would supply the minimum RDA. You could also slowly salt table salt to your diet by dosing your self up to just over one half teaspoon a day. Be safe and consult a physcian when making any dietary changes.




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    1. How keeping your insulin levels chronically elevated add 10years to your life?

      You know people who go strict Vegan have lifespans traditionally 10-15 years less than those who eat meats?




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  19. Hey Dr. Greger and people who run this site. Would be possible to have a “Recommendations” page that has all the latest recommendations for what we should eat, not eat, and do? It’s pretty daunting sifting through all these articles and videos and what is or isn’t the latest research. It would be nice to have something like a list of foods we should eat every day to get every vitamin/mineral we need, and what we should avoid entirely, based on the latest research. Maybe even a compilation of other things like a synopsis of oral health and other things.




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    1. I can do it for you in only a few lines.

      If your extremely Active (4-6x a week of intense exercise):
      Veggies: Lots Protein: about 1.2 gram per kg of body weight Fats: Enough to achieve satiety Fruit: Before workout only

      If your light to moderately active:
      Veggies: Lots Protein: about 1 gram per kg of body weight Fats: Enough to increase satiety Fruit: 1-2x per week

      If your inactive:
      Veggies: Lots Protein: about .8 gram per kg of body weight Fats: Enough to increase satiety Fruit: None

      The commonality: Eat lots of veggies, enough protein to fuel your muscles, and round out the diet with good fats so your not going hungry. Treat fruit like a desert unless your a fitness demon which in that case, consume it about 1hr before your workout.




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  20. I would love to see a video about what and how healthy people eventually die. In the blue zones, how do those people come to ultimately pass away?




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  21. About 25% of Americans lead semi-healthy lives while 75% are obese in one form or another.

    This is all based on the recommended dietary guidelines, you know the moderate to high carb + low fat guidelines. The ones they’ve been following for the past 25 years. Oh look what’s it’s done to them.




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  22. One of the best ways to get back on track is to start a garden. When you grow your own produce there’s a strong incentive
    to eat what you grow. And starting a garden is very easy to do, offers inexpensive healthy food, organic, and the labor is therapeutic.

    https://vimeo.com/130457181




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    1. For example, my backyard:

      Garden 16×16 ft
      Estimated: $30 investment in seeds, plants and manure = return $250 +
      Will pick greens April – Oct., 2-4 times per week
      Tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, kale, summer squash, zucchini, Swiss chard, onion, squash, dill…
      Tomatoes– one highly productive year I had to give 150 + away to friends and co-workers
      3rd yr apple trees – 50 + apples this year
      9th yr Strawberries – perennial – harvest varies each yr.
      Raspberries– should have added better soil before planting, but they are coming up in force now.
      Cherry tree – Excessive produce this yr., the neighbor kids helped themselves to several cartons




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