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Black and Red Rice Are Better than Brown, Which Is Healthier than White

Black and Red Rice Are Better than Brown, Which Is Healthier than White

Why does switching from white rice to brown rice enable overweight individuals to significantly reduce their weight, their waist size, their blood pressure, and the level of inflammation within their bodies? That’s the topic of my video Brown, Black, Purple, and Red (Unlike White on) Rice.

We think it might be the fiber. Brown rice has four times as much dietary fiber as white rice, including prebiotic types of fiber that foster the growth of our good bacteria, which may help account for the anti-obesity effects of brown rice.

Besides the prebiotic fiber, when brown rice is milled into white, there are all sorts of vitamins and minerals that also are lost, as well as phytonutrients such as gamma oryzanol, which may help shift one’s preferences to healthier foods. Petri dish studies suggest gamma oryzanol may help lower cholesterol. And, along with other compounds found in the rice bran, which is what makes brown rice brown, gamma oryzanol may inhibit human cancer cell growth through antioxidant means, anti‑proliferative and pro-cancer cell suicide mechanisms, immune system modulation, and increasing barrier protection. However, this was all seen in test tubes, not people.

There are two human studies, though. The Adventist Health Study found that brown rice was one of four foods associated with significantly decreased risk of colorectal polyps, which can turn into colorectal cancer. Eating cooked green vegetables every day was associated with 24 percent lower risk, which was as much as eating dried fruit just three times a week. Eating beans, chickpeas, split peas, or lentils at least three times a week was associated with 33 percent lower risk, but brown rice seemed to garner 40 percent lower risk, and that was just a single serving or more a week.

The other human study reported increased muscle strength after supplementation with a brown rice compound in hopes that it could provide a side effect-free alternative to anabolic steroids. The dose the researchers were giving, however, is equivalent to approximately 17 cups of brown rice a day, so it’s not clear if it works at practical doses.

Naturally pigmented rice, such as black rice and red rice, may be even more nutritious than brown rice. During the last decade, research has shown that these natural anthocyanin plant pigments may have a variety of beneficial effects. Anthocyanins are what make blueberries blue and red cabbage red. “Recent recognition of the fact that taking diet rich in plant foods lowers the risks of cancer promotes the enthusiasms in isolating…[these components as] pharmaceutical agents”—but why not just eat the blueberries or add some red cabbage to your stir fry atop some colorful rice?

Black, purple, and red rice—and their pigment compounds—have been found to be involved in a variety of antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-heart disease, anti-diabetes, and anti-allergy activities, but these were all studies done in a lab. We don’t yet have clinical studies, but these pigmented rice varieties have everything that brown rice has, plus five times more antioxidants and a variety of extra benefits. That’s why I, or rather my rice cooker, has always cooked red, black, or purple rice with a handful of lentils or split peas thrown in for good measure, since they cook in the same time frame. If you see below to my arsenic in rice series you’ll note I’ve since diversified my grains.

But why don’t most people even choose brown over white? Well, brown rice does not last as long on the shelves, so it can actually be more expensive even though it’s less processed. White rice, on the other hand, is like food for the apocalypse, even putting Twinkies to shame. White rice was still edible after 30 years—though, by then, it may have a “slight playdough” odor.


For more on rice, see:

Several years ago, I made a video on Arsenic in Rice, which deserved an update so I took a deep dive into the arsenic issue and produced a whole video series so everyone can make informed choices:

And, for more on the potential wonders of the blue/black/purple anthocyanin pigments, check out these videos:

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

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The content for this post was sourced from www.NutritionFacts.org

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How to Boost DNA Repair with Produce

How to Boost DNA Repair with Produce

“In the light of strikingly consistent observations from many epidemiological [population-based] studies, there can be little doubt that the habitual consumption of diets high in fruits and vegetables helps to reduce the risk of development of degenerative diseases, including many types of cancers.” Not satisfied with merely telling people to eat their fruits and veggies, scientists want to know the mechanism. I discuss this topic in my Which Fruits and Vegetables Boost DNA Repair? video.

Not just vehicles for antioxidants, fruits and vegetables contain innumerable phytonutrients that can boost our detoxification enzymes, modulate gene expression, and even modulate DNA repair pathways. “Until fairly recently…it was generally assumed that functions as important as DNA repair were unlikely to be readily affected by nutrition,” but, if you compare identical twins to fraternal twins, only about half to three quarters of DNA repair function is genetically determined. We may be able to control the rest.

“It is estimated that, on average, there are 800 incidents of DNA damage [in our bodies] per hour,” which is about 19,000 hits to our DNA every day. What’s more, “that DNA damage can cause mutations and give rise to cancer, if not repaired.” Thankfully, “the regulation of [DNA] repair can be added to the list of biological processes that are influenced by what we eat—and, specifically, that this might constitute part of the explanation for the cancer-preventive effects of many plant-based foods.”

Any plants in particular? Nine fruits and vegetables were tested to find out which ones were better able to boost DNA repair: lemons, persimmons, strawberries, oranges, choy sum (which is like skinny bok choy), broccoli, celery, lettuce, and apples. Which ones made the cut? Lemons, persimmons, strawberries, broccoli, celery, and apples all conferred DNA protection at very low doses.

Lemons, for example, were found to cut DNA damage by about a third. Was it the vitamin C? No. Removing the vitamin C from the lemon extract did not remove the protective effect. However, if you first boiled the lemon for 30 minutes, the protective effect was lost.


If it’s not the vitamin C, what might it be? That’s the subject of my video Citrus Peels and Cancer: Zest for Life?

Surprised that the lemon benefit was abolished by cooking? Find out which vegetables it may be best to eat raw in Best Cooking Method.

What about cooked versus raw garlic? See my video Inhibiting Platelet Activation with Garlic and Onions.

For more on DNA protection and repair, see:

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

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Do You Have to Combine Plant Proteins at a Meal?

Do You Have to Combine Plant Proteins at a Meal?

All nutrients come from the sun or the soil. Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin,” is created when skin is exposed to sunlight. Everything else comes from the ground. Minerals originate from the earth, and vitamins from the plants and micro-organisms that grow from it.

The calcium in a cow’s milk (and in her 200-pound skeleton) came from all the plants she ate, which drew it up from the soil. We can cut out the middle-moo, though, and get calcium directly from the plants.

Where do you get your protein? Protein contains essential amino acids, meaning our bodies can’t make them so they’re essential to get from our diet. But, other animals don’t make them either. All essential amino acids originate from plants and microbes, and all plant proteins have all of the essential amino acids. The only truly “incomplete” protein in the food supply is gelatin, which is missing the amino acid tryptophan, so the only protein source you couldn’t live on is Jell-O.

Those eating plant‑based diets average about twice the estimated average daily protein requirement. Those who don’t know where to get protein on a plant-based diet don’t know beans… (Get it? 🙂 That’s protein quantity, though—what about protein quality?

The concept that plant protein was inferior to animal protein arose from studies performed on rodents more than a century ago. Scientists found that infant rats don’t grow as well on plants. However, infant rats don’t grow as well on human breast milk either. Does that mean we shouldn’t breastfeed our babies? Ridiculous! They’re rats. Rat milk has ten times more protein than human milk because rats grow about ten times faster than human infants.

It is true that some plant proteins are relatively low in certain essential amino acids. So, about 40 years ago, the myth of “protein combining” came into vogue—literally, in the February ’75 issue of Vogue magazine, as I discuss in my video The Protein Combining Myth. The concept was that we needed to eat so-called complementary proteins together (for example, rice and beans) to make up for their relative shortfalls. However, this fallacy was refuted decades ago. The myths that plant proteins are incomplete, aren’t as good as animal proteins, or need to be combined with other proteins at meals have all been dismissed by the nutrition community decades ago, but many in medicine evidently didn’t get the memo. Dr. John McDougall called out the American Heart Association for a 2001 publication that questioned the completeness of plant proteins. Thankfully, they’ve changed and now that “[p]lant proteins can provide enough of the essential and non-essential amino acids” and that we “don’t need to consciously combine…complementary proteins…”

It turns out our body is not stupid.

Our body maintains pools of free amino acids that can be used to do all of the complementing for us, not to mention our body’s massive protein recycling program. Some 90 grams of protein are dumped into the digestive tract every day from our own body to get broken back down and reassembled, so our body can mix and match amino acids to whatever proportions we need, regardless of what we eat, making it practically impossible to even design a diet of whole plant foods that’s sufficient in calories but deficient in protein. Thus, plant-based “consumers do not need to be at all concerned about amino acid imbalances…from the plant-food proteins that make up our usual diets.”


How did all of these myths surrounding protein come to be? Learn about The Great Protein Fiasco.

I cover protein quantity in my Do Vegetarians Get Enough Protein? video.

For more detail on the benefits of protein from plants, see:

Plant protein also doesn’t have the same effect on the cancer-promoting growth hormone IGF-1 that I discuss in the cancer section of my Food as Medicine presentation. Meat-heavy maternal diets may even affect the obesity rates and stress responses of their children, as I explore in my videos Animal Protein, Pregnancy, & Childhood Obesity and Maternal Diet May Affect Stress Responses in Children.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

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Healthier Salt Substitutes

Healthier Salt Substitutes

As I discuss in my video Shaking the Salt Habit, the two most prominent dietary risks for death and disability in the world are not eating enough fruit and eating too much salt. Eating too little fruit kills nearly five million people every year, and eating too much salt kills four million.

There are three things we can do to lower our salt intake. First, don’t add salt at the table. One third of us add salt to our food before even tasting it! Second, stop adding salt while you’re cooking. At first, the food may taste bland, but within two to four weeks, “as the sensitivity of the salt taste receptors in the mouth become more sensitive to the taste of salt in the usual concentrations”—believe it or not—you may actually prefer the taste of food with less salt. Some of the flavorings you can use in the meanwhile instead of salt include “pepper, onion, garlic, tomato, sweet pepper, basil, parsley, thyme, celery, lime, chilli, nettle, rosemary, smoke flavoring, curry, coriander and lemon.” Even if you did add salt while cooking, though, it’s probably better than eating out, where even at non-fast food restaurants, they tend to pile it on. And, finally, avoid processed foods that have salt added.

In most countries, only about half of sodium intake comes from processed foods, so there’s more personal responsibility. In the United States, however, even if we completely stopped adding salt in the kitchen and dining room, it would only bring down salt intake a small fraction. This has led public health commentators to note how challenging it is for everyone to reduce their salt intake, since so much of our sodium intake is out of our control. But is it? We don’t have to buy all those processed foods. We can choose not to turn over our family’s health to food corporations that may not have our best interests at heart.

If we do buy processed foods, there are two tricks we can use. First, try to only buy foods with fewer milligrams of sodium listed on the label than there are grams in the serving size. So, if it’s a 100-gram serving size, it should have less than 100 mg of sodium. Or, second, shoot for fewer milligrams of sodium than there are calories. For example, if the sodium is listed as 720 and calories are 260, since 720 is greater than 260, the product has too much sodium.

That’s a trick I learned from Jeff Novick, one of my favorite dieticians of all time. The reason it works is that most people get about 2,200 calories a day. So, if everything you ate had more calories than sodium, you’d at least get under 2,300 milligrams of sodium, which is the upper limit for healthy people under age 50. Of course, the healthiest foods have no labels at all. We should try to buy as much fresh food as possible because it is almost impossible to come up with a diet consisting of unprocessed natural foodstuffs that exceeds the strict American Heart Association guidelines for sodium reduction.


Not eating enough fruit as a leading killer? For more, see my video Inhibiting Platelet Aggregation with Berries.

In my latest sodium series, I lay out the evidence and dive into the manufactured controversy to expose salt industry shenanigans. See:

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

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Almost there!

Almost there!

Thank you so much for your support

Thanks to your generosity, we have almost hit our goal! Without your support, I wouldn’t be able to spend my days digging into all of the best research and deliver it straight to you. NutritionFacts.org gets all the royalties from How Not to Die, but the number one funding stream that keeps us thriving is individual contributions from people like you. A huge thank you/gracias/cheers/xièxiè/dankie/merci from all our staff scattered across the globe in six countries.

We are in the final days of our end-of-year donation drive. Please consider investing in my work by making a tax-deductible donation to NutritionFacts.org—we’re almost there! You can donate by using a credit cardBitcoin, transferring stock, or by sending a check to “NutritionFacts.org” PO Box 11400, Takoma Park, MD 20913.

Thanks to the collective enthusiasm for sharing NutritionFacts.org by our subscribers, 620,000 Twitter and Instagram followers, and 1.5 million Facebook and G+ fans, we averaged over 3 million page views a month this year. But it’s not about the numbers; it’s about the people whose lives we’ve touched, changed, or even saved. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who has made this public service possible.

It’s such an honor to be able to dedicate my life to helping and healing.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

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How the Meat Industry Reacted to the New Cancer Warnings

How the Meat Industry Reacted to the New Cancer Warnings

What was the meat industry’s response to leading cancer charities’ recommendation to stop eating processed meat, like bacon, ham, hot dogs, sausage, and lunch meat? As I discuss in my video Meat Industry Reaction to New Cancer Guidelines, the industry acknowledges that the most recent international cancer prevention guidelines now urge people to avoid processed meat.

“It is evident that…such a statement represents ‘a clear and present danger’ for the meat industry,” reads one response in the journal Meat Science. However, processed meat, it continues, is “a social necessity.” (How could anyone live without bologna?) The challenge for the meat industry, the response outlines, is to find a way to maintain the consumption of these convenience products while somehow not damaging public health.

We’re still not sure what in processed meat is so carcinogenic, but the most probable educated guess for explaining the damaging effect of processed meats involves heme iron, along with nitrosamine and free radical formation, ultimately resulting in carcinogenic DNA damage. To reduce the nitrosamines, they could remove the nitrites, something the industry has been considering for decades because of the long-known toxic effects they cause. The industry adds them to keep the meat pink. There are, evidently, other coloring additives available. Nevertheless, it’s going to be hard to get industry to change “in view of the positive effects” of these substances as preservatives and in achieving a “desirable flavour and red colour developing ingredients.” No one wants green eggs and ham.

It’s like salt reduction in meat products. The meat industry would like to reduce it, but “[o]ne of the biggest barriers to salt replacement is cost as salt is one of the cheapest food ingredients available.” A number of taste enhancers can be injected into the meat to help compensate for the salt reduction, but some leave a bitter after-taste. To address that, industry can also inject a patented bitter-blocking chemical that can prevent taste nerve stimulation at the same time. This “bitter blocker is only the first of what will become a stream of products that are produced due to the convergence of food technology and biotechnology.”

The meat industry could always try adding non-meat materials to the meat, such as fiber or resistant starch from beans that have protective effects against cancer. After all, in the United States, dietary fiber is under-consumed by most adults, “indicating that fiber fortification in meat products could have health benefits.” But, of course, the meat industry’s own products are one of the reasons the American diet is so deficient in fiber in the first place.

The industry is all in favor of reformulating their products to cause less cancer, but “[o]bviously any optimization has to achieve a healthier product without affecting quality, particularly hedonic aspects.”

“It is important to realise that nutritional and technological quality [in the meat industry] are inversely correlated. Currently, improvement in one will lead to deterioration of the other.” Indeed, the meat industry knows that consumption of lard is not the best thing in the world—what with heart disease being our number-one killer—but those downsides “are in sharp contrast to their technological qualities that make them indispensable in the manufacture of meat products.” Otherwise, you just don’t get the same “lard consistency.” The pig’s fat doesn’t get hard enough, and, as a result, “a fatty smear upon cutting or slicing can be observed on the cutting surface of the knife.” Less heart disease versus absence of that fatty smear? I suppose you have to weigh the pros and cons…


According to the World Health Organization’s IARC, processed meat is now a Group 1 carcinogen—the highest designation. How is it that schools still feed it to our children?

How Much Cancer Does Lunch Meat Cause? Watch the video to find out.

For more on carcinogens, cancer, and meat, see:

Some of the meat industry’s finagling reminds me of tobacco industry tactics. See, for example, Big Food Using the Tobacco Industry Playbook and The Healthy Food Movement: Strength in Unity. You can also check out American Medical Association Complicity with Big Tobacco.

Skeptical about the danger of excessive sodium intake? Check out The Evidence That Salt Raises Blood Pressure. If you’re still not convinced, see Sprinkling Doubt: Taking Sodium Skeptics with a Pinch of Salt and Sodium Skeptics Try to Shake Up the Salt Debate. Why do the meat industries add salt when millions of lives are at stake? Find out in Big Salt: Getting to the Meat of the Matter.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

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Top 10 Most Popular Videos of 2018

Top 10 Most Popular Videos of 2018

Thanks to the collective enthusiasm for sharing NutritionFacts.org by our subscribers, Twitter and Instagram followers, and over 1.5 million Facebook and G+ fans, we averaged millions of video views a month this year. But it’s not about the numbers; it’s about the people whose lives we’ve touched, changed, or even saved. That is why I’ve dedicated my life to this work. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who has made this public service possible.

NutritionFacts.org arises from my annual review of the medical literature. With the help of a team of hundreds of volunteers, we churned through tens of thousands of papers published in the peer-reviewed scientific nutrition literature and are ramping up to break new records in 2019. How do I choose which studies to highlight? In general, I strive to focus on the most groundbreaking, interesting, and useful findings; but which topics resonate the most? Is it the practical ones, offering cooking or shopping tips? Or those that dissect the studies behind the headlines? Maybe it’s the geeky science ones exploring the wonderfully weird world of human biology? As you can see from the below list, the answer seems to be a bit of all of the above:

#10 Benefits of Lentils and Chickpeas

Too many people know beans about beans…until now! In this video, lentils and garbanzo beans were put to the test. Benefits of Beans for Peripheral Vascular Disease was another popular one, exploring the question: Do legumes just work to prevent disease or can they help treat and reverse it as well?

 

#9 Does Adding Milk Block the Benefits of Coffee?

Coffee videos are perpetual favorites. A similar effect was found for fruit and tea: Benefits of Blueberries for Blood Pressure May Be Blocked by Yogurt. And you don’t want to mess around with berry benefits. See two other faves from this year Benefits of Blueberries for the Brain and Benefits of Blueberries for Artery Function.

 

#8 Benefits of a Macrobiotic Diet for Diabetes

I’m glad I finally got around to macrobiotic diets, and seems folks agreed. This is a good one to share with your low carb friends. I also did one on the Pros and Cons of Macrobiotic Diets

 

 

#7 Is It Better to Drink a Little Alcohol than None at All? 

The best available balance of evidence is taking a decided shift on alcohol. Check out the video to see why. Others in this video series included Can Alcohol Cause Cancer?, The Best Source of Resveratrol, and Do Any Benefits of Alcohol Outweigh the Risks? 

 

#6 Is Organic Meat Less Carcinogenic? 

Organic and conventional meat were put to the test for 33 different carcinogens. It’s a question I get a lot, and I’m glad there’s finally data to share.

 

 

#5 The Weight Loss Program that Got Better with Time 

The most well-published community-based lifestyle intervention in the medical literature is also one of the most effective. You know I’m definitely going to be talking about it in my upcoming new book on weight control. Others in this series are What Is the Optimal Diet?, CHIP: The Complete Health Improvement Program, and A Workplace Wellness Program that Works.

 

#4 The Effects of Avocados on Inflammation

Guac this way? Find out, as the impact of high-fat plant foods—avocados, peanuts, walnuts—and olive oil are put to the test. The other one I did this year was also popular: Are Avocados Good for You? 

 

 

#3 The First Studies on Vegetarian Athletes

Meat-eating athletes are put to the test against veg athletes and even sedentary plant-eaters in feats of endurance at Yale. The other two in the series were The Gladiator Diet – How Vegetarian Athletes Stack Up and Vegetarian Muscle Power, Strength, and Endurance.

 

#2 Dining by Traffic Light: Green Is for Go, Red Is for Stop

The most popular video of 2017 was Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen Checklist explaining one of the tools I unveiled in How Not to Die. Here’s the other one, my traffic light system for ranking the relative healthfulness of Green Light vs. Yellow Light vs. Red Light foods.

 

#1 The Best Advice on Diet and Cancer 

The most popular this year was a video I built around one of T. Colin Campbell’s new papers. I also did How to Win the War on Cancer, which details the tragic ineffectiveness of many chemotherapy treatments. But the good news is that the vast majority of premature death and disability is preventable with an evidence-based diet and other healthy lifestyle behaviors. So make 2019 your year to wrestle control back over your health destiny.

And for some New Year, New You inspiration read through the responses on Instagram when I asked everyone what they learned from reading How Not to Die

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

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Best Diet for Diabetic Neuropathy

Best Diet for Diabetic Neuropathy

Neuropathy, or damage to the nerves, is a debilitating disorder, and diabetes is by far the most common cause. Up to 50 percent of people with diabetes will eventually develop neuropathy during the course of their disease. It can be “very painful, and the pain is frequently resistant to conventional treatments.” In fact, currently, there is no effective treatment for diabetic neuropathy. Clinicians rely on steroids, opiates, and antidepressants to try to mediate the suffering.

But, as I discuss in my video Curing Painful Diabetic Neuropathy, a remarkable study was published 20 years ago on the regression of diabetic neuropathy with a plant-based diet. There are two types of diabetic neuropathy: a “relatively painless type characterized by numbness, tingling and pins-and-needles sensations” and a second form, which “is painful with burning or aching sensations to the point of excruciating, lancinating [or stabbing] pain.” This study concentrated on the painful type of diabetic neuropathy.

Twenty-one diabetics suffering with moderate or worse symptomatic painful neuropathy for up to ten years were placed on a whole food, plant-based diet along with a half-hour walk every day. Years and years of suffering and then complete relief of the pain in 17 out of the 21 patients within days.

Numbness noticeably improved, too, and the side effects were all good. They lost ten pounds, blood sugars got better, and insulin needs dropped in half. And, in five of the patients, not only was their painful neuropathy apparently cured, so was their diabetes. Their blood sugars were normal, and they were off all medications. Their triglycerides and cholesterol also improved, as did high blood pressure. In fact, it was gone in about half the hypertensives—an 80 percent drop overall in need for high blood pressure medications within three weeks.

Now, this was a live-in program, where patients’ meals were provided. What happened after they were sent home? The 17 folks were followed for years, and the relief from the painful neuropathy continued or improved even further for all except one person. How did they get that kind of compliance? According to the researchers, “Pain and ill health are strong motivating factors.”

Diabetic neuropathy is one of the most painful and frustrating conditions to treat in all of medicine, and 75 percent of patients were cured within days with a natural, nontoxic, and, in fact, beneficial treatment: a diet composed of whole, plant foods.

How could nerve damage be reversed so suddenly? It wasn’t necessarily the improvement in blood sugar control, since it took about ten days for the diet to control the diabetes, whereas the pain was gone in as few as four days. “There are several mechanisms by which the [‘total vegetarian diet’]…works to alleviate the problem of diabetic neuropathy as well as the diabetic condition itself.” The researchers’ most interesting speculation was that it could be the trans fats naturally found in meat, dairy, and refined vegetable oils that could be causing an inflammatory response. They found a significant percentage of the fat found under the skin of those who ate meat or dairy consisted of trans fats, whereas those on a strictly whole food, plant-based diet had none.

The researchers stuck needles in the buttocks of people eating different diets and found that nine months or more on a strict plant-based diet appeared to remove the trans fat from their bodies (or at least their butts). Their pain, however, didn’t take nine months to get better—it got better in days.

More likely, it was due to an improvement in blood flow. “[N]erve biopsies in diabetics with severe progressive neuropathy…have shown small vessel disease within the nerve.” There are blood vessels within our nerves that can get clogged up too. The oxygen levels in the nerves of diabetics were found to be lower than even the levels of de-oxygenated blood. This lack of oxygen within the nerves may arise from blockages within the blood vessels depriving the nerves of oxygen, presumably leading them to cry out in pain.

Within days, though, improvements in blood “rheology,” or the ease of blood flow, on a plant-based diet may play a prominent role in the reversal of diabetic neuropathy. Plant-based diets may also lower the level of IGF-1 inside the eyeballs of diabetics and decrease the risk of retinopathy (diabetic vision loss) as well. But, “the most efficient way to avoid diabetic complications is to eliminate the diabetes, and this is often feasible for those type 2 patients who make an abiding commitment to daily exercise and low-fat, whole-food vegan diet.” 

Why didn’t we learn about this in medical school? The “neglect of this important work by the broader medical community is little short of unconscionable.”


What about reversing diabetic vision loss? See my video Can Diabetic Retinopathy Be Reversed?.

Did you think trans fats were only in partially hydrogenated junk food? See Trans Fat in Meat and Dairy. Ideally, we’d reduce our intake as low as possible, which I discuss in Trans Fat, Saturated Fat, and Cholesterol: Tolerable Upper Intake of Zero.

The best way to prevent diabetic complications is to prevent the diabetes in the first place:

And then to reverse it:

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

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Vinegar Is Good for You

Vinegar Is Good for You

Vinegar has evidently been used as a weight-loss aid for nearly 200 years. Like hot sauce, it can be a nearly calorie-free way to flavor foods, and all sorts of delicious exotic vinegars—like fig, peach, and pomegranate—are available to choose from. The question, though, is whether there is something special about vinegar that helps with weight loss, which is the topic of my video Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help with Weight Loss?.

Vinegar is defined as simply a dilute solution of acetic acid, which takes energy for our body to metabolize, activating an enzyme called AMPK that is like our body’s fuel gauge. If it senses that we’re low, it amps up energy production and tells the body to stop storing fat and start burning fat. And, so, given our obesity epidemic, “it is crucial that oral compounds with high bioavailability are developed to safely induce chronic AMPK activation,” which would be potentially beneficial for long-term weight loss. There’s no need to develop such a compound, though, if you can buy it in any grocery store.

We know vinegar can activate AMPK in human cells, but is the dose one might get when sprinkling it on a salad enough? If you take endothelial cells (the cells lining our blood vessels) from umbilical cords after babies are born and expose them to various levels of acetate, which is what the acetic acid in vinegar turns into in our stomach, it appears to take a concentration of at least 100 to really get a significant boost in AMPK. So, how much acetate do you get in your bloodstream sprinkling about a tablespoon of vinegar on your salad? You do hit 100, but only for about 15 minutes, and even at that concentration, 10 or 20 minutes exposure doesn’t seem to do much. Now granted, this is determined in a petri dish. What do clinical studies show us?

A double-blind trial was conducted investigating the effects of vinegar intake on the reduction of body fat in overweight men and women. The researchers call them obese, but they were actually slimmer than the average American. In Japan, they call anything over a BMI of 25 obese, whereas the BMI of the average American adult is about 28.6. Nevertheless, they took about 150 overweight individuals and randomly split them into one of three groups: a high-dose vinegar group drinking a beverage containing two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar a day, a low-dose group drinking a beverage containing only one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar a day, and a placebo control group drinking an acidic beverage they developed to taste the same as the vinegar drink but using a different kind of acid so, there was no acetic acid.

There were no other changes in their diet or exercise. In fact, the researchers monitored their diets and gave them all pedometers so they could make sure the only significant difference amongst the three groups was the amount of vinegar they were getting every day. Within just one month, there were statistically significant drops in weight in both vinegar groups compared with placebo, with the high-dose group doing better than the low-dose group, and the weight loss just got better month after month. In fact, by month three, the do-nothing placebo group actually gained weight, as overweight people tend to do, whereas the vinegar groups significantly dropped their weight. Was the weight loss actually significant or just statistically significant? Compared with the placebo group, the two-tablespoons-of-vinegar-a-day group dropped five pounds by the end of the 12 weeks. That may not sound like a lot, but they got that for just pennies a day without removing anything from their diet.

They also got slimmer, losing up to nearly an inch off their waist, suggesting they were losing abdominal fat. The researchers went the extra mile and put it to the test. They put the research subjects through abdominal CT scans to actually measure directly the amount of fat in their bodies before and after. They measured the amount of superficial fat, visceral fat, and total body fat. Superficial fat is the fat under your skin that makes for flabby arms and contributes to cellulite. Visceral fat, on the other hand, is the killer. It’s the fat that builds up around your internal organs that bulges out the belly—and the kind of fat the placebo group was putting on when they were gaining weight. Both the low-dose and high-dose vinegar groups, however, were able to remove about a square inch of visceral fat off that CT scan slice.

Like any weight loss strategy, it only works if you do it. A month after they stopped the vinegar, the weight crept right back, but that’s just additional evidence that the vinegar was working. But how was it working?

A group of researchers in the United Kingdom suggested an explanation: Vinegar beverages are gross. They created vinegar beverages that were so unpleasant the study subjects actually felt nauseated after drinking them and ate less of the meal the researchers provided. So, there you go: Maybe vinegar helps with both appetite control and food intake, though these effects are largely due to the fruity vinegar concoctions invoking feelings of nausea. Is that what was going on in the original study? Were the vinegar groups just eating less? No, the vinegar groups were eating about the same compared with placebo. Same diet, more weight loss––thanks, perhaps, to the acetic acid’s impact on AMPK.

Now, the CT scans make this a very expensive study, so I was not surprised it was funded by a company that sells vinegars, which is good, since we otherwise wouldn’t have these amazing data, but is also bad because it always leaves you wondering whether the funding source somehow manipulated the results. The nice thing about companies funding studies about healthy foods, though, whether it’s some kiwifruit company or the National Watermelon Promotion Board (check out watermelon.org), is, really, what’s the worst that can happen? Here, for example, even if the findings turned out to be bogus and worst comes to worst, your salad would just be tastier.


I’m so excited to finally be getting to this topic. Type “vinegar” into PubMed, the search engine biomedical literature, and 40,000 studies pop up. It took me a while to take it all in, but I’m so glad I did, as it’s something that has caused a shift in my own diet. I now try to add various vinegars every day.

This is the first of a five-part video series. See the other installments:

For more holistic approaches to weight loss, see:

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

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The content for this post was sourced from www.NutritionFacts.org

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Vinegar, Wine, and Artery Function

Vinegar, Wine, and Artery Function

In my video Vinegar and Artery Function, I discuss a famous study from Harvard University published back in 1999, which found that women who used oil and vinegar salad dressing about every day went on to have fewer than half the fatal heart attacks compared to women who hardly ever used it. That’s less than half the risk of the number-one killer of women.

Researchers figured it was the omega-3s in the oil that explained the benefit. I know you’re thinking: Those who use salad dressing every day probably also… eat salad every day! So perhaps it was the salad that was so beneficial. But no, they were able to adjust for vegetable intake so it didn’t appear to be the salad. Why, though, does oil get the credit and not the vinegar? Well, what about creamy salad dressings? They’re also made from omega-3-rich oils like canola, in fact even more so than oil and vinegar dressing. So if it’s the oil and not the vinegar, then creamy dressings would be protective, too. But they’re not. They found no significant decrease in fatal heart attacks rates or in nonfatal heart attack rates, for that matter. Now, it could be the eggs or butterfat in these dressings counteracting the benefits of the omega-3s or perhaps the vinegar is actually playing a role. But how? 

In my Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help with Weight Loss? video, I highlight a paper entitled, “Vinegar Intake Enhances Flow-Mediated Vasodilatation via Upregulation of Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase Activity.” In other words, vinegar enhances arterial function by allowing our arteries to better dilate naturally by boosting the activity of the enzyme in our body that synthesizes nitric oxide, the open sesame signal to our arteries that improves blood flow. Acetate is cleared out of your blood within half an hour of consuming a salad with a tablespoon of vinegar in it. This apparently isn’t enough time to boost the AMPK enzyme, but within just ten minutes, those kind of acetate levels can boost the activity of the nitric-oxide-synthesizing enzyme within human umbilical cord blood vessel cells in a petri dish.

But what about in people? Researchers also measured the dilation of arteries in the arms of women after they had one tablespoon of rice vinegar, one tablespoon of brown rice vinegar, or one tablespoon of forbidden rice vinegar that’s made from black or purple rice. All the vinegars appeared to help, but it was the black rice one that mostly clearly pulled away from the pack. Black rice contains the same kind of anthocyanin pigments that make some fruits and vegetables blue and purple, and may have independent benefits. For example, if you give someone a big blueberry smoothie containing the amount of anthocyanins in one and a half cups of wild blueberries, you get a nice spike in arterial function that lasts a couple of hours.

Thus, the highest maximum forearm blood flow in the forbidden rice vinegar group might be attributed to an additional or synergistic effect of anthocyanin with the acetate. But it could also just be the antioxidant power of anthocyanins by themselves. This could mean that balsamic vinegar, which is made from red wine, may have a similar effect, as it’s been shown to have remarkably higher free radical scavenging activity than rice vinegar. Could it be enough to counter the artery-constricting effects of a high-fat meal? We’ve known for nearly 20 years that eating a single high-fat meal like Sausage and Egg McMuffins with deep-fried hash browns is crippling to our arteries, halving their ability to dilate normally within hours of consumption. Even a bowl of Frosted Flakes, with its massive, unhealthy sugar load, it has no acute effect on the arteries because it lacks fat.

We aren’t just talking about animal fat. A quarter cup of safflower oil had a similar effect. In fact, the very first study to show how bad fat was for our arteries basically dripped highly refined soybean oil into people’s veins. Does this apply to extra-virgin olive oil, which isn’t refined? We know that some whole food sources of plant fat, such as nuts, actually improve artery function, whereas oils, including olive oil, worsen function. But you can see, smell, and taste the phytonutrients still left in extra virgin olive oil. So are they enough to maintain arterial function? No. Research showed a significant drop in artery function within three hours of eating whole-grain bread dipped in extra-virgin olive oil, and the more fat in the subjects’ blood, the worse their arteries did.

What if you ate the same meal but added balsamic vinegar on a salad? That seemed to protect the arteries from the effects of the fat. Because balsamic vinegar is a product of red wine, you might ask whether you’d get the same benefits drinking a glass of red wine. No. They found no improvement in arterial function after red wine. So why does balsamic vinegar work, but not red wine? Maybe it’s because the red wine lacks the benefits of the acetic acid in vinegar or because the vinegar lacks the negative effects of the alcohol. A third option might be that it was the salad ingredients and had nothing to do with the vinegar.

To figure out this puzzle, non-alcoholic wine was tested. The result? Non-alcoholic red wine worked! So maybe it was the grapes in balsamic vinegar and not the acetic acid. Indeed, if you eat one and a quarter cups of seeded and seedless red, green, and blue-black grapes with your Sausage and Egg McMuffin, you can blunt the crippling of your arteries. So, plants and their products may provide protection against the direct impairment in endothelial function, unless those products are oil or alcohol.


Check out my other videos on vinegar:

We are only as healthy as our arteries. For more videos on what may help or hurt, see:

Note that there is a level of sugar intake that can adversely impact artery function. I discuss this in my video How to Prevent Blood Sugar and Triglyceride Spikes After Meals.

Surprised about the alcohol data? For more on wine, see:

If you’ve been able to find forbidden rice vinegar, please let me know. I’d love to try it! You may be interested in my video on how pigmented rice may beat out brown rice: Brown, Black, Purple and Red (Unlike White on) Rice.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

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The content for this post was sourced from www.NutritionFacts.org

View the Original Article