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Plant-Based Diets More Satisfying than Meat-Based Diets

Plant-based diets are more satisfying than omnivorous diets, according to a new study published in Clinical Nutrition. Researchers compared brain activity and satiety in participants who ate either a plant-based meal or a meal that included meat. When people consumed the meal with meat, they showed decreased secretion of a hormone that affects reward circuits in the brain. When they consumed the plant-based meal, they were more satisfied and had better blood flow in the regions of the brain associated with food intake.

Kahleova H. Tintera J, Thieme L, et al. A plant-based meal affects thalamus perfusion differently than an energy- and macro-nutrient-matched conventional meal in men with type 2 diabetes, overweight/obese, and healthy men: A three-group randomized crossover study. Clin Nutr. Published online October 9, 2020.

Consuming More Protein from Plants Associated With Longer Life

Consuming plant-based protein reduces risk of early death from any cause and from heart disease, according to a meta-analysis published in The British Medical Journal. Researchers from Harvard University and Tehran University of Medical Sciences compared animal versus plant-based protein intake and mortality from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and all causes among 32 studies and 715,128 participants. For each additional 3% of calories from plant protein, such as legumes, grains, and soy products, the risk of dying lowers by 5%. Consuming animal proteins did not lower risk of death from heart disease or cancer. The authors suggest replacing animal protein with plant protein for its association with longevity.

Naghshi S, Sadeghi O, Willett WC, Esmaillzadeh A. Dietary intake of total, animal, and plant proteins and risk of all cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies.

BMJ. 2020;370:m2412-m2429.



Good evidence exists to show that the beneficial effects of a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet also applies to viral diseases like COVID-19. I am referring to 1) research findings in my lab in the 1970s through the 1990s, 2) supplementary evidence from a comprehensive study of diet, lifestyle and disease, twice done, in a human population in rural China during the 1980s, and 3) specific evidence from researchers on diet and viral infection. 



Alzheimer’s Disease

Dietary flavonoids from berries, apples, and other plant-based foods help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers reviewed diet record data and compared flavonoid intake and dementia incidence rates for 2,801 participants from the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort. Those who had the highest total flavonoid intake from oranges, pears, strawberries, and other plant-based foods were 40% less likely to develop dementia when compared to those with the lowest intakes of flavonoid. Shishtar E, Rogers GT, Blumberg JB, Au R, Jacques PF. Long-term dietary flavonoid intake and risk of Alzheimer disease and related dementias in the Framingham Offspring Cohort. Am J Clin Nutr. Published online April 22, 2020


Fruits and Vegetables Protect Against Cognitive Decline

Diets high in fruits, vegetables, pulses (beans, lentils, peas), and nuts protect against cognitive decline, according to a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, Health, & Aging. Researchers compared test scores in verbal fluency, a measure of cognitive decline, in participants in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) and tracked dietary intake, socioeconomic status, and other covariates. Those who consumed more than 0.5 servings of pulses/nuts and more than 3 servings of fruits/vegetables per day scored higher on the cognitive tests, compared with those who had less. The authors call for policies to address food access and obesity and hypertension risk to improve risk factors. Fuller-Thomson E, Saab Z, Davison KM, et al. Nutrition, immigration and health determinants are linked to verbal fluency among anglophone adults in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA). J Nutr Health Aging. 2020;24:672-680.


Soy Products Reduce Risk for Dementia

A metabolite produced in the gut from consuming soy products known as equol may reduce the risk for dementia, according to a study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia. Researchers examined brain magnetic resonance imaging for white matter lesions associated with cognitive disease in 91 elderly participants and tracked serum equol levels. Those who produced more equol from dietary soy products had 50% fewer white matter lesions than those with lower equol levels. Japanese populations have more gut microbiota well-suited to produce soy metabolites, compared to Americans, due to higher consumption of dietary soy. Equol may improve dementia risk by improving arterial stiffness associated with white matter lesions in increased mitochondria function later in life. Sekikawa A, Higashiyama A, Lopresti BJ, et al. Associations of equol-producing status with white matter lesion and amyloid-β deposition in cognitively normal elderly Japanese.Alzheimer’s Dement.. 2020;6:e12089-e12098





Evidence suggests that diets emphasizing the consumption of plant-based foods might protect against asthma development and improve asthma symptoms through their effects on systemic inflammation, oxidation, and microbial composition.


Plant-based diets help prevent and treat asthma, according to a review published in Nutrition in Clinical Care. Researchers from the Physicians Committee examined the evidence related to asthma and dietary factors among adults and children. The prevalence of asthma rose over the years as high-fat, Westernized diets increased in popularity. Diets that emphasize fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes and minimize saturated fat reduce the risk for asthma and may improve asthma control. Alwarith J, Kahleova H, Crosby L, et al. The role of nutrition in asthma prevention and treatment. Nutr Clin Care. Published online March 13, 2020.




The World Health Organization has determined that processed meat is a major contributor to colorectal cancer, classifying it as “carcinogenic to humans.” Just one hot dog or a few strips of bacon consumed daily increases cancer risk by 18 percent. The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AIRC) have also found that “the evidence on processed meat and cancer is clear-cut.” Colorectal cancer rates are on the rise in young people. Adults born around 1990 have twice the risk of colon cancer and four times the risk of rectal cancer compared with adults born around 1950, according to a study published by the National Cancer Institute. American Cancer Society guidelines now recommend that screening begin at age 45. The guidelines attribute rising rates to diets high in processed meat and low in fruits, vegetables, and other dietary fiber as risk factors. To reduce your risk, focus on fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, which are high in fiber and other protective nutrients. Eating just three servings of whole grains per day can reduce colorectal cancer risk by 17 percent.


Dairy foods are complex mixtures which include nutrients and non-nutrient substances that could potentially influence cancer etiology, including breast cancer. – Current Developments In Clinical Nutrition.  2017 Mar; 1(3) Retrieved from


Growth hormone IGF-1 is a likely cause of breast cancer

Analysis of several hundred thousand women in UK Biobank has shown for the first time that higher levels of a growth hormone called IGF-1 (insulin-like growth hormone factor-1) circulating in the blood is not only associated with the development of breast cancer, but is also likely to be a cause of the disease.Researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in France, and the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford, carried out two, complementary studies to investigate the role of IGF-1 in breast cancer development. The first looked at the associations between levels of IGF-1 in the blood and the chances of the disease developing in 206,263 female UK Biobank participants. Main Source of IGF-1 is animal protein. Retrieved from

High serum cholesterol levels, high CYP27A1 enzyme levels and more of the estrogen-like 27HC makes breast tumors more aggressive–something “no one had thought of before.” TColin-Campel Center for Nutritional Studies 2014 January 9th.  2020 March. Retrieved from


High Fiber Consumption Reduces Risk for Breast Cancer

High fiber intake reduces the risk for breast cancer, according to a systematic review published by the American Cancer Society. Researchers compared fiber consumption and types of fiber intake with breast cancer incidence rates. Those who consumed the most fiber had an 8% reduced risk for premenopausal and postmenopausal cancers when compared to those who consumed the least amount of fiber. Soluble fiber from cereals, fruit, legumes, and vegetables showed the strongest association with reduced risk, with the strongest associations observed in fruit fiber.Farvid MS, Spence ND, Holmes MD, Barnett JB. Fiber Consumption and breast cancer incidence: A systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Cancer. Published online April 6, 2020


Canned and Cooked Tomatoes Protect Against Prostate Cancer

Consuming tomatoes may reduce the risk for prostate cancer, according to a study published in Cancer Causes & Control. Researchers followed more than 27,000 Adventist men without cancer and monitored tomato intake and cancer incidence rates. Those who consumed canned or cooked tomatoes four times or more per week reduced their risk for prostate cancer when compared to those who never consumed tomatoes. Results showed a stronger association with consumption of 71 grams per day (about 1/3 cup), compared to no tomato intake. The authors attribute the lower risk to increased bioavailability of lycopene, a type of carotenoid, in processed and cooked tomato products. These results, particularly strong in black male participants, support dietary interventions as a viable preventive measure for at-risk populations. Fraser GE, Jacobsen BK, Knutsen SF, Mashchak A, Lloren JI. Tomato consumption and intake of lycopene as predictors of the incidence of prostate cancer: the Adventist Health Study‑2.  Cancer Causes & Control 2020;31:341-351.


 Videos from Dr. Greger’s Site: Nutrition



Cardiovascular Disease

Adherence to a healthful plant-based diet reduces the risk for cardiovascular disease in women, according to presented at the American College of Cardiology Scientific Session. Researchers compared heart disease events with diet records of participants in three levels of adherence to a plant-based diet. Those with the highest adherence to a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes were protected the most from heart disease. Panagiotakos D, Kouvari M, Chrysohoou C, et al. The association between healthful and unhealthful plant based dietary patterns and 10-year cardiovascular disease incidence in apparently healthy men and women: Highlights from the Attica Prospective (2002-2012) Study. Abstract presented at: American College of Cardiology Scientific Session; March 28-30, 2020 (virtual meeting).  


Replacing red and processed meat with plant sources of protein reduces risk for heart disease and early death, according to findings presented by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health at the American Heart Association’s. Haslam DE, Rehm CD, Song M, Hu FB, Zhang FF, Bhupathiraju SN. American Heart Association EPI | LIFESTYLE 2020 Scientific Sessions – Abstracts P510 and P512. March 5, 2020: Phoenix, AZ.


Daily Protein from Plants Instead of Animals Reduces Risk of Early Death
Eating plant-based protein instead of animal protein reduces the risk for early death, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers compared protein intake and mortality rates of participants in the US National Institutes of Health–AARP Diet and Health Study. Those who ate more plant-based protein reduced their overall risk for death when compared to those who ate less plant-based protein. Results showed replacing 3% of animal protein with plant-based protein from foods such as bread, cereal, and pasta reduced the risk of death from heart disease by up to 12%. These associations were strongest when it came to replacing protein from eggs and red meat with plant protein. These findings support previous research that shows that plant-based protein sources promote better health and longevity.

Huang J, Liao LM, Weinstein SJ, Sinha R, Graubard BI, Albanes D. Association between plant and animal protein intake and overall and cause-specific mortality. JAMA Inter Med. Published online July 13, 2020.


A Plant Based Diet and Cardiovascular Disease – Special Issue



Experts from Harvard University recommend that dietary guidelines exclude red and processed meat in favor of plant-based foods for the benefit of human health and the environment, according to a publication from the American Diabetes Association. Qian F, Riddle MC, Wylie-Rosett J, Hu FB. Red and processed meats and health risks: How strong is the evidence? Diabetes Care. 2020;43:265–271.


Consuming red meat, processed meat, fish, and poultry may increase the risk for type 2 diabetes, according to a meta-analysis published in Diabetes and Metabolism. Researchers reviewed 28 articles that investigated relationships between meat consumption and type 2 diabetes risk and morbidity. People who consumed the most total meat, red meat, and processed meat increased their risk for type 2 diabetes by 33%, 22%, and 25%, respectively, compared with those who consumed the least. Yang X, Li Y, Wang C, et al. Meat and fish intake and type 2 diabetes: dose–response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Diabetes Metab. Published online April 14, 2020.


Fruits, Vegetables, and Whole Grains Associated With Reduced Risk for Type 2 Diabetes
Adding a third of a cup of fruit or vegetables and more grains such as oatmeal and bread to your daily diet may reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes by up to 29%, according to two studies published in the British Medical Journal. The first study analyzed type 2 diabetes risk and vitamin C and carotenoid intake from fruits and vegetables in participants from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). Results associated higher vitamin C and carotenoid biomarkers with a 25% lower risk of diabetes.
The other study compared whole grain intake with diabetes rates in participants from the Nurses’ Health Studies and found that those who ate the most whole grains, including whole-grain breakfast cereal, oatmeal, dark bread, and brown rice, had a 29% reduced risk, compared with those who ate the lowest amount of whole grains. Both studies suggest dietary interventions that increase fruit, vegetable, and whole grain intake by any amount may prove effective for type 2 diabetes prevention.

1. Zheng JS, Sharp SJ, Imamura F, et al. Association of plasma biomarkers of fruit and vegetable intake with incident type 2 diabetes: EPIC-InterAct case-cohort study in eight European countries. BMJ. 2020;370:m2194-m2208.
2. Hu Y, Ding M, Sampson L, et al. Intake of whole grain foods and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective cohort studies. BMJ. 2020;370:m2206-m2218.

Plant-Based Diets Lower Risk for Gestational Diabetes

Adherence to a plant-based diet before pregnancy lowers the risk for gestational diabetes, according to data presented at the 80th American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions. Researchers followed almost 16,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study II, who reported at least one pregnancy over 10 years, monitored adherence to a plant-based diet using various indices of healthfulness, and tracked diabetes incidence. Results showed a significant inverse association between plant-based diets and diabetes. The authors suspect a plant-based diet led to a lower pre-pregnancy BMI and reduced intake of red and processed meat, both of which are linked to a reduced risk for gestational diabetes.Chen Z, Qian F, Liu G, et al. Prepregnancy plant-based diet and the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus: A prospective cohort study of 15,999 women. Abstract presented at: 80th American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions; June 12-16, 2020; online.

Plant-Based Diets High in Carbs Improve Type 1 Diabetes

Plant-based diets rich in whole carbohydrates can improve insulin sensitivity and other health markers in individuals with type 1 diabetes, according to two articles published by researchers from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in the Journal of Diabetes and Medicine

Previous studies have found that low-fat, plant-based diets can be beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes. Research has also shown that those eating a plant-based diet have approximately half the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared with non-vegetarians. American Diabetes Association August 2020 on line

Cooked Red Meat Increases Compounds Linked to Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease

Red and processed meat products cooked at high temperatures create compounds that increase the risk and progression of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, according to a study published in Nutrients. Researchers compared a diet high in red and processed meat with a diet high in whole grains, nuts, and legumes in 51 participants and tracked levels of advanced glycogen end products (produced by grilling, frying, roasting, or broiling meat). Those who ate red and processed meat increased their concentrations of carboxyethyl–lysine, a compound associated with chronic disease progression, when compared to those who followed the diet with no meat.Kim Y, Keogh JB, Deo P, Clifton PM. Differential effects of dietary patterns on advanced glycation end products: A randomized crossover study. Nutrients. 2020;12:1767-1778.

Digestive Health -Gastrointestinal Disease –  Irritable Bowel Syndrome – Gut Health

People who eat vegan diets have the healthiest intestinal bacteria, according to a new study published in the journal Gut. The researchers looked at 153 Italian participants, one-third of whom were vegan, vegetarian, or omnivorous, and classified the healthiest eating diets, referred to as Mediterranean diets in the study, as those that included the most fiber-rich foods—fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains. Eighty-eight percent of the vegans adhered to the healthiest patterns, 65 percent of the vegetarians, and 30 percent of the omnivores. The more adherence to the healthy dietary pattern, the healthier the intestinal microbiota. Healthy gut flora are associated with decreased risk of disease.

Reference: De Filippis F, Pellegrini N, Vannini L, et al. High-level adherence to a Mediterranean diet beneficially impacts the gut microbiota and associated metabolome. Gut. Published online September 28, 2015.  


Plant-Based Foods Improve Gut Microbiota Linked to Lower Disease Risk
A diet rich in plant-based foods improves gut microbiota associated with lower risk for heart disease and other chronic conditions, according to a study published in Nature Medicine. Researchers analyzed the microbiomes, diet records, and cardiometabolic biomarker data from 1,098 participants from the Personalised Responses to Dietary Composition Trial (PREDICT 1) study. Results showed favorable links between consumption of healthy plant-based foods with “good” microbes associated with lower risk for heart disease, diabetes, and obesity and improved metabolism, glucose tolerance, and microbiome diversity. The authors recommend clinicians assess the gut microbiome as a biomarker for disease risk and personalize dietary interventions to improve overall health. Asnicar F, Berry SE, Valdes AM, et al. Microbiome connections with host metabolism and habitual diet from 1,098 deeply phenotyped individuals. Nat Med. Published online January 11, 2021. doi: 10.1038/s41591-020-01183-8.

Keto Diets


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Ketogenic diets increase cholesterol and inflammatory markers associated with chronic disease, according to new research published in Obesity Biology and Integrated Physiology. Researchers monitored changes in lipids and inflammation during four weeks on a baseline diet (50 percent carbohydrate, 35 percent fat, and 15 percent protein) and four weeks on an isocaloric ketogenic diet (5 percent carbohydrate, 80 percent fat, 15 percent protein).Total cholesterol, LDL or “bad” cholesterol, ketones, and markers of inflammation increased significantly while on the ketogenic diet.


Rosenbaum M, Hall KD, Guo J, et al. Glucose and lipid homeostasis and inflammation in humans following an isocaloric ketogenic diet. Obesity (Silver Spring). Published online May 8, 2019. Retrieved from: