Doctor's Note

Herbs and spices are among the healthiest plants to consume. See one of my favorites, for example: Antioxidants in a Pinch, and Antioxidant Content of 3,139 Foods. The glucosinolates I mention are the broccoli compounds featured in videos such as Broccoli Versus Breast Cancer Stem CellsSulforaphane: From Broccoli to Breast; and The Best Detox. For how our food crops have been doing in general over the years, see Crop Nutrient Decline. And for more on the organic question, see Can Pesticides Be Rinsed Off? and Fungal Toxins in Apples

For further context, check out my associated blog post, Antioxidants in a Pinch: Dried Herbs and Spices.

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  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Herbs and
    spices are among the healthiest plants to consume. See one of my favorites for
    example, Antioxidants in a Pinch and Antioxidant Content of
    3,139 Foods. The glucosinolates I mention are the broccoli compounds
    featured in videos such as Broccoli Versus Breast Cancer Stem
    Cells, Sulforaphane: From Broccoli to Breast, and The Best Detox.
    For how our food crops have been doing in general over the years see Crop
    Nutrient Decline and for more on the organic question: Can
    Pesticides Be Rinsed Off? and Fungal Toxins in Apples.  There are also hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects.

  • I wonder if I’m better for all my life’s struggles ;^) 

    I like this report; I like the idea — or at least the impression — that when I get hydros they are “cleaner.” Good to know they’re more nutrient dense.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Herbs and spices are among the healthiest plants to consume. See one of my favorites for example, “Antioxidants in a Pinch” and “Antioxidant Content of 3,139 Foods.” The glucosinolates I mention are the broccoli compounds featured in videos such as “Broccoli Versus Breast Cancer Stem Cells,” “Sulforaphane: From Broccoli to Breast,” and “The Best Detox.” For how our food crops have been doing in general over the years see “Crop Nutrient Decline” and for more on the organic question: “Can Pesticides Be Rinsed Off?” and “Fungal Toxins in Apples.” There are also hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects for you to check out!

  • Interesting I came to the opposite conclusion before watching video. Well that certainly bodes well for future hydro farming.

  • Rschommer

    Same as regular exercise, within limitations, for our own bodies and brain. 

    Healthy stress: physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual all good for the body, mind and soul. 

    It’s even healthy for the plants we eat. 

    • Lauren

      But I’m remembering the studies that showed that “happy” plants were more resilient and grew better. We were told it was good to talk gently to our plants….and to play classical music to them. Now we are supposed to drown them and scare them into a furious stressful struggle to protect themselves. Ugh. I LOVE my plants….I CARE for them. And I love and care for my soil as well. We learned a while ago the advantages of natural foods and combinations of natural foods for health, as opposed to just taking vitamins (for example)….and I’m willing to bet that over time all the multitude of gifts that soil can offer (especially when it is cared for and enriched with recycled, organic mulch and other ammendments) will win out.

  • Darrell Williams

    Hi Michael, I continue to have trouble hearing your message. I don’t have this trouble with other sounds/voices coming over my computer. I am wondering if others have this problem and if perhaps you can find a different microphone.

    I don’t write comments but that doesn’t mean that for years I haven’t been a “regular” attendee of your work and continually think how lucky I am to live at a time where you put this news out and at a time when biochem/nutrition research is burgeoning.

    Darrell Williams in Austin, Tx.

    • carfree

      sounds okay to me!

    • Dave

      The sound level has always been excellent when I view these terrific videos. Thanks Dr. Greger!

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      Sounds fine to me as well.  Dr G’s older vid’s were very low in acoustic volume and it sounded like he was whispering and I still have to turn up my volume all the way up to hear him in those videos.  I thought it was because he started recording those videos early in the morning or late at night when his family was sleeping and he didn’t want to wake them up so would whisper into the mic.  Don’t know but now they sound fine.

    • Troy

      sounds good to me… maybe your speakers have a frequency hole right where Dr Greger’s voice sits :)

  • Most hydroponic growers add liquid nutrients to the water. Were liquid nutrients added to the hydroponically grown basil? And if so, could that be one of the reasons the hydro-basil scored so much better? Just curious on the details..

    • Troy

      I know nothing about hydroponics, but wouldn’t all hydroponic growing require nutrients in the water as fundamental building blocks for the plants?

    • laguna

      Without the mineral/nutrient mix being added to the water, plants will not grow. Plain water will NOT grow plants.

  • carfree

    I would expect mineral content to be lower, but I also expected antioxidant content to be lower. Any info on minerals?

    • That was my question as well – how was the mineral content?

  • HemoDynamic, M.D.

    I think half my city is high on hydroponics and it’s not the basil.

    Half of the residents have Medical Marijuana cards (MMC’s) where I live (at least that’s what the paper reported).  90,000 persons with 45,000 MMC’s–they take their plants seriously here.

    Some of my patients when I teach them to go plant based say, “Already there Doc.”

  • HemoDynamic, M.D.

    An interesting note:  There were 3 groups tested 2 hydroponic batches, one grown for 20 days (20H), one for 35 days (35H), and 1 group in soil for 35 days (35S)
    When you click on the cited study above and study the graphs the group that had the highest nutrient density was the 20H.  Wow!  Really?!?

    I interpret that as eat your plants when they are young not old.  The younger the better?  We’re not talking wine here.
    So does this apply to sprouts?
    Are Basil sprouts more nutrient dense then 20 day old Basil? 

    IDK.  But this vid about Broccoli sprouts makes me want to believe it may be so.

    • Barbara Danielson

      You suggested I add broccoli sprouts to my other sprouts that I grow. I love the peppery taste. Thank you for starting me on my “plant based” diet. I have lost 8 lbs in the 2 months since I last saw you.

      • HemoDynamic, M.D.

        Great to see you are perusing Dr. Greger’s fantastic site!  Also great to hear you are losing weight!  That’s fantastic!  I’m sure you are “sprouting” up with more energy as well ;)
        Keep up the great work!!

  • Melanie

    I wonder if this may also apply to other hydroponically grown vegetables. I know tomatoes are often (or perhaps mostly) grown hydroponically. In Canada, we complain how bad they taste for 9 months of the year, but from time to time you can get nicer-tastings ones (in my experience, on the vine), as well as during our natural harvest times.
    As for sprouts, I do remember one book I read stated that the maximum state of nutrition of a sprout was when it was twice as long as the seed. I suppose this could be true of the vitamins and minerals, but definitely was regarding enzymes. That said, I have heard enzymes are destroyed by our stomach acid, but every once in a while, I wonder if it is possible for a few enzymes to sneak into the lower digestive tract. 

  • Gary Conway

    May I chime in that a hydroponically grown plant ‘scores’ better is little surprise to me.  For a plant grown in vibrant alive soil to score better it would have to be measured for the full breadth of the impact of what vibrant alive soil provides.  I doubt that such full measurements are even possible or that mankind even fully understands what is happening in the soil (we tend to think we understand many things, but it is only a matter of time before we see this is clearly not the case).  I say this assuming that the hydroponic solution is a fabricated mix of ingredients assembled based on our best understanding of what those ingredients would optimally be.  

    • Fyl

      that “vibrant alive soil” is so very vibrantly alive with bacteria, fungi, and g-d knows what viruses, parasites, etc. – as well as a variety of foreign substances aiming to kill it all on behalf of the farmer (and either failing miserably, or present in such overkill doses that they might very soon accumulate in your body to levels that can do you in, too)

      and all these buggers EVOLVE, at rates far faster than the plants, and are more virulent for every next crop since the land & soil are reused.

      hydro can be cleaner, if properly reloaded between harvests to give the new plants a clean environment, not one that’s rapidly evolving to infest the crops.

      …and aeroponics will always be cleaner, every time. It doesnt leave much for anything to infest, especially if properly maintained. and, since it usually runs on plant clones, anything that does somehow get into the system and propagate will be evolved to infest just copies of one genetic individual – not a super bug, but a super puny bug, easily flushed with a thorough cleaning of the module, and if worst comes to worst, overspecialized and unlikely to menace cuttings from a genetically distinct mother plant, much less a change of crop type for a while (requires virtually no retooling). Add a short grow cycle that makes it easier to write off a compromised batch, and with it stop threats in their tracks early, and you get an inherently more secure approach to farming.

  • Paul Holden

     Great video presenting vital information.  Thanks, Dr. Greger!  May I
    offer two comments on language from an English and foreign language
    teacher… First, radicchio is from Italian and is pronounced
    “rah-deek-ee-o”… in other words “ch” is always pronounced like “k” in English in Italian.  “Ci” is always pronounced “chee” as in “arriverderci.” 

    I know I am fighting a losing battle on this second point but I simply must try…

    “Healthy” and “healthful” are both adjectives.  The former refers to the
    physical (and mental and so on) status of anything alive, man, beast,
    or plant.  If, for example, a basil plant is healthy, it is thriving. 
    However, if one is pondering whether basal as a food substance is
    nutritious, the proper adjective is clearly “healthful” or ‘full of
    health” for the eater thereof.  As a linguist, I know that the tendency
    is for all languages to become simpler as they evolve, but must we
    permit this at the cost of clarity?
    Also I would like to ask if the difference in healthfulness of hydroponically grown basil is worth the effort to invest in the equipment necessary to grow it that way.  I have some growing in a mixture of peat moss and potting soil that makes wonderful pesto!

    • Teresa Taylor

      Grazie to you, too, for pointing out the difference between “healthy” and “healthful.” It probably is a losing battle; however, we must continue to try. Another of my pet peeves is the complete misuse of “literally.” It literally makes my blood boil. (See what I did there?) But that’s a completely different battle.

      BTW: you can hydroponically grow a salad in a tower using a small amount of square footage and reap the benefits of immediate access to nutritionally superior foods than are available at farmers’ markets and grocery stores. You know exactly how your food was grown and when it was picked; not so with markets and stores. That luscious tomato you just purchased at the grocery store may be two weeks old and have less than half of the nutrients it contained the day it was picked. So, the investment may be worth it. Only an individual, based on his or her needs, can determine the worth of that investment. Happiness to you, sir!

  • Ian

    Here is where we may not be looking at the whole picture. Don’t disagree with your finding at all BUT. What else may be in that Basil. Try comparing Organic Basil with your hydroponic vegetables. Where do you think this wonderful basil gets it’s nutrients. Not from JUST the water. Must be sometime in that water. Wonder what it might be? Not ground up green veggies. Could it be commercial fertilizer?. Maybe some anti fungicidal products. Would you actually mix up a cup of fertilizer tea? Or drink this mix in that water all day long?

    But you are basically doing that, all be it is watered down in this case. And what about heavy metals, etc that are in there as a by product of just making this plant food. Don’t get me wrong, ANY green plant based diet is superior to meat, egg, fish and dairy. Almost every single study that you tell us about confirms this (and we thank you very much). 

    But as cool as hydroponics are and it’s pretty neat stuff, why would you want to ingest commercially manufactured fertilizer? Every day, you warn us that small amounts of unhealthy chemicals can build up in our body and slowly have the possibility of becoming toxic, cause cancer or some type of possible harm.Please don’t take this as a vote against you, your interesting study (which is most enlightening) or hydroponics, which has given many people the opportunity to get fresh green vegetables.

    • laguna

      Your analysis shows a complete non understanding of both hydroponics and basic agricultural science…

  • Rodica

    I wonder though, aren’t missing several minerals compared to the basil organically grown in soil? Thank you.

  • Wow Hydroponic is “healthier!” But for Basil grown in water, we say a different blessing before eating. On Basil grown in dirt we say: “Bless you G-d of kindness, our G-d of discipline, King of the Universe, for continually creating Fruit from the Earth!” On Basil grown in water we say: “Bless you G-d of kindness, our G-d of discipline, King of the Universe, for all the things that come to be through your words!”

  • LittleEric

    Hi doctor Gregor, I really appreciate all your work, been watching your videos now for over a year and have learned vast amounts on how to eat more healthfully. Trying now to pass on some of this knowledge to my soul food eating eating family with moderate results. I am commenting now with a question about basil. I make a lot of homemade fermented sodas using a ginger bug, it contains microorganisms (yeasts and bacteria) that produce the carbon-dioxide we all love in these drinks. But I’ve noticed now after trying these recipes with a syrup made from fresh basil that carbonation doesn’t happen. Its gotten me wondering if basil has any antimicrobial properties and if so what health benefits may it have. Are there any studies or videos that you’ve done or are aware of with any information regarding this issue?

  • Inches

    Hydroponic growing depends on using specific nutrient solutions. Are you saying that it wasn’t the nutrients in the soil or nutrient solution that affected this, but the stress of oxygen reduction by sitting in water?

    Oxygen is required by plants and their roots uptake that oxygen. The water still has oxygen in it that the plants feed on. Hydroponic growers have to oxygenate the water or the plants will die. They do this week circulation, waterfalls, or air pumps.

    That being said, I’m calling the ” stress due to drowning in water” statement into question. Is that a suggestion to reduce my methods of oxygenation of my plants water so that it causes then more stress and increases oxygenation? Or are the standard oxygenation levels of water for growing my plants the amount that already causes this stress?

    I can’t imagine that the nutrients in the soil and in the solutions I must explicitly choose to feed my plants dies not affect the antioxidant levels and only the “drowning stress” causes that.

    I don’t have access to that article. Is this information in there anywhere?