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What do you drink, Dr. Greger?

Dr. Greger ~ Are you still drinking that yummy Hibiscus Tea? (I did not see it in your “morning mix”!)

Kenton R. Mullins  / Originally Posted in A Better Breakfast

Answer:

A half gallon a day Kenton! I no longer do the teabags, though, but the bulk dried hibiscus flowers themselves (why hibiscus? See Better Than Green Tea?). My current recipe is a handful of dried hibiscus petals in 8 cups of water with a penny sized chunk of fresh ginger root (see Plants vs. Pesticides), handful of fresh mint leaves (Antioxidants in a Pinch), teaspoon of amla (Amla: Indian gooseberries vs. cancer, diabetes, and cholesterol), and erythritol to taste (3 tablespoons for me–see A Harmless Artificial Sweetener)–all blended up in a high speed blender and then sipped throughout the day. I’m on the road right now and I sure miss my concoction!

Anyone have any suggestions for improving it even further (taste or nutrition-wise)?

UPDATE: Due to concerns about the manganese content, I’ve cut back to a quart a day of filtered.

image credit: Emily Barney / Flickr

Discuss

Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.


64 responses to “What do you drink, Dr. Greger?

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  1. I keep ginger root in the freezer and use a Cuisipro fine rasp to grate a small amount directly into the water before i brew it over night. This rasp makes very quick work of grating ginger, regardless of what you’re using it in and is a more efficient way to get the ginger into the tea.

    1. I do the same using the fantastic Microplane zester/grater. It’s very sharp so it’s quick and easy. Very efficient on turmeric roots too. And the cherry on the sundae (don’t eat the sundae!), no need to peel the roots and no réd fingertips!

  2. Here is something you can try, in a Vitamix, input 1 whole Lemon, 1/4 cup of whole Hibiscus Flowers, 1/2 cup of Cranberries, 1/2 cup of Strawberries, 1/2 cup of Raspberries, 1 teaspoon Amla, 1 Young Coconut (Water & Meat), Watermelon to taste…no need for the processed sugar… I love life!

    1. The list sounds pretty good;
      Adding a bit of ginger would be good as well,
      while omitting the coconut would improve it substantially.

      Please see:

      Is Coconut Oil Good For You?
      Coconut Milk Good For You?
      Does Coconut Oil Clog Arteries?

  3. I would include lemon zest and white tea for both flavor and nutrition. Especially with your demanding lecture schedule and interaction with sick people. This site is a genuine blessing; thank you.

  4. Thanks so much for sharing this. I’m looking for palatable ways to use that amla powder I bought. Maybe I can give this a try.

    Follow up question: If you are drinking so much of your above potion, do you still have room for green tea? It seems like green tea has so many benefits. But then maybe it is just a matter of hibiscus not being researched enough and it may be as powerful as green tea?? Just curious if you have any thoughts on green tea vs hibiscus. Thanks.

  5. Your “potion” is nice & in line with whole-food nutrition / low sugar.
    I still consume coffee & Silver Needle in the AM. Are you done with the matcha mode?

  6. I just called the Celestial Seasonings consumer line on their Red Zinger tea box. I asked if there is a difference in bioavailablilfity of the antioxidants when steeping at different temperature, specifically cold brew vs hot brew. The knowledgable young man I spoke with said that cold brew will taste and look the same as hot brew, but does NOT yield the same antioxidant amounts. He said green tea can be had around 110-120 degrees, but that this tea is optimized at around 160 degrees, and steeped for 4 to 5 mins, a bit longer if you like it stronger.

    1. mbglife: Interesting answer you got there. I wonder just how knowledgeable that young man was? More importantly, did he give you any studies to back up his claim?

      I’ll have to confess that I can’t tell from your post whether the young man was saying that hot brew gives more or less antioxidants. Either way, I think you will be interested in the following Dr. Greger video which shows the results of a study where cold-brew yielded dramatically more antioxidants than hot.

      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/cold-steeping-green-tea/

      Interesting, yes?

  7. I am drinking alot of Cinnamon Apple spice herbal tea by Celestial Seasonings, first ingredient cinnamon, second ,hibiscus. Is this tea as good as the hibiscus Red Zinger teas nutritionally?

  8. You should include in your videos about hibiscus tea (which I love and am happy to have heard about here) that pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant should not drink it. It interferes with implantation.

  9. Hello,

    Thank you very much for your many efforts in helping us to ferret out & separate the science from the belief in nutritional matters!

    Question 1:

    Have you had the opportunity to look into the anti-cancer research regarding papaya leaf ( & bark) by Nam Dang, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Florida?

    From the preliminary findings, it might seem prudent to add papaya leaf to the tea as well.

    Question 2:
    In addition, have you had the opportunity to peruse:

    Common Tea Formulations Modulate In Vitro Digestive Recovery of Green Tea Catechins, by Rodney J. Green, Angus S. Murphy, Burkhard Schulz, Bruce A. Watkins and Mario G. Ferruzzi

    which suggests that complementing green tea with either citrus juices or vitamin C likely increases the amount of catechins available for the body to absorb?

    Thanks…

  10. Just got around to making your antioxidant fruit-punch. I liked it and plan to make it regularly.
    Where can you inexpensively buy these bulk dried hibiscus flowers? I just got a small pack from Whole Foods market for mucho dinero!

    1. I just found this place with the tea at $20/lb… I have no idea if that is good or not… I have never bought loose tea. Does that compare to what you paid at whole foods?

      1. Thank you so much for the tip.
        At Whole Foods, I paid $5.29 for a pack of 50g of Organic Dried Hibiscus Flowers. That translates to $48 a pounds so your web-company provides comparatively very good value. One difference, however, is that what I bought was pure hibiscus whereas the website that you suggested appears to be selling mixes with other ingredients like orange peel.

  11. I realize ideally we should drink hibiscus and green tea, and other teas throughout the day ideally. However, I’m fine with steeping several together, as in 3/4 green tea bags, 2/3 black tea bags, as well as hibiscus all together. Is this ok, first off brew them together? Also, can I use a small volume of water, say a have liter for this combination, or should I use 1 cup of water per tea bag? Finally, is it okay to drink all of that combination at once? literally equivalent to 9 to 12 tea bags at once?

  12. I brew my own Kombucha tea; after the fermentation is complete, I remove the SCOBY and add 2 TBS of dried hibiscus flower (per gallon of tea) – pretty & yummy.. and I’m getting probiotics and enzymes in my tea.

  13. The good doc asked for ideas to make your daily (tea) concoction
    better. Try adding two or three ounces of high anti-oxidant organic
    juice like cherry, acai berry, etc., right into your drink! For lower
    income, this is also a way to slowly squeeze those more expensive among
    organic juices into your daily immunity building.

  14. When Dr Gregor says he puts it all in a high speed blender, does that mean the hibiscus flowers too or water the hibiscus has been steeped in?

      1. I drink a lot of hibiscus tea, too, so I’m concerned about the manganese content. If you don’t whiz it up, including the flowers, this would lower the manganese content, wouldn’t it? Currently I use 4 of the Zinger tea bags, and a scoop of the dried hibiscus, in 1 gallon water.

      1. If you want to learn more about the possible role of acid-base balance and disease, Dr. Greger has some great videos and articles on the topic, including Alkaline Water: a Scam?, Alkaline Diets, Animal Protein, & Calcium Loss, and Does Animal Protein Cause Osteoporosis?

        I think this topic is very interesting, because there is a significant contingent of the complementary, alternative, and integrative medicine communities which believes keeping the body “alkaline,” or less acidic, is one of the key factors for optimal disease prevention. There also is a belief that an “acidic environment favors cancer.” This belief likely arose from the fact that cancer cells, with their unusual, extremely rapid metabolic activities, tend to make the micro-environment in and around a tumor more acidic. However, this acidic tumor micro-environment does not appear to measurably shift total body pH to be more acidic (unless a person is experiencing an extreme form of malnutrition and altered metabolism, called cancer cachexia). So, the observation that tumors are acidic may have led some people to conclude (mistakenly) that acidic environments cause tumors. In reality, it is tumors that cause acidic environments.

        Also remember that as Ramiclimber noted, tea is not highly acidic, nor does it contribute much to acidity in the blood and urine. But if you still have concerns about how to mitigate the effects of any of the more acidic foods in your diet, consider this:

        In general, the more plant-based the diet, the more alkaline the blood and urine tend to be. Overall, animal foods tend to increase acidity, while plant foods tend to decrease it. There are exceptions – cranberries and plums, for example, tend to increase urine acidity – but most vegetables and fruit, even if acidic in nature (think citrus), actually create more alkalinity in the body. Research shows that vegans have the least acidic urine, followed closely by vegetarians, and then by omnivores. The bottom line is that eating more plants will make the urine less acidic, and likely, make the body more alkaline overall.

        Conveniently, eating more plants also is strongly linked with decreased risk of just about any chronic disease you can think of: heart disease, diabetes, stroke, hypertension, cancer, and obesity.

          1. Thanks Ramiclimber! You’re absolutely right. I did accidentally reply to you, when I had intended to reply to Eddie! I’ll do that now. I appreciate the heads up! Have a great day :-)

    1. If you want to learn more about the possible role of acid-base balance and disease, Dr. Greger has some great videos and articles on the topic, including Alkaline Water: a Scam?, Alkaline Diets, Animal Protein, & Calcium Loss, and Does Animal Protein Cause Osteoporosis?

      I think this topic is very interesting, because there is a significant contingent of the complementary, alternative, and integrative medicine communities which believes keeping the body “alkaline,” or less acidic, is one of the key factors for optimal disease prevention. There also is a belief that an “acidic environment favors cancer.” This belief likely arose from the fact that cancer cells, with their unusual, extremely rapid metabolic activities, tend to make the micro-environment in and around a tumor more acidic. However, this acidic tumor micro-environment does not appear to measurably shift total body pH to be more acidic (unless a person is experiencing an extreme form of malnutrition and altered metabolism, called cancer cachexia). So, the observation that tumors are acidic may have led some people to conclude (mistakenly) that acidic environments cause tumors. In reality, it is tumors that cause acidic environments.

      Also remember that as Ramiclimber noted, tea is not highly acidic, nor does it contribute much to acidity in the blood and urine. But if you still have concerns about how to mitigate the effects of any of the more acidic foods in your diet, consider this:

      In general, the more plant-based the diet, the more alkaline the blood and urine tend to be. Overall, animal foods tend to increase acidity, while plant foods tend to decrease it. There are exceptions – cranberries and plums, for example, tend to increase urine acidity – but most vegetables and fruit, even if acidic in nature (think citrus), actually create more alkalinity in the body. Research shows that vegans have the least acidic urine, followed closely by vegetarians, and then by omnivores. The bottom line is that eating more plants will make the urine less acidic, and likely, make the body more alkaline overall.

      Conveniently, eating more plants also is strongly linked with decreased risk of just about any chronic disease you can think of: heart disease, diabetes, stroke, hypertension, cancer, and obesity.

  15. I follow your recipe Dr, but instead of erythritol I use cinnamon and a small amount of nutmeg. Erythritol is highly processed, so I can’t see how that can be healthy for you. The ones I have seen are not in natural “monk fruit” state, but in sugar-like granules. Its been put through some serious processing to get it to look like that. I also add a small amount of lemon balm and a tiny amount of all spice – but these last 2 are not added for taste so go easy!

  16. I add one green teabag for every hibiscus teabag. It comes out like a nice fruity iced tea and ups the nutrition content quite a bit, since green tea has properties that hibiscus does not. :)

    1. This is exactly what I do each morning! 2 cups hot (not boiling) water…1 teabag of organic green tea and 1 teabag of organic hibiscus tea…steep for about 30 minutes…strain into my glass bottle and bring to work. I really like hibiscus and green tea blended!

  17. hello Dr. Greger,

    thank you for your passion in sharing good nutrition with the world :)

    is it safe to cold brew (bulk hibiscus/jamaica) bought from local latino market, where contamination can occur( where customers touching with dirty hands, that might have touch raw meat or didn’t wash hand coming from toilet), if i boil the hibiscus, will it loose the nutritional value.

    please advice,

    thank you so much for all your kind effort, i learn so much from your videos and forwarding your site to friends, and it’s definitely made me a vegan, and helping my family eat better

    1. Paul: Wouldn’t the answer be: The same way you get anyone else to eat turmeric? I’m not trying to be sarcastic. I’m trying to figure out what you think is different about seniors consuming turmeric vs younger people.

      I know one senior citizen who bought the Capsule Machine and fills his own empty capsules with turmeric. He’s really happy with that option. And he is experimenting with adding ground black pepper and amla too. You can buy pills that have turmeric already in it, but they are expensive.

      Then I know another senior citizen who puts a bunch of turmeric in a giant spoon of humus each day. She is also thinking of trying to mix the turmeric with tomato based salsa.

      Hope those idea help.

  18. Dr. Greger, I’m looking for evidence if coffee would have a negative affect on osteoarthritis. Since going plant based 8 months ago my husband has gone off all his blood pressure and stomach medication (doctor supervised) but the osteoarthritis is still lingering with the occasional bout of gout. He is doing the straight cherries and cherry juice for the gout, but we wonder if coffee is having an effect on his arthritis. Thanks for all you do!! Tammy

  19. Hi,

    I was wondering:
    – Does the mixture have to be filtered after being blended, or you just drink as it is after you’ve blended it?
    – When you say you’ve cut back to a quart liter a day, do you mean that you actually cut half of the hibiscus dosage? I guess (8 cups of water + 1 handful of hibiscus) = (4 cups of water + 1 handful of hibiscus) in terms of the beverage’s manganese content. I’m asking because it be nice to have half a galon instead of just a quarter a day.

    Thank you in advance for your reply.

    1. The way I see it a handful of petals makes a half gallon and he was drinking the blended up leaves. Now, he does the same amount but filters the leaves and only drinks half the amount.

  20. Dr Greger I love your videos and I try to implement the information into my diet, so far amla has been the easiest to add, working on those antioxidants level sto be as high as possible. Since you have given examples or antioxidant rich meals that you consume on a daily basis, would you care to make a video on your daily diet with all the levels of nutrients counted? I would just love to collect some more food inspiration from you and these videos are highly inspirational for anyone trying to embark on a whole foods diet. I just have one remark, a lot of the information is centered around US. Would you care to elaborate more on European or international standardss when you discuss different regulations, diets, costs and such? And lastly if I were to dry broccoli sprouts and then cook them, would that change their nutrition somehow? Thank you.

    1. Hi. Let me try and help. I think we need to implement a recipe page here soon! In the meantime here are some links to meal planning. Jack Norris is a dietitian with a great website. Here are some meal plans he created. This video explains the work of Kaiser Permanente – the largest U.S. managed care organization that publishes patient education materials. Kaiser has established a very healthful plant-based meal plan. You may have seen some of Dr. Greger’s videos on chocolate shakes and pumpkin pie. I also find the Vegetarian Resource Group helpful for folks looking for more plant-based options, as well as the Physicians Committee. What kind of European standards do you mean? I am not sure about cooking with broccoli sprouts I would suspect the nutrition to change.

  21. Have you read any of the research on Aronia berries, Dr. Greger? Aronia melanocarpa has supposedly has the highest antioxidant counts of all fruits and veggies. Your thoughts, please? I am also wondering if whole fruits, rather than juice or concentrates, are the best sources of these antioxidants. Thanks, again! ☺

  22. I passed a small kidney stone about four months ago and my urologist told me to drink no more than one cup of tea per day to avoid another stone. Do you agree?

  23. Can you please produce a video on lectins? It seems there are lots of nutritionalists out there who believe we need to avoid lectins in order to live healthier. I would love to know what you think. Thanks!

    1. tjmilikan: This question comes up a lot. I agree it would be nice to have such a video. In the meantime, I found one blog post on NutritionFacts which talks about lectins. Here is a quote:
      .
      “Modern paleo advocates claim that these foods weren’t part of Paleolithic-era diets, but new research challenges that assumption.5 They also argue that lectins naturally present in these starchy foods are harmful to human health. Consuming too many lectins can cause significant gastrointestinal distress. However, because legumes and grains are almost always consumed in a cooked form—and lectins are destroyed during cooking—eating beans and grains doesn’t result in lectin overload. Sprouting also reduces lectin levels in plants, although not as effectively as cooking. Generally, pea sprouts, lentil sprouts, and mung bean sprouts are safe to consume, as are sprouted grains, which are naturally low in lectins. Most larger legumes contain higher amounts and should be cooked.” from: http://nutritionfacts.org/2014/09/23/will-the-real-paleo-diet-please-stand-up/
      .
      Since I eat my grains and legumes cooked, I consider the lectin brouhaha to be much ado about nothing.
      .
      In the past, Tom Goff has posted some additional helpful takes on the subject. Here are some quotes from Tom Goff’s previous posts.
      .
      “…problem with such claims is that people in the past ate huge amounts of (whole) grains (compared to modern-day Americans). Some people still do. There is no record of such people suffering abnormally high rates of toxicity or inflammation-related diseases. If anything, the exact opposite is the case eg
      .
      “This meta-analysis provides further evidence that whole grain intake is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and total cancer, and mortality from all causes, respiratory diseases, infectious diseases, diabetes, and all non-cardiovascular, non-cancer causes. These findings support dietary guidelines that recommend increased intake of whole grain to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and premature mortality.”
      http://www.bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i2716
      .
      Further, reviews of the health effects of grain lectins do not support the wild claims found on the internet or sensational mass market “health ” books
      .
      “We conclude that there are many unsubstantiated assumptions made. Current data about health effects of dietary lectins, as consumed in cooked, baked, or extruded foods do not support negative health effects in humans. In contrast, consumption of WGA containing foods, such as cereals and whole grain products, has been shown to be associated with significantly reduced risks of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, as well as a more favourable long-term weight management.”
      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0733521014000228
      .
      Sure, it is possible to find toxic effects from grain lectins in the laboratory or in rat studies. You can find toxic effects from virtually anything if you design the study appropriately. Even water is toxic in high doses and specific circumstances. And you can turn such findings into sensational claims that garner a lot of publicity (and sales) – if you leave out all the evidence that does not suit your argument or book sales.”
      .
      And from another post:
      “The Paleo community attitude is certainly strange because there is evidence to show that humans in the Paleolithic period actually did eat legumes – and significant amounts at that – at least in certain locations and in the relevant season eg
      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305440304001694
      .
      However, it seems that once an idea becomes established in the Paleo canon it becomes sacrosanct and no mere inconvenient fact is powerfu l enough to overturn it.
      .
      On lectins and health specifically, blogger has summarised the (Paleo) argument like this:
      “There is evidence that legumes provide health benefits. There is speculation that lectins cause diseases. Unfortunately, the autoimmune diseases some speculate are caused by legume lectins appear to occur more frequently in nations like the U.S., where legume consumption is rather low, than in Asian nations, where legume consumption is higher.”
      http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2011/08/legumes-neolithic-or-not.html

      1. I have tried the cold brewing of hibuscus tea but so far it seems like it tastes watered down compared to the brewed tea. Am I required to double the tea bags to make it work? Thanks.

        1. Hi Lawrence – when I do cold brewing I use extra bags.. I think it just needs more in order to steep at a good strength.

  24. Hello,dear doctor, I would like to ask something about water. There are kind of alkaline water which is claimed that improving the constitution of body. Is that the truth? and what is the mechanism? Thank you very much! (I have read some content of ur book with Chinese version) :)

  25. Hi Angel,

    I am a volunteer for Dr. Greger. Thanks for your question.

    Dr. Greger recommends drinking tap water, as there is no evidence at this point that drinking other types of water is superior. There may be certain areas of the world and even the US that may be exceptions, but the majority of developed countries have safe tap water, and Dr. Greger has recommended tap water to be the preferred choice in the past.

    I hope this helps answer your question.

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