Many people are wondering whether there is a difference in nutrient composition between fruits and vegetables that are grown in the earth compared to those in water using hydroponics. Are hydroponic vegetables healthy? Bottom line conclusion is that it all depends on external factors such as what nutrients are present in the soil or water that the plants are given or stress that the plant has been exposed to.
Vitamins are compounds with known health benefits for humans that are present in all fruits and vegetables. Vitamins are synthesized by the plant itself, a process that takes place in all fruits and vegetables whether they are grown hydroponically or in soil. Vitamin or other antioxidant contents can vary in different fruits and vegetables when they are exposed to stress such as diseases or nutrient deficiencies or overloads. Antioxidants are there to protect the plant against oxidation caused by intruders and will be synthesized more when the plant is in stress. In conclusion, vitamins are not coming from the nutrients but are generated in the plant itself. The amount of vitamins in the plant is not dependent on whether the plant is grown hydroponically or in soil just the amount of stress the plant has experienced can influence the vitamin content.
In contrary to vitamins, minerals in fruits and vegetables are coming from the nutrition the plant receives from the water or soil it is grown in. Minerals are being taken up through the roots of the plant and end up in your fruits and vegetables. When soil is depleted of nutrients due to intensive farming or water for hydroponic farming does not contain adequate minerals, less minerals will end up in the vegetables itself. In real life, farmers will most of the time make sure that the plant gets all the required minerals so that it will grow optimally. When plants receive the same minerals it does not matter whether they are in a hydroponic system or in soil.
Pesticides can be present on fruits and vegetables to protect the crops from unwanted intruders such as white flies, snails or other insects. Even though it is debatable how harmful different pesticides are for consumers, most consumers do not like the idea of pesticides with potential harmful effects present on their fruits and vegetables. Fact is that hydroponic farmers use less pesticides to protect their plants since there is no soil where potential insects are coming from and most of the time the plants are grown indoors or inside of a greenhouse that protects them from potential insect threats.
In conclusion, we cannot give a clear verdict whether vegetables and fruit grown in soil or in a hydroponic system are more or less healthy in terms of mineral or vitamin content. Most of the time, hydroponic plans contain less pesticide residues than their soil grown counterparts but the potential health effects are debatable. Most consumers like the idea of less pesticides which could be a reason to switch to hydroponically grown vegetables.
Would you like to know how to start growing plants using hydroponics? Also read Starting with hydroponics: a short guide