If you’re tired of drinking the same old tea and would like to try something new, then you’re in for a treat. In the last few years, a certain beverage has caught the attention of people around the world. Namely, hibiscus tea is one of the latest trends in the world of amazing drinks, and why wouldn’t it be; it is exceptionally refreshing, eye-catching with its ruby red color and amazing taste and aroma. Hibiscus tea may not be your new favorite choice when it comes to teas, but listen; what if we told you that this tea is not only delicious and has an outstanding flavor, but is also super nutritious and healthy. That’s it; time to learn about this amazing beverage!
Hibiscus tea is a great way to stay hydrated, and an even greater way to provide your body with antioxidants, vitamins and all the nutritious properties it needs to stay in shape, function and high in performance. That is why in the following paragraphs we are going to take a look at hibiscus tea and all the health benefits it can provide for us.
What is Hibiscus?
Before we get into the health benefits of this exceptional tea, we must first look into hibiscus as a plant and its beneficial components. Hibiscus tea is a beverage made by infusing the so-called Roselle flowers in hot or cold water. The Roselle flowers are actually Hibiscus sabdarifaa, a plant that is a member of the Malvaceae family. The flowers and the plant, in general, are medicinal and there are over one hundred species. Hibiscus usually grows in tropical and subtropical regions, where there is a variety in soil and the climate is warmer. Such regions can be found in North Africa, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, Central, and South America.
The plant is mainly grown and cultivated mainly for its flowers, or Roselle blossom. Because it has so many varieties, it is important to know that not every variety is safe for consumption. There are several species cultivated primarily for food and drink consumption, as well as a supplement added to medicine, or simply used in traditional medicine. The application of the plant is versatile; mostly because of its numerous health properties it is used for different treatment and disease management.
Hibiscus – Chemical Composition
The chemical composition and bioactive compounds found in Hibiscus make this plant medicinal. Among vitamins, proteins, and carbohydrates the plant provides, it is mainly cultivated for its calyx (also known as the outermost flower parts). Even though there are different types of Roselle flowers (like green, white or dark red), the red calyx is mostly used for its safe and rich chemical composition.
Studies have shown that the main compounds, which are also responsible for the Hibiscus therapeutic effects, include as following;
- Organic acid (Hibiscus and hydroxycitric acid) – usually responsible for the flavor characteristics of the calyx. The acid also contributes to the regulation of pH and the inhibition of enzymes.
- Phenolic acids and components (catechin, gallic acid, caffeic acid, salicylic acid, etc.) – usually responsible for the dietary antioxidants in the calyx. Phenolic compounds also play an important role when it comes to anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties of the plant.
- Flavonoids (hibiscitrin, luteolin, etc.) – usually responsible for the inhibition of fat accumulation and reduction of body weight. Flavonoids also block lipid accumulation in the liver and decrease cholesterol levels.
- Alkaloids – usually responsible for the anti-microbial effects and properties of hibiscus. They also help the body fight off diseases such as cardiovascular diseases or prevent heart attacks and strokes.
- Other compounds – include minerals, amino acids, vitamin C, calcium, iron, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, carotene, anthocyanin (naturally occurring pigment), and other, medically important compounds.
Hibiscus Tea Overview
Hibiscus tea is consumed all over the world, and there are, of course, varieties in which it is made. It can be served either hot or cold; dried Roselle flowers are brewed in hot water, as regular tea, or can be cold-brewed in cold water, overnight. Throughout the world it is either consumed or named differently, for example; in West Africa, this beverage is known as bissap, or as Orhul in India and Ayurvedic diet. In Jamaica and the Caribbean, it is known as sorrel. In Cambodia, the tea is brewed until the leaves have no more color, and then lime juice is added to the beverage. Elsewhere, the tea is paired with raw honey, sugar and cold water or ice cubes.
Dried Roselle petals are also edible on their own, so they can be used, for example, as a vegetable (in the Philippines), or as an indispensable ingredient for soups. In the Indian Ayurvedic medicine, hibiscus and Roselle petals are indispensable for their medical properties. Speaking of medical properties, it is time to see which health benefits the hibiscus tea really provides.
Hibiscus Tea Health Benefits
1. Blood Pressure Lowering Effect
Studies have shown that hibiscus tea is an exceptional remedy when it comes to high blood pressure. In people who are at risk of high blood pressure, or who already have it, this beverage shows blood pressure lowering effects. The tea, however, shows the most effective in mild to moderate high blood pressure cases according to many pieces of research.
Nevertheless, the tea is still successful in the regulation of both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, which are usually putting extreme pressure on the heart. High blood pressure is often associated with heart diseases, so regular consumption of hibiscus tea will not only regulate blood pressure but will also protect your heart. It is important to point out that several studies have shown that regular hibiscus tea consumption shows significant blood pressure decrease after only six weeks.
2. Filled with Antioxidants
This wonderful, caffeine-free beverage is also filled with antioxidants. These actually help your body fight off compounds known as free radicals. The compounds actually damage the healthy cells in your body, causes illnesses and diseases like cancer or tumor. Luckily, the antioxidants in hibiscus tea protect the cells and prevent any type of damage caused by these free radicals.
Moreover, free radicals are also known for their role in exacerbating the aging process and the role in causing illnesses like diabetes, dementia or heart diseases. However, studies have shown that hibiscus tea is so rich in antioxidants that it basically puts every type of inflammation in the body under control, keeping the organs and the metabolism in the best shape, while keeping the free radicals away. Not to mention that the antioxidants will keep your skin youthful, glowing and rejuvenated.
3. Antimicrobial Effects
Hibiscus tea is very much appreciated for its effective antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal activity. Studies have shown that the chemical compounds found in Roselle have a potentially inhibitory effect on microorganisms in our bodies, especially when it comes to bacteria in the oral cavity and fungi formation in the body.
It is important to point out that the test results regarding hibiscus tea and its antimicrobial effects are still based on test-tube studies. Numerous similar studies have shown results in which hibiscus tea inhibits the activity of bacteria like E.coli or Streptococcus. Such studies have also shown that Roselle tea is effective as a medication against bacterial infections. Nevertheless, human studies on the antimicrobial effects are still lacking and are yet to be fully conducted.
4. Weight Loss Effect
Because it is rich in flavonoids, which inhibit fat absorption in the body, hibiscus tea has proven to be an excellent aid in weight loss and weight control. Moreover, polyphenols and alkaloids as well are great when it comes to metabolism regulation and lipid management in weight loss, as numerous studies have shown. A general observation regarding the weight loss effect of hibiscus tea has been conducted on mice; that is important to point out. However, test trials on humans are being conducted, and the results are generally positive. Hibiscus tea can be definitely associated with a significant shift in body weight as well as with food and fat intake.
One particular study has tested the composition of hibiscus and the way it affects body weight. The results show that regular consumption of hibiscus, whether as tea or supplementation, resulted in lower weight, lower BMI and less abdominal fat in overweight or obese participants. The reason for that lies not only in the compounds but also in the way they interact with our bodies. The compounds act as a natural diuretic, which also keeps the stress hormone under control. Not to mention that hibiscus tea has zero calories, which makes it an excellent addition to the diet.
More: Calories in Tea
5. Anti-inflammatory Effects
Inflammation is a reaction of our body to a tissue injury, physical trauma or any other chemical or microbial invasion. So, even though inflammation helps, it sometimes can be extremely harmful. Chronic inflammation can simply become the state of our body, which decreases its ability to fight off illness. That is where hibiscus tea can come to the rescue.
Current studies are showing that hibiscus flowers have anti-inflammatory activities and are effective in the most acute or chronic cases. More thorough studies have been conducted on mice, which showed that flavonoids and steroids found in hibiscus report anti-inflammatory agents. These agents alter the inflammation, then the source of the inflammation and finally proceed to a healing process.
6. Other Hibiscus Tea Benefits
Alongside the major medicinal properties and benefits of this miraculous plant and its wonderful flowers, we must also address other benefits of hibiscus tea. So, in case you were not convinced by the previously mentioned properties, here are few more that might convince you into preparing hibiscus tea today;
- Promotes hair growth – who doesn’t like strong, shiny hair? If you want your hair to be long, shiny and healthy, you should definitely try out this wonderful beverage. You can drink it regularly to promotes hair growth in the long run, but you can also use hibiscus tea to wash your hair. Either way, your hair will be stimulated into growth, while also gaining shine and strength in the process.
- Treats flue and fights off viral infections – as mentioned before, hibiscus is rich in flavonoids and anthocyanins, which are excellent when it comes to viral infections. So, in order to inhibit the virus from spreading and biding to the healthy cells in your body, make sure to drink hibiscus tea regularly. It is also very rich in vitamins which can boost your immune system and help you fight off the annoying flue or cold.
- Promotes sleepiness in those with sleeping problems – some studies, that have been conducted on mice, have shown that hibiscus has certain sedative and calming effects. Regular hibiscus consumption may induce sleepiness and act as a natural sleep regulator, especially in those who are having trouble falling asleep because of their anxiety or pain.
- Acts as a natural antidepressant – studies have shown that because of the flavonoids, hibiscus tea may act as a natural antidepressant. The beverage manages to lower anxiety, depression, restlessness, and nervousness. It has been especially effective in mothers with postpartum depression. Nevertheless, there needs to be more studies and research conducted on this topic.
Hibiscus or Roselle is an exceptional medicinal plant that is famous worldwide for a reason. It has numerous nutritional and medicinal properties that can be useful to seemingly everyone. Drinking hibiscus tea is not only a wonderful moment you can have for yourself but also a great thing you can do for your health. Regardless of whether you want to fight off disease, or you simply want to boost your metabolism and immune system, with Roselle tea, you cannot go wrong. The effectiveness of this tea is simply too outstanding for people to ignore it; so, purchase your dried Roselle flowers today and do something good for your mind and body.