Hibiscus Tea: Introduction
Long used as a medicinal tea in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean, hibiscus tea and its array of health benefits are now being explored and enjoyed by the rest of the world. Hibiscus tea is made from the part of the hibiscus plant called the calyx– the green layer that protects the petals while they are budding. The tea is red coloured, and has a fruity, tart flavour similar to cranberry. For this reason it also sometimes called sour tea. Unlike most herbal teas, it is often served cold, and usually with a generous dose of sugar. Hibiscus tea is rich in vitamin C, minerals and antioxidants.
Hibiscus Tea: Active Reagents and Brief Overview
Fifteen to thirty percent of hibiscus tea is made up of organic acids such as malic acid, citric acid and tartaric acid. These are the same acids found in many fruits, including grapes and wine. These acids help to strengthen the immune system, lower the risk of metallic build up in the blood stream, and promote healthier skin. Hibiscus tea also contains acidic polysaccharides and flavonoid glycosides, such as cyanidin and delphinidin, which give it its characteristic deep red colour. Rich in anthocyanin, glycoside hibiscin and gossypetin, which have diuretic and choleretic effects, the tea helps control blood viscosity, reduce blood pressure and enhance digestion.
Hibiscus Tea: Health Benefits
- Lowering Cholesterol. Studies show that like red wine, the antioxidants and bioflavonoids contained in hibiscus tea are helpful in controlling cholesterol, thus helping to reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Lowering Blood Pressure. Studies have also shown that hibiscus tea helps lower blood pressure. According to one study, people who frequently drink hibiscus tea, experience a reduction of 7.2 points in their systolic blood pressure. Hibiscus tea is also a mild diuretic, which increases urination and reduces blood volume, causing blood pressure to go down.
- Combats Cold Symptoms. Because it is rich in vitamin C, hibiscus tea is an excellent guard against colds and flu.
- Improves Digestion. Hibiscus tea improves the functioning of the bladder and the bowels. Its diuretic qualities mean that it has traditionally been used to treat constipation. It also has an anti-spasmodic effect and can be used to settle digestive flare ups associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
- Decreased Depression & Mood Swings. The minerals and vitamins in hibiscus tea can contribute to a more positive frame of mind and a calming of the nervous system.
- Prevents the Growth of Pre-Cancerous Cells. Like all antioxidant rich foods, hibiscus tea can help slow the growth of precancerous cells by destroying free radicals.
- Helps in Weight Loss. Hibiscus tea is often found in natural weight loss products, and can be a part of any healthy weight loss diet. It contains an enzyme inhibitor that blocks the production of amylase, the enzyme that transforms starches into sugar. Drinking hibiscus tea after meals will therefore help to reduce the absorption of carbohydrates, which will gradually lead to weight loss.
Hibiscus Tea: Not Recommended If…
- Pregnancy or Fertility Treatment. Hibiscus tea can lower estrogen levels and is therefore not recommended during the first trimester of pregnancy, or for women who are taking birth control pills, or using hormone replacement therapy.
- Low blood Pressure. Because hibiscus tea lowers blood pressure, it is not recommended for people with hypotension or low blood pressure.
- Hallucinations. A small number of people have experienced hallucinogenic side effects from hibiscus tea. It is recommended that you don’t drive a car or engage in other potentially dangerous activities until you know how your body reacts to the tea.
Hibiscus Tea: Conclusion
Hibiscus tea has a number of important health benefits, including lowering cholesterol, and blood pressure, addressing digestive and inflammation problems and boosting immunity. It has the added benefit of speeding up metabolism and contributing to healthy, gradual weight loss. If you are aiming to lose weight, hibiscus tea may be a healthier choice than non-natural, fast acting solutions. Keeping in mind the side effects mentioned, hibiscus tea can be enjoyed hot or cold.