What is Hibiscus good for?
Hibiscus (Hibisci flos) is one of the most historically known and versatile flowers. It became a religious and national symbol in many countries and is described as having many medicinal uses in Ayurveda.
Besides its obvious decorative quality, hibiscus is used in paper and reptile making, but is also edible and considered a delicacy in some parts of South America.
Hibiscus tea is well known for its red color, sourness, unique taste and high nutritional properties due to its vitamin C content and ability to regulate blood pressure with regular use.
Hibiscus tea is a fragrant tea made from the dried flowers of the tropical Hibiscus sabdariffa flowers. Hibiscus sabdariffa flowers are native to Africa and grow in many tropical and subtropical regions around the world - including Thailand, China and Mexico. These flowers are one of many species of shrubs, trees and flowers in the mallow family (Malvaceae).
Hibiscus tea has a fruity, refreshing flavor that many enjoy hot or iced. Many people drink it because of its potential health benefits. While research shows there may be some truth to these claims, there may also be potential risks. More research is required.
What does Hibiscus contain?
Hibiscus tea contains vitamin C - a nutrient that plays many important roles in the body.
Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is an antioxidant. It can help strengthen your immune system and can help prevent cell damage caused by free radicals in the body. This can reduce your risk of developing many significant health complications such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Hibiscus tea contains other antioxidants, such as anthocyanins. Anthocyanins give the plant its vibrant color.
They can also prevent many chronic diseases, as well as provide antibacterial effects.
Although hibiscus tea may not contain many vitamins or minerals, it does contain vitamin C and other antioxidants. Current research shows that herbal tea can provide many health benefits:
What is Hibiscus good for?
High blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease. Some studies show that drinking hibiscus tea can help reduce systolic blood pressure compared to a placebo. Other studies show that it can help lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.Reduce cholesterol levels
Some studies show that hibiscus tea can reduce cholesterol levels - another risk factor for heart disease. In one study, people who drank hibiscus tea experienced an increase in "good cholesterol" (high-density lipoproteins) and a decrease in "bad cholesterol" (low-density lipoproteins). However, many of the current studies have been limited to individuals with certain conditions, and some show conflicting results.Improve liver health
Hibiscus tea can help improve liver health. A study with hamsters showed that hibiscus extract can help reduce markers of liver damage. A study with human participants showed that hibiscus extract can improve hepatic steatosis, which can reduce the risk of liver failure.Prevention of cancer
Along with anthocyanins, hibiscus tea also contains another antioxidant called polyphenols, which have been shown to have anti-carcinogenic properties. Much of the current research involves test-tube studies.
One study showed that hibiscus extract limits cell growth and reduces the invasiveness of oral cancer.
Other test-tube studies show that hibiscus tea can help prevent the spread of prostate cancer cells and stomach cancer cells.Antibacterial properties
Hibiscus tea can provide antibacterial properties. Again, the current research is limited to test tube studies. One showed that hibiscus extract inhibits E. coli.
It can also be as effective as some medications in fighting many different strains of bacteria.Promote weight loss
Several studies show the potential of hibiscus tea to promote weight loss and prevent obesity. One study showed that hibiscus extract reduced body weight, body fat and body mass index after 12 weeks.
What risks are there with hibiscus?
Although hibiscus tea may provide health benefits, it may also carry some risks. These risks include:Hibiscus and mallow allergies
If you are allergic or sensitive to hibiscus flowers (or other plants in the mallow family), you should avoid drinking hibiscus tea.Drug interactions
Hibiscus tea may interact with some medications. It can reduce the effectiveness of the malaria drug chloroquine. If you take medication for high blood pressure or diabetes, it can cause a significant drop in blood pressure. The plant also contains phytoestrogens (or plant estrogens) that can reduce the effectiveness of birth control.Concerns about pregnancy
Phytoestrogens in hibiscus tea can cause complications during pregnancy. For example, they can trigger premature labor. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you may want to avoid hibiscus tea or look for an alternative.
Some research points to high concentrations of hibiscus extract - potentially causing liver damage.
Most of the current research on hibiscus coast is limited to animal and test-tube studies. More research is needed to fully understand the true benefits and risks that tea has to offer.
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