Whether you’re a fan of it or not, you can’t deny that tea is one of the healthiest drinks in history. It’s a natural cure for numerous ailments, like the common cold, an upset stomach, or stress. However, the only downside is that most herbal teas don’t taste very nice — especially if you aren’t a fan of bitter, earthy flavors.
In that case, consider giving hibiscus tea a try. Not only does this lesser-known brew taste very similar to cranberry juice, but hibiscus tea benefits your health in a number of different ways. Therefore, it’s a great alternative to your regular cup of chamomile, but with much more flavor and health to boot!
What Is Hibiscus Tea?
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Though chamomile and mint often get the spotlight as the best teas in the world, hibiscus can definitely give them a run for their money.
The tea comes from the hibiscus plant, a type of flowering bush that most commonly thrives in tropical climates. The plant consists of the flower buds, and the calyx, the tough stem that protects and holds up the petals.
When making the tea, growers take the buds and calyxes and dry them out in the sun. Afterwards, they either sell them intact, or grind them into a fine powder and add them to tea bags or make supplements out of them.
The tea is most popular in Africa, where the Hibiscus sabdariffa flowers originate. However, other countries such as China, Thailand and Mexico regularly use it because of its numerous health benefits and tangy, refreshing taste.
7 Hibiscus Tea Benefits
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Hibiscus tea is classified as herbal tea. However, unlike other herbal teas, it doesn’t have the same earthy, bitter flavor. Instead, it has a refreshing, tangy taste, similar to cranberry juice.
Thus, it’s the perfect substitute for plain herbal teas or sugary fruit juices. Plus, it comes with a plethora of health benefits that make consuming it regularly worthwhile.
1. Lowers Blood Pressure
Chronically elevated blood pressure has several causes. However, the most frequent one is a poor diet. Regularly eating lots of greasy, processed fast food causes plaque to clog up your arteries, thus obstructing blood flow. This, in turn, puts a strain on your heart, and increases your blood pressure.
Hibiscus tea can help you reverse high blood pressure. A 2010 study showed that participants who regularly drank hibiscus tea over a period of six weeks, saw their systolic blood pressure drop significantly.
Another 2015 overview concluded that hibiscus flowers could lower both diastolic and systolic blood pressure by 3.53 mmHg, and 7.58 mmHg, respectively.
2. Helps Control Cholesterol
You may have heard that having high levels of cholesterol in your blood is bad for your health. And this is absolutely true. However, this mostly applies to LDL cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein.
This type of cholesterol is the one that clogs up your arteries and can cause heart disease in the long run. In contrast, HDL cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein, is the good cholesterol that your body uses to trap LDL cholesterol and transport it to the liver for filtration.
Therefore, when talking about lowering cholesterol levels, health experts mostly refer to reducing LDL levels. And hibiscus tea can help with that.
The flower contains various bioactive compounds that lower LDL levels, while simultaneously increasing HDL cholesterol. Therefore, it’s incredibly beneficial if you’re currently suffering from high cholesterol or other metabolic disorders.
3. Lowers Blood Sugar
Next to cholesterol, hibiscus tea has a positive impact on your blood sugar as well. The plant is packed with antioxidants that help promote optimal liver function.
Your liver is responsible for producing insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. Regularly eating a diet high in refined sugar makes your liver overproduce insulin.
This results in insulin resistance, a condition in which your body doesn’t respond to insulin and keeps your blood sugar levels high. Insulin resistance is a precursor to type 2 diabetes, one of the most common preventable diseases in the world.
However, if you regularly consume hibiscus tea, you’ll be able to improve your body’s insulin sensitivity. What’s more, the tea will help your liver secrete insulin at a consistent level, thus resulting in better blood sugar management in the long run.
4. May Relieve Menopause Symptoms
Though menopause is a natural part of aging, it can have quite a few unpleasant side effects. For one, it causes low estrogen levels in the body, which can trigger hot flashes, mood swings, insomnia, and weight fluctuations.
Hibiscus tea can help combat this by restoring balance to your hormones. The flower is loaded with phytoestrogens, the plant version of estrogens. These compounds bind with the estrogen receptors in your body and mimic the estrogen’s effect. This, in turn, alleviates menopause symptoms, and helps keep you healthy and balanced.
5. Aids in Weight Loss
As of 2022, obesity has become one of the most widespread conditions in the world. The WHO estimates that over 1 billion people are obese, with 39 million of those figures being children aged 2-19.
The illness can severely decrease the quality of life, as well as put sufferers at greater risk of developing many preventable diseases. Therefore, if you want to avoid any heart attacks or type 2 diabetes in the future, you should try to keep off the pounds.
A good way to do this is with a nice cup of hibiscus tea. A recent study discovered that hibiscus tea had a positive impact on reducing body fat percentage and establishing a healthy BMI. Likewise, another study showed that regularly giving overweight mice hibiscus extract resulted in sustained weight loss over a period of 60 days.
So, if you’re currently struggling with some extra weight, consider adding some hibiscus tea to your daily routine. But keep in mind that this herb is not a magic weight loss supplement. Shedding body fat boils down to eating a healthy, well-balanced diet with a modest calorie deficit and consistent exercise. Drinking hibiscus tea can help speed up that process, but it won’t make you lose weight on its own.
6. Contains Antibacterial Properties
Hibiscus tea is the drink of choice if you’re worried about catching a nasty bug. New research has shown that hibiscus flowers have antibacterial properties, making them an effective way to treat infections.
Researchers discovered that the flowers contained bioactive phytochemicals that successfully neutralized 8 different strains of Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. The plant was particularly successful at suppressing E.coli growth, a dangerous gut bacteria which can trigger severe diarrhea and abdominal cramping.
However, it should be noted that these studies were performed on animals. More research is needed to confirm if the plant has the same effect on humans. Therefore you shouldn’t take this as a go-ahead to treat your infection with hibiscus tea alone. Instead, take it as a supplement alongside your other prescriptions to soothe your symptoms.
7. May Help With PCOS Symptoms
Recent research shows that between 6% to 12% of women suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS for short.
This condition causes pockets of fluid to form on the ovaries. Also, sufferers may experience accompanying symptoms like insulin resistance, severe acne, painful and irregular periods and an increase of oxidative elements in the blood.
There is no cure for PCOS, meaning that patients can only manage it with various prescription medications, dietary changes and natural supplements. One of these supplements includes hibiscus tea.
Hibiscus flowers are full of powerful antioxidants that can decrease the amount of harmful free radicals in the blood. Likewise, as mentioned, hibiscus tea is excellent at managing insulin resistance, because it helps lower blood glucose levels. Lastly, the flowers increase the production of follicles in the ovaries, which further contributes to more balanced hormones and a regular cycle.
5 Hibiscus Tea Side Effects You Should Know About
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Hibiscus tea may be a treasure trove of health benefits, but it isn’t without faults either. The flower has various side effects you should be aware of before including it in your daily tea ritual.
1. Not Suitable for Those With Hypotension
Hibiscus tea is great if you have high blood pressure. However, if you’re someone who suffers from hypotension, then this tea may actually be detrimental to your health.
Overconsuming it can cause your blood pressure to decrease drastically. Low blood pressure means your brain isn’t getting enough oxygen, which could make you pass out. In more serious cases, it can trigger confusion, nausea, a weak pulse and disorientation.
2. Can Harm Diabetics
Though hibiscus tea is beneficial for controlling blood sugar levels it’s important to consume it responsibly.
The tea can potentially interact with diabetes medication such as glyburide, metformin, and pioglitazone. The plant alters how the body absorbs the medication, and may cause your blood sugar levels to drop too much. Therefore, you should always consult with your doctor before deciding to include it in your daily routine.
3. Not Suitable For Pregnant Women
As tempting as it is to pour yourself a mug of nice hibiscus tea, you should avoid it if you’re pregnant.
The flower’s ability to influence estrogen levels can have a negative impact on your hormonal balance. Some animal studies showed that regular consumption of the tea while pregnant resulted in premature labor or miscarriage.
When it comes to drinking tea while breastfeeding, experts remain divided. On the one hand, the plant is a source of galactagogues, natural compounds that supposedly increase milk production.
However, this claim is largely anecdotal. To date, there is no research that conclusively proves that galactagogues have any impact on breastfeeding moms. So, instead of relying on the tea, stick to a well-balanced diet full of quality proteins and healthy fats when you feed the little one.
4. Could Potentially Trigger Dermatitis
In case you have an allergy to hollyhocks, beware. Hibiscus flowers belong to the Malvaceae family, the same plant family as hollyhock. Therefore, the tea may trigger a similar immune response, like dermatitis.
Likewise, the tea contains tannins, compounds that are naturally found in a lot of bitter herbs, like green tea, black tea and coffee. In general, tannins have antioxidant and antimicrobial properties that can help support your overall health. However, they can also cause nausea, headaches, and lightheadedness if you have a sensitivity to them.
So, if you notice any symptoms after consuming the tea, contact your doctor immediately about potentially getting an allergy test.
5. Can Cause Drug Interactions
Apart from diabetes medication, hibiscus tea can also interact with other drugs. The flower reportedly decreases the effectiveness of chloroquine, a type of medication used to treat malaria.
Is it OK to Drink Hibiscus Tea Daily?
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Overall, hibiscus tea is a tasty and healthy alternative to herbal teas and fruit juices. Nevertheless, it’s still best not to over-consume it.
Even if you don’t suffer from any of the above-mentioned conditions, there still isn’t enough research on how hibiscus tea impacts health long term. Therefore, be sure to limit your intake to 2-3 cups per day.
In case you’re experiencing any negative side effects like drowsiness, nausea, headaches or skin rashes, stop drinking the tea and contact your doctor. It could be that your body isn’t handling the tea well, and you may want to look for a different herb to help you destress.