Parts of the deep magenta Roselle blooms are dried and brewed into a slightly tart, cranberry-like herbal tea that has a bright red color. The tea can be enjoyed hot and cold. Drinking hibiscus tea comes with several benefits ranging from cardiovascular health to weight loss. In this article, we discuss 6 scientifically-proven benefits of hibiscus tea and explain how you can enjoy this refreshing tea at home.
1. Lowers blood pressure
Hypertension is one of the most widespread and dangerous chronic conditions in the world. Having high blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, and many other life-threatening conditions. Drinking hibiscus tea seems to be a natural way to lower one’s systolic and diastolic blood pressure according to research.
One article, for example, states that high blood pressure sufferers experienced a marked reduction in systolic blood pressure (the top number) in an experiment that involved 65 participants and lasted for 6 weeks. A review study suggested that hibiscus tea lowers both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 7.58 and 3.53 mmHg, respectively.
While hibiscus can be safely used to help lower one’s blood pressure in many cases, it can interact with some medications, so make sure that you consult your doctor about any potential risks before you start drinking hibiscus tea. For example, those who take hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic medication used to reduce blood pressure, should avoid hibiscus tea because it may interact with this medication.
2. Can reduce the levels of lipids in the blood
Like blood pressure, blood lipids are a significant predictor of cardiovascular health. When the levels of blood fats rise, so does one’s risk of atherosclerosis, thrombosis, heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and many other dangerous conditions. Therefore, keeping your blood lipid levels in check is quite important. Now, the two main types of lipids you should be aware of are cholesterol and triglycerides.
As you likely already know, cholesterol is a type of lipid that exists in two main forms in the human body: HDL (or good) cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol. While LDL cholesterol clings to the walls of blood vessels and clogs them, HDL cholesterol has the opposite effect - it dissolves the lipid plaques created by LDL cholesterol. When one’s LDL cholesterol levels climb up, this increases the risk of atherosclerosis.
Studies show that drinking hibiscus tea regularly can reduce one’s “bad” cholesterol levels while also increasing the levels of “good” cholesterol, likely due to the high antioxidant content of the tea. One study in patients suffering from metabolic syndrome concluded that taking 100 mg of hibiscus extract every day reduced total cholesterol while also raising HDL cholesterol levels.
As for triglycerides - these are another type of fat found in the blood. They are essentially a way the body stores unused calories after a meal, and ultimately, they are transported to fat cells in the body. When someone eats more calories than their body can use up, their triglyceride levels rise. If this happens too much and too often, it increases the risk of several dangerous diseases ranging from heart disease to diabetes.
One study conducted among 60 diabetics showed that drinking hibiscus tea daily for 1 month decreased total cholesterol while also reducing LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels but increasing HDL cholesterol levels. Unfortunately, there are no studies as of now that would confirm the same beneficial effects in healthy adults.
3. May prevent certain types of cancer
Hibiscus tea is extremely high in antioxidants, and particularly a group of compounds called polyphenols. These plant compounds may possess cancer-fighting properties. According to in-vitro studies, hibiscus extract halts the growth and reduces the spread of mouth cancer cells and multiple myeloma cells.
It was also shown to halt the spread of prostate cancer and to stop the spread of stomach cancer by 52% according to other test-tube studies. Although there is currently no evidence in live subjects to support these claims, these early results are highly encouraging.
4. Promotes Weight Loss
Drinking hibiscus tea may also help you lose weight or protect you from gaining a lot of weight. According to one study conducted on 36 overweight individuals, taking hibiscus extract for 3 months managed to reduce the BMI, hip-to-waist ratio, overall body weight, and the amount of body fat. A similar result was seen in obese mice - taking hibiscus extract for 2 months reduced their body weight.
5. Has Antibacterial Properties
Apart from stopping the growth of cancer and nourishing our body with antioxidants, hibiscus extract may also eradicate unfriendly bacteria. In-vitro studies suggest that hibiscus extract is just as effective as some medications at killing 8 strains of bacteria. A different study also found that hibiscus extract is effective at inhibiting E. coli, a bacteria that causes foodborne illness and produces symptoms like dehydration, intestinal cramping, and diarrhea.
6. Can Improve Liver Function
The liver is one of the most important organs we have: it helps us digest food and absorb nutrients, and it also cleanses the body of toxins. Needless to say, we all must take good care of our liver and keep it working like clockwork, and hibiscus tea could give you that much-needed boost.
Fatty liver disease, or hepatic steatosis, is one of the greatest contributors to liver failure. The condition develops when fats start accumulating in the liver and impair its functioning. The liver can recover from this condition and restore itself over time, and hibiscus extract may help achieve that goal.
One study conducted among overweight participants mentioned that taking hibiscus extract for 12 weeks reduced fatty liver disease. Animal studies in hamsters and rats likewise demonstrate that hibiscus extract protects the liver from damage and helps it work more efficiently.
How to Prepare Hibiscus Tea at Home
Dried hibiscus is widely available in supermarkets across the globe, and it’s quite inexpensive. If you live in a warm climate, you may be able to find fresh hibiscus as well. Here, we will show you how to make tea from dried hibiscus, since it’s more common and easily available.
To prepare hibiscus tea, bring water and dried hibiscus flowers to a boil - use about 1½ teaspoon hibiscus for 1 cup of water. When the water starts boiling, remove the tea from the stove and cover it with a lid. You can flavor the tea with other herbs such as lime, cinnamon, ginger, basil, and lemongrass.
Since hibiscus tea tastes a bit tart, it’s also a good idea to add a dash of honey to balance the taste. Let the resulting tea steep for 15-20 minutes. You can drink the tea either warm or chill it and serve it with ice.
Hibiscus iced tea with herbs and citrus juice is a traditional Mexican drink called Agua de Jamaica. Learn how to make it in the video below: