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Health Benefits of Hibiscus Tea, According to a Dietitian

Hibiscus tea is delicious, beautiful, and packed with antioxidants that may be responsible for a variety of health benefits. No wonder it was chosen as one of the top food trends of 2022!

If you’ve noticed that hibiscus is popping up as an ingredient on cocktail menus or in the soft drinks lined up on supermarket shelves, it’s for good reason. Hibiscus has been noted as one of the top food trends to watch in 2022 and beyond. The bright red flower is absolutely beautiful, but the benefits go far beyond the pretty look. Read on to learn what hibiscus is, its benefits and side effects, and how you can use hibiscus at home.

What is Hibiscus?

Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is an edible flowering plant native to parts of Africa and Asia, although it is also grown in Mexico and Central America. Contrary to popular belief, the part of the plant that you can eat and drink is the calyx of the flower, not the petals. The calyxes (or calyces) are the sepals of a flower that are responsible, among other things, for protecting the buds and petals.

Hibiscus other names; It is called marshmallow flower, mallow, medina rose, nar flower and sour tea.

Hibiscus, also known as roselle, sorrel, and zobo, among other names, is most commonly consumed as a tea. It is made by infusing the red dried calyxes of the plant in cold or hot water. However, dried calyxes are also widely used in cooking, from making hibiscus syrup and jam to vegan tacos. Dried hibiscus can also be used to add flavor and color to beverages. Located under the flower, these red calyxes contain a high concentration of anthocyanin, a red-blue pigment with antioxidant properties that gives hibiscus its very deep red color.

Hibiscus has a refreshing floral flavor that combines fruity, sour and sweet. Some people compare the aroma of hibiscus to the taste of cranberry, but with a floral twist.

Is Hibiscus Tea Good for You?

While hibiscus tea isn’t full of vitamins and minerals, it is quite high in antioxidants called polyphenols, especially anthocyanins.

Anne Danahy, RDN, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based registered dietitian and owner of Craving Something Healthy, says the antioxidants in hibiscus tea are “largely responsible for the tea’s gorgeous red fuchsia color and myriad health benefits.”

While hibiscus tea isn’t a substitute for medications, the research surrounding this soothing sip is interesting.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the health benefits of these edible calyxes.

Health Benefits of Hibiscus Tea

Contains Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Finnish vs. Registered dietitian Kelsey Lorencz, a nutrition consultant in Finland, states that “anthocyanins are associated with the prevention of cancer and diabetes and have potent anti-inflammatory effects.” According to a 2017 review published in the journal Food & Nutrition Research, anthocyanins reduce inflammation, which is linked to the progression of diseases, such as when chronic. In addition, anthocyanins are known as potential anti-angiogenic agents. Anti-angiogenic agents prevent the body from forming new blood vessels that “feed” tumor cells with oxygen.

May Lower Blood Lipid Levels

Your blood lipids are basically made up of three components: LDL cholesterol, known as bad cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, known as good, and triglycerides, which can increase the risk of heart disease. According to StatPearls, dyslipidemia is a condition that can lead to heart disease and is characterized by an imbalance of HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. A 2018 review on the therapeutic uses of hibiscus published in the journal Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy noted that hibiscus extract has been shown to reduce LDL and triglyceride levels without affecting HDL levels. The potential effects of Hibiscus on lowering blood lipids may favorably affect fatty liver disease.

May Lower Blood Pressure

High, medically known as hypertension, is a disease that affects about 47% of the U.S. population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the name suggests, hypertension causes the blood pressure in your arteries to rise, placing an overload on your heart and increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Traditionally, hibiscus flower lowering blood pressure has been used for. Studies have shown that hibiscus extract can be used for mild to moderate hypertension.

Lorencz explains that “a special compound in hibiscus calyx effectively lowers blood pressure by causing the release of nitric oxide from cells in blood vessels.” A 2021 randomized controlled trial published in Molecules concluded that supplementation with hibiscus and lemon verbena (Lippia citriodora) can lower blood pressure indicators in people with prehypertension or type 1 hypertension.

May Help with Blood Sugar

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease in which the body cannot regulate blood sugar, according to MedlinePlus. There are two main types, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, as well as gestational diabetes that develops during it. Type 2 diabetes is more common and affects more than 1 in 10 Americans. Chronic high blood sugar can lead to kidney, liver and vision damage, among other health problems. Research published in Pharmaceuticals in 2022 showed that hibiscus tea has a beneficial effect on blood sugar; however, more research is needed to be sure of the relationship.

Potential Side Effects of Hibiscus Tea

Hibiscus is considered safe when consumed in moderate amounts in tea (2 to 4 cups per day) and food. However, Kristin Draayer, MS, RDN advises that high doses can cause toxicity. Draayer also notes that hibiscus may interact with some medications, especially those used to treat high blood pressure or diabetes. Lorencz also recommends avoiding hibiscus during pregnancy and lactation and before surgery because of its blood pressure lowering effect. Additionally, keep in mind that hibiscus can have diuretic effects on the body, which can lead to excessive dehydration.

As always, it’s important to consult your doctor before adding anything new to your diet.

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