In an attempt to introduce as many healthy foods to their menu as possible, people often strive to make every part of their meals beneficial for health. Drinks are no exception, and rooibos tea is a beverage that is gaining popularity quite fast. This red tea is an alternative to green and black tea or coffee, because it does not contain caffeine. However, it’s not the only advantage it brings.Originating from South Africa, rooibos tea has been cultivated for a long time. Rooibos is not a relative of green and black tea: while it can be consumed the same way – with or without sugar or milk – it does not contain caffeine, which makes it a good option for those who cannot drink caffeine-rich beverages due to medical or some other reasons. Rooibos can be red or green. However, the latter is more difficult to find and has a taste that is kind of grassy. Actually, it is not tea proper: it’s a herbal beverage. While surfing the Internet, you may come across claims that rooibos is rich in nutrients. Except for fluoride and copper, it is not true, as traces of minerals and vitamins are not enough to call it a good source of them. It does not make the tea useless, though: while it cannot provide a lot of nutrients, rooibos is rich in antioxidants.
Antioxidant powerhouseThe compounds found in rooibos, which produce an antioxidative effect, are quercetin and aspalathin. These chemicals could possibly contribute to prevention of damage to cells, which means the herb may reduce the risk for cancer and cardiovascular diseases. However, the scientific evidence that suggests drinking rooibos increases antioxidant levels in the blood are limited, and their findings are not always reliable. While the effect the beverage has on antioxidant level in the blood is not significant (the increase is about 2.9% for the common red rooibos, and 6.6% for the green rooibos), it could nevertheless be beneficial. The thing is, the antioxidants found in rooibos are characterized by poor bioavailability, and more research is needed to find out what effects it may have on the human body. Still, the potential rooibos has is quite promising.
No caffeine or significant side effectsDrinking rooibos is safe – at least according to experts. There are no known adverse effects associated with its consumption, and even tannins found in it do not prevent iron absorption, as their levels are relatively low. The fact that rooibos does not contain caffeine is definitely an advantage for many people. Those with high blood pressure or other groups of patients who cannot drink caffeine-rich beverages may find rooibos to be a nice option: not only is it devoid of caffeine, but it is also rather sweet by itself, so you can cut down on sugar. Even if you do not have diseases and conditions preventing you from drinking common tea or coffee, you can opt for rooibos when going to bed, as it won’t keep you awake like coffee and tea do.
Help for the heartRooibos contains several compounds that could benefit the heart. One of its effects is inhibition of ACE, an enzyme that makes blood vessels contract, so the herb could potentially lower blood pressure. Studies showed that while ACE remains inhibited for about an hour after drinking rooibos, blood pressure does not appear to be affected. Still, the herb could prove to be effective at cholesterol level reduction. A study, which involved obese women, showed that drinking six cups of rooibos every day for 6 weeks can lower “bad” cholesterol levels, while increasing the “good” one. However, the effect was not observed in healthy volunteers.
Everything said above boils down to the conclusion that rooibos could have beneficial effects on health, but more research is needed to determine whether the human body can use the antioxidants found in it effectively. Anyway, it is reported to be safe to drink, so those looking for a tasty alternative to coffee and tea may find it a good pick!
Rooibos Tea: Research into Antioxidant and Antimutagenic Properties – Utahsportsandwellness.com
Bioavailability and antioxidant potential of rooibos flavonoids in humans following the consumption of different rooibos formulations – Sciencedirect.com