Rooibos Tea: Properties, Benefits And How To Use

Have a closer look at the properties and benefits of rooibos tea and learn how to prepare it.
Rooibos Tea: Properties, Benefits And How To Use

 

Rooibos tea has been gaining popularity recently, both for being a healthy drink and for its rich flavor. Original from southern Africa and consumed in this place for centuries, it has become a very popular drink throughout the world.

It is a tasty theine-free alternative to black and green teas and has numerous benefits and properties for our health. Rooibos tea represents a rich source of antioxidants that protect against heart disease.  

This article explains all the health benefits of rooibos tea and the possible side effects that it can have. 

What is rooibos tea?

Rooibos tea is an infusion made with the leaves of a shrub called Aspalathus linearis, which is usually grown on the West coast of South Africa.

Rooibos is a herbal infusion and has no relationship with green or black tea. One of its main advantages is that it does not contain theine. Rooibos incisions are created by fermenting the leaves, which gives them a reddish-brown color. We can also find green rooibos tea, which is when the leaves have not yet fermented.

This type of tea is usually consumed like any other tea or infusion. Some people add milk and sugar, and you can also make rooibos ice tea. This infusion is full of powerful antioxidants, which can provide benefits for our health.

Properties and benefits

Rooibos tea provides a series of health benefits due to its properties. 

1. Theine free

Rooibos tea contains no theine and is also low in tannins. By not containing this irritable compound, rooibos tea represents the ideal choice for pregnant women, children, and people that are sensitive to caffeine.

Therefore, a rooibos tea infusion is a good alternative for people who want to reduce caffeine consumption or avoid it altogether.

2. Low in tannins

As mentioned before, rooibos tea contains very low levels of tannins. Tannins are natural compounds present in many plant foods, such as black tea, green tea, and red wine.

Tannins interfere with the absorption of iron by the body, particularly non-heme iron, which is the form that comes from foods of plant origin.

Rooibos tea is an excellent source of antioxidants

 

3. Rich in antioxidants

Rooibos tea contains several antioxidant compounds. Some of the most notable are quercetin and aspalathin. Antioxidants are important for our health since they prevent free radicals from damaging the body's cells. This high level of antioxidant makes this type of tea favorable for consumption during pregnancy.

4. Promotes heart health 

Antioxidants are important for a healthy heart so rooibos tea can provide cardiovascular benefits. It can also keep cholesterol levels under control.

In a study of 40 people at risk of cardiovascular disease, doctors gave patients six cups of rooibos tea every day for 6 weeks. At the end of this period, the participants showed significantly reduced levels of low-density lipoproteins or "bad" cholesterol, and significantly increased levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or "good" cholesterol.

Rooibos tea can also improve heart health by inhibiting the enzyme that increases blood pressure.

5. Treats and prevents diabetes

The antioxidants present in rooibos tea may have an antidiabetic potential. This infusion can help people with diabetes keep their blood sugar levels under control and, therefore, reduce the risk of complications.

In addition, it has been determined that people with diabetes are two to four times more likely to die of heart disease than people who do not have diabetes. The research suggests that aspalathin, glucoside present in rooibos, helps suppress vascular inflammation that results from high blood sugar levels.

6. Helps in weight loss

Rooibos tea has no calories so it can be a good option for those who are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

Infusions can also help us control our weight by increasing leptin levels. Leptin is a hormone that helps regulate food intake and sends signals to the body that it has had enough food. In addition, rooibos tea also stops the formation of new fat cells and stimulates a faster metabolism. 

7. Keeps hair and skin healthy

According to research, if we apply rooibos tea topically, it can improve the appearance of the skin by reducing wrinkles.  A study conducted in 2010 compared cosmetic blends made from herbal extracts in a gel base. The extracts were ginkgo, soy and a mixture of tea and rooibos.

The researchers found that the mixture of tea and rooibos was more effective in reducing wrinkles, while ginkgo was the best to moisturize the skin. However, it is unlikely that tea will provide noticeable benefits for the skin unless combined with a healthy lifestyle. 

8. Treats allergies

According to natural medicine, rooibos herbal tea is used as an effective cure to treat allergies such as eczema, hay fever, and allergy-related bronchitis.

It has anti-inflammatory qualities, thanks to its quercetin content and, therefore, it is prescribed for asthma and atopic allergic reactions of various types throughout the body. However, clinical trials and research are needed to further support this claim.

9. Slows aging 

The antioxidants present in the rooibos slow down the aging process and increase the strength of the immune system. Tea antioxidants protect against free radicals that damage the skin, hair, bones and other systems.

Rooibos tea is often mixed with other fruits and spices to elevate its flavor

 

How to make rooibos tea?

We can buy rooibos tea in any supermarket or specialized store and you can enjoy it cold or hot, similar to green or black tea.

For the best results, follow the instructions shown on the package. As a general rule, boil 250 ml of water per tea bag or a teaspoon of loose leaves. Let the tea soak for at least 5 minutes. Serve alone, with milk, with vegetable drinks, with honey or sugar to taste.

Side effects

Generally speaking, rooibos tea is very safe for consumptions. Although negative reactions are extremely rare, some side effects have been reported.

One study found that daily consumption of large amounts of rooibos is related to an increase in liver enzymes, which can often indicate a liver problem.

Another possible contraindication is that certain compounds in tea can stimulate the production of the female sex hormone, estrogen. Moreover, some sources suggest that people with hormone-sensitive conditions should avoid this type of tea.

However, these side effects are very mild and it is likely that we need to consume very large amounts before seeing an effect.

 

References:

Breiter, T., Laue, C., Kressel, G., Gröll, S., Engelhardt, U. H., & Hahn, A. (2011). Bioavailability and antioxidant potential of rooibos flavonoids in humans following the consumption of different rooibos formulations. Food chemistry, 128(2), 338-347.

Cheney, R. H., & Scholtz, E. (1963). Rooibos tea, a South African contribution to world beverages. Economic Botany, 17(3), 186-194.

Marnewick, J. L., Rautenbach, F., Venter, I., Neethling, H., Blackhurst, D. M., Wolmarans, P., & Macharia, M. (2011). Effects of rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) on oxidative stress and biochemical parameters in adults at risk for cardiovascular disease. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 133(1), 46-52.

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