Hibiscus is a tropical flower that comes in a variety of colours including orange, red, yellow, and more. It’s not just the flower that’s consumed but also the leaves and seeds. Hibiscus has a wide range of uses including medicinal purposes, as well as health and beauty purposes. One of the most common ways it’s consumed is in tea. It is also consumed in its powdered form, as capsules, and as a liquid extract. Here are the health and nutritional benefits of hibiscus.
Raw hibiscus contains carbohydrates, calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, and B vitamins. It also has iron, phosphorus, sodium, and zinc.
Studies show that hibiscus can improve cholesterol levels. In one study where both men and women took hibiscus liquid extract, researchers found they had lower cholesterol readings at the end of two to four weeks. Another study found that consuming this tea or extract increased good cholesterol and decreased bad cholesterol.
Researchers have found that hibiscus beverages and supplements can lower blood pressure. One study found that participants who drank 2 cups of hibiscus tea daily and combined that with lifestyle and dietary changes had decreased blood pressure levels.
A study from Tufts University found that the tea because of its anti-inflammatory properties may help reduce blood pressure by up to ten points. Another study found that the flower’s extracts may be as effective as pharmaceutical medications for high blood pressure. This impact it has on blood pressure makes it beneficial to overall heart health.
Hibiscus helps lower the risk of diabetes by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. One study found that consuming this tea could reduce blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes.
Weight loss and liver health
One study found that hibiscus extracts may protect against and prevent obesity by aiding in weight loss. It has metabolism regulation properties. Another study found that the extracts may help prevent fat cells from accumulating preventing complications related to obesity such as fatty liver and insulin resistance.
In this way, hibiscus can protect your liver from damage. A study on rats found that adding hibiscus powder to animal feed reduced body weight, body fat, and pro-inflammatory compounds in fat tissue. Further human research is needed though.
Anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial
The leaves of the hibiscus plant may be rich in ascorbic acid, commonly known as vitamin C. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient in the body. It boosts and stimulates the immune system. The tea also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which help prevent disease in the body.
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Hibiscus tea contains flavonoids that have been associated with anti-depressant properties. The tea helps calm down the nervous system, reducing anxiety and depression by creating a relaxing sensation in the body and mind. These were findings from research in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology.
One study found that hibiscus helps prevent calcium oxalate crystals from turning into kidney stones. More research is needed though.
Aids in digestion
Hibiscus tea is a diuretic. Diuretics are substances that increase the discharge of urine. Tea made from hibiscus has been shown to pull salt out of the body and increase the amount of water and salt expelled by the body. This is the mechanism by which it reduces blood pressure. It’s low in sugar and has no caffeine which means it does not interrupt sleep.
Hibiscus tea is loaded with polyphenols which are compounds loaded with anti-cancer properties. Studies found that hibiscus extract helps stop mouth cancer. Other studies have shown that the leaves prevent the spread of prostate cancer and stomach cancer.
Hibiscus promotes healthy hair growth. It is often used as a home treatment for hair loss. For natural hair treatment, the flowers are dried, ground to fine powder, then mixed with water and applied to the scalp. It is also used as a home remedy for premature greying of hair and treating head lice.
Ayurvedic beauty practitioners believe that hibiscus supports healthy skin and a cleat complexion. You can add some of the powder to your usual face mask or mix some of the powder with water to make your own face mask.
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