What is Rooibos tea?
This is a relatively recent addition to our list of super healthy drinks with a huge range of health benefits. Even though it is called rooibos tea, it is not strictly speaking a tea at all rather it is an herbal drink derived from a South African bush.
It has a fruity, nutty flavor and a rich red color and is chock full of antioxidants as well as trace amounts of essential minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron. Its purported health benefits span a wide scale and include stress reduction, skin care and even fighting cancer.
Unlike green tea which gets its antioxidant content from catechins, rooibos tea’s high antioxidant ability comes mainly from two polyphenol compounds unique in rooibos called asplathin and nothofagin. These antioxidants are essential to protect ourselves from the harmful effects of free radicals, keeping our bodies and immune system strong and warding off a variety of degenerative conditions.
Can it help you to lose weight?
There is absolutely no fat busting content in rooibos tea and yet it is often included in a variety of diet plans along with other teas such as oolong and green tea which we have written about in some detail here. While rooibos tea might not be the miracle weight loss dream that many people are looking for, it is extremely healthy and virtually free of calories.
Simply replacing your regular beverage with a cup of this delicious red tea will cause you to lose weight in the long term. In fact, some experts have calculated that simply replacing your morning cup of coffee with a cup of rooibos will help you to lose around 7.5 pounds over the course of a year. And let’s not forget that it is so healthy; unlike coffee and other forms of tea; rooibos contains no caffeine whatsoever making it the ideal healthy drink.
No studies have been done to demonstrate that rooibos tea can help you lose weight but as an integral part to an overall diet plan, it should help you to shed some of those unwanted pounds. As with other teas, it is possible that drinking rooibos tea on a regular basis will help you to suppress your appetite and leave you feeling more satiated especially when drunk 30 minutes or so before a meal.
Another point to consider is that drinking rooibos tea can improve your quality of sleep as well as helping you to drop off in the first place. According to research, good quality, uninterrupted sleep speeds up our metabolism and improves fat burning while sleeping well should also improve your energy levels and allow you to exercise better. These are marginal gains in the weight loss battle, but they all count.
Simply drinking rooibos tea while making no other lifestyle and diet changes will not impact the scales but as a part of an overall diet plan, rooibos tea will not only benefit your health but might lead to a decent amount of weight loss. Of course sweetening the tea with sugar or honey and adding milk will negate any weight loss benefits so make sure that you drink it unsweetened and without adding milk. Do not expect super-fast results; losing weight healthily will take a fair amount of time but losing your weight steadily is the best way to keep it off in the long run.
Besides possibly helping you to lose weight, there are a number of other health benefits to drinking rooibos tea. Many of the health benefits associated with drinking rooibos tea are derived from its potent antioxidant activity.
Because it is such a rich source of very powerful antioxidants, rooibos tea may be an ally in the fight against cancer. It has a number of compounds that are thought to help fight cancer including flavones and flavanols and the Cancer Association of South Africa has recognized rooibos as a natural source of cancer fighting chemicals.
2. Male fertility
According to preliminary research, the antioxidant compounds contained in rooibos tea offer sperm protection and the ability to boost male fertility. Although this research was carried out on animals, the results so far have been promising. In one study rats fed with both green and red rooibos tea had higher sperm counts than rats not given the supplement. Researchers concluded that rooibos might boost healthy sperm and increase sperm count. (1)
3. Diabetic complications
While researchers could have not been able to demonstrate that rooibos helped balance glucose levels, they did manage to find that it could combat oxidative stress which leads to diabetic complications such as eye problems and vascular complaints. Researchers concluded that rooibos tea for sufferers of type 2 diabetes could be a very helpful preventive measure. (2)
4. Metabolic disturbances
Researchers have demonstrated that the polyphenols present in rooibos tea could be helpful in managing metabolic conditions. Animal studies have demonstrated that rooibos had a significant effect on mice suffering metabolic disturbance by reducing serum cholesterol and triglycerides and reducing overall fat levels in their blood streams. (3)
Rooibos has anti-inflammatory properties that give it a range of potential therapeutic uses. One study found that it could prevent both DNA damage and heal inflammation. Because it is caffeine free, it can be used safely, even for children. (4)
6. Bone and tooth strength
Minerals present in rooibos tea such as manganese, calcium and fluoride can help promote strong and healthy bones as well as healthy teeth.
7. Stress relief
Again, it is the antioxidant ability of rooibos tea that is responsible for its benefits to the mind. Oxidative damage is sometimes the result of the increase of free radicals caused by psychological stress. The antioxidants present in rooibos tea make it a great preventative against a number of degenerative neural conditions and one study concluded that it might reverse the harmful effects of stress on both the body and the mind. (5)
Brewing the perfect cup of rooibos tea is very simple and does not differ very much from brewing more traditional black teas. Just follow a few basic guidelines and you will make the perfect healthy cuppa.
- Make sure that you only buy limited amounts of rooibos at any time in order to ensure freshness.
- The tea should be kept in a sealed and opaque container. This will ensure that it is protected well from light and smell and retain its flavor and quality.
- Before steeping your tea, bring your water up to boiling point.
- Steep your tea for at least 5 minutes to ensure the best flavor. Side effects While rooibos tea is generally safe and possesses numerous health benefits, there are some precautions that need to be considered.
- Rooibos tea might interfere with certain treatments including chemotherapy treatment so be sure to speak to your doctor if you are undergoing any medical treatment.
- It has estrogenic activity so is not recommended for people suffering from hormone sensitive cancers such as breast cancer.
- If you have a pre-existing kidney or liver complaint, rooibos tea might be harmful and should be seen as a preventative drink as opposed to a cure for liver and kidney diseases.
- Because it is so potent, it is advised that you speak to your doctor before adding rooibos tea to your diet.