If you tend to avoid drinking things you can’t pronounce, this article is for you! Rooibos (pronounced “roy-boss”) is a phenomenal herbal tea that we think everyone should know more about. Offering a mix of antioxidants that are not found in other teas, rooibos boasts some pretty impressive health benefits:
- Improves heart health
- Protects against free radical damage
- Aids in diabetes prevention
- Supports digestion
- Alleviates allergies
- Helps with healthy skin and hair
What the heck is rooibos?
Rooibos literally means “red bush” in the Afrikaans language. And as an indication of just how special it is, the plant literally only grows in one particular location in South Africa! There’s a reason why it is considered to be an iconic beverage in South Africa. Although it is technically a herb rather than a true “tea,” the leaves have been used to brew tea for centuries.
Why did people start making this herb into tea? Maybe because it has 50% more antioxidants than green tea! Amazing, right? And because rooibos tea is caffeine-free and low in tannins (especially when compared to other teas), it’s even safe for infants to drink!
On top of all those antioxidants, rooibos is also super rich in minerals. Here’s a list of what you’re getting in your cup of rooibos tea: zinc, magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium and manganese. It’s like a vitamin — except yummier!
Ok, so what does it taste like? Depending on the blend, rooibos has been described as: woody, sweet, vanilla, smoky, grassy, caramel. Many people find it delicious as a straight tea, or the traditional South African way to drink it, which is with a splash of milk and a little honey.
In fact, because rooibos is naturally sweet (as opposed to bitter, like most other teas), it has recently enjoyed the attention of creative all-star chefs who are adding rooibos as a flavor-enhancing ingredient to everything from meat dishes to chocolate cakes! As if this weren’t enough, scientists are also currently studying the potential of rooibos to be an excellent natural food preservative.
Intrigued? Let’s find out what this cool “red bush” tea can do for you!
Rooibos Tea Health Benefits
Here’s the part where we try to help you figure out whether you should add rooibos to your diet. Honestly? Rooibos offers such an incredibly unique blend of antioxidants that we would recommend it for anyone.
Specifically, it contains at least two health-enhancing compounds (aspalathin and alpha hydroxy acid) that do not exist in any other natural source that you can ingest. It’s also the only tea that provides quercetin, which has a ton of healthy benefits we share below.
Considering rooibos tea is caffeine-free, calorie-free AND has these unique properties, we think everyone could benefit from adding it to their diet. Read on and decide for yourself:
Improve Heart Health
Drinking rooibos tea can benefit your heart in a few different ways. For starters, the antioxidants it provides have been linked to a reduced risk of coronary disease. (1) Another study demonstrated rooibos’ ability to lower blood pressure. (2)
Rooibos also presents good news for any adults already at risk for cardiovascular disease. A study on overweight adults showed that drinking six cups daily for six weeks could result in decreased LDL cholesterol levels. (3) Pretty impressive!
Protect Against Free Radical Damage
Rooibos tea contains three primary antioxidants: aspalathin, luteolin and quercetin. (4) (5) These antioxidants are particularly regarded for their ability to fight free radical damage to your cells. That means that they have anti-aging properties, as well as an ability to fight inflammation in your body. (6) Almost sounds like a plant superhero, right?
As a general rule, inflammation is your body’s mortal enemy. Anything you can eat or drink that fights inflammation means you are decreasing your chance of developing disease.
An ability to fight free radicals also has important cancer-prevention implications. In particular, luteolin and quercetin have successfully killed cancer cells and slowed the growth of tumors in test tube studies.(7) (8) We should note however, that human studies have not yet been done, and it’s unclear whether the antioxidant levels in rooibos tea are high enough to have these cancer-fighting effects.
Help Regulate Blood Sugar
Drinking rooibos tea has promising results for anyone looking for help to keep their blood sugar level. The antioxidant aspalathin is known to help balance blood sugar and help with insulin resistance.(9) Rooibos happens to be one of the few known natural sources of aspalathin.
Just about every variety of tea can enhance your digestion. Rooibos, however, is particularly good for alleviating any kind of abdominal pain or indigestion.
This is due to certain compounds in rooibos that have demonstrated an anti-spasmodic effect on the digestive system. (11) So any kind or churning or cramping of the stomach or intestines can be alleviated by drinking rooibos tea.
The antioxidant quercetin is really the all-star of rooibos. Quercetin has a demonstrated ability to block the immune cells that are responsible for triggering allergic reactions in your body. In fact, quercetin has proven the potential to be just as effective at treating allergies as prescribed medications — but without any negative side effects. (12) That could spell some serious relief for allergy sufferers!
Healthy Skin and Hair
Yet another rare compound found in rooibos is alpha hydroxy acid. AHA is prized for its ability to keep skin and hair healthy, but it is nearly impossible to find in a natural source. And other sources of alpha hydroxy acid (think chemical peels) can be terribly harsh on your body. Simply drinking rooibos tea can lead to stronger hair follicles and less wrinkling of the skin. (13)
We hope this has removed some of the mystery surrounding rooibos. With all these impressive and unique health benefits, it’s no surprise experts predict that rooibos will soon be as popular as green and black teas. Give it a try and let us know what you think!