I must admit something before we go any further: I’m not a fan of drinking tea. However, in the past few years, I’ve tried to regularly drink tea because of the health benefits. I started with green tea. I’ve tried black tea as well (I do mix it with milk, though), and I’ve tried rooibos tea as well as herbal teas.
I’m not going to try to persuade you to drink only rooibos tea, or only green tea, or only herbal teas. No, that would be plain wrong. Drinking any tea is beneficial for your health. But I will try to explain the benefits of rooibos tea, and why you should start drinking this tea. For centuries, rooibos tea was popular in South Africa. But in the past several years, the tea has spread across the world. People love it because it is flavorful, and, unlike black and green tea, contains no caffeine.
And then there are the added rooibos tea health benefits.
What is rooibos tea?
Let’s start from the beginning: the origin of the tea. Known also as red tea, or sometimes even red bush tea, rooibos tea is made from leaves from a shrub called Aspalathus linearis. The shrub grows on the western coast of South Africa (1).
That means that rooibos tea is actually an herbal tea, and has no relation to black or green tea. Traditionally, the tea is prepared by fermenting the leaves, which then turn a reddish-brown. Sometimes, you can find green rooibos tea, but that one is made from unfermented leaves. Green rooibos tea is more expensive, has a grassy flavor, and contains more antioxidants.
You can consume rooibos tea on its own, or add milk and sugar.
1. Better than green and black tea
In just one way, rooibos tea is better than green and black tea: caffeine. Unlike the popular choices, rooibos tea contains zero caffeine, making it good for children, seniors, and anyone else. In addition, you can drink it whenever you like; no need to worry whether you’ll be able to sleep if you drink it in the evening (2).
We know that excessive consumption of caffeine has been linked to anxiety, sleep problems, headaches, and heart palpitations. Therefore, rooibos tea benefits are better utilized than green tea and black tea benefits. You get the vitamins and antioxidants, without any caffeine.
2. Packed with antioxidants
Speaking of antioxidants, rooibos is packed with flavonoids, mainly aspalathin and quercetin. Both antioxidants help repair your body, skin, and metabolism from damage caused by free radicals. When consumed on a long-term basis, antioxidants reduce the risk of diseases like heart disease and cancer. But that doesn’t mean that rooibos tea can prevent cancer. (3)
We also must note that the antioxidants consumed in rooibos tea are short lived.
3. Improves heart health
We also mentioned that consuming antioxidants on a long-term basis may improve heart health. Well, drinking rooibos tea certainly reduces the risk of heart disease.
And rooibos tea helps in a number of ways. For starters, you get bundles of antioxidants. In addition, drinking rooibos tea helps your body inhibit the angiotensin-converting enzyme. This enzyme has negative effects on your blood pressure (it increases blood pressure because it causes blood vessels to contract).
And last, but not least, rooibos tea helps improve cholesterol levels, which in turn lower your blood pressure and improve your heart health. (4)
4. Improves the respiratory system
To understand how rooibos tea benefits the respiratory system, we have to explain something about the tea. Rooibos tea is actually a bronchodilator, a substance that dilates the bronchi and bronchioles. By doing that, rooibos tea increases air flow to your lungs, allowing you to breathe easier.
In breathing easier, you get more oxygen to crucial parts and organs of your body and prevent cardiovascular diseases. And you battle the symptoms of asthma.
5. Helps with diabetes type 2
We mentioned previously that rooibos tea is packed with aspalathin, a popular antioxidant. What we didn’t mention is that aspalathin has an antidiabetic effect. Now, those studies were only conducted on animals, but it still provides some proof. In addition, aspalathin is a rare antioxidant, and rooibos tea is actually one of the few natural sources of it.
Back to the study. One study conducted on mice showed that aspalathin effectively balanced blood sugar levels and reduced insulin resistance in the process. We have to wait for human studies, but it is encouraging (5).
6. Rich in minerals
I said at the beginning that rooibos tea is rich in antioxidants. But the tea is also rich in various minerals. Granted, that’s far below the daily recommended dose of any of these minerals, but every little bit helps. Rooibos tea contains magnesium (essential mineral for your nervous system), zinc (essential mineral for your metabolism), calcium and manganese (essential for bones and teeth), and iron (crucial for blood flow and oxygen flow). In addition, rooibos tea contains copper, potassium, and small doses of alpha hydroxy acid.
7. Helps with stomach problems
Most of the antioxidants found in rooibos tea are actually flavonoids. And one of them is extremely important for our stomach health: quercetin, an antioxidant than can relieve stomach ailments like cramps, spasms, indigestion, and diarrhea.
8. Bone health
I said that rooibos tea is actually rich in calcium and manganese. Combine that with some other fluoride minerals, and you have a potent combination that maintains good bone structure and helps prevent conditions like osteoporosis, chronic joint pain, and arthritis. Not to mention that manganese actually stimulates enzymes that repair damage and build new bones.
9. Improves sleep
One of the underrated rooibos tea benefits is the ability to improve your sleep. Drinking the tea encourages a restful sleep, mainly because of the magnesium. And unlike green tea and black tea, you can actually drink rooibos tea any time of the day, including before going to bed. In fact, I know many people who drink rooibos tea just before bedtime to battle insomnia.
10. Good for the skin
Last, but not least, rooibos tea is beneficial for your skin. It comes down to the zinc content and alpha hydroxy acid. Some people even apply red rooibos tea powder directly on the skin to battle acne, pimples, and sunburns. But going back to the acid, alpha hydroxy acid is something that is not found naturally in many foods and drinks. In the world of cosmetics, it’s a popular ingredient because it can reduce signs of premature aging.
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