Rooibos Tea Benefits Weight Loss, Plus 9 Other Reasons to Drink It
By: Emily Mahler
March 16, 2020
- The benefits of rooibos tea include soothing an upset stomach, promoting better sleep and adding a delicious dose of antioxidants to your diet.
- Native to South Africa, rooibos has been used to relieve eczema, allergies, babies with colic and insomnia for hundreds of years.
- Keep reading to learn about the benefits of this low-tannin, caffeine-free tea.
Introducing rooibos (pronounced “ROY-boss”), one of the hottest teas to drink right now.
An herbal tea from South Africa, rooibos is a delicious, caffeine-free way to upgrade your tea habit. While other teas have an acquired taste, rooibos tea has a sweet, mild flavor profile with notes of honey and vanilla. The red beverage is one of the most palate-pleasing types of tea. In addition to the flavor, the tea is packed with health benefits that will earn it a space in your morning (or evening) routine.
For centuries, South Africans have turned to rooibos as a medicinal aid. It is used as a natural remedy to settle stomach upset, relieve eczema, reduce skin allergies, promote better sleep and soothe infant colic.
Its anti-inflammatory powers and antioxidant content also show promise in helping to protect against many diseases, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Rooibos tea may even help with weight loss.
Read on to learn more about the benefits of rooibos tea and how to brew it.
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What is rooibos tea and what does it taste like?
Rooibos tea comes from the shrub aspalathus linearis, and isn’t actually a true tea — it’s an herb with long, needle-like leaves. When it is harvested and dried, rooibos is brewed into a reddish-brown, caffeine-free, herbal infusion also known as African red tea or red bush tea. The plant is cut by hand and then bruised to encourage oxidation, which generates the rich color and flavor. As it oxidizes, rooibos becomes redder and sweeter.
It has a mild, aromatic taste that is sweet and fruity with hints of vanilla and honey. You can drink it just as you would black or green tea — plain, with lemon and sweetener, as a creamy latte or with butter as a caffeine-free substitute for Bulletproof Coffee.
In the late 1990s, tea distributors began offering green rooibos tea, a less oxidized type of rooibos. This green version has double the number of antioxidants than red rooibos and offers a more mineral, grassy flavor.
The benefits of rooibos tea
Boosts antioxidant levels in the body
Rooibos gives you a delicious dose of antioxidants. Antioxidants clean up the harmful free radicals that can damage cells and cause cancer, curbing cellular damage and inflammation.
Research shows that drinking rooibos tea helps regulate glutathione metabolism in the body.[https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3897768/] More powerful than any other antioxidant, glutathione has been shown to protect against inflammation, toxins, free radicals and pathogens. Think of it as your body’s own natural detoxifier.
May improve blood pressure and circulation
Inflammation is a key player in the role of heart disease. A study involving 17 healthy volunteers took a look at the effects that different teas had on angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), an enzyme located in the inner layer of blood vessels that causes blood vessels to shrink, thus increasing blood pressure. The study found that one hour after people drank 13.5 ounces of rooibos tea, ACE levels went down, lowering participants’ blood pressure.
Promotes healthy cholesterol
Another study over a six-week period showed that drinking six cups of rooibos tea daily significantly increased levels of polyphenols. These are plant compounds with vital antioxidant properties which increase HDL cholesterol. HDL cholesterol repairs the walls of your blood vessels and acts as a scavenger. It collects idle or unused LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream and routes it back to your liver for dispatch. This study showed participants’ LDL markers went down, potentially because the HDL was doing such a great job.
Supports hair growth and healthy skin
The benefits of rooibos tea go beyond drinking it. When an independent laboratory tested a 10% rooibos tea extract on the scalps of volunteers experiencing hair loss, 78% of them saw an improvement and 45% of the volunteers saw hair regrowth.
Rooibos extract is also recommended to use on the skin for its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and soothing properties.
Studies have shown that rooibos tea is pro-apoptotic and anti-proliferative on skin cancer cells in vitro and on mouse skin. Translation: It helped destroy cancer cells and keep them from spreading in test tubes and in animal studies. More research on humans is needed to know for sure.
Aids in weight loss
Low calorie and naturally sweet, with the help of the antioxidants and balancing blood sugar, rooibos tea can be a great addition to your beverage choices while trying to lose weight.
Research suggests that aspalathin, an active ingredient in rooibos tea, helps reduce stress hormones that trigger hunger and fat storage, which is also linked to heart disease, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Data from this study showed that rooibos tea has the potential for preventing obesity by affecting the balance of energy and how it’s used as energy or stored as fat.
To get the most out of aspalathin, choose green rooibos over red.
May help prevent diabetes
Researchers studied the effect of antioxidants aspalathin and nothofagin on inflammation caused by high blood sugar and found that it lowered inflammation in the vascular system (aka arteries and blood vessels). People with diabetes tend to have chronic underlying inflammation that affects insulin’s function and contributes to the disease. Reducing inflammation may therefore provide major benefits in the treatment of diabetes and diabetic complications.
Another study in type 2 diabetic mice found that aspalathin helped balance blood sugar by stimulating the glucose uptake in muscle tissues. Mice aren’t tiny humans, but these properties speak to the healthful potential of rooibos tea.
In a study using rabbits and mice, results showed that rooibos tea benefits the digestive system by reducing loose stools, calming muscle spasms in the stomach and decreasing gastric secretions. The presence of flavonoids such as quercetin, luteolin and others are thought to be the reasons for the beneficial effects on the GI system.
Calms colicky babies
In 1968, Annetjie Theron was a South African mother who was struggling with a colicky infant. She discovered that a rooibos tea infusion calmed her baby of chronic colic and allergies. She studied the benefits of rooibos tea and eventually went on to create her own products using Rooibos extract.
May help prevent cancer
While the development of cancer is a complex process, it has been well established that oxidative damage, generally associated with free radicals, is responsible for cancer development. Quercetin and luteolin are two flavonoids found in rooibos tea that have been studied on pancreatic tumor cells, showing they suppress tumor growth and promote cancer cell death.
Boosts bone health
The variety of polyphenols in rooibos tea has been shown to improve osteoblast activity (aka cells that develop bones).
The flavonoids orientin and luteolin were specifically studied on bone cells and showed an increased level of bone growth and mitochondrial activity. These flavonoids enhanced the mineral content of the bone cells used in the study, suggesting that rooibos tea had an overall improvement in bone growth.
Rooibos tea side effects
Rooibos has multiple benefits, but as with anything you add to your diet, some people can experience side effects. Be mindful of how you feel after adding rooibos to your diet. If you’re concerned, consult your doctor before using rooibos regularly.
How to make rooibos tea
- 1 tsp. or tea bag of rooibos tea
- 8 oz. water
- Boil your water and pour over the tea. Infuse for 5-15 minutes, covered.
- Add a sweetener such as raw honey or stevia to taste.
More than just a caffeine-free way to hydrate, rooibos tea delivers a long list of health benefits in every sip. Its antioxidant powers, anti-inflammatory features and other healthful properties make a cup of warm, naturally flavorful rooibos tea something you should add to your daily routine.
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This is an updated version of an article originally published August 2018.