Rooibos tea (also called red tea or African red tea) is harvested from the South African red bush plant. This traditional, caffeine-free tea has a ruddy, sweet taste that is great for adults and children alike. It has gained an appreciation among tea lovers in recent years for its delicious flavor. I personally love making a rooibos chai tea mix, and it can be used in many delightful recipes, such as this Rooibos Poached Pear recipe.
But it has also gotten a lot of attention from researchers, who have been testing its health promoting elements. While human studies are scarce, these animal studies are all promising signs that this traditional tea is a great addition to a healthy diet.
Rooibos and antioxidants
Like the antioxidant-rich teas from the tea plant that produce black, green, and oolongs teas, rooibos has also been found to be rich in antioxidants. In general, antioxidants are an important part to our diet as they help protect our healthy cells from free radicals damage. This can help in the fight against a variety of diseases, including cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
Rooibos is anti-inflammatory
Because of the high antioxidant levels, rooibos is also anti-inflammatory. A study concluded that rooibos could help prevent DNA damage and inflammation, both of which are linked to a wide variety of diseases. Rooibos is thought to be an especially helpful brew for children because it is caffeine-free.
Protecting the brain from stress with rooibos
Because constant psychological stress could increase free radicals, which leads to oxidative damage, which then leads to many neurodegenerative diseases, fighting against free radicals is good preventative care. In one study, it was concluded that rooibos tea, because of its high amount of antioxidants, had the ability to reverse many of the physical negative effects of stress on the body and brain.
Rooibos and metabolic disturbances
Because of the increasing rates of obesity and related metabolic issues, plant-derived polyphenols are being researched in the fight against these ever pressing problems. Using the polyphenol content of rooibos, research found that it didn’t have any major effects on mice that were healthy, but that is had significant effect in mice suffering from metabolic disturbances. It reduced serum cholesterol, triglyceride and free fatty acid concentrations. It changed the size of their fat cells, reduced fat in their blood stream, and prevented dietary-caused fatty liver. These are all exciting benefits! The study concludes that plant polyphenols, like those from the rooibos, could be helpful in the management of metabolic disturbances in humans as well.
Rooibos helps with preventing diabetic complications
Related, while rooibos wasn’t found to directly help glucose levels, it was found to be very helpful in combating oxidative stress that leads to diabetic vascular complications and eye issues. And as such, the researchers concluded that recommending rooibos tea to those struggling with diabetes was sound advice.
Rooibos could help protect male fertility
Once again, because of the antioxidant levels in rooibos, research suggests that it has a sperm protecting ability. In an animal study, rats who were given both red and green rooibos tea were found to have higher sperm counts than those without it. It was concluded that rooibos could help with having healthy sperm and higher sperm counts.
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