Hi all on this not so sunny day. I thought I might share a little information with you about hibiscus. I'm sure many of you are familiar with the beautiful flowers that are so prevalent in those countries with warmer climates than ours. The flowers can be used to make a tea with a distinct tart, cranberry-like flavour and bright red colour. This tea can be served hot or cold and in 2010 , an antioxidant analysis of three hundred different beverages was published, examining everything from Red Bull to red wine. Hibiscus tea won hands down even beating the oft-lauded green tea. Within an hour of consumption, the antioxidant power of your bloodstream shoots up, demonstrating that the antioxidant phytonutrients in the tea are absorbed into your system. It has been shown to lower cholesterol in fifty percent of those studied but where hibiscus really shines is its ability to reduce high blood pressure. The premier clinical trial randomised hundreds of men and women with elevated blood pressure into an "advice only" group or an active lifestyle group. The first group were given instruction to loose weight, reduce their salt intake, get more exercise and eat healthy food. The second group received the same instruction but also got face to face sessions, attended group meetings, kept food diaries and monitored their physical activity, calories, and sodium intake. Within six months, the second group achieved a four point drop in systolic blood pressure compared to the advice only group. This may not seem like a lot but on a population scale, a five point drop may lead to 14 percent fewer stroke deaths and 9 percent fewer fatal heart attacks. Meanwhile, in the study, a cup of hibiscus tea with each meal managed to lower the systolic blood pressure of those taking it by 6 points over the other groups.
Of course to lower blood pressure, you should still loose weight, reduce you salt intake, get more exercise and eat healthy food, but the evidence shows that adding hibiscus tea to your daily routine may offer an additional benefit, comparable even to that provided by antihypertensive drugs. Tested head to head against a leading blood pressure drug, two cups of strong hibiscus tea every morning ( using a total of five tea bags or equivalent in loose tea) was as effective in lowering blood pressure as a starting dose of the drug Captopril taken twice a day. The drug also has side effects including, rash, cough, taste impairment, and can, though extremely rare, cause fatal swelling of the throat. No side effects were reported for hibiscus tea, though it is very sour in taste and you would be advised to rinse your mouth with water after drinking to keep the natural acids in the tea from softening the enamel on your teeth. Also, given the extraordinary manganese content in hibiscus tea, it is recommended not to drink more than a litre a day. I prefer to buy my herbs loose and opposed to a tea bag. The quality is usually better. You can see exactly what you are getting and is usually cheaper. 500g of loose leaf hibiscus works out around €9.00. If anyone is interested in giving it a try there will be some available to purchase at the yoga studio.