The superfood with amazing flower power - here are 7 health benefits of Hibiscus.
What is Hibiscus?
The hibiscus plant is a flowering plant which grows in warm tropical regions throughout the world. Its beautiful and vibrant flowers bloom in many different colours and patterns, making them a popular outdoor garden plant.
Hibiscus flowers have also been shown to have a number of potent health benefits, being used for centuries in traditional medicine as a natural remedy for common ailments.
In the modern world, hibiscus is enjoyed as a herbal tea, nutritional supplement and powdered extract to make its health benefits enjoyable and accessible.
Nutritional Profile of Hibiscus
Like all superfoods, hibiscus flowers provide a spectrum of nutrients in very small portions - making them very nutrient-dense.
This means that a little goes a long way - so sipping a hibiscus tea or taking a hibiscus supplement each day is a great way to look after your overall health and wellness.
Here are some of the most beneficial nutrients found in hibiscus.
Antioxidants - Hibiscus is a potent source of antioxidants, which help to protect the body from damaging free radicals and oxidative stress. Free radical damage is the underlying mechanism which leads to a whole spectrum of health conditions and also accelerates the ageing process - so it is good to know that hibiscus can help to reduce this in small amounts daily.
Anthocyanins - Hibiscus flowers bloom in many different colours from pastel whites, pinks, oranges and yellows - to vivid reds, blues and purples. Like other plants which we eat, red, blue and purple hibiscus flowers are particularly beneficial to health as they’re a rich source of anthocyanins. Studies have shown that these compounds possess powerful antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as helping to prevent Diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Flavonoids & Carotenoids - Just like anthocyanins create deeper red, blue and purple hibiscus flowers, other compounds produce different colour variations. Two of these which are also known to have health benefits are flavonoids (which produce pale hibiscus flowers - like white and yellow) and carotenoids (which produce warmer coloured hibiscus flowers like orange and pink). Flavonoids and Carotenoids are polyphenols and phytonutrients renowned for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. Like anthocyanins, they're just one of the reasons why plants are so good for us.
Vitamin C - Perhaps the OG of essential nutrients, Vitamin C is the immune system’s best friend. Hibiscus is a great source of Vitamin C and can be used to help bolster the immune system, protecting us from the common cold and flu. Vit C is also essential for iron absorption, so drinking hibiscus tea before meals is a great way to maximise iron uptake from plant-based foods such as leafy greens.
Minerals - Both hibiscus tea and hibiscus extract contain a good source of essential minerals including calcium, magnesium and potassium.
- Caffeine-Free - Hibiscus is naturally caffeine free and so is a great alternative to black tea and green tea for pregnant women - or anyone looking to reduce their caffeine intake.
Health Benefits of Hibiscus
Hibiscus leaves, seeds, stems and flowers have been used for centuries for their health boosting benefits.
In traditional medicine, hibiscus flowers have been used to help regulate the menstrual cycle and treat a number of ailments including sore throats, inflammation, high blood pressure, digestive issues and heart disease.
These days, studies have confirmed that drinking hibiscus tea or consuming hibiscus supplements & powders has been shown to have a number of health benefits, as well as promoting overall wellness.
Here are 7 great reasons why your body loves hibiscus.
Fights inflammation - Hibiscus has been found to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties, helping to boost the immune system and reduce the risk of a number of conditions. As inflammation can contribute to many diseases including Alzheimer’s Disease, heart disease, Rheumatoid arthritis and cancer - eating more anti-inflammatory foods can help to lower inflammation and reduce the risk of these conditions developing.
High in protective antioxidants - Antioxidant activity in the body is measured by something called Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). The higher the ORAC score given to a food, the better its antioxidant activity. Hibiscus has one of the highest ORAC scores of commonly consumed foods at 6990. This can be compared with wild blueberries which have an ORAC score of 9621, and are thought to have the highest score of all commonly consumed foods. Antioxidants are one of the most beneficial nutrients for health, helping to protect the body from all kinds of damage at a cellular level. You can learn more about his in our blog post
🌱 Wild Blueberry: The ultimate antioxidant superfood
Promotes weight loss - Interestingly, hibiscus has been found to have a number of benefits for anyone trying to lose weight. For this reason, research has also found that supplementing the diet with hibiscus could help to reduce the risk of obesity. One study found that participants who consumed hibiscus had lower body weight and body fat following a controlled diet. However, these findings were based on using hibiscus extract - a more concentrated powder - rather than hibiscus tea.
Lowers cholesterol & Blood Pressure - Hibiscus has been found to have a multitude of benefits for heart health and the cardiovascular system. It has been shown to help balance cholesterol levels; increasing HDL cholesterol (the good kind) and reducing LDL cholesterol (the bad kind). Studies have also shown that hibiscus supplementation can help to lower blood pressure and improve triglyceride levels. Collectively, these effects can help to reduce the risk of hypertension, heart disease and cardiovascular disease.
Improves Digestive Health - Hibiscus is a rich source of calcium which is not only good for healthy teeth and bones but contributes to the normal function of digestive enzymes in the gut. Hibiscus is also an effective but gentle natural laxative and diuretic, helping to support regular bowel movements. Together with its high fibre content (around 33%) which supports the production of healthy gut bacteria, hibiscus can help your digestive system to thrive.
Supports Liver Health - The anti-inflammatory function of hibiscus has been shown to help repair liver damage and support liver health. Human studies have also showed the promising effects of hibiscus on repairing damage in the liver, helping to detoxify the body and manage symptoms of liver conditions such as fatty liver disease.
Naturally Boost Energy Levels - Hibiscus is a rich source of plant protein, iron and calcium - which each help to support efficient energy metabolism in the body. Enjoying hibiscus tea or extract can be a great way to boost your energy levels daily. What’s more, if you are sensitive to caffeine or just like to keep your intake low, hibiscus is a great alternative to coffee and other teas - providing an energy boost with zero caffeine.
It should be noted that most of the evidence surrounding the health benefits of hibiscus has been collected from studies which used hibiscus extract rather than hibiscus tea.
This is a much more concentrated supplement or powder which harnesses the goodness of the whole hibiscus flower, rather than steeping hibiscus in boiling water as with hibiscus tea.
Similar to the comparison between green tea which is steeped in bags, and matcha which is the finely ground whole leaf of green tea - hibiscus supplements, extracts and powders provide a much more potent source of nutrients.
If you’re interested in getting the maximum health benefits of hibiscus, you might like to seek out a hibiscus extract or supplement rather than simply drinking hibiscus tea.
Uses of Hibiscus
Now that we know all about this amazing flower and its potential to help improve your health, how can you enjoy it?
Interestingly, hibiscus can be eaten straight from the plant and also has a number of culinary uses including in jams, relishes and being used simply as a garnish.
However, to get the most out of hibiscus it is usually consumed as a herbal tea, powdered extract or within a nutritional supplement. Here are some common uses of hibiscus.
🌱 Hibiscus herbal tea
Hibiscus flowers are often dried and added to tea bags which are steeped in hot water to create a herbal tea.
The most common species of hibiscus used to make herbal tea is Hibiscus Sabdariffa (also known as Roselle). Roselle has a deep crimson colour and tart, cranberry-like flavour.
Hibiscus tea can be enjoyed hot or brewed and cooled to make a delicious hibiscus iced tea - which tastes very much like cranberry juice. If you're not keen on the tart flavour, a little natural sweetener or maple syrup can be added.
🌱 Hibiscus supplements
Due to its amazing nutritional profile and associated health benefits, hibiscus is often used to make nutritional supplements - or is added to supplements alongside other ingredients.
Hibiscus can be commonly found in supplements which are used as natural laxatives, weight loss remedies, diuretics and to lower blood pressure. It is also increasingly found in products designed to help with female hormonal balance.
When choosing a quality hibiscus supplement there are a few important considerations to make:
- Is the hibiscus Organic?
- Is the hibiscus dose high enough to warrant benefits?
- Which species of hibiscus is used?
- What other ingredients are there?
This will help you to choose the best quality supplement and enjoy the optimal effects of hibiscus, without any hidden extras you don't want.
🌱 Hibiscus extract & powder
As with black tea and green tea, steeping hibiscus tea in hot water may provide some health benefits but not as many as if you were to consume the whole hibiscus flower.
Hibiscus extract and powder can harness the nutrients of the whole hibiscus flower for maximum health benefits. The hibiscus us usually air-dried before being finely ground to create a powder which can be added to meals and drinks.
Unlike hibiscus supplements, this means you can enjoy 100% natural hibiscus and nothing else. This also means there is no need for a capsule which restricts how much hibiscus can be added. Capsules can also make supplements such as hibiscus harder to absorb.
As with all superfood powders, watch out for hidden ingredients such as added sugar, sweeteners, artificial ingredients and preservatives. Instead, opt for 100% hibiscus.
Rheal Superfood Balance Tonic with Organic Hibiscus 🌸
Balance Tonic is a superfood blend of Organic hibiscus with wild blueberry, baobab, ashwagandha root, shatavari root and maca root. It is our chosen blend to help you destress, unwind and regain your inner balance.
We use organic Hibiscus Sabdariffa (also known as Roselle), a species of Hibiscus which is cultivated mainly for consumption thanks to its many health benefits. Roselle’s deep red colour is produced by healthful anthocyanins, which have been found to be plentiful in this particular species.
How is Rheal Hibiscus Powder Made?
The hibiscus calyx (commonly known as the flower) has its core removed, leaving the outer-part which is air-dried to lock in its goodness. This is then sieved before being ground to a fine powder.
Our hibiscus is harvested and prepared in Egypt, creating a sustainable income for over 100 rural households - so it doesn't just boost your own wellbeing but also the wellbeing of these local communities.
Back here in the UK, the Organic hibiscus powder is blended with five other nutrient-dense superfoods, each chosen for their calming and balancing properties - to create Rheal Balance Tonic.
How to Enjoy Rheal Balance Tonic
Adding a scoop of Balance Tonic to any meal or drink is a great way to enjoy the benefits of Hibiscus together with five other health optimising superfoods in a convenient powder, with no brewing required.
You can mix Balance Tonic into water, juice, plant-based milk and smoothies - or sprinkle over yoghurt, oats and cereal.
Balance Tonic is ideal for adding boost of colour, flavour and nutrients to healthy recipes - here are some of our favourite Balance Tonic recipes for some inspiration.