From caring for your heart to boosting your bones, make rooibos your go-to herbal tea, pronto!
There’s never been a better time to pop the kettle on and enjoy a cuppa as a new analysis reviewing research studies from the last 20 years and the largest data review of its kind by the Tea Advisory Panel, reveals that 4 -6 cups of rooibos tea a day could provide a wealth of surprising health benefits.
The centuries-old herbal infusion, otherwise known as red bush tea, originates from South Africa yet is now a popular caffeine-free tea all around the world. And for good reason! It appears to have not only been used in South Africa for pleasure, but also for medicinal purposes.
Tea chemist and scientist Dr Tim Bond explains that for the best health results, stagger the 4-6 cups of herbal goodness over the course of the day and be sure to brew for at least 10 minutes to really reap the benefits below.
1. May stave off mental decline
The fascinating new study found that increasing levels of rooibos tea lead to spatial memory improvements, proving that this age-old tea could contribute to brain function. Dr Tim Bond explains: “We know that cognitive decline now can start in your forties, so it’s not a sharp decline. The more we can do to maintain the signalling responses in the brain, the better it’s going to be for cognitive function to maintain memories, process facts and figures and ensure awareness of your surroundings.”
He adds that rooibos tea could reduce the likelihood of brain function decline. “These are early days but we do know there is an impact here so we need some longer trials.”
2. Improved blood glucose control
Good news for diabetics. Rooibos tea contains a range of antioxidants including aspalathin, which may help to reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Plus, Dr Tim Bond explains that in the recent study by The Tea Advisory panel, fasting blood glucose was more stable in the instances that rooibos was consumed.
Explaining a little about fasting glucose, he adds: “We need sugars; they’re part of our metabolism, but excess sugar means the spike in blood glucose triggers insulin production which helps shunt the sugars off to be stored. An indication in how resistance the body is to insulin and insulin spikes, is fasting blood glucose.”
3. Could aid fertility
Planning a baby? Well, there’s promising news. The study found that consuming rooibos tea lead to elevated levels of sperm mobility. Dr Tim Bond explains that “of note, the Rooibos Tea studies reviewed sperm motion/motility which has a number of parameters including velocity, straightness and ‘wobble’.”
He adds: “Any impact on sperm function whether it’s motility or velocity has the chance to impact positively on male fertility.’
4. Give your heart a hand
We know the importance of maintaining our cardiovascular health, and there’s never been an easier way to ensure our ticker stays in good shape! Dr Tim Bond reveals that the recent rooibos studies proved a link between drinking rooibos tea daily for six weeks and a reduction in ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol as well as an increase in ‘good’ HDL cholesterol.
He adds that there is also evidence to show that rooibos helps protect body cells from oxidative damage. “The explanation for these effects is that rooibos tea contains a diverse range of phenolics including two unique polyphenols, aspalathin and nothofagin, which have a particularly strong anti-oxidative activity.”
5. Kickstart weight loss
Of course, there’s no replacement for a healthy diet and plenty of movement when it comes to losing weight, but rooibos could provide some extra support. Research has found that it contains a compound called aspalathin, which in laboratory studies, was shown to reduce fat, boost fat metabolism and block fat cell formation. Plus, as rooibos is naturally sweet, little to no sugar or sweetener is needed, allowing for a delicious calorie-free drink, which will curb a sweet tooth!
6. Post-workout recovery
If you’re nursing some exercise-induced aches and pains, including red bush tea in your daily diet could help make things a little more, well, comfortable.
It’s all thanks to the tea’s anti-inflammatory effect, brought about by those handy polyphenols. Dr Tim Bond explains that “anti-oxidants interfere with free radicals and stop these free radicals going on to do damage.”
7. Boost bone health
It’s important to ensure our bones stay strong. For women, in particular, the menopause can weaken bones thanks to hormonal changes. But rooibos tea may well provide a helping hand when it comes to bone health. The antioxidants it provides are shown to stimulate bone density, plus the tea itself contains essential bone-strengthening minerals including potassium, calcium and magnesium.
Dr Tim Bond