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Hibiscus - More than just a pretty flower!

I always want to share my favorite finds with you and this week it’s Hibiscus Tea for sure. Whenever I go to Hawaii, I enjoy the hibiscus flower so much but I had no idea what an ally it could be for women who are in peri-menopause and menopause. Let me share my findings with you.

The deep ruby hues of this beautiful flower lend itself to create a very inviting tea. Its cranberry-like flavor has a natural sweetness and slightly sour aftertaste making for a wonderfully refreshing drink over ice, on a hot summer day.

Historically, hibiscus was a beverage of Pharaohs in Egypt. It also has a long history in China, Mexico, the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe.

After doing some research, I was excited to find that hibiscus tea, in it’s purest form, has a wide range of health benefits, but especially for women in peri-menopause and menopause.

When purchasing, be sure to check the labels as some store-bought varieties of hibiscus tea, also known as “jamaica” in Mexico and Central America—pronounced “ha-mye-kah”—may have added sweeteners. You should avoid those.

As always, in order to get the most benefits out of hibiscus tea, seek out sources for organic or spray-free hibiscus products. You can purchase the whole dried flower from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Hibiscus tea, otherwise known as “sour tea” in Iran and other areas of western Asia, can be traced back to ancient Angola. As the process of globalization took hold, it began to spread throughout the rest of the world, with Egyptians prizing it for its ability to maintain normal body temperature and encourage fluid balance. In other North African countries, the tea has been used for supporting upper respiratory health and to promote healthy skin. In Europe, hibiscus is often turned to for promoting circulation and alleviating constipation and fever.

The Top 10 Health Benefits of Hibiscus

1. Promotes lowering effects on blood pressure. Recent scientific evidence is pointing towards hibiscus as a powerful tool for improving heart health. Studies show that daily consumption of hibiscus tea may benefit people with high blood pressure. Research indicates that hibiscus may be a beneficial drink for those with mildly high blood pressure, hypertension, or type 2 diabetes.

2. Lowers cholesterol. The high concentrations of antioxidants in hibiscus make it effective in lowering blood pressure and a powerful tool for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Studies have shown that regular consumption of hibiscus can help to lower levels of LDL cholesterol—also known as the “bad” cholesterol. It thereby improves the ratio of HDL—or the "healthy”  cholesterol—to LDL cholesterol in the body and helps to protect against heart disease and blood vessel damage. That’s a win.

In 2010, researchers conducted a study that also determined that regular consumption of hibiscus resulted in a measurable improvement in insulin sensitivity.

3. Protects the liver. Hibiscus is very high in antioxidants and a great source of vitamin C. This is good news for your liver. These days, chronic exposure to both toxins means most people’s livers are struggling. A study published in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology indicated that the antioxidant anthocyanins in hibiscus had an anti-inflammatory effect on liver lesions in rats, along with reduced oxidative damage. It suggests that drinking hibiscus can significantly lower your risk of liver disease, and also help in its fight against toxins.

4. Relieves anxiety and depression. The healing abilities of hibiscus extend to the nervous system. A 2012 study found that the flavonoids and antioxidants in hibiscus act as an antidepressant. Drinking hibiscus has a positive effect on your brain and helps to manage mood swings. That’s good news to any menopausal woman.

5. Relieves menstrual pain and painful periods. This is because it is an anti-inflammatory and also because of the high level of flavonoids and antioxidants in hibiscus.

6. Helps maintain a healthy weight. Due to the fact that this herbal tea lowers the body absorption of starch and glucose, it makes it a perfect match as an aid to weight loss.

7. Aids digestion. The tart taste of hibiscus serves to quench thirst, balance the body’s pH, and serve as a diuretic that helps support kidney and intestinal function, keep the body cool, and promote healthy digestion.

8. Protects against cancer. By neutralizing free radicals, this powerful tea is able to slow the growth of cancer cells by a process called apoptosis that eliminates toxins from the body.

9. Antibacterial properties. The tannins and phenols in hibiscus make it a powerful antibacterial and studies show these properties to be beneficial in aiding with everything from salmonella to the elimination of parasites. Parasites can be a culprit in hormone imbalances.

10. Prevents hair loss and promotes hormone balance. Used as a hair growth tonic in India, studies show that hibiscus stimulates the cycle of hair growth and is beneficial in balancing hormones.

This summer I am definitely making a regular jar of hibiscus sun tea on the back deck. Enjoy this amazing flower as an iced tea or a hot beverage.

Keep in touch with me on Facebook and let me know what healthy things you are doing this summer. I’d love to hear all about it.

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