If you have yet to sample the pleasures of the South African herbal beverage known as rooibos (Aspalanthus linearis) it might be time to give it a whirl.
Rooibos is also known as redbush, for the distinctive red color of the needle like leaves and the deep color of the finished beverage. This caffeine free “tea” has soared in popularity in recent years and a wide range of potential health benefits have been attributed to it.
Though widely praised for these various and sundry health benefits, actual research on the rooibos/health connection has lagged considerably behind that of real tea. In 2008, the results of a groundbreaking study that claimed to be “the first-ever human clinical trial” on rooibos were released.
The study took a look at rooibos to see whether the beverage might help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. The trial was conducted by researchers at the Oxidative Stress Research Centre at Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Cape Town, South Africa.
Research was carried on 40 men and women aged 30 to 60, with two or more of these cardiovascular disease risk factors: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, and/or increased body mass index. Study participants drank six cups of rooibos daily for a period of six weeks.
Results from the study indicated that rooibos protects against oxidative damage, as evidenced by a 21% decrease in conjugated dienes in the blood. Conjugated dienes are formed in large numbers during the early stages of oxidation of cellular components like fats. As researchers noted, the beneficial antioxidant chemicals in rooibos, black and green tea, and chocolate are called flavonoids and those in tea and chocolate differ somewhat from those found in rooibos.
Readers seeking more information on historic and scientific publications about rooibos can look to a summary published in the American Botanical Council’s quarterly journal, HerbalGram (issue #59) in 2003.
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