(NaturalNews) Rooibos tea has been enjoyed for its taste and health benefits by generations of South Africans. A broom-like herb from the diverse mountain area near Cape Town; it is actually a legume rich in antioxidants and minerals. The international popularity of rooibos tea has been growing steadily since it was first exported a century ago, especially among the health conscious. These days, it's not uncommon to see rooibos tea and rooibos-based coffee drinks at your local coffee house or on the shelf at the local health food store.
Rooibos, "red bush" tea has many of the same benefits as other herbal teas:
• It contains polyphenols shown to have anti-carcinogenic, anti-mutagenic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral properties
• It is naturally caffeine-free so you can drink it before bedtime, which may help with insomnia
• It is low in tannins which allows easier assimilation of its minerals
• It has no oxalic acid, making it a great choice for kidney stone sufferers
• It has a variety of vitamins and minerals, as well as other phytonutrients
And, like some herbal teas:
• It can be given to infants, children, and pregnant and lactating women. Rooibos eases colic and stomach cramps as well as helping with hyperactivity or insomnia/promote sleep.
• It is a good source of antioxidants
• It is good for the skin due to its alpha hydroxyl acid and zinc content, and can be applied topically to ease acne, eczema, sunburn, etc.
Rooibos (pronounced roy-boss) is a flowering bush with reddish-brown stems and green, needle-shaped leaves. Two kinds of tea are made from it: red and green. Usually, the twigs are harvested, oxidized, and sun-dried. This brews into a hearty red color and has a naturally sweet taste, sometimes described as fruity or nutty. The green rooibos is more difficult to find. The process of making it is more involved, making it more expensive. It is not oxidized, has a mild, malty and slightly grassy taste, and twice the flavonoids.
Understanding the phytochemicals of nutrient-rich rooibos
As the popularity of rooibos grows, more and more people are taking note of its medicinal properties, sparking researchers to investigate its phytonutrients. Findings indicate rooibos to have more than 50 times more antioxidants than green tea as well as anti-viral, anti-spasmodic, anti-fungal, and anti-allergic properties. (http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/learn/rooibos.html)
Rooibos is a good source of essential and trace minerals as well, including: iron, magnesium, potassium, (organic) fluoride, copper, manganese, zinc, and vitamin C. However, it is the high antioxidant polyphenolic content that has scientists' attention, having been found to help prevent diabetic vascular complications and protect against cardiovascular disease, among other benefits.
Animal studies have shown that rooibos has anti-mutagenic, immune-modulating, and cancer protective activity due to its flavonoid content. They protect against genetic damage to cells and inhibit skin tumors. Two specific flavonoids found in rooibos, quercetin and luteolin, have known cancer fighting qualities. Scientists are evaluating the possibility that rooibos can activate an enzyme that gives protection against liver and colon cancer. Rooibos flavonoids are also credited with its bronchodilator effects and anti-inflammatory activity, explaining its usefulness at treating respiratory disorders, allergies, asthma, and other ailments. (http://www.vegetarian-nutrition.info/herbs/rooibos.php)
Rooibos contains aspalathin and nothofagin, two antioxidants found in few other food sources. Credited with reducing the aging of the brain (it prevents age-related accumulation of lipid oxidation), and preventing or inhibiting chronic and degenerative diseases, the biological activity of rooibos' antioxidants is clear. (http://www.naturalnews.com/031536_rooibos_tea_South_Africa.html)
Health benefits of rooibos phytonutrients
Like any superfood, the healthful biological effects of the phtyonutrients of rooibos translate to a whole host of benefits. You get the most benefit from drinking it. Studies are ongoing to verify its traditional uses and potential applications. One study of significance indicates that changes in production seasons and the quality grade effects the phenolic content and antioxidant activity (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22920220). No effect was noted on total polyphenol content.
Rooibos is also said to ease nervous tension, headaches, and digestive problems such as heartburn, indigestion, nausea, and constipation. Initial studies showing inhibition of xanthine oxidase suggests it could limit uric acid production, aiding in gout treatments. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rooibos)
• It is good for the cardiovascular system. It reduces heart disease through ACE inhibition, reduces lipid peroxidation, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. It also increases HDL cholesterol levels, compared with control groups, and lowers blood pressure.
• It strengthens bones and teeth
• It protects cell proteins, cell fats, and DNA
• It suppresses fasting glucose levels, and improves glucose uptake and insulin secretions after eating
• It aids in liver tissue regeneration
• It inhibits rotavirus infection
• It has no known side-effects
Many studies have been conducted on rooibos over the last few decades. They suggest that the potent antioxidant activity coupled with the phenolic compounds gives rooibos tea powerful phytochemical properties that are good for you and that show potential in medicinal application. Though scientists are still unlocking its potential, it is clear that rooibos tea is an excellent addition to any diet.
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