Foods—fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, and fish—are a significant part of a healthy diet. Beverages, too, play an important role in health. Red wine, for example, contains resveratrol, a potent antioxidant. Natural fruit and vegetable juices are also an easy way to get important nutrients in your body. And let’s not forget about the most important beverage of all—water, which is required for survival.

Tea is another healthy drink option that contains antioxidants. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in green tea has many health benefits: It upregulates genes that block cancer, enhances cognition, improves cardiovascular health, protects the liver (a major detoxifying organ), and promotes weight loss. Other healthy teas include oolong, black, and white tea—all of which have been shown to prevent disease and improve pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes and even cancer, due to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Studies also show that you can add hibiscus tea to your list of must-have healthy drinks.

Why is hibiscus tea good for you?

A study published in Nutrition Journal examined the antioxidant strength of over 3,100 foods, beverages, and supplements.1 Of the 283 beverages analyzed, the researchers found hibiscus tea to reign supreme, beating out the well-known, highly popular green tea (which is still a good and healthy tea option). Since hibiscus tea is a powerful antioxidant, it’s a highly ranked beverage choice where battling free radicals is of concern. The brightly colored plant is indigenous to tropical and subtropical regions such as China, Thailand, and Mexico, to name a few.

Studies underscore the positive health benefits of hibiscus tea: (1) Tufts University researchers conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled study2 in which all adults diagnosed with prehypertension or mild hypertension received either hibiscus tea or placebo tea. At the end of the study, the adults who received the hibiscus tea had a lower systolic blood pressure compared to the placebo group. (2) Another study examined the effects of hibiscus extract powder on people with and without metabolic syndrome—a condition marked by high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, low levels of HDL (good cholesterol), obesity, and insulin resistance (elevated blood sugar levels).3 The researchers concluded that hibiscus extract powder greatly improved the condition of individuals with metabolic syndrome by improving glucose, cholesterol, and fat levels.

The next time that you’re out shopping for tea leaves, don’t forget to add hibiscus tea to your list. Be sure the package says that you’re getting 100% hibiscus; if it’s a combination tea, make sure hibiscus is listed as the first ingredient. As you prepare your hibiscus tea (or any tea for that matter), don’t counteract the salubrious, antioxidant effects of the tea leaves by using artificial sweeteners or white sugar; instead, sweeten your tea with agave or honey. Enjoy!

Carlsen MH, Halvorsen BL, Holte K, et al. The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide.Nutr J. 2010;9(3):1-11.
McKay DL, Chen C-YO, Saltzman E, Blumberg JB. Hibiscus Sabdariffa L. Tea (Tisane) Lowers Blood Pressure in Prehypertensive and Mildly Hypertensive Adults.The Journal of Nutrition. February 1, 2010 2010;140(2):298-303.
Gurrola-Díaz C, García-López P, Sánchez-Enríquez S, Troyo-Sanromán R, Andrade-González I, Gómez-Leyva J. Effects of< i> Hibiscus sabdariffa</i> extract powder and preventive treatment (diet) on the lipid profiles of patients with metabolic syndrome (MeSy).Phytomedicine.2010;17(7):500-505.