Nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. Unfortunately, many of them are unaware they have it or of the damage that it can cause. High blood pressure is often called “the silent killer”, because it usually has no symptoms. Left untreated, high blood pressure leads to possible heart attack, stroke, and other health problems.
Checking your blood pressure regularly is necessary to avoid these risks. A healthy diet and lifestyle go a long way to keeping your blood pressure in the normal range, but even the healthiest people can be affected. If your blood pressure is regularly above 120/80 you should pay attention, and above 130/90 is considered high blood pressure. Blood pressure over 180/120 is considered a hypertensive crisis and needs immediate medical attention.
Everyone should commit to keeping blood pressure in a healthy range. This includes a healthy lifestyle and possibly herbs that help keep blood pressure low. Sour Tea, made with Hibiscus sabdariffa, can be a good component of your plan to avoid high blood pressure or bring down blood pressure that is already too high.
What Is Sour Tea?
Hibiscus tea, also known as sour tea, is made with the dried hibiscus flower. The flavor of is tart and fruity and it is delicious either hot or cold.
If you need to balance the tartness, you can sweeten it with a little honey, maple syrup, stevia, agave, or other natural sweetener.
If you don’t like the flavor of hibiscus tea, you can also use an herbal blend that contains hibiscus. I enjoy a blend of hibiscus, rose hips, orange, and other fruit flavors. It is flavorful, slightly sweet and mildly tart. The blend is rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and anti-inflammatories.
Where Is the Evidence of Hibiscus Tea Benefits?
A scientific study published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that three cups of hibiscus tea daily lowers blood pressure. Participants who drank the tea for six weeks saw a reduction in blood pressure equivalent to a popular blood pressure drug.
While hibiscus tea alone may not be enough for severe cases of hypertension, it can be a solution for patients experiencing a mild elevation of blood pressure. Patients who need a large reduction in blood pressure can use it in conjunction with other herbs or drugs. Check with your doctor for advice.
Other Health Benefits of Hibiscus Tea
There is scientific evidence that Hibiscus tea has additional health benefits, especially for the heart and liver. It is beneficial for diabetics and in fat metabolism.
Here are some of the documented benefits of Hibiscus Tea:
- Hibiscus tea helps lower blood pressure
- It is packed with antioxidants that prevent free radical damage to the cells
- Lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, known factors in heart disease
- Promotes a healthy liver and helps in detoxification
- Promotes weight loss
- May reduce the growth and spread of cancer cells
- Hibiscus tea has antibacterial and antiviral effects
- The tea is calming and helps reduce depression and anxiety
- Improves digestion
- Boosts the immune system
- Helps the skin heal.
Hibiscus tea is caffeine free, so you can drink as much as you like with no worries. In my opinion, the best reason to drink Hibiscus Tea is the delicious and refreshing flavor. The health benefits are a wonderful bonus.
Side Effects of Hibiscus Tea
Hibiscus tea is safe for consumption, but it does have some effects on the menstrual cycle. Because of this, it is probably best that pregnant women, and those looking to become pregnant, avoid it. It is mildly diuretic. Discuss your herbal use with your doctor if you are taking prescription medicines.
How to Make Hibiscus Tea
To make a pitcher of Hibiscus Tea, I use ½ cup of dried hibiscus petals or 2 cups of loosely packed fresh petals. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil, turn off the heat and add the hibiscus petals.
Let the tea steep for 10 to 15. Strain the tea, sweeten as desired, and drink hot or iced.
For 1 cup of Hibiscus Tea, brew 2 teaspoons of dried hibiscus petals in 8 ounces of boiling water. Steep for 5 minutes, strain, and enjoy. Longer steeping times yield a more intense flavor.
Many people enjoy adding a cinnamon stick to the tea while it brews. I enjoy a squeeze of lemon or lime, and sometimes a few mint leaves.
Grow Your Own Hibiscus
Hibiscus shrubs grow in USDA Zones 4 through 11. They prefer warm weather and only a few varieties can survive in the colder zones. However, they can also be grown indoors. There are over 200 species of hibiscus, but Hibiscus sabdariffa is the variety that has been studied.
To harvest hibiscus petals for use in Hibiscus Tea, pick the flowers in the morning when the flowers are newly opened. Remove the petals from the rest of the flower and use the fresh petals for making tea, or dry them in a dehydrator for future use.
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