Rooibos tea is becoming popular as a tasty and healthy beverage.
It has been consumed in southern Africa for centuries and has become a popular drink all over the world.
It's a tasty, caffeine-free substitute for black and green tea.
Furthermore, proponents tout rooibos' potential health benefits, claiming that its antioxidants can help prevent cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
However, you may be wondering whether these advantages are supported by evidence.
This article investigates the health benefits and potential side effects of rooibos tea.
What Exactly Is Rooibos Tea?
Red tea or red bush tea are other names for Rooibos tea.
It is made from the leaves of a shrub called Aspalathus linearis, which is commonly found on South Africa's western coast (1).
Rooibos is a type of herbal tea that is unrelated to green or black tea.
Traditional rooibos is made by fermenting the leaves, which causes them to turn a red-brown colour.
There is also green rooibos, which has not been fermented. It is typically more expensive and has a grassier flavour than traditional tea, but it also contains more antioxidants (2, 3).
Rooibos tea is typically consumed in the same way that black tea is. Some people add milk and sugar, and rooibos iced tea, espressos, lattes, and cappuccinos have all gained popularity.
Contrary to some claims, rooibos tea is not a good source of vitamins or minerals — aside from copper and fluoride (4).
It does, however, contain potent antioxidants, which may provide health benefits.
Rooibos tea is a traditional South African beverage made from the leaves of a shrub. It is consumed in the same manner as black tea and contains numerous antioxidants.
1. Tannin-free and free of caffeine and oxalic acid
Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant found in both black and green tea.
Caffeine consumption in moderation is generally safe.
It may even improve exercise performance, concentration, and mood (5).
Excessive consumption, on the other hand, has been linked to heart palpitations, increased anxiety, sleep problems, and headaches (5).
As a result, some people choose to avoid or limit their caffeine intake.
Because rooibos tea is caffeine-free by nature, it is an excellent substitute for black or green tea (6).
Rooibos also contains less tannin than black or green tea.
Tannins, which are naturally occurring compounds in green and black tea, interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients, such as iron.
Finally, unlike black tea and, to a lesser extent, green tea, red rooibos contains no oxalic acid.
Consuming a lot of oxalic acid raises your chances of getting kidney stones, so rooibos is a good option for anyone who has kidney problems.
Compared to black or green tea, rooibos contains fewer tannins and is free of caffeine and oxalic acid.
2. High in Antioxidants
Rooibos is associated with health benefits due to its high levels of antioxidants, such as aspalathin and quercetin (7, 8).
Antioxidants may help protect cells from free radical damage.
In the long run, their effects may lower your risk of illnesses like heart disease and cancer (9).
There is some evidence that rooibos tea can boost your body's antioxidant levels.
However, any increase that has been documented has been minor and has not lasted long.
In one 15-person study, participants' blood antioxidant levels increased by 2.9 percent when they drank red rooibos and 6.6 percent when they drank green rooibos.
After drinking 17 ounces (500 ml) of tea containing 750 mg of rooibos leaves, the participants experienced a five-hour increase in energy (10).
Another study of 12 healthy men found that rooibos tea had no effect on blood antioxidant levels when compared to a placebo (11).
This could be because the antioxidants in rooibos are short-lived or poorly absorbed by your body (11, 12).
Rooibos tea is high in antioxidants, which promote good health. These antioxidants, however, may be unstable or inefficiently absorbed by your body.
3. May Improve Heart Health
Antioxidants found in rooibos have been linked to a healthier heart (13).
This could happen in a variety of ways (14).
First, drinking rooibos tea may lower blood pressure by inhibiting angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) (14).
ACE indirectly raises blood pressure by constricting your blood vessels.
Drinking rooibos tea 30–60 minutes after ingestion inhibited ACE activity in a study of 17 people (15).
This, however, did not result in any changes in blood pressure.
There is more evidence that tea can help lower cholesterol levels.
Six cups of rooibos tea daily for six weeks decreased "bad" LDL cholesterol while increasing "good" HDL cholesterol in a study of 40 overweight adults at high risk of heart disease (16).
The same effect, however, was not observed in healthy people.
Healthy cholesterol levels provide additional protection against a variety of heart conditions, such as heart attacks and strokes.
Rooibos tea may improve heart health by lowering blood pressure. In those at risk of heart disease, it may also lower "bad" LDL cholesterol while increasing "good" HDL cholesterol.
4. May Lower Cancer Risk
According to test-tube studies, the antioxidants quercetin and luteolin found in rooibos tea can kill cancer cells and prevent tumour growth (17, 18).
The amount of quercetin and luteolin in a cup of tea, on the other hand, is very small. Many fruits and vegetables are far more nutritious.
As a result, it's unclear whether rooibos contains enough of these two antioxidants, and whether they're absorbed efficiently enough by your body to be beneficial.
Keep in mind that more research on rooibos and cancer is required.
In test tubes, certain antioxidants in rooibos tea have been shown to kill cancer cells and prevent tumour growth. However, no human studies have been conducted to confirm these effects.
5. Could Help People with Type 2 Diabetes
Rooibos tea is the only known natural source of the antioxidant aspalathin, which has been linked to anti-diabetic effects in animal studies (19).
According to one study in mice with type 2 diabetes, aspalathin balanced blood sugar levels and reduced insulin resistance, which could be beneficial for people who have or are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes (20).
Human studies, on the other hand, are required.
Animal research indicates that specific antioxidants found in rooibos tea can help balance blood sugar and improve insulin resistance. Human research, on the other hand, is required.
The health benefits of rooibos tea vary greatly. However, there is a scarcity of evidence to back up many of them. Unverified advantages include:
- Bone health: There is little evidence linking rooibos consumption to improved bone health, and specific studies are scarce (21).
- Improved digestion: The tea is frequently promoted as a way to alleviate digestive issues. However, the evidence for this is flimsy.
- Others: Despite anecdotal evidence, there is no strong evidence that rooibos can help with sleep issues, allergies, headaches, or colic.
Of course, a lack of evidence does not necessarily imply that these claims are false; rather, they have not been thoroughly investigated.
At the moment, there is no convincing evidence that rooibos tea improves bone health, digestion, sleep, allergies, headaches, or colic.
Possible Adverse Effects
In general, rooibos is completely safe.
Although negative side effects are extremely uncommon, they have been reported.
According to one case study, drinking large amounts of rooibos tea on a daily basis was linked to an increase in liver enzymes, which can often indicate a liver problem. However, this was just one complicated case (22).
Certain compounds in tea can stimulate the production of oestrogen, the female sex hormone (23).
According to some sources, people with hormone-sensitive conditions, such as breast cancer, should avoid this type of tea.
This effect, however, is very mild, and it is likely that you would need to consume very large amounts before you would notice an effect.
Rooibos is completely safe to consume, and negative side effects are extremely uncommon.
Rooibos tea is a nutritious and tasty beverage.
It is caffeine-free, low in tannins, and high in antioxidants, all of which may provide health benefits.
However, health claims about tea are frequently anecdotal and not supported by strong evidence.
It is still unclear whether the health benefits of rooibos tea seen in animal and test-tube studies translate into real-world health benefits for humans.