Rooibos tea is a very popular and nutritious drink. The main nutritional health benefit of rooibos tea is that its high in antioxidant and contains several unique polyphenols, such as aspalathin. These plant compounds can protect against free radicals that are risk factor for diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. In addition, rooibos tea is naturally free from caffeine because there is no caffeine in the plant. This makes it valuable for people who are sensitive to caffeine. The taste is smooth, naturally sweet and nutty. Rooibos is full-bodied and rich when brewed for longer, and you can smell the hot woody scents from your cup or teapot.
However, rooibos is produced from shrub leaves called Aspalathus linearis, which are cultivated in South Africa’s ruggedly beautiful Cederberg coastal mountains, a world heritage site approximately 200 km north of Cape Town. In this article, we will walk you through the potential health benefits of rooibos tea.
Rooibos Prevents Type 2 Diabetes
Rooibos tea is a natural source of antioxidant aspalathin. Some animal studies show aspalathin has anti-diabetic effects. One research on mice shows that aspalathin in rooibos tea may balance blood sugar levels and decrease insulin resistance, which might be good for individuals with type 2 diabetes. Most of these studies on rooibos and diabetes are conducted on animals, however; we need large-scale human studies to understand the effects of rooibos tea in people with diabetes. (1)
Summary: Aspalathin is an antioxidant found naturally in Rooibos tea. Some animal studies show it has anti-diabetic effects.
Helps You Lose Weight
The notable health benefit of rooibos tea in weight management is that it is a calorie-free drink. Second, it an excellent choice for people who want to lose weight. Some evidence shows that Rooibos tea may increase in leptin levels. Leptin is a hormone that helps control the appetite by promoting the feeling of fulness, signaling the brain that it has had sufficient food. The tea may also prevent new fat cells formation by increasing fat metabolism. (2)
Summary: Rooibos tea may prevent congenital leptin deficiency, a hormone that aids in appetite management by encouraging a feeling of fullness. It may also prevent the formation of new fat cells by boosting fat metabolism.
Enhances Heart Health
High blood pressure can damage your arteries by making them less flexible, reducing the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart and ultimately leading to heart disease. This is because of the ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme), causing your blood vessels to contract and raises blood pressure. Medications such as ACE inhibitors are used to relax blood vessels and reduce blood pressure. However, drinking rooibos tea can inhibit ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme), and may have beneficial effects on blood pressure. In one study, drinking rooibos tea inhibited ACE activity 60 minutes after ingestion. In another 6 weeks study, six cups of rooibos tea daily reduced “bad” LDL cholesterol while boosting “good” HDL cholesterol. However, good cholesterol (HDL) provides additional protection against different heart diseases, including heart attacks and strokes. (3, 4, 5)
Summary: Rooibos tea can provide several heart health benefits to people who are at risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.
Antioxidants can help protect your cells from free radicals. Their effects can decrease your risk of diseases such as heart disease and cancer over the long term. The main antioxidants in rooibos tea are polyphenols, which are chemical compounds that allow the plants to fight stress. There is some evidence that rooibos can provide health benefits by raising levels of antioxidants in your body. In one study, the antioxidants increased by 2.9% when participants drank red rooibos tea and 6.6% when they drank the green rooibos. Another study in 12 healthy males found it did not have significant effects on antioxidant levels compared to placebo. (6, 7)
Summary: The main antioxidants in rooibos tea are polyphenols. These chemical compounds may lower the risk of chronic diseases.
Free of Caffeine
Caffeine is the main stimulant substance in tea and coffee. Usually, it is safe to consume moderate quantities of caffeine, which can provide performance, concentration, and mood benefits. Excessive consumption, however, may lead to heart palpitations, anxiety, sleep problems, and headaches. Some individuals, therefore, prevent or restrict the consumption of caffeine. Since rooibos tea is caffeine free, it could be an excellent alternative for people with caffeine sensitivity. Rooibos tea also has a low level of tannin compare to black or green tea. Tannin is a natural compound in green and black tea, interacts with certain nutrients, such as iron absorption. Unlike black tea and green tea, rooibos do not contain oxalic acid. High oxalic acid consumption may increase your risk of kidney stones. This makes rooibos tea an excellent choice for people with kidney problems. (8, 9, 10)
Summary: Rooibos tea is free of caffeine and oxalic acid, which is an excellent alternative for people with caffeine sensitivity and kidney problem. In addition, rooibos tea contains less tannin compared to black and green tea. Tannin can interact with iron absorption and and other nutrients.
Reduces Cancer Risk
Although laboratory studies suggest that quercetin and luteolin antioxidants found in rooibos can kill cancer cells and may prevent tumour growth. However, there are no human studies to support these claims and it is uncertain whether the antioxidants in rooibos tea deliver these health benefits. Some compounds isolated from rooibos leaves showed estrogenic activity. Therefore, patients with hormone-sensitive cancers should use caution before taking rooibos. There is very less amount of quercetin and luteolin in a teacup rooibos. (11, 12, 13)
Summary: Test tube studies suggest that quercetin and luteolin antioxidants in rooibos tea may kill cancer cells. There have been no human trials to back up these claims.
Some people believe the antioxidants in rooibos tea can provide anti-aging benefits. If an individual uses rooibos tea topically, it may enhance the skin’s appearance by decreasing wrinkles. A 2010 study compared cosmetic blends in a gel form produced from herbal extracts such as ginkgo, soybean, and rooibos. The scientists discovered that the combination of rooibos was most efficient in decreasing wrinkles, while ginkgo was best for skin moisturization. However, it is not clear whether drinking rooibos tea may also provide the same skin health benefits. (14)
Summary: A study evaluated cosmetic gel made from herbal extracts such as ginkgo, soybean, and rooibos. The research discovered that the mixture was effective in reducing wrinkles.
Rooibos Tea Side Effects
Rooibos is safe, however, drinking an extensive amount of rooibos tea may cause liver problem. Some compounds in tea can boost female sex hormone output, estrogen. Some experts show that individuals with hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer may want to avoid rooibos tea. Rooibos is an excellent alternative to caffeinated teas during pregnancy. If you have any worries about drinking teas or herbal infusions during pregnancy and breastfeeding, we recommend you to speak with your GP. (15, 16)
Summary: Drinking excessive amount of rooibos tea may increase in liver enzymes, which can lead to liver problem. Patients with hormone-sensitive cancers should avoid drinking rooibos tea.
Rooibos tea is a caffeine-free tea with a pleasant aroma and range of health benefits. It is produced from the leaves and stems of the Aspalathus linearis tree. This tree is native to South Africa, where rooibos tea is the national beverage. There is no good scientific evidence to support the use of Rooibos for cancer prevention, heart disease prevention, and other diseases. However, as a manner to decrease digestive issues, tea is often a superb choice.
- Aspalathin improves hyperglycemia and glucose intolerance in obese diabetic ob/ob mice. Eur J Nutr. 2013.
- Effects of fermented rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) on adipocyte differentiation. Phytomedicine. 2014.
- Dietary antioxidant flavonoids and risk of coronary heart disease: the Zutphen Elderly Study. Lancet. 1993.
- Effects of green tea, black tea and Rooibos tea on angiotensin-converting enzyme and nitric oxide in healthy volunteers. Public Health Nutr. 2010.
- Effects of rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) on oxidative stress and biochemical parameters in adults at risk for cardiovascular disease. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011.
- Bioavailability and antioxidant potential of rooibos flavonoids in humans following the consumption of different rooibos formulations. Food Chem. 2011.
- Rooibos tea,aspalathus linearis, a caffeineless, low-tannin beverage. Econ Bot37, 164–173 (1983).
- Food-derived polyphenols inhibit pancreatic cancer growth through mitochondrial cytochrome C release and apoptosis. Int J Cancer. 2002.
- Clinical efficacy comparison of anti-wrinkle cosmetics containing herbal flavonoids. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2010.
- Possible hepatotoxic effect of rooibos tea: a case report. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2010.
- Occurrence and sensory perception of Z-2-(β-d-glucopyranosyloxy)-3-phenylpropenoic acid in rooibos (Aspalathus linearis). Food Chem. 2013. PMID: 23122165.