Already considered one of the most powerful superfoods on the market today, Rooibos tea’s antioxidant army also packs a protective punch against heart disease, research shows.
Local and international studies are repeatedly reinforcing this discovery, with the latest study, conducted by Spanish researchers, showing that drinking Rooibos can prevent the development of heart disease by inhibiting the liver from storing excessive fat under the skin and around major organs. These researchers also determined that Rooibos not only reduces the number and size of fat cells, but also completely prevents the development of fatty liver disease – a condition where fat accumulates in the cells of the liver.
The study also confirmed that the complex mix of antioxidants in Rooibos are jointly responsible for its beneficial effects, and that it is therefore better to drink Rooibos tea, rather than isolated compounds from Rooibos.
These findings add further weight to an earlier South African study led by Professor Jeanine Marnewick, a specialist researcher at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), who was able to show a positive effect in adults at risk of heart disease, who drank six cups of Rooibos every day for six weeks.
Her study showed that Rooibos not only protected against oxidative lipid damage, but also favourably improved the lipid profile of the participants by reducing total blood cholesterol levels by 10%, with a significant reduction in “bad” LDL cholesterol levels.
A third study conducted in Sweden found that 30 to 60 minutes after drinking 400 ml of Rooibos, the activity of a specific enzyme (called angiotensin-converting enzyme, or ace) is significantly suppressed. This enzyme is believed to be involved in the development of cardiovascular disease, and therefore ace inhibitors are used to treat hypertension and heart disease.
The main heart-health promoting substance in Rooibos tea is the antioxidant Chrysoeriol. It helps to prevent and treat vascular disease by inhibiting the migration of smooth muscle cells inside the aorta, a key cause of the narrowing or hardening of the arteries that may lead to a heart attack. Chrysoeriol is also an effective bronchodilator, and helps to lower blood pressure and relieve spasms.
Ernest du Toit, spokesperson for the SA Rooibos Council (SARC) says it is very encouraging that leading research institutions around the world are working on Rooibos and are repeatedly producing such promising results.
“With more South Africans dying from heart disease and stroke than ever before, these studies underline the value of Rooibos as a widely available, affordable and uniquely South African product rich in dietary antioxidants, which promotes heart-health.
“Rooibos, in combination with an overall healthy diet with whole grains, fish, fruits and vegetables, and less processed foods, could significantly reduce the risk of heart disease,” says du Toit.
The South African Rooibos Council invests significantly into the research of Rooibos’ health properties. This year the Council is supporting research projects at several local universities focusing on the anti-aging potential of Rooibos as well as its effect on immunity.
Summaries of the most recent rooibos studies published in top peer-reviewed scientific journals can be found on the website of the SA Rooibos Council at www.sarooibos.org.za
Issued by Meropa Communications on behalf of the South African Rooibos Council. For more information contact Brigitte Taim on 021 683 6464 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to editor:
Shocking stats paint stark reality of heart disease in SA:
· Approximately 6.3 million South Africans are living with high blood pressure
· Premature deaths due to heart and blood vessel diseases in people of working age (35 – 64 years) are expected to increase by 41% between now and 2030
· Statistics show that about 130 heart attacks and 240 strokes occur daily in SA, which means that 10 people will suffer a stroke and five will have a heart attack every hour
One of the best-kept weight-loss secrets could already be in your pantry. Celebs swear by it, and research confirms that Rooibos tea is the ideal way to help you slim down this summer.
By swapping just one cup of coffee for Rooibos tea every day, you could lose as much as a kilo every month. Most of us load our coffee with sugary syrups, honey, whipped cream or milk and sugar which can add anything from 35 to 250+ calories per cup. And if one considers that the average South African knocks back about four cups of coffee a day, drinking Rooibos instead could lead to a whopping 7 – 14kg shed in a year.
Ernest du Toit, spokesperson for the SA Rooibos Council, says the indigenous tea offers dieters a healthy, enjoyable and sustainable way to lose weight.
“Rooibos tea contains no fat or carbohydrates and its weight-loss properties further extends to inhibiting fat-storage hormones within the body. Rooibos’s unique Bioflavonoid, Aspalathin, helps to reduce stress hormones that trigger hunger and fat storage, typically associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. In a nutshell, Rooibos tea can prevent the body from storing and even forming new fat cells.
“Rooibos tea is also caffeine-free and naturally sweet so there’s no need to add extra sugar. Plus it comes in a variety of flavours like berry, cinnamon, mint and citrus. It’s also 100% natural with no additives, no preservatives and no chemicals,” he says.
“Drinking Rooibos tea instead of a regular 35+ calorie cup of coffee (enjoyed with milk and a spoonful of sugar) or a 100+ calorie carbonated drink will automatically reduce your calorie intake, which should put you well on your way to losing centimetres.”
A-list celebrities sporting already svelte figures such as Angelina Jolie, Catherine Zeta Jones and supermodel Cindy Crawford all swear by Rooibos’s health benefits.
Drinking up to six cups a day – hot or cold – along with a healthy and balanced diet, will provide you with the maximum health and weight-loss benefits that Rooibos tea can offer.
Results from a clinical trial showing that Rooibos significantly reduces the risk of heart disease were announced at a Rooibos Science Café at the MTN ScienCentre in Cape Town on 26 November 2008. About 150 members of the media, health sector and the Rooibos industry attended the event and were delighted about this new and conclusive evidence of the health promoting properties of Rooibos in humans.
Researchers traced the protective effect of Rooibos by looking at two important markers in the blood, as well as the oxidative status of the 40 adults who participated in the study. They found a significant decrease in conjugated dienes and malondialdehydes of 35% and 50% respectively – two blood markers that indicate oxidative damage – in the group that drank six cups of Rooibos per day for 6 weeks. “This means that Rooibos may help to slow down atherosclerosis, or the hardening of arteries,” explained Dr Jeanine Marnewick, who led the clinical trial at the Oxidative Stress Research Centre at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. On top of this, Rooibos also increased the levels of the body’s own ‘super anti-oxidant’ called glutathione and helped to reduce the levels of “bad” LDL-cholesterol significantly.
“This is incredible news for Rooibos and the public,” said Mientjie Mouton, a director of the South African Rooibos Council. “We need scientific evidence to substantiate what we have always known – that Rooibos is good for you!”
Dr Marnewick also explained that they asked study participants for feedback on how they felt during the clinical trial. “Many of them reported feeling irritated during the washout period when they could not drink Rooibos, and much calmer once they were enjoying their six cups of Rooibos per day. That is why she will continue the clinical trial to look at the effect of Rooibos and stress.”
At the same science café Dr Carl Albrecht, head of Research at the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) gave an overview of nearly a decade of research at South Africa’s Medical Research Council into the ability of Rooibos to prevent or slow down cancer. He also emphasised the importance of the ability of Rooibos to reduce oxidative stress in the body, as shown by the results of a study on rats, published in 2003. “I am elated that Dr Marnewick and her team were now able to prove that Rooibos also has this effect in the human body,” he added. Oxidative stress plays a role in the development of a whole range of diseases, including cancer, stroke, heart and liver disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. Another important milestone was the discovery, published in 2004, that Rooibos can prevent and slow down skin cancer in mice. “The next challenge is to prove that Rooibos can also prevent cancer in people, and I believe that there is a good chance that we’ll be able to prove this,” Dr Albrecht said.
This Rooibos Science Café was organised by the South African Rooibos Council who invests in Rooibos research, along with funding partners such as South Africa’s National Research Foundation as well as the Medical Research Council and CANSA.
A collaborative study by scientists at four international research facilities has found the first clinical evidence that drinking rooibos tea significantly increases the antioxidant capacity in human blood, thereby boosting the body’s natural defences.
The researchers in Rome and Glasgow found that the antioxidant capacity in the blood of 15 healthy volunteers peaked one hour after drinking 500ml ready-to-drink rooibos tea. Both traditional (fermented) and green (unfermented) rooibos tea had a significant effect.
“On the basis of the results of our study, we conclude that Rooibos tea is able to deliver antioxidant ingredients to the body, thereby stimulating the body’s internal redox network,” says Professor Mauro Serafini, leader of this research project and Head of the Antioxidant Research Laboratory at INRAN, a nutrition research insitute in Rome, Italy. “It is highly possible that, once absorbed in the circulatory stream, the unique ingredients of Rooibos may display other biological activities in the human body. That is why we are planning further intervention studies in humans to investigate the effect of Rooibos tea on the body’s strategy of defence to counteract the development of heart disease.”
“After an hour, the plasma antioxidant levels start to drop and that is why we recommend drinking up to six cups of rooibos spaced throughout the day for a sustained health benefit,” explains Professor Jeanine Marnewick from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. She led a recent study that showed the beneficial effect of drinking six cups of rooibos a day to promote heart health.
Numerous studies over the past few decades have helped scientists to understand the complex and unique blend of antioxidants found in rooibos. They have also proved that the active compounds in rooibos are bioavailable and are metabolised (converted) in the body. The significance of the latest study is that it provides the first direct evidence that rooibos boosts antioxidant levels in the blood of healthy humans.
“This new research proves that the compounds in rooibos are potent enough to have a measurable effect on the antioxidant capacity of the blood,” says Professor Lizette Joubert, one of South Africa’s leading rooibos researchers, working on the quality and chemical composition of rooibos at South Africa’s Agricultural Research Council.
The most active antioxidant in rooibos – aspalathin – is unique to the plant species Aspalathus linearis. This fynbos plant thrives in the Western Cape’s Cedarberg region where it is commercially cultivated and wild-harvested for the production of rooibos tea.
“This study underlines the value of rooibos as a widely available and affordable source of dietary antioxidants,” comments Mientjie Mouton, chair of the Product Research Committee of the South African Rooibos Council. “It is very encouraging that leading research institutions around the world are working on rooibos and producing such promising results. There is also a great deal of work being done by local rooibos researchers and we will continue to invest in this research.”
The South African Rooibos Council invests some R1 million a year to fund research into rooibos’ health properties. This year the Council is supporting research projects at several local universities and science councils focusing on how rooibos can counter cancer and stress, as well as the link between rooibos and exercise. A project on rooibos and obesity has been approved for funding in 2011.
Summaries of the most recent rooibos studies published in top peer-reviewed scientific journals can be found on the website of the SA Rooibos Council at www.sarooibos.co.za
Notes to editors
The collaborative research was carried out at: Antioxidant Research Laboratory, Human Nutrition Unit, INRAN, Rome; Food and Nutrition Unit, IRCCS, Rome; Plant Products and Human Nutrition Group, University of Glasgow; Diabetes Unit, San Camillo Forlanini Hospital, Rome.
The study has been published in Food Chemistry: Villaño, D., et al. 2010. Unfermented and fermented rooibos teas (Aspalathus linearis) increase plasma total antioxidant capacity in healthy humans. Food Chemistry 123 (2016) 679-683.
As children go back to school for the last term, warmer weather means mothers packing lunchboxes should give some thought to hydration.
Ensuring children get enough of the right kinds of liquids, particularly during the hot summer months, can be as important as making sure they’re properly fed. Mild or moderate dehydration can lead to sleepiness or tiredness and even headaches and dizziness, making it difficult to pay attention in class. In more severe cases delirium or even unconsciousness can occur.
But packing a water bottle isn’t always a guarantee that children are going to drink enough to compensate for fluids they lose while trying to cram as much fun as possible into break times.
The problem is that water can be bland and tasteless, particularly after a couple of hours in a plastic water bottle, so children simply don’t drink it or pour it out. The alternative is to add some sort of cordial and while this may make it more appealing not all of these are particularly healthy options. Nor are fizzy drinks and buying a fruit juice each day can be costly.
Fortunately there is a South African solution that’s affordable, tasty and amazingly beneficial – rooibos tea.
Although many people tend to think of rooibos as only a hot drink, it is an exceptional flavour enhancer and naturally sweet, which makes it a favourite ingredient for iced teas, fruit shakes, smoothies, iced lollies and many other tasty treats.
Add to this that it contains no caffeine, fats or carbohydrates and its proven health benefits include boosting the immune system, relieving allergies and preventing heart disease and cancer. Researchers are also investigating the link between rooibos and stress relief.
According to Professor Jeanine Marnewick of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, rooibos is a natural thirst quencher and drinking the equivalent of six cups a day – hot or cold – will provide a sustained health benefit.
Making a simple rooibos iced tea is easy. Simply make a litre of rooibos tea using four to six teabags. Sweeten the tea with honey to taste and leave it in the fridge to cool overnight. You can then experiment with this basic iced tea, adding mint, lemon, orange, granadilla, mango or apple or a combination of flavours until you find one that your children really love. You can even get them involved in mixing their own flavours.
Juiced or squeezed fresh fruit usually deliver the best results, but you can also use preservative-free fruit juice. Mixing it with cold rooibos will make it go further and keeping a jug of the children’s favourite iced tea in the fridge should mean you don’t have to keep buying juice.
The good news is that once you’ve made up a jug of iced tea you don’t have to repeat the performance every evening as cold rooibos can be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks.
By pouring some iced tea into popsicle containers or ice-cube trays and freezing it, you can also make fun, refreshing, healthy after school or sports treats.
Writing for Do It Now magazine, endurance athlete Hannele Steyn, warns that many over-hyped energy products are ‘just glorified sweets that have added hype ingredients to push the price sky high’.
Steyn, who has represented South Africa in numerous endurance World Championships (1 x duathlon, 2 x biathlon, 3 x triathlon, 4 x mountain biking, 3 x road cycling) 11 Triathlon World Cups and nine Mountain Bike World Cups and whose CV includes a ladies Cape Epic win and two more pages of achievements, should know what she’s talking about after 25 years of competitive racing. She believes that for endurance athletes healthy, natural foods are a better option than sugary, artificial energy bars and sweet drinks.
She recommends rooibos espresso, with almond milk, a teaspoon of honey and a pinch of salt. The result is an energy drink with lots of rooibos antioxidants. The honey delivers fast energy, while the almond milk delivers slow energy in the form of protein and essential fats. Himalayan salt provides minerals. The SA Rooibos Council is funding a research project into rooibos and exercise, which is being conducted by Professor Jeanine Marnewick at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.