Most South African men can tell you what’s in every obscure alcoholic drink and where you can get the best one, but if there’s one drink men should know more about, it’s Rooibos tea.

This June is National Men’s Health Month, which is celebrated across the country with screenings, health fairs and other educational activities to encourage men to make their health a priority.

Men’s health has already shown a steep decline in recent years as chronic lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and cancer tightens its grip. Aside from cigarette smoking and poor diet, alcoholism is considered a leading cause of many of these debilitating conditions.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently declared South Africa the drunkest country in Africa, consuming 27 litres of pure alcohol per capita annually, which is about 53% more than the rest of the continent.

Ernest du Toit, spokesperson for the Rooibos Council says as more awareness is created around the risks associated with excessive intake of alcohol and carbonated drinks, men should look to healthier alternatives.

“Although tea has become more popular among men, it still carries a bit of a stereotype, but let me tell you that real men do drink tea. Tough guys like Lion’s rugby player, Courtnall Skosan and other rugby legends, Adam Jones and George Lowe, as well as famous football ace, David Beckham, have all been seen knuckling back a mug of tea as if it is a single malt whisky. After water, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world and some cultures even consider tea as the manliest of beverages.

Du Toit adds that one of the biggest benefits of drinking Rooibos tea, is the advantage that it holds over alternative beverage options. “Drinking the occasional beer, glass of wine, fizzy drink or fruit juice have their place, but it’s really about what you drink the most. If you drink Rooibos frequently, you’re going to reap the benefits of drinking a beverage with multitude health benefits, zero calories, no caffeine and one that is low in tannins, which also has the ability to rehydrate the body. It’s an important beverage, packed with nutrients that are vital for a healthy lifestyle.”

If you’re still not convinced about joining the man-tea revolution, the scientific evidence might help to change your mind. Here’s how Rooibos tea can benefit men in particular:

  • Keeps high blood pressure in check
    Rooibos tea is known as a bronchodilator, which not only relieves respiratory conditions, but generally reduces high blood pressure, which can cause dangerous cardiovascular diseases.
  • Enhances male fertility
    The high antioxidant levels in Rooibos tea could support healthy sperm and a higher sperm count.
  • Improves heart health
    Quercetin, another powerful antioxidant found in Rooibos tea, has been linked to the prevention of a wide variety of heart conditions. It promotes HDL – good cholesterol and inhibits the LDL – bad cholesterol from adhering to the walls of arteries and blood vessels. This means added protection against various heart conditions, including arteriosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes.
  • Builds and repairs muscle tissue
    Not only does Rooibos’ free-radical fighting antioxidants help you look and feel younger by slowing down the aging process, but they also assist with improved recovery after exercise, which means more muscle and less fat on your body in the long run.
  • Reduces risk of diabetes
    One of the rare antioxidants found only in Rooibos tea, is Aspalathin which helps to balance blood sugar, reduce insulin resistance and increase glucose absorption by the muscles. Aspalathin also boosts the insulin production in the pancreas. This acts as a defensive shield against the development of type 2 Diabetes – one of the most widespread and dangerous medical conditions in the world.
  • It will improve your performance at the gym or on the sports field
    Athletes would also benefit from Rooibos tea’s antioxidants that help to fight inflammation and boost circulation and also helps to heal damaged muscle tissue. Rooibos also contains a high concentration of magnesium and zinc, which aids in the production of testosterone, which is important for the body’s endurance and ability to recover, as well calcium, magnesium and manganese, which are vital for bone health. Rooibos also helps the body to absorb iron, which enhances the delivery of oxygen to the muscles, which is critical in endurance racing.
  • Lowers your risk of cancer
    Research at the Medical Research Council (MRC), found that both Green (unfermented) and traditional (fermented) Rooibos, significantly inhibits the growth of cancer cells, (Green more so than Red). The flavonoids found in Rooibos tea are famous for fighting and preventing cancer.

“If you really want to commit to having a leaner physique and better health, choose Rooibos tea – it should be part of everyday health for men. Those that already drink it, do so because they understand the value of both the taste and health benefits that can be derived from drinking it,” says du Toit.