Hibiscus tea is a herbal tea extracted from calices of hibiscus flower. Calices are a part of the flower that protects the flower when it is a bud.
The beverage is popularly consumed in Iran, South America, Africa, Asia etc.
Hibiscus tea goes by the name ‘sour tea’ because of its tart flavour.
Usually, sugar is added to sweeten the beverage. 15-30% of the plant is made up of acids such as citric acid, malic acid and tartaric acid which is probably why the beverage has a sour taste.
It also contains vitamin C and minerals.
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Ways Hibiscus Tea Helps in Weight Loss
Hibiscus tea can help in weight loss in several ways. Hibiscus extract is proven to prevent fat accumulation in the body thus reducing weight and waist to hip ratio. Hibiscus extract also helps in reducing cholesterol levels in the body. Hibiscus tea also helps in maintaining healthy carbohydrate metabolism, thus preventing weight gain.
These benefits are discussed in detail below:
1. Hibiscus extract prevents fat accumulation
In a clinical trial conducted in Taiwan, volunteers were asked to consume hibiscus extract supplements for 12 weeks.
Ingestion of hibiscus extract led to reduced body weight, body fat and waist to hip ratio.
It also ameliorated liver disease.
Researchers concluded that hibiscus extract has the potential to prevent and treat obesity and non alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Another clinical trial focused on evaluating the lipid lowering effect of hibiscus, reported that 1 gram of hibiscus leaf extract induced decrease in body weight.
In an animal study, aqueous extract of hibiscus brought about reduction in body weight gain, prevention of fat accumulation, improved blood sugar and reduced lipid levels; all of which were caused by diet induced obesity.
This effect was mediated by regulation of PPAR-γ and SREBP-1c. These proteins are involved in fat metabolism and development of fat tissue.
Aqueous extract of Hibiscus calyx is proven to reduce body weight gain in obese mice by regulating levels of alanine aminotransferase.
Normal functioning of this enzyme is crucial for liver health and liver is responsible for regulating fats in the body.
Adipose tissue is body fat. Experimental studies prove that hibiscus extract prevent development of adipocytes (cells that store fats) and also inhibits accumulation of lipids (fats and oils) in these cells by regulating biochemical pathways.
Alcoholic hibiscus extract when administered at a concentration greater than 5%, is found to prevent weight gain by preventing absorption of fats from diet and promoting its excretion.
Researchers conclude that this effect of hibiscus makes it a possible anti-obesity agent.
2. Cholesterol reducing effects of hibiscus
Antioxidant nature of the compounds present in hibiscus extracts obtained from its leaves and calices is responsible for a decrease in cholesterol.
A clinical trial was conducted wherein individuals were given a powder of hibiscus leaf extract to treat hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol levels).
A decrease in blood lipid levels was observed but the effect was comparable to control group.
Therefore researchers said that a dose of 1 gm of leaf extract powder per day is insufficient to reduce cholesterol.
In another study , obese adolescents suffering from dyslipidemia were given 2 g of powdered calices of hibiscus for a month.
This extract had a positive effect on lipid profile of the volunteers.
Research proves that hibiscus decreases cholesterol levels by activating AMPK. AMPK pathway is an attractive target for many anti-obesity drugs.
AMP activated protein kinase regulates energy at cellular and whole body level. Once activated, it can stimulate breakdown of fats.
In fact research suggests that 150 ml of sour tea or green tea taken 3 times a day for four weeks can prove to be beneficial for insulin and lipid levels.
3. Hibiscus extract interferes in carbohydrate absorption
Carbohydrates are a rich source of energy. Therefore if consumed in excess they can account for a large number of calories which can be stored as body fat.
Also inhibiting rise in blood sugar levels after a meal can lead to a reduced appetite.
A balance of these components ensures healthy metabolism of carbohydrates preventing weight gain.
Hibiscus extract also possibly prevents absorption of carbohydrates from diet by inhibiting activity of enzymes, such as alpha amylase and alpha glucosidase, which are involved in carbohydrate metabolism.
Other health benefits of hibiscus
Most of the health benefits linked with hibiscus tea consumption is due to antioxidant nature of its bioactive compounds.
- It is used to treat blood pressure disorders.
- It has anti microbial and wound healing properties.
- It is beneficial in case of kidney disorders.
- It is useful in treating liver diseases.
- Animal studies show that it has anti-cholesterol and anti-pyretic properties.
How much hibiscus tea to consume for weight loss?
Most studies recommend drinking hibiscus tea twice or thrice daily. Like any other natural extract, you should give it time to act.
You can try it for a period of 2-3 months to observe visible effects.
Also to make the tea more flavourful you can add sugar, ginger, clove or cinnamon as per your choice.
- Avoid drinking hibiscus tea if you are already taking medicines for lowering blood pressure.
- Hibiscus tea should also be avoided in case of pregnancy and lactation.
- Hibiscus tea can interact with anti cancer and anti viral drugs.
- Also hibiscus tea can induce a feeling of intoxication therefore avoid drinking it during activities that demand focus like driving or operating machinery.
It is advisable to consult a health practitioner regarding the dosage and safety concerns linked with hibiscus tea.
Limited scientific evidence is available in conjunction with hibiscus and its effect on obesity.
Yet its cholesterol lowering property, ability to prevent carbohydrate absorption and its inhibitory effect on development of fat and fat tissue warrants its use as an anti-obesity agent.
Though known as sour tea, it supposedly has a delicious, tart, refreshing taste.
So why not sip on to something so delicious which also makes you lose weight.