Hibiscus tea elevates the antioxidant level of one’s bloodstream within an hour of consumption.
In my comparison of the antioxidant content of 282 beverages last year, hibiscus tea came out number one, so my family switched from drinking matcha, which had fallen from grace, to the hibiscus fruit punch recipe I shared. We have since switched from using tea bags to just bulk dried hibiscus flowers, which we soak, and then blend into the tea so we don't lose anything. But just because something has antioxidant power in the test tube doesn't mean it has antioxidant flower power in the body—maybe the phytonutrients aren't even absorbed. They were found to be bioavailable in rodents but I haven’t had pet gerbils since I was a kid. We didn't know about humans, until now. Consumption of a Hibiscus water extract and its impact on systemic antioxidant potential in healthy subjects. If you take people and have them just drink water for 10 hours this is what happens to the antioxidant level within their bloodstream. Your antioxidants get slowly used up throughout the day fighting off all those free radicals unless you replenish your antioxidant stores. Now it's hard to get people to fast for 10 hours so in addition to water they gave the study subject something they knew wouldn't mess up their antioxidant measurements, white bread and cheese. So, water, white bread, and Gouda. What if instead at the beginning of the experiment you give people a single cup of hibiscus tea, within an hour you see a nice spike in the antioxidant level in your blood stream, but then the effect disappears, unless you sip hibiscus throughout the day or eat something other than wonderbread cheese sandwiches.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Jonathan Hodgson.
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Here's the beverage comparison video I mentioned with the hibiscus punch recipe: Better Than Green Tea? Note that's erythritol pictured, not sugar (see Erythritol May Be a Sweet Antioxidant) and I also throw in a teaspoon of amla (dried Indian gooseberry powder, see Amla: Indian gooseberries vs. cancer, diabetes, and cholesterol) and my most recent addition is about a half-inch of fresh ginger root—yum! If you throw in some fresh or frozen berries too you're approaching my Pink Juice with Green Foam. The impressive manganese content of hibiscus tea may exceed recommended limits at high intakes, though, so we probably shouldn't drink more than a quart a day.
For a primer on the fluctuating levels of oxidant stress, see Antioxidant Level Dynamics.
And for more flower power, check out what the saffron crocus can do against depression (Saffron vs. Prozac), PMS (Saffron for the Treatment of PMS), stress (Wake Up and Smell the Saffron), and dementia (Saffron for the Treatment of Alzheimer’s). There are also chamomile flowers (Red Tea, Honeybush, & Chamomile), though Chamomile Tea May Not Be Safe During Pregnancy, and the rose bush: Dietary Osteoarthritis Treatment. More comparisons of herbal teas here: The Healthiest Herbal Tea.
Also, check out my associated blog post for more context: Hibiscus Tea: The Best Beverage?
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