Rooibos Tea: Benefits, Nutrition, and Facts

Rooibos Tea: Benefits, Nutrition, and Facts


Rooibos tea is an herbal tea sourced from the fermented leaves of the Aspalathus linearis plant, which is native to South Africa. It’s known for its sweet, earthly flavor, and its consumption dates back to the 1700s. However, many of its health benefits have only been discovered recently.

Rooibos tea is a caffeine-free alternative to green and black tea, and it’s packed with potent antioxidants that support many avenues of health. Drinking rooibos tea may help protect the body against oxidative stress, support heart health, and manage blood glucose levels, among other benefits. It boasts an impressive nutrient profile and is relatively easy to prepare, making it a worthwhile addition to many well-balanced diets.

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Rooibos tea has been shown to boost antioxidant status in those who drink it. The herbal tea is packed with antioxidants that help fight oxidative stress and neutralize free radicals in the body, making it a powerful beverage for health. Rooibos tea contains polyphenols and flavonoids that support cellular health through their anti-inflammatory effects.

For example, rooibos tea contains the flavonol aspalathin in large amounts. Green rooibos tea contains 10 times the amount of aspalathin found in red tea. Aspalathin has been linked to cell viability in support of skin health, meaning the tea’s phenolic composition may target premalignant cells in the skin, so it may help prevent cancer.

Unlike many teas, rooibos tea is extremely low in tannins. Tannins are water-soluble compounds found in various plants, like tea leaves. In addition to their astringent taste, research has found that tannins may also interfere with nutrient absorption in the body. They form complexes with certain nutrients like protein and some minerals, reducing their availability for absorption and use.

Rooibos tea’s low tannin levels make it ideal for those at risk of mineral deficiencies, such as those following vegan or vegetarian diets. It also doesn’t have a bitter taste because it’s low in tannins. Rooibos tea’s low tannin levels give it a smooth, mild flavor that may appeal to a wide range of taste preferences. Plus, it can be enjoyed hot or cold and easily incorporated into various beverage recipes.

Many traditional teas, like green and black teas, contain caffeine. Rooibos tea, on the other hand, is caffeine-free, making it a welcomed alternative for those sensitive to this stimulant. While caffeine may offer health benefits for some, it may also interfere with sleep patterns, worsen anxiety, and cause migraines, among other adverse effects.

Additionally, without the stimulating effects of caffeine, rooibos tea is ideal for any time of the day, including evening time. Its calming properties can support relaxation and stress reduction without the typical jitters associated with caffeine intake.

Caffeine also acts as a diuretic, removing fluid from the body through urine. Therefore, the low caffeine content in rooibos tea indicates that it can better support hydration efforts than caffeine-containing teas.

Drinking rooibos tea may positively influence blood sugar management by improving insulin sensitivity and alleviating inflammation caused by oxidative stress. The tea is rich in the antioxidant aspalathin, which influences fatty acid synthesis and oxidation and improves glucose metabolism. Research confirms that consuming rooibos can improve glucose concentrations in the blood and support overall glycemic control.

However, according to research, you need to drink a significant amount of rooibos tea every day to reap its benefits for diabetes management. Participants in corresponding studies consumed at least 500 milliliters (mL) and up to 1,200 mL daily.

Therefore, while rooibos tea shows promise for its potential role in diabetes control, it should not replace medical management. Instead, it should act as complementary support to prescribed treatments unless otherwise directed by a healthcare professional.

Rooibos tea may also be a beneficial choice for those at risk for cardiovascular disease, as its antioxidant profile offers many heart health benefits. Rooibos tea can offer preventative and complementary therapeutic benefits in preventing cardiovascular disease.

Studies have found that daily consumption of rooibos tea helped improve the blood lipid profile of those at risk for heart disease. Researchers found that participants who consumed six cups of rooibos tea for six weeks experienced reduced low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and improved high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

There’s still a need for more research. However, science indicates that the herbal tea’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic effects can benefit heart health through their role in the immune system, adrenal pathways, and lipid metabolism.

While rooibos tea is packed with antioxidants, it contains very few macro and micronutrients. When consumed without any additives, one cup of rooibos tea provides:

  • Calories: 0
  • Fat: 0 grams (g)
  • Carbohydrates: 0 g
  • Protein: 0 g
  • Sodium: 0 milligrams (mg)
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Added sugars: 0 g

When enjoyed plain, rooibos tea’s lack of calories and sodium makes it ideal for increasing hydration without affecting weight management efforts or blood pressure.

However, adding milk, cream, sugar, or honey to rooibos tea will change its nutrition profile. These ingredients may be high in calories, fat, or sugar, adding up over multiple cups of tea and affecting your health and wellness goals. Keep portion sizes in mind and consume rooibos tea in moderation.

Despite being more commonly consumed as a warm beverage, rooibos is also available as an herbal supplement. Many people turn to rooibos-derived supplements for their possible liver health benefits, as the herb may increase the liver’s antioxidant capacity.

Rooibos supplements are available in capsule, powder, and tincture form, but research regarding their effective doses is limited. A 10-year-old study that examined rooibos’ effects on rats found that subjects who consumed 169 mg of a rooibos-derived supplement experienced a reduction in oxidative stress in the liver.

Medical history, age, sex, and health goals may influence dosage requirements. Rooibos-derived supplements should be added to your routine with caution and taken under the guidance of a medical professional.

Rooibos tea is generally considered safe for the average healthy adult. However, excessive consumption may present concerns as it can displace the intake of other beverages that provide essential nutrients in the diet. Furthermore, there are anecdotal reports of liver irritation and the potential for herb-drug interactions.

Research has found that rooibos extract, when combined with hypoglycemic drugs, sulfonylureas, and dyslipidemic drugs, may hinder their effects. Consulting with a healthcare provider is recommended, especially for those currently on medications.

Lastly, limited research exists regarding rooibos tea and its potential safety concerns for pregnant and breastfeeding individuals. Pregnant or breastfeeding people should consume rooibos tea in moderate amounts unless otherwise directed by their doctor.

Rooibos tea is a versatile drink with a mildly sweet, nutty flavor. Consider these tips for consuming and enjoying the herbal tea:

  • To brew rooibos tea, allow the tea leaves to steep in boiled water for 5-7 minutes (e.g., in a French press, teapot, or a cup with a teabag)
  • Enjoy various flavors of rooibos tea by adding ingredients like lemon slices, cinnamon sticks, or fresh mint leaves
  • To make a cup of iced rooibos tea, brew a pot of double-strength tea and let it cool before pouring it over ice
  • Blend it with other herbal teas to maximize its health benefits
  • Consume rooibos tea in moderation and be mindful of any added sweeteners
  • Store your rooibos tea in an airtight container in the fridge to preserve its flavor and freshness

Rooibos tea has been consumed since the 1700s, but recent scientific discoveries have highlighted it as a functional food. It boasts many possible health benefits, including a helpful role in blood sugar management and heart health. It’s rich in antioxidants, free from caffeine, and low in tannins, making it a powerhouse beverage for hydration and the fight against inflammation. Plus, it can be enjoyed warm or cold and flavored with many different ingredients.

One cup of rooibos tea contains 0 calories, leaving room to add milk, cream, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, or other flavorings without significantly skewing your daily calorie intake. However, it’s essential to be mindful of serving sizes as these ingredients can add up over time.

Rooibos tea may interact with some medications. Talk with your doctor about potential herb-drug interactions before drinking rooibos tea or taking a rooibos supplement.

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