Its name is Aspalathus linearis and perhaps this term can tell us little, but from the leaves of this plant of the Fabaceae family and native to South Africa, a well-known infusion is obtained, rooibos tea! Rooibos tea is a drink that, nowadays, is widespread all over the world. Its fame is due to the fact that rooibos tea is caffeine-free, unlike other types of tea, and is a precious source of substances beneficial to health. Rooibos tea can be presented both in fermented form, the classic red rooibos, and unfermented, and in this case we are talking about green rooibos. Today we talk about the properties of rooibos tea, both fermented and not, based on the most recent and interesting scientific research.
Rooibos tea with antioxidant and antidiabetic action
Whether rooibos is fermented or not, its infusion is characterized by a unique profile of antioxidants, among which dihydrochalcone aspalatin stands out (Lima et al, Foods, 2022). This substance, in particular, has been shown to play a protective role in the case of type 2 diabetes, by improving insulin resistance and increasing the use of glucose by the muscles, thus helping to keep blood sugar levels under control (Muller et al, Int J Mol Sci, 2022). It should be emphasized that, however, the unfermented variant of rooibos tea has a higher content of antioxidants with a 50-fold increase in aspalathine (Pretorius et al, Pharmaceuticals, 2022).
Rooibos tea for the heart
Regular intake of rooibos tea has a protective effect on the heart. In fact, this infusion, in addition to keeping blood sugar under control, as we saw in the previous paragraph, also helps to reduce cholesterol values and is antihypertensive (Bednarska et al, Int J Mol Sci, 2022).
Rooibos tea and intestinal inflammation
Rooibos tea, both in its fermented and unfermented variants, has shown an important prebiotic action, capable of supporting the proliferation of good intestinal bacteria. This property allows rooibos tea to perform a calming, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic action in case of intestinal inflammation (Pretorius et al, J Ethnopharmacol, 2022).
Rooibos tea with neuroprotective and anxiolytic action
Rooibos tea, especially in the unfermented version, provides important antioxidants that have proved to be useful in protecting neurons from damage by free radicals and neuroinflammation and in improving transmission between neurons (Pretorius et al, Pharmaceuticals, 2022). Therefore, rooibos is considered a further ally in the fight against neurodegeneration (Pyrzanowska et al, Nutr Neurosci, 2022). Then, rooibos tea is also considered an ally to counteract anxiety and stress, given its anxiolytic action. At the moment, the anxiolytic action has been demonstrated only for the unfermented variant of rooibos (Lopez et al, Food Funct, 2022).
Rooibos tea and immune system
Rooibos tea supports the immune system. In fact, studies have demonstrated the antiviral action of this tea and its ability to inhibit different groups of viruses such as influenza (Abdoul et al, J Funct Foods, 2021). Additionally, rooibos is anti-inflammatory and helps reduce chronic inflammation, which weakens the immune system (Abdoul et al, J Funct Foods, 2021).
Rooibos tea, how to prepare it and warnings
Bring a cup of water to the boil, remove from the heat and add a teaspoon of dried rooibos leaves, you can find them in herbal medicine and specialized shops. Leave to infuse for ten minutes, then filter and drink. Ten minutes of infusion is the time considered necessary to extract the greatest amount of antioxidants (Piek et al, Health SA, 2019). Rooibos tea, taken as an herbal tea, is generally thought to be safe. However, if you are taking medication and intend to take rooibos regularly, ask your doctor for advice to rule out any interactions with current medications. Scientific studies, in fact, report a possible interaction with some drugs, such as those used in type 2 diabetes, such as thiazolidinediones and sulfonylureas, but also statins used in case of hypercholesterolemia (Patel et al, Molecules, 2016).