Red Tea Packs an Antioxidant Punch

Red Tea Packs an Antioxidant Punch

Red Tea Packs an Antioxidant Punch

A new study that indicates that Rooibos tea is one of nature's most powerful antioxidant drinks has just been published in the international journal Food Chemistry Volume 123, Issue 3 - proving what the people of South Africa have know for centuries.

The study resulted in the first-ever clinical evidence showing that drinking Rooibos tea significantly increases the antioxidant capacity in human blood, thereby boosting the body's natural defences.

The study was a collaborative research carried out in Rome, Glasgow and South Africa. The researchers in Rome and Glasgow found that the antioxidant capacity in the blood of 15 healthy volunteers peaked one hour after drinking 500mL of Rooibos tea, indicating that regular consumption throughout the day helped to maintain therapeutic levels of the antioxidant in the blood stream, increasing the efficacy of the drink.

The new supports the long list of credible scientific research carried out over the past decade that has shown that the active compounds found in Rooibos are bioavailable and metabolised in the body.

Rooibos or Red tea is a distinctly sweet, fruity tea which unlike green and black tea has no caffeine making it the ideal beverage for people who have caffeine sensitivity or those who prefer to limit their caffeine intake.

Rooibos is also low in tannins, which have been shown to interfere with the absorption of iron and increase the risk of anaemia.

Scientific studies indicate that Rooibos is a natural health all-rounder delivering significant health benefits, amongst others:
  • Prevention - the anti-inflammatory flavonoids found in Rooibos helps to activate one of the major antioxidant enzymes in the body called Super Oxide Dismutase (SOD), which helps to neutralise the harmful free radicals that are increasingly produced in the process of ageing and disease.
  • Mineral supplementation - Rooibos contains minerals that support metabolic functions such as Potassium, Sodium, Copper, Magnesium and Calcium and does not adversely affect the absorption of iron unlike other teas.
  • Skin health - The antioxidant properties of Rooibos have been used for decades in skincare products and can help to improve the symptoms of skin conditions like eczema.
  • For babies - Rooibos is well known for its antispasmodic, digestive and calming properties and is therefore indicated for the relief of symptoms of colic in restless babies.
  • Pregnancy - While there has been no scientific research on drinking Rooibos tea in pregnancy, traditionally it was drunk during pregnancy to relive nausea and heartburn.
  • General wellbeing - Rooibos is known to have a soothing effect on the central nervous system and is recommended for people suffering from headaches, insomnia, nervous strain or hypertension. It also assists in relieving the symptoms of asthma; helps to improve digestion, liver function and blood sugar regulation. Furthermore, the potential anti-viral effect of Rooibos tea has been shown to be effective against the herpes simples virus.

    Serving suggestions:
    For a taste sensation, allow Vital Organic Rooibos Tea to brew for 5 - 10 minutes. Serve hot or cold with a slice of lemon for a bit of extra zing. Rooibos can also be served chilled as part of a refreshing iced tea or mocktail.

    Rooibos Skin Saver Tip: To brighten tired eyes, place used Rooibos tea leaves over your eyes for a few minutes for a quick restoration - leaving you feeling refreshed and revitalised.

    Vital Organic Rooibos is the only Eco-Cert Rooibos Tea available in Australia and is available from your local supermarket and health food stores. Contact Vital Health Foods Australia on 1300 131 686 or see

    RRP: $7.90 for a pack of 100 teabags

    Interview with Karen Bridgman

    Karen Bridgman, Nutritionist and Naturopath ND, DBM, Dip Hom, DMH. M.App.Sci. (Social Ecology), M.Sc. (Hons), Ph.D

    Question: What advantages does Rooibos Tea have?

    Karen Bridgman: Rooibos tea has many health advantages. It was traditionally used for treating abdominal colic (wind pain), diarrhoea and vomiting, anaemia, eczema and asthma, inflammation, nervous tension and allergies. It also helped in the management of blood sugar and skin conditions such as abscesses, boils and sores were treated by external application. In addition, it is also cleansing and revitalising and helps induce a sound refreshing sleep

    Question: What are the benefits of antioxidants on the body?

    Karen Bridgman: The process of oxidation in the body is the production of free radicals that start chain reactions that damage cells. As we age, this damage accumulates and contributes to the development of chronic degenerative diseases such as heart and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, chronic pain etc. Antioxidants are very important to include regularly in the diet as they neutralise the free radicals that damage the cells and therefore play a role in prevention of these degenerative conditions.

    Question: How many glasses of Rooibos Tea do we need to consume to see positive results?

    Karen Bridgman: The amount of Rooibos to drink per day to gain the health benefits would be 3 -4 cups. This would need to be drunk regularly over long periods of time to have the long term beneficial effects. However this is easy to do, as just swapping your normal cup of tea with Rooibos works well. As there is little or no toxicity for Rooibos, twice this amount could be drunk with no adverse effects. As Rooibos does not contain any caffeine, it would also be less stimulating and more beneficial than tea drinking. It can also be drunk at night to help with sleep.

    Question: How does red tea prevent ageing?

    Karen Bridgman: Aging is the process of accumulated damage caused by increasing oxidation. Rooibos therefore assists in improving health as we age due to its high antioxidant content. Many of the degenerative diseases associated with aging are caused by a combination of excess accumulated oxidation and inflammation. The strong anti-inflammatory (and antioxidant) properties of Rooibos tea therefore assist in the prevention of these conditions, so we can reduce the more detrimental effects of the aging process.

    Question: What diseases does Rooibos Tea prevent?

    Karen Bridgman: Rooibos tea will improve digestion and liver function, it is calming so will help reduce nervous tension and anxiety and help with getting a good night's sleep. Its anti-inflammatory properties will reduce the inflammation caused by allergies and it helps repair and maintain healthy skin. It will also reduce cramps and spasms and improves immunity. Rooibos also has antiviral activity against various viruses including the herpes virus. Combined with a healthy diet and regular exercises, drinking Rooibos may regularly assist in the prevention of the common conditions mentioned above as well as the chronic degenerative diseases associated with the aging process.

    Question: How can Rooibos Tea keep our skin healthy?

    Karen Bridgman: Rooibos tea, both drunk regularly and used topically is an excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory for the skin. As such it assists in reducing the symptoms of inflammatory skin diseases such as eczema and itchy skin. The antioxidant properties prevent damage due to sun exposure and will assist in the prevention of the brown 'liver spots' caused by oxidation in the liver leaving residual brown spots in the connective tissue under the skin - a common sign of aging and excess sun exposure.

    Question: Why is Rooibos Tea been titled 'Nature's most powerful antioxidant drink'?

    Karen Bridgman: Rooibos tea has the ability to stimulate the activity of an antioxidant called SOD (superoxide dismutase) that is not present in many foods. SOD is one of two major antioxidants in the body. Rooibos also increases the other major antioxidant compound in the body - glutathione. These antioxidants together will help protect damage to DNA in our cells so play a large role in protecting us against a range of disease, particularly the diseases associated with aging. Rooibos has at least the equivalent amounts of antioxidants as does green tea, but without the caffeine, so can be drunk at all times of the day and evening.

    Question: What benefits does Rooibos Tea and red tea have over green or black tea?

    Karen Bridgman: There has been research comparing the antioxidant properties of Rooibos tea compared with green and black tea, and Rooibos was shown to have at least the equal amount of antioxidants as green tea. Black tea generally has less antioxidants as the process of fermentation that makes black tea, also destroys some of its antioxidant components. As such the important antioxidants are available in Rooibos tea with the added benefit of not containing the stimulant - caffeine - so it can be drunk in the evening to produce a good night's sleep. Rooibos also has lower levels of tannins than green tea so will not reduce iron absorption and its active ingredients also have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. It tastes delightful as well and can be drunk hot or cold and with milk and sugar in the same way as 'normal' tea.

    Interview by Brooke Hunter

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