Hibiscus was not only named the beverage flavor of the year it is now benefiting from research demonstrating cardiovascular advantages.
The journal Nutrients recently published results of a study by British and Nigerian scientists showing a significant increase in the brachial artery’s ability to carry blood throughout the body following a fatty meal at which subjects drank a hibiscus beverage.
Blood flow increased due to widening of the artery. The hibiscus did not appear to change systolic or diastolic blood pressure. Consumption of the anthocyanin-rich hibiscus showed effects similar to blueberries (which are also rich in anthocyanins).
The study, by researchers at Bayero University in Nigeria and the University of Reading (UK), is a first on the acute impact of drinking Hibiscus sabdariffa calyces (HSC). Researchers employed a randomized, controlled, single-blinded, two-meal crossover study for two weeks. The 25 male subjects were assessed for risk of cardiovascular disease (ranging from 1-10 percent). They consumed 250 milliliters of HSC brewed for 10 minutes from 30 grams of dried hibiscus in tea bags. The British participants in the study were then fed buttered croissants with butter and honey for breakfast and a high fat meal of cheese sandwiches, a bag of slated chips, and shortbread biscuit fingers for lunch.
Blood samples were collected prior to the test and at intervals of two- and four-hours. Participants then took a two week break to wash out their systems. On returning they completed the same routine but with a different drink.
This is the second major study identifying hibiscus as beneficial to blood flow. A 2010 study by Tufts University linked consumption of hibiscus to lower blood pressure in those experiencing circulatory problems.
Researchers in that study sought to determine the effect on blood pressure of drinking a hibiscus beverage three times a day. “In vitro studies show that H. sabdariffa has antioxidant properties and, in animal models, extracts of this flower have demonstrated hypocholesterolemic and antihypertensive properties. Researchers noted that concentrated H. sabdariffa beverages lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension and type 2 diabetes compared with black tea (C. sinensis) and have an effect similar to common hypotensive drugs.
Researchers concluded hibiscus was beneficial, “effectively reduces BP in pre- and mildly-hypertensive adults.” They concluded that three cups per day “may be useful in preventing the progression to moderate or more severe hypertension, potentially reducing the subsequent risk of developing cardiovascular disease.”