Healthy Living

Hibiscus tea for Weight Loss

Story Highlights
  • Made from calyces of hibiscus flower, hibiscus tea confers several benefits on the human body.
  • Extensive research has proved that hibiscus tea is beneficial for weight loss.
  • Apart from being rich in anti-oxidants, the compounds in hibiscus tea block absorption of glucose and starch from the diet. They also inhibit adipogenesis and thus, help in lowering weight.
  • Being completely free of chemicals and preservatives, it is a natural, effective solution for managing weight.
  • Hibiscus tea should be avoided by pregnant women, people with hypotension, and those with renal failure.

The prevalence of lifestyle diseases has been steadily increasing since past few years 1, thanks to lifestyle changes partly due to technological advances, unhealthy diet, and sedentary habits. One of the most common and serious health concern is obesity. Although there is no substitute for regular physical exercise and a well-balanced, healthy diet, some modifications in our lifestyle can act as complementary tools to maintain weight. This can help us lead healthier as well as longer lives. Adding hibiscus tea to your daily diet is one such simple and convenient habit that can benefit you in your goal to shed those pounds.

Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels.

~ Elizabeth Berg

Introduction to Hibiscus tea

Hibiscus flower (scientific name: Hibiscus sabdariffa) is a red flower that is used to make herbal tea. These flowers are originally native to West Africa but are now found on almost every continent. In ancient Egypt, the drink made from these flowers was commonly consumed by the Pharaohs for its cooling effect. 2 The herbal tea was also used for other beneficial properties such as increased production of urine, and sore throat, etc.

The hibiscus tea is made from the sepals (calyces) of the flower which also give it the characteristic red colour. Also known as roselle tea, it has a refreshing sour taste and often a sweetener is added before drinking the beverage.

Components of Hibiscus tea that aid in weight loss

Extensive research has been carried out to determine the efficacy of hibiscus tea in controlling weight. It was found that the main components of hibiscus flower are organic acids, anthocyanins, polysaccharides, polyphenols, several flavonoids and glycosides. 3 4 The calyces that are used to prepare hibiscus tea too contain the organic acids and anthocyanins, however, flavonoids and glycosides are present in minimal quantities. These are the components in the beverage that are responsible for weight reducing, cholesterol-lowering, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant properties.

Benefits of Hibiscus tea for weight loss

Drinking hibiscus tea regularly has proved useful in improving the general health of the body, as well as bring about a reduction in weight. The benefits of hibiscus tea for weight loss are multi-pronged, and include the following:

1. Avoid soda! Go herbal and choose hibiscus tea

Carbonated soft drinks are one of the biggest culprits for the obesity pandemic today. As compared to hibiscus tea, a normal serving of carbonated soft drinks contains almost three times the calories. 5 In addition, the excessive sugar content wreaks havoc with health. Instead, a cup of unsweetened hibiscus tea is low in calories, and free of harmful chemicals. Hibiscus tea can thus serve as an alternative to these soft drinks, as well as to energy drinks, sport drinks, or other chemically loaded beverages.

2. Hibiscus tea is rich in anti-oxidants

The anthocyanins present in hibiscus tea are potent anti-oxidants. 6 Anti-oxidants are substances that protect against damage from toxic free radicals, which are also implicated in obesity. Studies have found that these anthocyanins in hibiscus tea are helpful for weight-maintenance, thus preventing obesity. 7

3. Weight loss

Anti-obesity properties of hibiscus flower extract have been demonstrated in several international studies on both humans and animals. 8 This is also accompanied with lipid-lowering and hepatoprotective effects. 9 A more recent study showed that extracts of the hibiscus flower helps in reducing total body weight, BMI (body mass index), and abdominal fat. 10 This makes hibiscus tea the perfect solution for cardiovascular disorders. In fact, a 2009 study found that these properties of hibiscus flower extracts can help in improving the lipid profile of diabetic patients too. 11

4. Satiety

Hibiscus tea cannot be the only source of nutrition for an individual. However, if weight is a concern for you, it is important to have an overall, healthy diet and not reach for the processed, high-calorie junk food. Regular consumption of hibiscus tea can help you by keeping you satiated due to the polysaccharides (mucilage content). They keep you feeling full for a longer time, thus avoiding intake of excessive calories. Hibiscus tea also has mild laxative effects, this can maintain the health of your gastrointestinal tract, thus ensuring good digestion.

5. Vitamin C

In addition to the direct lipid-lowering and weight-reducing effects of hibiscus tea, it is also a rich source of vitamin C. 12 Many people are aware that vitamin C is believed to good for common cold, however, the effect of vitamin C on obesity is not common knowledge. Vitamin C is found to be inversely related to body mass of an individual. It was shows that individuals who had adequate amounts of vitamin C oxidized a higher percentage of fat during exercise, as compared to vitamin C-deficient individuals. 13 Thus, by being a good source of vitamin C, hibiscus tea can have an indirect effect on the rate of fat oxidation during exercise, allowing faster weight loss.

6. Lowers inflammation

Increased levels of inflammation in the body lead to weight gain. This occurs due to deranged insulin action, thus leading to poor glucose control. 14 Additional, chronic inflammation has been linked with metabolic syndrome and obesity. 15 The polyphenols in hibiscus tea possess anti-inflammatory properties 16, and thus help in preventing the occurrence of obesity and other related metabolic disorders.

7. Diuretic action

Because of their ability to remove water from the body, diuretics (substances causing increased urine production) lead to rapid weight loss. 17 Hibiscus tea also possesses diuretic properties. This can help in weight reduction. One additional benefit of this diuretic property of hibiscus extract is that it has shown to prevent development of kidney stones in rats. 18

8. Block glucose and starch absorption

Apart from the myriad ways in which it helps you lose weight directly, hibiscus tea is also useful in reducing glucose and starch absorption from other foods. By reducing the production of amylase, hibiscus extract reduces the absorption of these substances. 19 This makes it the perfect complement to an occasional high-calorie meal, that you can now enjoy guilt-free!

9. Reduce stress

Did you know that higher levels of stress can cause weight gain? Increased stress has been associated with increased abdominal fat and obesity. 20 Stress causes release cortisol that is involved in fat and carbohydrate metabolism. The polyphenols in hibiscus tea also play a role in reducing cortisol (aka stress hormone) levels. 21 This helps in lowering weight.

10. Block fat accumulation

A 2004 study assessed the effect of hibiscus flower extract on fat accumulation in vitro. 22 It was found that the hibiscus extract possesses the ability to block adipogenesis and lipid accumulation. This proves the positive impact hibiscus tea can have on the overall fat deposition in the human body. Another study on hamsters showed a similar inhibitory effect of hibiscus extract on fat accumulation. 23

How to prepare Hibiscus tea?

Now that you know about the benefits of hibiscus tea, I am sure you are looking forward to a cup of the same. You can drink the tea hot or cold as per the weather and personal choice.

  • To prepare a cup, add dried calyces of the plant to boiling water.
  • After few minutes, the water will turn into the characteristic deep red colour.
  • You can then add equal amounts of water to dilute the tea.
  • You can choose to add honey, mint, or ginger for the extra taste. If you are looking for the perfect weight-control drink, you can instead opt for lemon juice
24, cinnamon 25, etc.

Recommended dosage of Hibiscus tea

It is recommended to limit your intake to three-four cups of hibiscus tea daily to avoid accumulation of excessive manganese that is found in this beverage. 26 Alternatively, a single serving of 500 ml early morning can be opted for.

Side effects of hibiscus tea

  • Some people have experienced hallucinations after consumption of hibiscus tea.
  • There have also been reports of allergies.

Thus, one should be careful when drinking the beverage for the first time to see if there are any side effects experienced.

Who should avoid hibiscus tea?

Hibiscus tea should be used cautiously in certain conditions due to its effects on the human body. Certain group of people that should avoid hibiscus tea consumption, include:

Pregnant women: Due to oestrogen-lowering property, hibiscus tea is not recommended in pregnant women, or those trying to conceive. You should also be cautious if you are on hormonal tablets for any health reasons.

Hypotensive people: Along with anti-obesogenic properties, hibiscus tea also bring about a reduction in blood pressure. Thus, it should not be used in those suffering with hypotension.

People with renal disorders: Due to poor excretion capabilities of such individuals, hibiscus tea should not be consumed by those with any conditions affecting the kidneys.

The journey of losing those extra pounds can be tough. Drinking hibiscus tea regularly can be a small, albeit significant step in that journey. Hibiscus tea has several properties that help combat obesity naturally. So, brew that perfect cup and start your journey today!

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  2. HerbalGram: Herb Profile: Hibiscus.  Cmsherbalgramorg. 2018. Accessed April 10, 2018.

  3. Hopkins AL, Lamm MG, Funk J, Ritenbaugh C. Hibiscus sabdariffa L. in the treatment of hypertension and hyperlipidemia: a comprehensive review of animal and human studies.  Fitoterapia. 2013;85:84-94. doi:10.1016/j.fitote.2013.01.003.

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  7. Huang T-W, Chang C-L, Kao E-S, Lin J-H. Effect of Hibiscus sabdariffa extract on high fat diet–induced obesity and liver damage in hamsters.  Food & Nutrition Research. 2015;59:10.3402/fnr.v59.29018. doi:10.3402/fnr.v59.29018.

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  9. Villalpando-Arteaga E, Mendieta-Condado E, Esquivel-Solís H et al. Hibiscus sabdariffa L. aqueous extract attenuates hepatic steatosis through down-regulation of PPAR-γ and SREBP-1c in diet-induced obese mice.  Food Funct. 2013;4(4):618. doi:10.1039/c3fo30270a.

  10. Chang H, Peng C, Yeh D, Kao E, Wang C. Hibiscus sabdariffa extract inhibits obesity and fat accumulation, and improves liver steatosis in humans.  Food Funct. 2014;5(4):734. doi:10.1039/c3fo60495k.

  11. Mozaffari-Khosravi H, Jalali-Khanabadi B, Afkhami-Ardekani M, Fatehi F. Effects of Sour Tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on Lipid Profile and Lipoproteins in Patients with Type II Diabetes.  The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2009;15(8):899-903. doi:10.1089/acm.2008.0540.

  12. Da-Costa-Rocha I, Bonnlaender B, Sievers H, Pischel I, Heinrich M. Hibiscus sabdariffa L. – A phytochemical and pharmacological review.  Food Chem. 2014;165:424-443. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2014.05.002.

  13. Johnston CS. Strategies for Healthy Weight Loss: From Vitamin C to the Glycemic Response.  J Am Coll Nutr. 2005;24(3):158-165. doi:10.1080/07315724.2005.10719460.

  14. Cefalu WT. Inflammation, Insulin Resistance, and Type 2 Diabetes: Back to the Future?  Diabetes. 2009;58(2):307-308. doi:10.2337/db08-1656.

  15. Castro AM, Macedo-de la Concha LE, Pantoja-Meléndez CA. Low-grade inflammation and its relation to obesity and chronic degenerative diseases.  Revista Médica del Hospital General de México. 2017;80(2):101-105. doi:10.1016/j.hgmx.2016.06.011.

  16. Da-Costa-Rocha I, Bonnlaender B, Sievers H, Pischel I, Heinrich M. Hibiscus sabdariffa L. – A phytochemical and pharmacological review.  Food Chem. 2014;165:424-443. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2014.05.002.

  17. Cadwallader AB, de la Torre X, Tieri A, Botrè F. The abuse of diuretics as performance-enhancing drugs and masking agents in sport doping: pharmacology, toxicology and analysis.  British Journal of Pharmacology. 2010;161(1):1-16. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.00789.x.

  18. Laikangbam R, Damayanti Devi M. Inhibition of calcium oxalate crystal deposition on kidneys of urolithiatic rats by Hibiscus sabdariffa L. extract.  Urol Res. 2012;40(3):211-218. doi:10.1007/s00240-011-0433-3.

  19. Hansawasdi C, Kawabata J, Kasai T. α-Amylase Inhibitors from Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffaLinn.) Tea.  Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2000;64(5):1041-1043. doi:10.1271/bbb.64.1041.

  20. Scott KA, Melhorn SJ, Sakai RR. Effects of Chronic Social Stress on Obesity.  Current obesity reports. 2012;1(1):16-25. doi:10.1007/s13679-011-0006-3.

  21. Da-Costa-Rocha I, Bonnlaender B, Sievers H, Pischel I, Heinrich M. Hibiscus sabdariffa L. – A phytochemical and pharmacological review.  Food Chem. 2014;165:424-443. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2014.05.002.

  22. Kim M, Kim J, Kim H et al. Hibiscus Extract Inhibits the Lipid Droplet Accumulation and Adipogenic Transcription Factors Expression of 3T3-L1 Preadipocytes.  The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2003;9(4):499-504. doi:10.1089/107555303322284785.

  23. Huang T-W, Chang C-L, Kao E-S, Lin J-H. Effect of Hibiscus sabdariffa extract on high fat diet–induced obesity and liver damage in hamsters.  Food & Nutrition Research. 2015;59:10.3402/fnr.v59.29018. doi:10.3402/fnr.v59.29018.

  24. Shetty P, Mooventhan A, Nagendra HR. Does short-term lemon honey juice fasting have effect on lipid profile and body composition in healthy individuals?  Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. 2016;7(1):11-13. doi:10.1016/j.jaim.2016.03.001.

  25. Mollazadeh H, Hosseinzadeh H. Cinnamon effects on metabolic syndrome: a review based on its mechanisms.  Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences. 2016;19(12):1258-1270. doi:10.22038/ijbms.2016.7906.

  26. FACLM M. No More Than a Quart a Day of Hibiscus Tea |  NutritionFactsorg. 2018. Accessed April 10, 2018.

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