Hibiscus flower extract may have the same health benefits as red wine and tea according to new research by scientists in Taiwan. Hibiscus contains antioxidants that help control cholesterol levels and reduce heart disease, says the research in Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.
Chau-Jong Wang and his team at Chung Shan Medical University in the Republic of China found that the antioxidant properties of flavonoids, polyphenolic compounds and anthocyanins contained in the flower can prevent the oxidation of Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL), which is associated with the disease.
Hibiscus sabdariffa is used in folk medicine to treat hypertension and liver disorder, and is used to make popular soft drinks in various countries across the world. Some health benefits of taking Hibiscus have now been verified: “Experiments have shown that compounds extracted from red wine and tea reduces cholesterol and lipid build-up in the arteries of rats. This is the first study to show that Hibiscus extract has the same effect”, says Wang.
In the study, rats were divided in to four groups and given different diets; one control, one high cholesterol control, and two high cholesterol diets supplemented with different amounts of Hibiscus extract. After 12 weeks, the rats were given blood tests to assess their health. Results showed that the extract significantly reduced cholesterol content in blood serum and successfully prevented oxidation of Low-density Lipoproteins.
These data strongly suggest that the extract has potential to prevent cholesterol deposition and may therefore be useful in the prevention and even treatment of a number of cardiovascular diseases in which cholesterol plays a major role.