Tag Archive: hibiscus


Keeping Your Heart Healthy

I’ve been a bit lax on writing my blog, but I’m happy to say I’ll be posting much more regularly from now on. This week’s topic turns out to be news on some foods that are especially beneficial for cardiovascular health.

I’m very happy to bring you this exciting news about pomegranate juice: It turns out that there’s good evidence that drinking as little as 50 ml (about one-fifth of a cup) of pomegranate juice daily can help to not only prevent the progression of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) but can actually reverse heart disease, by as much as 30% in three years. See the following articles:

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/how-clean-your-arteries-one-simple-fruit

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/pomegranate-reduces-intima-media-thickness-size-artery-while-also-reducing

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/pomegranate-juice-has-potent-antiatherogenic-effects-healthy-humans-and

Also on the subject of heart disease, it’s widely known that one of the most common class of drugs prescribed for this are statins, which are meant to reduce cholesterol. In fact, some doctors suggest that statins ought to be prescribed for children!. But are there any natural alternatives? This author argues that supplementation with niacin does as well or better than statins, with fewer side effects: http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v01n10.shtml.

Actos is a drug commonly prescribed for lowering blood pressure; however an unfortunate side effect (one of several) is that it often raises the risk of stroke. It turns out that there’s evidence that simply eating cherries or drinking cherry juice does just as well or better than Actos, without the dangerous side effects. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130423102129.htm, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080407114647.htm. While these are studies on specially bred rats and not on humans, the results are encouraging.

And then we have hibiscus tea. I mentioned hibiscus in an earlier blog post, which referred to evidence that hibiscus is one of the most antioxidant-rich plants out there. It turns out that some studies show a positive connection between hibiscus tea consumption and successful management of metabolic syndrome (which includes diabetes), and that it also tends to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. See http://www.naturalnews.com/043393_hibiscus_herbal_tea_cardiovascular_health.html#ixzz2qL5KP8Pm. You can get hibiscus leaves in bulk from your local supermarket and make a tea by simply immersing a couple of tablespoons of it in a pitcher of water overnight (you can leave it in the fridge). With a squeeze of lemon and some mint it is really quite delicious, similar to fruit punch.

All this news about food and supplements is encouraging, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one of the most important and powerful ways you can help keep your heart healthy: be part of an active social community! It turns out that social isolation increases your risk of death from heart disease by up to 250%: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21492978, http://www.pnas.org/content/110/15/5797.full, http://eurjhf.oxfordjournals.org/content/14/7/748.abstract, and also increases your risk of heart failure, stroke, and other illnesses http://wellness.unl.edu/wellness_documents/lack_of_social_support_and_effects_of_coronary_heart_disease.pdf. This is true even when correcting for factors like body weight and so on. The good news in this, of course, is that by not being socially isolated – by cultivating a social network of people you regularly meet physically (Facebook doesn’t count, we need physical contact!) – you become healthier. Real human contact is not yet something one can put in a pill!

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Hibiscus Tea: Better Than Green Tea?

Dr. Gerber has an excellent website where he posts informative videos like this one, about the impressive antioxidant benefits of hibiscus, which appear to be greater than green tea. In addition, hibiscus has anti-inflammatory properties, lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol, and may have anti-cancer effects (see here.

I have tried Gerber’s recipe and it is delicious; it is very easy to make and tastes like fruit punch. I tend to use stevia and Just Like Sugar, and I do blend in the mint leaves. After about a week of doing this, I am noticing increased energy and a quicker recovery from workouts. As Gerber notes, you can simply add bulk hibiscus to a blender with the lemon, mint, and date sugar (or a few pitted dates).

However, variety is the spice of life, and green or white tea has nutrients that hibiscus doesn’t, so I plan to alternate my hibiscus drink with some cold-brewed tea. Why cold-brewed? Well there’s less acid and caffeine for one thing, but also the antioxidant content is higher! See Gerber’s video here. And I won’t add cow’s milk, which cancels many of the benefits of tea (see here, but lemon, which increases the bioavailability of the nutrients.