English tea drinkers might be on to something! According to new research, drinking hibiscus tea three times a day can lower blood pressure and reduce risk of developing hypertension. A small but well-designed study led by Dr. Diane L. McKay, who works in the Antioxidants Research Laboratory at Tufts University, focused on 65 healthy men and women, ages 30 to 70, with mildly elevated blood pressure levels.
Over the course of six weeks, half of the volunteers in the group drank 8oz of hibiscus tea–hot or cold– three times a day, and the other half drank a placebo beverage. The participants’ blood pressure levels were monitored once a week. At the beginning of the study, their systolic blood pressure ranged from 120 to 150 mm Hg and their diastolic blood pressure was 95 mm Hg or less. Adults with blood pressure readings of 120/80 or higher are classified as having prehypertension or hypertension, conditions associated with stroke, heart disease, kidney disease and other health risks.
At the end of the study, the systolic blood pressure levels of the hibiscus tea drinkers had lowered by an average of 7.2 points, compared with a 1.3 point drop in the placebo group. Participants with the highest blood pressure readings in the hibiscus group had the most significant response to the tea. The authors concluded that adding 3 cups of hibiscus tea into the diet of prehypertensive or mildly hypertensive people may help prevent progression to full-fledged hypertension.
High blood pressure is a major cause of cardiovascular disease and other serious health risks, but it is easily diagnosed and can be prevented or treated. Consult with your doctor if you think you’re at risk.