Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
Drinking fresh, hot herbal teas during blistery winter months offers a host of benefits. It warms your body and excites taste buds while increasing hydration and replenishing important nutrients. A popular ingredient in herbal tea blends, the vitamin C loaded Hibiscus packs a punch to dry winter ailments with antioxidant and immune-boosting properties. Hibiscus teas are commonly used around the world. Recent studies show hibiscus may help regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels, help manage weight and act as a natural angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor.
One recent study explored the antioxidant properties of hibiscus tea on people. Researchers found that antioxidant levels drop throughout the day, but hibiscus tea causes that level to spike within an hour of consumption. The spike is short-lived, but significant nonetheless. In another study, an international team of researchers compared the antioxidant content of 3,139 foods, including hundreds of beverages. Hibiscus tea, ranked high on the chart as one of the richest in antioxidants.
A healthy alternative to sugary fruit juices and sodas, hibiscus tea is sour, but it’s easy to sweeten up with Stevia. It can also give yourself a tropical treat during winter months. Try this: soak a handful of bulk, dried organic hibiscus flowers overnight and then blend with a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger, a teaspoon of amla (packed with properties that aid skin, immune function, digestion and more), and a handful of fresh mint leaves to make a half-gallon. Sweeten to taste with your favorite Stevia. This kid-friendly (it tastes like fruit punch) recipe may be one of the highest antioxidant beverages in the world.
Vitamin A is complex. Contrary to popular belief, vitamin A is actually a group of related nutrients, not a single nutrient. Each type of vitamin A carries its own benefits and source of origin. Retinoid forms (retinol, retinal, retinoic acid and retinyl esters) are found in animal-foods and offer immune, inflammatory, genetic and reproductive-related benefits. Carotenoids (various carotenes and xanthophylls) are found in plant foods and most function as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients. The human body is able to effectively convert carotenoids into retinoid forms within the body.
Vitamin A has long been known for its role in vision! But, did you know that recent studies have been exploring the potential of carotenoids as anti-cancer and anti-aging compounds. This is, in part, because of their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties? Both categories of vitamin A offer benefits (namely immune and anti-inflammatory) that go a long way during the winter months. This winter treat yourself to vitamin A rich foods including yogurt, eggs, chicken, shrimp, salmon, halibut, scallops, sardines, tuna, cod, sweet potatoes, carrots, and leafy greens such as spinach, kale, swiss chard, and collard, turnip, and mustard greens. Your whole body will thank you.