How do you take your Zobo? Hot with a handful of chin chin? Cold with a spoonful of sugar? If you are a Zobo fan, there is good news coming out of the medical field. Studies suggest it can be a powerful ally in improving your health. Traditionally used as a cure for ailments such as minor coughs, upset stomach, poor appetite and bacterial or fungal infections, Hibiscus Sabdariffa (aka Roselle), the flower from which Zobo drink (aka sorrel) is made is packed with healing plant chemicals such as anthocyanins, polyphenols, and hibiscus acid. This combination of chemicals produces valuable medicinal properties that extend beyond the traditional uses we may be accustomed to.
Zobo reduces blood pressure
According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Hibiscus Sabdariffa significantly lowered blood pressure by removing excess fluids and allowing the blood vessels to relax in people suffering from pre- and mild hypertension. In fact, adding Hibiscus to the diet was reported to be just as effective as taking the popular anti-hypertensive drug, Captropril. With over 43% of Nigerians suffering from high blood pressure and the lack of adequate health care facilities, this finding is important because drinking a beverage like Zobo can reduce medical costs and prevent complications such as stroke, heart disease, and even death.
Zobo may lower cholesterol
Another study published in Filoterapia, a journal dedicated to medicinal plants and bioactive natural products of plant origin, confirmed Hibiscus’s effectiveness in treating high blood pressure. In addition, it reported an overall positive effect on heart clogging cholesterol evidenced by decreases in LDL- cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and triglycerides and an increase in HDL- cholesterol (the good cholesterol) in people that took HS capsules. This was especially evident in people that suffered from diabetes. Although some researchers have questioned its effectiveness, there appears to be a larger consensus that HS is beneficial in reducing cholesterol whether taken in either capsule or beverage form.
To reap the full benefits:
Tip: Add a cup to each meal. That way you are guaranteed to get your required dose.
Tip: Use no more than 1 teaspoon of sweetener per cup of Zobo
Tip: Feed your body a colorful diet loaded with whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. The more colorful your plate, the more nutrients you get. Be active by engaging in physical activity 4-5 days of the week.
Unfortunately, with the increased popularity of sugary fizzy drinks and alcohol, Zobo may barely make a dent in the ever increasing rates of blood pressure in Nigeria and beyond. Be a proponent for health and replace each sugary and/or alcoholic drink with healthy alternatives like Zobo. Before long, you will be on the road to better health.
Zobo Tea Recipe
Measure out 1.25g of dried Zobo and place in a tea bag (How to make your own tea bags). Bring 240ml water to a rapid boil and drop the bag into the water. Allow to seep for 6 minutes before removing the bag. Enjoy your tea hot or cold.
Tip: You can make your drink ahead of time but to reap the full benefit, you must consume it within 12 hours.
Here’s to your health!
Cordialis Msora-Kasago is a Registered Dietitian (R.D) and a pioneer in the discussion of modern day healthy lifestyles in Africa. She is the founder of The African Pot Nutrition - an organization that improves the health of African people through sustainable diet and lifestyle programs. Follow her on twitter @africadietitian.