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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 17:35 EDT

Rooibos Offers Multiple Health Benefits to UAE Tea-Drinkers

November 12, 2012

DUBAI, UAE, November 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ –

Caffeine-free tea from South Africa is linked with treatment for diabetes, cancer and
heart disease

An herbal tea from South Africa has the potential to offer UAE residents a range of
health benefits, according to a leading Dubai-based nutritionist. Rooibos tea has been
shown to slow down cancer, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, and help with a
range of other conditions, including diabetes.

(Photo:
http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20121112/573733 )

“Rooibos is a national drink in South Africa and very popular with South Africans
living in the UAE for its flavour,” said Hala Barghout, a clinical dietician and
nutritionist. “But it’s not just about taste -rooibos contains a complex and unique blend
of antioxidants that play a major role in boosting the body’s natural defences.

“Rooibos offers a whole array of health benefits. It contains no calories and no
caffeine, and researchers have found that it can help to lower blood pressure, boost the
immune system, prevent liver disease, slow down cancer, cut the risk of heart disease and
stroke and help in the treatment of diabetes.”

Anti-diabetes potential

New evidence has just emerged of the anti-diabetes potential of rooibos, following a
joint study conducted by the Diabetes Discovery Platform from South Africa’s Medical
Research Council (MRC) and the South African Agricultural Research Council’s (ARC)
Infruitec-Nietvoorbij Institute.

Researchers found that an aspalathin-enriched extract of green rooibos is able to
lower raised glucose levels in the blood of diabetic rats. Aspalathin is a unique
antioxidant found in nature only in the rooibos plant (Aspalathus linearis). When combined
with rutin, another key compound in rooibos tea, the glucose-lowering action was further
enhanced.

Working with diabetic rats, the researchers were able to show that the Rooibos extract
could achieve a glucose-lowering effect comparable to existing diabetic drugs.

“Our work confirms the constituents present in rooibos could prove beneficial in the
fight against diabetes,” said Dr Johan Louw of the MRC, who led the study, which was
published last month. “We believe that rooibos can provide a basis to develop a
standardised anti-diabetic product. We have also confirmed that the polyphenols in complex
mixtures, such as rooibos tea, work synergistically to achieve favourable health effects.
This points to the value of drinking the whole tea containing the required amount of these
beneficial constituents, rather than a tablet containing just one of the compounds.”

Small diet changes – great health benefits

Barghout said that research has also shown rooibos to be effective in easing stomach
cramps and other digestive disorders, relieving allergies and soothing itching skin.
“Rooibos tea is one of a number of foods and beverages that we can introduce into our
daily diet without making any drastic changes in the way we live, and reap great health
benefits,” she added.

“Substituting regular tea or coffee with rooibos, drinking camel’s milk instead of
cow’s milk, adding kiwifruit to the fruit bowl – these are all easy steps to a healthier
lifestyle. In fact, to get the maximum health benefits from rooibos tea, researchers in
South Africa recommend the consumption of up to six cups per day, spread throughout the
day, including a cup at bedtime.”

Fanus Schoeman, South Africa’s Consul-General in Dubai, said he believes rooibos tea
could gain a large and loyal following in the UAE. “This is a nation of tea-drinkers,” he
said. “A recent study by the Emirates Industrial Bank showed that the majority of ethnic
groups in the UAE drink tea rather than coffee, so there is a large potential market here
for rooibos tea. We South Africans drink it primarily for the great and distinctive
flavour, but I believe the health benefits will also help rooibos win many new fans in the
UAE.”

Unique to South Africa

The rooibos plant is indigenous and unique to the Cederberg and surrounding areas of
the Western and Northern Cape in South Africa, where rooibos tea is produced. The plant
and the tea brewed from it were first documented in 1772, and today the tea can be found
in 72% of South African homes. About half the annual production of 12,000 tonnes is
exported, and it is already widely available in UAE supermarkets.

The manner in which the rooibos leaves and stems are harvested and dried determines
whether the tea will be the traditional amber or red colour or the lighter and milder
green variety. Both versions are entirely natural products and contain no colourants,
additives or preservatives.

The Rooibos Council in South Africa is currently funding AED 1 million worth of
independent research to advance the understanding of the health-promoting properties of
rooibos – and in particular its ability to slow down and prevent various forms of cancer
as well as its potential to protect heart health in individuals at risk of cardiovascular
disease. Other topics being researched include the possibility that rooibos could be
beneficial in slowing down the effects of ageing, its anti-obesity properties, its role in
post-exercise recovery and its potential in combatting stress.

Notes to editors

        - The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 439 million people will
          have diabetes by 2030, with the major increase occurring in developing countries.
        - World Diabetes Day is celebrated on 14 November to mark the birthday of
          Frederick Banting who, along with Charles Best, was instrumental in the discovery of
          insulin in 1922, a life-saving treatment for diabetes patients.
        - The MRC/ARC study has been published online in October 2012 in the Journal of
          Phytomedicine (http://www.phytomedicinejournal.com/article/S0944-7113(12)00320-0/abstract)


    Photo: 

http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20121112/573733

SOURCE South African Rooibos Council


Source: PR Newswire