Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Wondering if there is a simple way you can celebrate this fun holiday? Try making some refreshing lemonade with hibiscus, something traditionally used in a delicious Mexican beverage called Aqua de Jamaica (water of Jamaica).
Aqua de Jamaica is often loaded with sugar, which negates some of the health effects of hibiscus. Therefore, I've come up with an alternative that is refreshing without the sugar.
What is hibiscus and why is it healthy?
Hibiscus is a type of plant that is native to warm, temperate, tropical/subtropical regions of the world. It's known especially in places like Hawaii and Jamaica, but can also be found in my dad's backyard in California.
Hibiscus flowers can be dried and used to make tea. This is the basis for Aqua de Jamaica, but could be drunk by itself in a tart but very healthy tea.
What are the health benefits of hibiscus tea?
Well, they range from lowering blood pressure, boosting antioxidant levels in the blood, to potentially helping with blood sugar and cholesterol control.
Apparently drinking hibiscus tea can work just as well as a leading blood pressure pill at reducing blood pressure (although it doesn't compare to making a switch to a plant-based diet for blood pressure).
What are the drawbacks? Of course, too much of any good thing can turn into a bad thing, and with hibiscus tea, we may see it affecting tooth enamel (because it's very acidic) and manganese levels as it is a very potent source. Given that, the recommendation is no more than a quart (4 cups) a day.
I hate to admit it, but I also didn't know it was contraindicated in pregnancy and breastfeeding (what isn't?). I've been consuming some dilute hibiscus mixed into iced red raspberry leaf tea, but I will be switching to other flavorants after hearing this.
Nonetheless, there is a delicious lemonade recipe that awaits all the rest of the non-pregnant and non-breastfeeding world!
It's so simple as well! It just takes a few ingredients!
1 cup of hibiscus tea (use 1-2 tablespoons of leaves to make a strong brew)
1 cup of lemon juice
1 cup of erythritol (This is a plant-based sweetener that has no side effects, unlike many others) or sugar (if you are not making a sugar-free variety).
6-7 cups of water
Mix these together and you've got yourselves a delicious treat for this spring/summer.
Wondering where to get hibiscus from?
We get ours from a local tea shop, but you could also try a natural foods store, an online tea shop, Etsy, or Amazon.
If you are hoping to reap the anti-hypertensive benefits of hibiscus tea, try drinking 3-4 cups a day, or 2 strongly brewed cups a day. It makes a delicious iced tea and can be sweetened with erythritol (as opposed to other no-calorie sweeteners). Make sure to rinse your mouth with water after drinking and avoid brushing your teeth for 1 hour after drinking to avoid tooth enamel erosion.
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