Roselle, a member of Hibiscus family, is a very well-known medicinal plant and the plant can be found in almost all tropical and subtropical countries such as India, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Sudan, Egypt and Mexico.
In Malaysia, Roselle is commonly known as asam kumbang, asam susur and asam paya. Other names for Roselle in different languages are Luo shen hua 洛神花 (Chinese), Pulichai kerai (Tamil) and Red sorrel (English). Scientifically, Roselle is known as Hibiscus sabdariffa L. or also synonym with Abelmoschus cruentus and Furcaria sabdariffa.
For centuries, Roselle has been used in number of dishes, beverages and conventional remedy of diseases. It is popular for its edible fleshy calyces and leaves that are used for making salads, tea, juices, jams, jellies, ice-cream, and many other products.
Nutrients & Bioactive Compounds in Roselle
Roselle is mainly cultivated for its calyx, which is of three types: green, red and dark red. The red calyxes are the most used as they are characterized by their high nutrient concentration.
Roselle is an excellent source of:
Organic acids including citric, malic, tartaric and allo-hydroxycitric acids
Minerals: Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron
Vitamins: Vitamin C, beta carotene, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine
Phytochemicals & antioxidants including Anthocyanins (e.g. delphinidin-3-O-sambubioside) and flavonoids (e.g., quercetin-3-glucoside)
Benefits of DXN Roselle
1) Regulates blood pressure
Roselle is rich in antioxidants as it contains bioactive compounds such as anthocyanins and flavonoids which can lower blood pressure in hypertensive adults by reducing the viscosity (thickness) of blood. A study from Tufts showed that three daily cups of roselle drink or tea significantly lowered blood pressure in prehypertensive adults better than placebo, with a drop in the subjects’ systolic blood pressure by six points over the control group. To put that into perspective, on a population scale, a five-point drop may lead to 14 percent fewer stroke deaths, 9 percent fewer fatal heart attacks, and 7 percent fewer deaths overall each year.
2) Lowers blood cholesterol
As Roselle contains high levels of flavonoids, polyphenols and anthocyanin, it is shown in research to prevent oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) or 'bad cholesterol', hence able to suppress blood lipid levels including triglycerides and total cholesterol significantly. According to a study conducted among high blood cholesterol patients, a total of 3g Roselle extract per day, given three times a day, significantly lowered serum cholesterol. This data strongly suggests that Roselle is potentially applicable to prevent atherosclerosis and a number of cardiovascular diseases.
3) Regulates blood sugar
Studies revealed that polyphenolic components of roselle can improve insulin sensitivity, hence reduce insulin resistance and regulates blood sugar level. Hibiscus acid in roselle has been reported as a potent inhibitor of intestinal α-glucosidase and pancreatic α-amylase activity, therefore can serve as effective mechanism for the control of postprandial hyperglycemia (rise of blood sugar after a meal).
4) Helps with weight loss and fatty liver
Roselle has been shown to help boost body metabolism and maintain healthy weight. Studies presented that consuming roselle can help to reduce fat percentage, body weight and BMI. Roselle is also found to help inhibit fat accumulation, prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver, hence it has liver-protecting potential.
Chronic inflammation is one of the common root causes of most diseases including cancer. Roselle is naturally high in the phytonutrient anthocyanin, a family of bioactive pigments responsible for the red colour of roselle and its potent antioxidant actions. Many studies suggested that anthocyanins may be involved in the improvement of many different types of diseases including Alzheimer's disease, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular diseases and many more.
6) Improve iron status
Iron deficiency is one of the most common form of nutritional deficiencies, particularly in young children and women at child-bearing age. Iron deficiency can lead to stunting and impaired cognitive development in children, as well as adverse maternal health and birth outcomes. Many studies found that consuming Roselle regularly could improve iron status of child bearing women and protect stunting among toddlers. As Roselle is an excellent source of Vitamin C, it's especially an effective way to enhance iron absorption.
In summary, Roselle provides various purported health benefits, which include:
Supports immune system
Regulates blood pressure
Lowers blood cholesterol level
Regulates blood sugar level
Liver protecting effect
Improves iron status
Helps with weight loss