Rooibos drinkers less likely to suffer from heart disease

Heart disease - one of the leading causes of death in South Africa - is expected to increase by 41% over the next 13 years. Experts are now saying there may be merit in incorporating alternative ways to prevent and treat heart disease.

Dr Dawie van Velden, a medical professional with an interest in integrative medicine, says the biggest risk factor is high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, which affects one in three adults in South Africa. "Across the world, we are seeing a huge move towards alternative and more natural ways of treating illnesses, such as heart disease, which is primarily a result of poor lifestyle behaviours. These natural methods include everything from diet, exercise, smoking cessation to destressing via music therapy, meditation, and even drinking home-brewed Rooibos tea," he adds.

A study conducted in Sweden found that 30 to 60 minutes after drinking 400 ml of Rooibos, the activity of the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) is significantly suppressed. This enzyme is believed to be involved in the development of heart disease and therefore ACE inhibitors are often prescribed to treat hypertension and heart disease.

Dr van Velden explains that when blood vessels constrict, blood pressure increases, putting you at greater risk of heart attack or stroke. "Rooibos tea is known as a bronchodilator, which not only relieves respiratory conditions but also reduces high blood pressure. It works in similar fashion to ACE inhibitors and helps blood vessels to relax and widen, making it easier for blood to flow through."

According to the SA Rooibos Council, the polyphenolic antioxidants in Rooibos promotes heart health. Rooibos also contains flavones and flavonols such as quercetin which helps to inhibit ACE activity. It helps to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease by inhibiting the migration of smooth muscle cells inside the arteries, a key cause of the narrowing or hardening of the arteries that may lead to a heart attack. These phytochemicals help to lower blood pressure and may relieve vasoconstriction.

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• Eyewitness News: Rooibos tea-drinkers less likely to suffer from heart disease
• RNews: Rooibos tea-drinkers less likely to suffer from heart disease