Sorrel tea, or “zoborodo” in the Hausa language, is a “sour tea” made from dried Hibiscus sabdariffa leaves, also called Rosselle. The beverage is popular in Nigeria because it’s tasty and affordable. But is zobo healthy for you? Continue reading to find out.
How to make zobo drink
Besides the availability of hibiscus leaves, zobo is packed with essential nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, iron, and vitamin C. This is another reason it’s popular in Nigeria, especially during the Ramadan period, when Muslims prefer low-calorie beverages.
Besides, hibiscus tea is easy to prepare. Here are the ingredients you need:
- 2-5 cups of dried zobo leaves
- 2 tablespoons of ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger
- ½ cup of honey
- Slices of fruits like orange, lemon, lime, or watermelon
- Ice cubes
How to prepare zobo drink
- Wash the dried hibiscus leaves with water. Add sufficient water. Using medium heat, cook the leaves until it boils.
- Allow the boiled mixture to cool. Then use a fine mesh/cheesecloth to remove tiny particles and extract the juice.
- Add honey (preferably, especially if you want to reduce sugar consumption), slices of orange, lemon, grated ginger, and cinnamon powder to the juice from the fine mesh. Then stir properly.
- Cook the mixture until it boils, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Allow the mixture to cool.
- After cooling, add ice cubes and serve.
Health benefits of zobo drink
1. Reduces cardiovascular diseases (CVD)
CVD, the abnormal function of the heart and its vessels, is common in Nigeria. “CVD is a significant public health concern, responsible for over 11% of the over 2 million NCD [non-communicable deaths] in Nigeria annually,” Dr. Nnenna Ezeigwe, the National Director for NCD in the Federal Ministry of Health, said in 2019.
Heart attacks and high blood pressure are risk factors for CVDs. However, zobo is a low-calorie drink rich in flavonoids, a plant-based antihypertensive compound that protects the heart against cardiovascular diseases.
It’s also a rich source of anthocyanins, the flavonoid derivative that gives hibiscus tea its anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Besides, sour tea is packed with antioxidants, such as vitamin C, that prevent cell damage.
2. Reduces the risk of obesity
Fat accumulation is one of the triggers of obesity. But hibiscus tea contains plant-based chemicals (anthocyanins, flavonoids, and phenolic compounds) that prevent fat accumulation, inhibit lipid production, and increase weight loss.
Besides, it’s rich in hibiscus acid, an organic acid that lowers blood sugar levels. The acid is helpful in treating type 2 diabetes.
3. Good for hydration
Besides containing carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamin C, zobo is rich in water. Therefore, it provides the necessary fluid and nutrient balance during fasting seasons.
4. Menstruation regulation
Zobo affects estrogen, the sex hormone that regulates the reproductive system in women. Specifically, it encourages menstruation flow before it’s due, otherwise called the emmenagogue effect. This is especially useful for women struggling with irregular periods.
Side effects of sorrel tea
Zobo has nutritional benefits, but there are some potential side effects.
1. May delay puberty
Pregnant or lactating women should consume hibiscus tea based on recommendations from medical experts. A 2008 study on the offspring of pregnant women indicated that zobo causes postnatal weight gain, delayed puberty, and increased body mass index.
In 2016, another study also suggested that hibiscus tea causes delayed puberty. However, the studies were only performed on rats, not human beings. Further studies are needed to confirm the effects of zobo intake in pregnant women.
“Before you confirm [the findings from the effects of hibiscus extracts on animals] in pregnant women, you need to extrapolate it in human beings first… it’s not a known fact to gynecologists that drinking zobo has any effect on pregnant women or lactating mothers …” Dr. Stanley Egbogu, a consultant obstetrician and gynecologist at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital, told Punch in 2022.
2. May cause miscarriage
Hibiscus tea may affect pregnant women negatively. “Hibiscus tea may extract blood from the uterus to stimulate menstruation, leading to bleeding, early labor, or miscarriage,” Healthline explained in 2021. However, more research on pregnant women is needed in this area.
A study in 2015 also showed that zobo increases the production of liver enzymes that cause pregnant women to deliver low-birth-weight (LBW) babies. Because of the potential side effects, Public Health Nigeria strongly discourages women from drinking zobo during pregnancy.
3. Possible drug interaction
Zobo may reduce the efficacy of chloroquine (an antimalarial drug) and captopril (an anti-hypertensive drug). Besides, high doses may cause liver damage. Because of these side effects, always consult medical experts for guidance, especially if you’re on medications.
Frequently Asked Questions about hibiscus tea
Can a kidney patient drink zobo?
Zobo improves kidney function by removing waste products from the urine, like citrate, tartrate, sodium, uric acid, and phosphate. However, it’s advisable to consult your doctor for medical guidance.
Is it good to take zobo every day?
Although zobo has several health benefits, medical experts caution against excessive drinking.
Can I take Zobo while breastfeeding?
Few studies have established the effects of zobo on pregnant women. In other experiments involving animals, the results were negative. Therefore, lactating mothers should consult medical experts for guidance.
Does zobo boost ovulation or fertility?
Zobo improves oligomenorrhea (menstruation irregularities). But no study indicates it boosts fertility or ovulation in women, according to Public Health Nigeria. Similarly, studies show that zobo negatively affects male fertility.