What Are the Health Benefits of Agua de Jamaica?

Agua de Jamaica is a nonalcoholic Mexican beverage made from the flowers of the jamaica plant, which is a type of hibiscus, sugar and water. Hibiscus contains natural compounds that might reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Speak to your doctor before using agua de jamaica or any type of hibiscus tea as a natural remedy.

A woman is drinking from a mug outside. (Image: altrendo images/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Hibiscus

Jamaica is a Mexican name for a specific plant called Hibiscus sabdariffa. According to Natural Standard, an evidence-based compendium of integrative and complementary medicine, Hibiscus sabdariffa contains antioxidants called anthocyanins and hibiscus protocatechuic acid. Natural Standard also lists Hibiscus rosa-sinensis and Hibiscus cannabinus as two other varieties of hibiscus that are used as folk remedies.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and Hibiscus sabdariffa might help to reduce high blood pressure, according to research published in 2010 in the scientific journal "Phytomedicine." The authors of the study compared results of four previous clinical studies and found that Hibiscus sabdariffa lowered high blood pressure better than black tea, although it was not as effective as blood pressure medication. But a study published in 2004 in "Phytomedicine" found that Hibiscus sabdariffa tea worked as well as captopril.

Cholesterol

Research published in 2010 in "Phytomedicine" looked at the effect of Hibiscus sabdariffa on HDL cholesterol levels in people with metabolic syndrome, a condition of high blood pressure, resistance to insulin and high total and LDL cholesterol, which is the bad type of cholesterol. High density lipoprotein cholesterol, or HDL, is the good kind of cholesterol that lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease. Subjects who consumed hibiscus every day had higher HDL cholesterol levels.

Precautions

People with a hibiscus allergy should not consume agua da jamaica or take Hibiscus sabdariffa as an extract. According to Natural Standard, Hibiscus sabdariffa might reduce blood pressure and might interact with blood pressure medications. It might also interact with anti-inflammatory medications, anti-malarial drugs and anti-viral medications.

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