The hibiscus flower is revered for its beauty, and it deserves equal respect for its healing powers. Many species have been used in traditional medicine, in addition to providing beverage teas. The tea is sour and tart—so people often add sugar and/or citrus.

Now there's exciting research backing up hibiscus tea's medicinal benefits, especially for heart health. Scientists have confirmed that the deep red flowers gently lower blood pressure, thanks to their diuretic properties (they help the body eliminate excess water) and the fact that their anthocyanins block angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), the compound that causes blood vessels to constrict—exactly what the prescription combo of lisinopril and hydrochlorothiazide does, but to a milder degree and without side effects. 

Hibiscus Tea Recipe:

A recipe that pleases your taste buds—and your heart

This makes a great, refreshing tea.

The ingredients:

4 c water
3 Tbsp dried or 4-5 Tbsp fresh hibiscus flowers
1 cinnamon stick
1 Tbsp raw sugar

Boil water and pour over hibiscus and cinnamon stick. Steep for 10 minutes. Strain out hibiscus and cinnamon stick. Add sugar . Serve hot or iced.