Scientific Name(s): Hibiscus sabdariffa L. Family: Malvaceae (mallows)
Common Name(s):The roselle is known as the Rosella or Rosella fruit in Australia. It is also known as ‘Belchanda’ among Nepalese, Tengamora among Assamese and “Mwitha” among Bodo tribals, zobo in western Nigeria (the Yorubas in Nigeria call the white variety Isapa (pronounced Ishapa)), Zoborodo in Northern Nigeria.
Consumption of Roselle(Hibiscus) or ‘Zobo’ drink is very effective in the management of hypertension due to its anti-hypertensive properties, says Dr. Ochuko Erukainure, a nutritional biochemist.
Erukainure, a senior research officer with the Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO), Oshodi, Lagos State, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
According him, zobo drink also known as hibiscus drink also helps in reducing cholesterol level, high blood pressure, diabetes and constipation in the human system.
“Zobo drink contains between 15 per cent and 30 per cent organic acids such as: citric acid, maleic acid, and tartaric acid. It also contains acidic polysaccharides and flavonoid glycosides, such as cyanide and delphine. Zobo drink helps to lower blood pressure as it contains an enzyme inhibitor which blocks the production of amylase,’’ he said.
According to him, amylase is an enzyme that breaks down complex sugars and starches,
Erukainure also said that drinking a cup of zobo after every meal would help to reduce the absorption of dietary carbohydrates and assist in weight loss.
“It is rich in Vitamin C and makes a wonderful herbal remedy to fight off colds and infections as well as help to retain fluid in the body system,’’ Erukainure said.
The senior researcher advised consumers not to add sugar to their zobo drink so that its natural essence could be well-preserved and not contaminated by other non-natural essences.
Erukainure, however, advised pregnant women against consuming zobo drink saying some studies had shown that such could lead to miscarriage.
“Its safety during breast feeding is unknown and, therefore, it is best to avoid zobo drink then also.’’
Erukainure said that patients diagnosed with low blood-pressure should not to drink it and if they should, they should consult their doctors before doing so.
The senior researcher also said that some pregnant women were allergic to consuming zobo drink as it might lead to their developing itchy red eyes, sinus or hay fever.
Roselle (Hibiscus) has been used in folk medicine as a diuretic and mild laxative, as well as in treating cancer and cardiac and nerve diseases. Although information is limited, the potential for hibiscus use in treating cancer as well as for its lipid-lowering and renal effects, are being investigated.
Roselle is Neither a Fruit nor a Flower
It’s easy to mistake roselle for a juice in tropical countries because it’s commonly sold streetside and in food courts alongside fresh pineapple, orange, lemon and coconut juices. In Southeast Asian convenience stories, roselle is among the single-serving bottles and juice boxes.
Zobo has a unique taste that makes it pleasurable to all classes of people. In Nigeria and Senegal, Zobo is served cold, while it’s served warm in Egypt. It is a sharp tasting herbal infusion taken as tea or juice. The flower is also used in making wine, juice, tea and spices. It can also be used in preparing raw salad. Serve chilled with snacks.
Recipe for Roselle (Zobo) Drink
- 2 cups dried hibiscus flowers5 cups water
- Half of a small pineapple and/or cucumber (peeled & chopped)
- 2 tbs vanilla extract
- Sugar to taste(optional)
- 6-8 cups of water (increase the water quantity to decrease the zobo concentration)
Rinse the hibiscus flowers in cold water.
Wash the pineapple, cucumber, ginger and peel the skin (though some prefer to cook it with the skin). Slice and set aside.
Add the water in a pot and bring to a boiling point. As soon as it starts boiling, add the rinsed flowers, ginger, cucumber and pineapple.
Cover and boil for 15 minutes.
Turn off the heat and allow cooling for 5 minutes.
Using a large bowl, put a paper towel inside a sieve, then drain the mixture (be sure flowers don’t go inside the bowl).
Pour the drained mixture into a pitcher. Add additional water if desired and vanilla extract. Taste to gauge the level of sweetness before adding sugar (optional).
Stir and refrigerate. Best served chilled.