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Prescription 2017: Rooibos Coffee

January 12, 2017 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

If you’re a coffee lover, like me, here’s a simple, tasty hack that can help you start 2017 off right. I discovered this technique very much by accident. One afternoon, I was debating whether to have a cup of coffee or tea. I looked through my tea collection and considered the usual suspects: matcha, oolong and white tea. All three provide a bump in energy, albeit a milder bump, than coffee. Additionally, they’re abundant reservoirs of health promoting phytochemicals (catechins, flavonoids, theaflavins) not present in coffee. Decisions, decisions!

The question of “coffee or tea” has a long standing tradition in many cultures. But, combining the two isn’t the norm in any part of the world. Since they both contain caffeine, consuming them together is typically deemed redundant. The resulting flavor isn’t much to cheer about either. Trust me, I’ve tried it! Then it struck me: Why not combine a non-caffeinated, “herbal tea” with coffee in order to boost the healthful effects? Great plan! However, I soon realized that many of my caffeine-free, “go to” teas (chamomile, ginger, hibiscus) were incompatible with the strong flavor of coffee. Rooibos, on the other hand, has a set of characteristics that I suspected might work. Why so? Unfermented, green rooibos has a delicate, slightly sweet and unique taste that is easily covered up.

If you’re unfamiliar with rooibos (Aspalathus linearis), you’re probably not reading this in South Africa. The leaves of A. lenearis aka red bush or rooibos resemble tiny splinters of wood in their dried, fermented state. The unfermented leaves are known as green rooibos. The latter is milder in flavor and richer in rare and potentially therapeutic phytochemicals, including aspalathin, dihydrochalcones and nothofagin. A growing body of research has linked rooibos tea consumption to numerous health benefits in animal models. The positive findings reveal that antioxidants present in rooibos protect test animals from a broad range of maladies ranging from brain injury to diabetes. More importantly, a few human trials report that this medicinal bush improves oxidative status and a variety of cardiovascular risk factors – lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides, while raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

At this point you may be wondering if simply drinking rooibos tea instead of coffee may be the way to go. While I have no problem with that, I do want to point out that the vast majority of recent studies involving coffee demonstrate positive outcomes. Some of the conclusions are pretty obvious. For instance, one experiment revealed that students perform better in the early morning after having a cup of caffeinated coffee – in comparison to decaf. Having said that, other scientific discoveries are lesser known and not as widely publicized. I ask you: How many of your doctors recommend coffee as a way to lower the likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or non-melanoma skin cancer? But they could, based on many peer-reviewed papers appearing in prestigious medical journals.

Now that you know why I recommend adding rooibos to coffee, let’s get down to the process of making it. Brewing rooibos coffee is about as straight forward as you can get. If you use a French press, simply add 1-2 tablespoons of loose rooibos leaves to your ground coffee. If you use an espresso maker or instant coffee, I recommend steeping the rooibos separately in a small amount of purified water (for up to 15 minutes) and then adding it to your fresh brewed coffee. Typically, I toss in a few tea bags worth of rooibos for every cup of coffee. Another approach is to brew several bags or a few ounces of loose leaves at one time. Add a small amount of the resulting decoction to every cup of coffee, and save the rest in the refrigerator for subsequent coffee breaks. It keeps just fine for several days. If you decide to try it, I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do. Cheers to you all!

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

Study 1 - Anti-Oxidative Effects of Rooibos Tea (Aspalathus Linearis) on (link)

Study 2 - Modulating Effects of Rooibos and Honeybush Herbal Teas (link)

Study 3 – Aspalathin Improves Hyperglycemia and Glucose Intolerance(link)

Study 4 - A Review of the Bioactivity of South African Herbal Teas … (link)

Study 5 - Effects of Rooibos (Aspalathus Linearis) on Oxidative Stress (link)

Study 6 - Effects of Green Tea, Black Tea and Rooibos Tea on Angiotensin (link)

Study 7 - Association between the Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome and (link)

Study 8 - Regularly Consuming a Green/Roasted Coffee Blend Reduces the … (link)

Study 9 - Coffee Consumption and Risk of Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer (link)

Study 10 – Coffee Consumption and Risk of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver (link)

Coffee Improves Memory Performance in “Non-Optimal Time of the Day”

Source: Front Psychol. 2016 Nov 14;7:1764. (link)

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5 Comments & Updates to “Prescription 2017: Rooibos Coffee”

  1. JP Says:

    Updated 01/12/17:


    Acta Sci Pol Technol Aliment. 2016 Oct-Dec;15(4):409-417.

    Effect of roasting degree on the antioxidant activity of different Arabica coffee quality classes.

    BACKGROUND: Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, because of its unique sensory properties and physiological properties. Coffee beverages represent a significant source of antioxidants in the consumers’ diet and contribute significantly to their daily intake. The aim of this research was to investigate the effect of different roasting degrees on the content of biologically active compounds and antioxidant activity in different quality classes of Arabica coffee.

    METHODS: Samples of green Arabica coffee (Rio Minas) of two quality classes from two production batches were used for the research. Roasting was carried out at temperatures of 167, 175 and 171°C. The total phenol content (TPC), total flavonoid content (TFC), flavonol content (FC) and antioxidant activity (DPPH, ABTS) in the coffee extracts was determined.

    RESULTS: This research shows that TPC was significantly higher (P < 0.05) in green coffee compared to TPC in roasted coffee, and TPC decreases as the roasting temperature increases. TFC and FC were significantly lower (P < 0.05) in green coffee than in roasted coffee. Differences in TPC between the 1st and 2nd classes of Arabica coffee were not significant (P > 0.05), while differences in TFC were significant (P < 0.05) only for green coffee from the second production batch and differences in FC were significant (P < 0.05) for green coffee and for coffee roasted at 175°C. Roasting temperatures have different influences the antioxidant activity (DPPH, ABTS) of coffee and the highest antioxidant activity was determined in coffee roasted at 171°C. An exception was 1st class Arabica coffee roasted at 167°C (ABTS). All samples of 1st class Arabica coffee had higher antioxidant activity (DPPH, ABTS) compared to 2nd class Arabica.

    CONCLUSIONS: This research shows that the bioactive compounds content and antioxidant activity of different quality classes of Arabica coffee are dependent on the degree of roasting. TPC decreases when the roasting temperature increases, while TFC and FC also increase. These results indicate that the antioxidant activity of coffee depends on a variety of bioactive components in coffee beans. Antioxidant activity largely depends on the class of coffee. The coffee samples of 1stclass quality (maximum 8 black beans/300 g from the sample and large bean size) had higher antioxidant activity compared to samples of 2nd quality class (maximum 19 black beans/300 g in the sample and medium-sized beans).

    Be well!


  2. JP Says:

    Updated 01/12/17:


    Nutrients. 2017 Jan 4;9(1).

    Postprandial Glycemic and Insulinemic Responses to Common Breakfast Beverages Consumed with a Standard Meal in Adults Who Are Overweight and Obese.

    Breakfast beverages with different nutrient compositions may affect postprandial glycemic control differently. We assessed the effects of consuming (1) common breakfast beverages (water, sugar-sweetened coffee, reduced-energy orange juice (OJ), and low-fat milk (LFM)); and (2) fat-free, low-fat, and whole milk with breakfast on postprandial plasma glucose and insulin responses in adults who were overweight/obese. Forty-six subjects (33F/13M, body mass index: 32.5 ± 0.7 kg/m², age: 50 ± 1 years, mean ± SEMs) consumed a standard sandwich with one of the six beverages on separate mornings in randomized order. The test beverages (except water) each contained 12 g digestible carbohydrate. Plasma glucose and insulin concentrations were measured from blood obtained pre- and post-meal at 30-min intervals for 4 h and incremental areas under the curve (AUC) were computed. We found (1) among different beverage types, glucose AUC was higher for coffee versus water, OJ, and LFM. Insulin AUC was higher for coffee and LFM versus OJ and water; (2) Glucose AUCs were not different among water and milks while insulin AUC was higher for milks versus water. In conclusion, consumption of water, reduced-energy OJ, or milk (irrespective of fat content) with a meal may be preferable to consuming sugar-sweetened coffee for glucose control in middle-aged adults who are overweight and obese.

    Be well!


  3. JP Says:

    Updated 01/12/17:


    Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2017 Jan;95(1):93-100.

    Caffeine and theanine exert opposite effects on attention under emotional arousal.

    Tea is perceived as more relaxing than coffee, even though both contain caffeine. L-theanine in tea may account for the difference. Consumed together, caffeine and theanine exert similar cognitive effects to that of caffeine alone, but exert opposite effects on arousal, in that caffeine accentuates and theanine mitigates physiological and felt stress responses. We evaluated whether caffeine and theanine influenced cognition under emotional arousal. Using a double-blind, repeated-measures design, 36 participants received 4 treatments (200 mg caffeine + 0 mg theanine, 0 mg caffeine + 200 mg theanine, 200 mg caffeine + 200 mg theanine, 0 mg caffeine + 0 mg theanine) on separate days. Emotional arousal was induced by highly arousing negative film clips and pictures. Mood, salivary cortisol, and visual attention were evaluated. Caffeine accentuated global processing of visual attention on the hierarchical shape task (p < 0.05), theanine accentuated local processing (p < 0.05), and the combination did not differ from placebo. Caffeine reduced flanker conflict difference scores on the Attention Network Test (p < 0.05), theanine increased difference scores (p < 0.05), and the combination did not differ from placebo. Thus, under emotional arousal, caffeine and theanine exert opposite effects on certain attentional processes, but when consumed together, they counteract the effects of each other.

    Be well!


  4. JP Says:

    Updated 01/13/17:


    Nutrients 2017, 9(1), 56

    Coffee Intake Is Associated with a Lower Liver Stiffness in Patients with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, Hepatitis C, and Hepatitis B

    Abstract: There is emerging evidence for the positive effects or benefits of coffee in patients with liver disease. We conducted a retrospective cross-sectional study on patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection to determine the effects of coffee intake on a non-invasive marker of liver fibrosis: liver stiffness assessed by transient elastography (TE). We assessed coffee and tea intake and measured TE in 1018 patients with NAFLD, HCV, and HBV (155 with NAFLD, 378 with HCV and 485 with HBV). Univariate and multivariate regression models were performed taking into account potential confounders. Liver stiffness was higher in males compared to females (p < 0.05). Patients with HBV had lower liver stiffness than those with HCV and NAFLD. After adjustment for age, gender, smoking, alcohol consumption, M or XL probe, and disease state (NAFLD, HCV, and HBV status), those who drank 2 or more cups of coffee per day had a lower liver stiffness (p = 0.044). Tea consumption had no effect (p = 0.9). Coffee consumption decreases liver stiffness, which may indicate less fibrosis and inflammation, independent of disease state. This study adds further evidence to the notion of coffee maybe beneficial in patients with liver disease.

    Be well!


  5. JP Says:

    Updated 04/07/17:


    Nutrients. 2017 Mar 14;9(3).

    Association between Coffee Consumption and Its Polyphenols with Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Population-Based Study.

    Epidemiological studies have examined the effect of coffee intake on cardiovascular disease, but the benefits and risks for the cardiovascular system remain controversial. Our objective was to evaluate the association between coffee consumption and its polyphenols on cardiovascular risk factors. Data came from the “Health Survey of São Paulo (ISA-Capital)” among 557 individuals, in São Paulo, Brazil. Diet was assessed by two 24-h dietary recalls. Coffee consumption was categorized into <1, 1-3, and ≥3 cups/day. Polyphenol intake was calculated by matching food consumption data with the Phenol-Explorer database. Multiple logistic regression models were used to assess the associations between cardiovascular risk factors (blood pressure, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-c), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-c), triglycerides, fasting glucose, and homocysteine) and usual coffee intake. The odds were lower among individuals who drank 1-3 cups of coffee/day to elevated systolic blood pressure (SBP) (Odds Ratio (OR) = 0.45; 95% Confidence Interval (95% CI): 0.26, 0.78), elevated diastolic blood pressure (DBP) (OR = 0.44; 95% CI: 0.20, 0.98), and hyperhomocysteinemia (OR = 0.32; 95% CI: 0.11, 0.93). Furthermore, significant inverse associations were also observed between moderate intake of coffee polyphenols and elevated SBP (OR = 0.46; 95% CI: 0.24, 0.87), elevated DBP (OR = 0.51; 95% CI: 0.26, 0.98), and hyperhomocysteinemia (OR = 0.29; 95% CI: 0.11, 0.78). In conclusion, coffee intake of 1-3 cups/day and its polyphenols were associated with lower odds of elevated SBP, DBP, and hyperhomocysteinemia. Thus, the moderate consumption of coffee, a polyphenol-rich beverage, could exert a protective effect against some cardiovascular risk factors.

    Be well!


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