L , which is grown in China, India and Taiwan
is used as a traditional remedy to treat high blood pressure and liver
The researchers found it contains antioxidants that are known to reduce
the dangerous build up of fats inside the arteries.
They carried out a study looking at the effects of hibiscus extract on
low density lipoprotein, LDL or "bad" cholesterol in rats.
They found the hibiscus extract significantly reduced the build up of
fatty deposits in arteries and blood cholesterol levels.
'Advice stays the same'
Dr Chau-Jong Wang, who led the research,
said: "Experiments have
shown that compounds extracted from red wine and tea reduce cholesterol
and lipid build-up in the arteries of rats.
"This is the first study to show that Hibiscus extract has the
He said the data strongly suggest that it could be useful in the
prevention and even treatment of a number of cardiovascular diseases in
which cholesterol plays a major role.
Dr Charmaine Griffiths, spokesperson at the British Heart
Foundation, said: "Previous research has suggested that a variety of naturally
occurring flavonoids - found in fruit, red wine and tea - have potent
antioxidant properties that reduce oxidation of the harmful type of
"This research study claims that hibiscus flowers are particularly
efficient at reducing cholesterol - we would be interested to see if long-term
studies involving people produce similar results."
But she added: "It is also important to stress that whatever the
protective potential of hibiscus, our advice remains the same: regular
physical activity and eating a diet high in fruit and vegetables and low
in saturated fat are still the best ways to protect your heart health."