Roselle nutrition, proven health benefits and recipes


The scientific name of Roselle are Hibiscus sabdariffa Linn., Hibiscus digitatus Cav. ,Hibiscus gossypifolius Mill., Sabdariffa rubra Kostel. It is also known as Rosella, Belchanda, Mwitha, Chukor, Ambadi, Mathipuli and Red sorrel in english.

Other names include:

CHINESE: Mei gui jia, Shan jia zi.
GERMAN: Afrikanischer Eibisch, Hibiscus-Tee, Karkade-Tee, Roselle, Rote Malve.
FRENCH: Oseille de Guinée, Thé rose d’Abyssinie.
JAPANESE: Roozera, Roozeru, Rozerusou.
POLISH: Hibiskus szczawiowy, Ketmia szczawiowa.
PORTUGUESE: Caruru De Guine (Brazil), Quiabo Da Angola (Brazil), Rosela, Vinagreira.
THAI: Krachiap, Kra chiap daeng.

Roselle is an erect, branched, nearly smooth annual herb, 1 to 2 meters in height. Fruit is ovoid, pointed, hairy, about 2.5 centimeters long, enclosed by a fleshy and enlarged calyx. A single plant may produce up to 250 roselles. It is cultivated in several countries including India,  China, Thailand, Sudan, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Florida, Australia, Germany, Mali, Nigeria, Chad, the Philippines, Panama, Brazil, Mexico, South America and tropical Africa.

Roselles can be eaten raw. It is cultivated ornamentally and for the red and fleshy calyces that surround the fruit used for making jellies, wine and other food products. The jam, jelly, and sauce are similar in appearance and taste to cranberries.

How to check for ripeness of Roselle

It is best to pluck Roselles when the calyces (the petal-like parts of a roselle) are cheerfully red with a waxy appearance, but the interior capsule is green. As the calyces ripen, they go from green to red, and lastly become shrunken and dark. The flower should fall from the calyx, but the pod inside should not open. If the pod opens, the calyx deteriorates rapidly. The stems should snap easily—if the stems have turned tough, then they’re overdue for picking. Begin snipping the roselles near the bottom of the plant, as they ripen on the plant from the bottom up. Additionally, morning is the best time to harvest the fruit.

Roselle nutrition value and facts

• The dried calyces yield among others: cellulose, insoluble and soluble ash, tartaric acid, malic acid.
• Calyces are high in calcium, niacin, riboflavin, and iron. Leaves yield oxalic acid.


A 100 gm of fresh roselle has about 49 calories. It contains

11.3 g Carbphydrates

.6 g Fat (1% RDI)

1 g Protein (2% RDI)

1.6 g Fiber

287IU Vitamin A (6% RDI)

12 mg Vitamin C (20% RDI)

Thiamin (1% RDI)

Riboflavin (2% RDI)

.3 mg Niacin (2% RDI)

215 mg Calcium (22% RDI)

1.5 mg Iron (8% RDI)

51 mg Magnesium (14% RDI)

37 mg Phosphorous (4% RDI)

208 mg Potassium (6% RDI)

Traditional medicinal properties and uses of Roselle

•The Leaves  are considered as emollient, stomachic, scorbutic and febrifuge.
•Seeds are diuretic and tonic.
•Flowers considered tonic and aperitive.

• Lotion made from leaves used for sores.
• Decoction of seeds used for dysuria and strangury; for mild dyspepsia and debility.
• In Brazil, drink made from the plant, considered refrigerant and used for fevers.
• A a boiled drink prepared from the fruit and calyx, dashed with salt, pepper, asafoetida and molasses, used for biliousness.
• Fruit used as antiscorbutic.
• Seeds are diuretic and tonic.
• In Chad, infusion of calyces used for plethora, bronchitis and coughs.
• Heated leaves applied to cracks in the feet; also, to boils and ulcers to hasten healing and maturation.
• In India seed decoction used for dysuria, strangury and mild dyspepsia.
Fiber: Plant yields bast fiber from the stems; used a jute substitute in making burlap.
Coloring: Plant yields a coloring matter used for food coloring.

Scientific proven health benefits of Roselle

Anti-hypertensive ( lowers blood pressure)

A study has shown tha the roselle tea or sour tea (H sabdariffa) helps people with hypertension by significantly  lowering of both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.


A study has shown that the extract of roselle has antimutagenic activity against MAM acetate, a colon carcinogen.

Anti-Atherosclerotic / Hypolipidemic

A study of roselle extract suggests it inhibits serum lipids and shows and anti-atherosclerotic activity.

Nephroprotective / Diabetic Nephropathy Amelioration

Study showed that H sabdariffa extract possesses potential effects to ameliorate diabetic nephropathy in type 1 diabetic via improving oxidative status and regulating Akt/Bad/14-3-3 signaling.

Galactagogue / Lactogenic Effect (promotes or increases the flow of a mother’s milk)

A study showed the seed extract of H sabdariffa possesses lactogenic activity, enhancing serum prolactin level which is the principal lactogenic hormone secreted by the anterior pituitary. Results establish the ethnomedical use of the seeds as a galactagogue.


A study showed  extract of H sabdariffa altered the activities of the liver marker enzymes in ammonium chloride-induced hyperammonemic rats.

Antihypertensive / Seed

Study showed the aqueous seed extract of roselle produced a significant reduction in blood pressure.


A study showed the protective role of extract of roselle against lipid peroxidation and suggests an antioxidant potential to be used for therapeutic purposes.


A study of consumption of H sabdariffa dried calyx on the serum lipid profile showed triacylglycerols and LDL levels to be significantly less in all groups. All groups had lower cholesterol levels compared to control. No significant results were found on the HDL levels.

Antiviral / Anti-Measles Virus

A study of leaf extracts of red and green leaves of Hibiscus sabdariffa showed antiviral activities against the Measles Virus.


A study showed that the extract of the calyx of Hibiscus sabdariffa protects the liver against liver damage and promote wound healing of oxidative liver damage as determined by serum enzyme levels and liver thiobarbituric acid reactive substances levels, at low to moderate dose. Due to this fact, it is often used as hangover remedy.

Antioxidant / Seeds

Study investigated the antioxidant activity of seed extract of H sabdariffa. Results showed the antioxidant effect of HS. Substantial amounts of Vitamin E and Vitamin C in the seed oil observed on preliminary phytochemical screening may be responsible for the antioxidant effect.

Anti-Obesity/ weight loss

Study investigated the effect of a calyx extract of  roselle on fat absorption-excretion and body weight. Results showed a significant increase in the amount of fatty acid in the feces. The components of the H sabdariffa. extract at the intermediate and higher concentrations could be considered possible antiobesity agents.

• Cardioprotective

A study has shown that the flowers of Hibiscus rosa sinensis protects the heart against oxidative stress  injury or damage.

• Prevent male infertility due to diabetes

Diabetes mellitus contributes to male sexual dysfunction and infertility by modulating oxidative damage. A study has shown that roselle calyx extracts has protective properties against diabetes-induced sperm damage.

• Anti-urolithiatic ( helps dissolving or preventing the formation of calculi in the kidneys, ureters, or bladder)

A study has shown that roselle extracts inhibited calcium oxalate crystal deposits on kidneys in rats with no toxicity or negative side effects.

• Anti-cancer

A study has shown that Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa Linn) extract possess high antioxidant activity, anti-proliferation and anti-carcinogenic properties.

• Antifungal

A study  shows that roselle calayx extracts are antifungal, as they inhibit the growth of a few different aflatoxins.


• Antinociceptive, Anti-inflammatory and Antidiarrheal 

Study confirms that the extracts of roselle has antinociceptive (block or reduces the sensation of pain), anti-inflammatory and antidiarrheal properties.

Safety Study

Study concludes Hibiscus sabdariffa is probably a safe medicinal plant, short-term administration of the roselle, did not show harmful effects on body water and electrolyte levels.

How to open or cut roselle

The petal-like calyces are the edible part of a raw roselle which can be easily peeled off from the center of the roselle. It is usually sold in dry form in the market. Drying of roselle requires heating at sun-drying temperature. For tdrying fresh fruits, solar heaters or dehydraters can be used as they provide adequate ventilation and limit excess exposure to heat, dust, insects, birds and rodents.

Storage tips

Keep dried fruits in a glass jar, away from direct sunlight and in a cool place in the kitchen. Refrigeration isn’t necessary.

Roselle recipe ideas and uses

Young leaves used as a substitute for spinach; used in cooking of curries, meat or fish.

In Myanmar, green leaves are the main ingredient in making chin baung kyaw curry.

In Nigeria, locals ferment the seeds to use as a type of cake called “sorrel meat.”

Make roselle tea, either from dry herb or fresh. For making tea from fresh roselle, add peeled calyxes into the boiling water, steep it for 5 to 10 minutes. Add honey to sweeten. Serve warm or add ice for chilled tea.

Try Roselle jam. Boil the pods for 15 minutes, strain the seeds, and keep the now pectin-rich water. Add the calyces and plenty of sugar. Boil until the mix is reduced and the texture is similar to jam.

Use roselles as a garnish for salads and beverages.

Make roselle syrup by dissolving sugar, water and calyces. The ratio for syrup is 1c chopped roselle calyces, 1c water, and 1.25c sugar. This syrup may be used for desserts, sweet breads or crepes.

Use roselle syrup to make sodas and cocktails, which is common in the Caribbean, the Middle East, Africa, Mexico and Central America.

Add roselle leaves to curry fries, as is common in Burma and throughout Assam. The leaves are mucilaginous and impart a sour taste in dishes.

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