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Sobolo. It's pronounced how it's spelled.

Sobolo, Bissap or Zobo is a rosella leaves drink that is commonly consumed in West Africa but is also drank around the world (Sorrel drink)

It is considered a health drink that provides vitamin C and is rich in anthocyanin.

Rosella or roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) belong to the Malvaceae (or Mallow) family, having originated from West Africa. Traditionally it acts as a diuretic and laxative, and is believed to treat cancer, cardiac and nerve diseases.

Use of rosella: jam, syrup, gelatin, pudding, juice, tea, ice cream, wine, and the list goes on.

What gets eaten?

The calyx of the flower (which is typically eaten) is found to be high in calcium, iron, niacin, and riboflavin. Remember, anthocyanins have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants work to fight free radicals in the body, these radicals can harm your body and are linked to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

What are the benefits?

There are a lot of proposed benefits, and the list is quite exhaustive. No study has shown a causal effect, but here are 4 potential benefits.

What does it taste like?

No two sobolo are alike (kind of like Kombucha) and depending on your taste buds you can adjust it. To me, it tastes similar to a strong cranberry juice. When my mom makes it she adds fresh pineapple, hwentia/selim, cloves, ginger, black pepper, and African nutmeg/Calabash.

How is Sobolo made?

It's an easy, but longer process. So instead of telling you, might as well show you. The amazing Sweet Adjeley has an awesome Youtube channel that has MANY Ghanaian dishes. Everyone makes their Sobolo differently, but this was closest to my mothers.

Sobolo has been around for years on end, and I always say that a lot of cultural staples, delicacies, and meals are not as well researched for their health benefits.

Yes, we are a society that wants facts to back up everything that we say.

I think it's important to realize that sometimes there's not enough research. There isn't enough money and time in the world to provide all the facts in the way we would like!

Food is always more than what health benefits we receive from it.

Watching my mother prepare and make Sobolo is an experience. Gathering the ingredients, using kitchen skills, finding joy in preparing it for the family, and consuming a drink that she would normally back home matters.

Of course, there are Dietitians who specialize in certain areas where blood sugar, potassium or cholesterol levels are of importance. BUT, overall what should always be emphasized is making food enjoyable, making nutrition a fun experience! Motivating individuals to make food choices that are safe and fun for them.




Gautam, R. D. (2004). Sorrel—A lesser-known source of medicinal soft drink and food in India.

Nnam, N., Onyeke, N. Chemical composition of two varieties of sorrel (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.), calyces and the drinks made from them. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 58, 1–7 (2003).

Islam, A. K. M. A., Jamini, T. S., Islam, A. K. M. M., & Sabina, Y. (2016). Roselle: a functional food with high nutritional and medicinal values. Fundamental and Applied Agriculture, 1(2), 44-49.

Puro, K., Sunjukta, R., Samir, S., Ghatak, S., Shakuntala, I., & Sen, A. (2014). Medicinal uses of Roselle plant (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.): a mini review. Indian Journal of Hill Farming, 27(1), 81-90.

Rimamcwe, K. B., & Chavan, U. D. (2016). Physical properties and nutritional potentials of Indian Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) seeds. International Journal of Current Research, 8(9), 38644-38648.

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