Keep Calm; It’s Yerba Mate Time

yerba mate

What Is Yerba Mate?

Consumed for hundreds of years by the Guarani Indians of Paraguay, Yerba Mate herbal tea has become popular as a natural and safe alternative to coffee. 


Yerba Mate’s dried leaves are grinded and brewed in hot water, traditionally using a dried gourd and a metal straw. A French coffee press can also be used to strain the Mate dried leaves. Mate can also be found packed as tea bags.


Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) is a plant that originates from the subtropical region of South America. It is common in the South of Brazil, North of Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. It has been consumed as a social drink and tea or supplement. (1) 


When Gauchos - South American “cowboys” - rode across the country on long journeys, Yerba Mate was their lifeline, providing vitamins and minerals.
Like coffee and other teas, Yerba Mate stimulates the nervous system and is commonly consumed as an energy booster.


Other benefits include cardiovascular benefits, stimulation of the central nervous system, cholesterol-lowering effects, antioxidant properties, anti-cancer properties, anti-inflammatory properties, anti-gestational diabetes, and anti-obesity properties. (2)

 

Why is it healthy?

Yerba mate contains many compounds that are beneficial to health. (3) These compounds include: 

Vitamins

Such as A, C, E, B1, B2, Niacin (B3), B5, B Complex, and Vitamin C Complex.


Polyphenols and Antioxidants

Yerba Mate has a high concentration of polyphenols. They act similarly to the body’s 293 natural antioxidant enzymes and may prove to be a potent supporter of the body’s systems. 


Minerals

Such as aluminum, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, nickel, potassium, and zinc. 


Saponins

Saponins are anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting compounds. They’re responsible for Mate’s bitter taste and foamy appearance. The saponins are also effective in decreasing lung inflammation associated with cigarettes.

 

5 Surprising Benefits of Yerba Mate

 

1 - Yerba Mate and mental functions

Who among us doesn’t want to be more productive and focused? Mate contains a moderate amount of caffeine (sometimes referred to as “Matina”) which is known to enhance mood, memory, and alertness. (4)

Mate stimulates neurons and promotes brain activity, conscious awareness, memory, and reasoning. It also contains xanthines, theobromine, and theophylline, whose relaxing effects help regulate all body systems.

 

2 - Yerba Mate and cardiovascular health

Many studies have shown that Yerba Mate improves cardiovascular health by reducing cholesterol levels between 15% and 18%, which can prevent diseases such as arteriosclerosis.

Also, it may be beneficial to those with high blood pressure because it has a slight hypotensive and vasodilating effect. This is because Yerba Mate boosts the activity of cardio-protective enzymes called saponins, which contribute to the body’s ability to lower LDL cholesterol, known as “bad cholesterol”, much faster than usual. 

In turn, saponins increase HDL cholesterol, known as “good cholesterol”, preventing cardiovascular diseases. (5)

The body needs cholesterol to form healthy cells. But when too much cholesterol circulates in the blood, it becomes oxidized and builds up into fatty deposits that clog the arteries, increasing the risk of certain diseases such as arteriosclerosis and other cardiovascular conditions.

The antioxidant power of polyphenols and the action of vitamin C, magnesium, and manganese contained in Yerba Mate, reduce cholesterol oxidation and prevent its accumulation in the arteries, acting as a hypotensive vasodilator agent and contributing to cardiovascular health.

 

3 - Yerba Mate and bone density

One of the amazing and surprising benefits of Mate is that it increases bone density even in people who don’t exercise.

Throughout four years, a study compared 146 postmenopausal women who drank at least one liter of mate a day with 146 non-drinkers. The result showed a 9.7% higher bone density in the lower back and a 6.2% higher bone density in the hip region.  (6)

 

4 - Yerba Mate and oxidative stress

Yerba Mate helps prevent a process called oxidative stress, which while occurring, the body’s biological ability to react against disease is greatly diminished.

Mate contains a high number of polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are responsible for neutralizing harmful, disease-causing molecules known as free radicals.

Scientists have found that the antioxidant properties of Yerba Mate can protect from anemia. Because it helps protect red blood cells membranes from destruction. (7)

 

5 - Yerba Mate and weight management

Mate helps prevent weight gain by preventing fluid retention and eliminating toxins. It also boosts metabolism and helps you burn more calories, especially when you combine it with exercise.

Consuming Yerba mate (3 grams/day for 12 weeks) reduced body fat mass, body fat percentage, and the fat around the hips of 30 obese participants, with no side effects. (8)

Consuming Yerba Mate before exercise helps with fat loss and increases energy metabolism. (9)


Yerba Mate side effects 

While yerba mate is typically safe for most to consume, it does contain caffeine, which can cause issues for those who are more sensitive to it.

Pregnant women should not have more than 3 cups of yerba mate tea per day. (10)

 

In conclusion

Yerba Mate is one of the healthiest herbal teas that is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It provides you with a caffeinated boost without jitters. It can increase short-term memory and protect your brain from oxidative damage. It naturally provides lasting physical and mental energy. It increases metabolism, elevates mood, reduces fatigue, improves cardiovascular health and counter the health effects of obesity.


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Resources

(1)Yerba Mate Tea (Ilex paraguariensis): a comprehensive review on chemistry, health implications, and technological considerations - PubMed (nih.gov)

(2)Yerba Mate Tea (Ilex paraguariensis): a comprehensive review on chemistry, health implications, and technological considerations - PubMed (nih.gov)

(3)Yerba Mate Tea (Ilex paraguariensis): a comprehensive review on chemistry, health implications, and technological considerations - PubMed (nih.gov)

(4)Understanding caffeine: A biobehavioral analysis. - PsycNET (apa.org)

(5)Consumption of yerba mate ( Ilex paraguariensis ) improves serum lipid parameters in healthy dyslipidemic subjects and provides an additional LDL-cholesterol reduction in individuals on statin therapy - PubMed (nih.gov)

(6)Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) consumption is associated with higher bone mineral density in postmenopausal women - PubMed (nih.gov)

(7)Antioxidant activity of a botanical extract preparation of Ilex paraguariensis: prevention of DNA double-strand breaks in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and human low-density lipoprotein oxidation - PubMed (nih.gov)

(8)Anti-obesity effects of Yerba Mate (Ilex Paraguariensis): a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial - PMC (nih.gov)

(9)Yerba Maté (Illex Paraguariensis) ingestion augments fat oxidation and energy expenditure during exercise at various submaximal intensities - PMC (nih.gov)

(10)Maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy is associated with risk of low birth weight: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis - PubMed (nih.gov)

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