5 Impressive Yerba Mate Benefits

For centuries, people across the world have tried to search for various types of beverages that invigorate our minds and soothe our souls. Even though coffee and tea have separately proved to be quite a perfect beverage, there seems to be an antagonism between the two’s nature with one heightening our senses and the other calming us. What if there was something that could be the blend of both of them? One drink that strikes the perfect balance between coffee’s activity and tea’s health benefits is the ‘Yerba Mate‘. Yerba Mate benefits are plenty, starting from aiding weight loss to improving cognition. 

1. What is Yerba Mate?

Yerba Mate benefits
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Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis), pronounced mah-tay, also known as Erva Mate is a plant that is native to South America and is most widely consumed in southern South America in the regions of Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay.

It is a member of the holly family with characteristic shrubs that are small and usually grow up to 15 meters with evergreen leaves.

There are a lot of ways by which Yerba mate can be cultivated, some are prepared with twigs and dried branches by woodfire while others are flavored with orange or mint and is usually taken in the form of tea.

The Yerba mate is now present as an ingredient in a variety of energy drinks and in canned drinks all over the globe. Yerba maté or the Mate tea is a herbal tea that is prepared by infusing the dried leaves of Yerba with hot water and is typically served in a calabash container called the mate proper.

Sometimes Yerba Mate tea is served cold as a refreshing beverage during warm days. It is cold-brewed as usually served with ice cubes. Yerba mate benefits are plentiful.

Yerba mate consumption has been intricately linked to impressive health benefits. Here are some of the benefits yerba maté tea can offer you.

2. Yerba Mate Benefits

Yerba Mate benefits
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2.1. A Powerhouse of Nutrients and Anti-Oxidants

Out of all, this one definitely tops the list of yerba mate benefits. Drinking yerba mate exceeds the antioxidant power of green tea in offering a barrage of benefits. It is known to contain seven out of nine essential amino acids with almost every crucial vitamin and mineral our body requires!

It is rich in polyphenols, xanthines, chlorogenic acid, saponins, and caffeoyl derivates. Also found in green tea, chlorogenic acid, a type of polyphenol present in yerba can lower high blood sugar levels as well as reduce the insulin spike. It has also been shown to lower LDL cholesterol which is often labeled as ‘bad cholesterol

2.1.1. Polyphenols

Studies indicate that these phytochemicals can help manage the levels of blood pressure by bolstering blood flow, which can improve cardiovascular health.

2.1.2. Xanthines

Their primary function is to stimulate the central nervous system, It is commonly found in caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea, and can also provide relief from bronchial disease.

2.1.3. Saponins

Saponins may strengthen the immune system and help treat diabetes. Certain other benefits are lowering cholesterol levels and a protective effect on the liver.

2.1.4. Caffeoyl Derivates

These compounds have antioxidant properties that have potential health benefits for a healthy immune system in the human body.

Additionally, drinking yerba mate contains minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium, copper, and potassium. It is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B1, and vitamin B2.

Vitamin A for healthy and tighter skin.

Vitamin C for immunity against diseases and keeping skin healthy.

Vitamin B1 and B2 to help in digestion and keep focus throughout the day.

Potassium for a healthy cardiovascular system.

2.1.5. Saponins

Yerba mate has saponins, chemical compounds that have proven to be effective to show preventive and curative effects against cancer. Yerba Mate benefits invariably surpass that of coffee. It is believed that saponins can cause the death of certain cancer cells. Furthermore, it is anti-inflammatory and may reduce cellular inflammation.

Although additional studies are required to use yerba as a cancer-treatment option. Currently, it is considered to be a potent cancer-fighting agent.

2.2. Increases Energy

Yerba Mate benefits
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Mate drinkers enjoy a special energy boost that induces alertness. Athletes use it to enhance performance. Yerba mate has about 60-130 mg of caffeine per 8-ounce cup which implies that it is a stimulant that offers the activity of coffee but is still gentle and creates no crash.

It is claimed that Yerba Mate is adaptogenic. This means that it can adapt individually to each person’s body and tries to maintain the balance by harmonizing biological and chemical stressors.

Yerba is increasingly becoming a suitable choice for athletes to enhance physical performance. Since yerba has fairly good levels of caffeine, it increases the human body’s dependence on fat reserves during exercise. Fat can serve as an excellent fuel, making it a good pre-workout drink for an energy boost.

In comparison to other stimulants- coffee, tea, guarana, cocoa, and kola nut, yerba mate most successfully delivers a calm energy boost. The balanced energy is similar to the arousal induced by coffee but without its side effects. Yerba mate helps to relieve mental or physical fatigue, even chronic fatigue syndrome.

2.3. Medicinal Uses

Yerba Mate benefits
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Yerba mate is not just a beverage, it is herbal medicine. Yerba mate tea has a long list of traditional medicinal uses that date back several years. Yerba Mate benefits display testimonials of immunizing. It may have anti-parasitic, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal abilities. According to Leslie Taylor, a herbalist who has done some extensive research on the plant in Amazon, yerba mate demonstrates the following benefits:-

2.3.1. Manages Allergies

Drinking yerba mate tea is anti-anaphylactic (a substance that blocks allergic reactions). It has been shown to be effective against sinusitis, rheumatism, and a hoard of other allergies. Yerba mate also contains Theophylline, a compound known to treat asthma and bronchial problems.

2.3.2. Aids in Digestion

Have an upset stomach? Yerba mate leaves are highly effective to soothe tummy troubles. Yerba mate’s antibacterial properties are effective against E. Coli that cause bowel irritation. It stimulates bowel movement by promoting the flow of bile and other digestive juices which are essential for keeping the gastrointestinal tract healthy and is also beneficial to prevent kidney stones and urinary tract infections.

2.3.3. Controls Diabetes

The health benefits of yerba mate are plenty. The Journal of American College Nutrition mentions the effect of drinking mate on individuals with Type 2 Diabetes. It was found that drinking yerba mate can decrease the lipid and glucose levels thereby moderating Diabetes Mellitus Type 2. From a different study, it was also found to counteract the effects of glucose-related obesity.

2.4. Promotes Weight Loss

Yerba Mate benefits
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Yerba mate benefits stretch to the fitness world as well. It is a potent anti-obesity reagent that has observable fewer side effects. In a study published in the National Library of Medicine, it was shown that Yerba mate may be efficacious in reducing body weight and abdominal fat. The conclusions suggested that Yerba mate could be useful for treating obesity.

Even though it is not a substitute for meals, incorporating yerba mate can boost your metabolism due to its thermogenic compounds. Satiety or a feeling of ‘fullness’ induced by increasing intestinal glucagon peptide-1 (GLP-1) is one of the most highlighting components to lose weight which is also a direct effect of yerba mate.

2.5. Yerba Mate Tea and Mental Functioning

Yerba Mate benefits
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Among the arsenal of assets that Yerba Mate benefits provide, sharper cognition and improved attention are some of them. Tim Ferris, an American author who experiments with brain-enhancing substances has been an avid fan of this drink. He speaks highly of yerba mate in ‘Tim’s blog’ and credits it for the completion of his bestseller “The 4-hour worksheet”. According to him, the mate helped him to think creatively and aid his ability for mental focus.

Theobromine, a chemical compound in yerba is a game-changer. It has an excellent reputation for relaxing muscles and easing anxiety. The Health benefits of yerba extend to imparting neuroprotective properties that might prevent the occurrence of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, along with Alzheimer’s. Oxidative stress, an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants, is the major cause of aging. Yerba mate contains a litany of tremendous antioxidants that may be effective for protecting our brain from oxidative impairment.

By exceeding the protective functions of green tea and red wine, mate tea has been effective to protect our DNA cells as well. by reversing the damage our environments and lifestyle produced.

 It has been researched that the drink might help fight depression as evidenced in its anti-depressant effect on rats.

Moreover, the chlorogenic acid in yerba mate is found to improve motor functioning, especially spatial learning, and negates the effects of memory loss. It is known to stimulate the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine which is responsible for motivation.

3. Does Drinking Yerba Mate Have Any Side Effects?

Yerba mate benefits are indisputable. It is suggested that caffeinated beverages are harmless if consumed in moderation. However, some side-effects of mate may occur due to caffeine, if used in excessive doses:

  1. Insomnia
  2. Anxiety
  3. Increased heart rate
  4. Diarrhea

There have been claims of newborns suffering from caffeine withdrawal due to long-term consumption of mate by the mother, resulting in aggravated crying and irritability among the newborn. Pregnant women should drink it with proper consultation and with caution.

3.1. Toxicology

The Carcinogenic Food Contaminants list yerba mate as a substance with moderate levels of carcinogenicity. Carcinogenicity means a tendency to produce cancer. In addition to that, a report by Cancer Epidemiology revealed the presence of a carcinogenic 1compound in the Yerba mate leaves.

Individuals who drink mate tea in unhealthy quantities might be in an increased risk for cancers that include the mouth, esophagus, and lung cancer. In an Uruguayan study, it was found that there is approximately 300% elevated vulnerability of oesophageal cancer for mate drinkers within a sample of 800 adults.

Given the lack of research on the long-term effects of moderate intake of the drink, it is advisable to drink yerba occasionally until further findings.

4. How to Prepare Yerba Mate?

Drinking Yerba mate is a ritualistic event that increases belongingness and can even make a tourist like a part of the group. There are many varieties of yerba that change the flavor depending on their location. For instance, yerba without stems offers a strong and bitter flavor while yerba with stems gives a mild flavor. Traditionally, yerba is devoured out of a gourd vessel called a mate or calabasha and is sipped through a metal straw, called a bombila.

Here’s how can prepare mate at home in six easy steps:

  1. Pour about two-thirds to three-fourths of the vessel with yerba at a 45 degrees angle.
  2. Add warm water as close to the wall on the other half of the slope of yerba.
  3. Wait for the mixture to be absorbed by the yerba for 1-2 mins.
  4. Repeat the process but this time with hot water (80 degrees celsius). It is recommended not to use boiling water when you infuse yerba mate since that will burn all the good nutrients.
  5. Keep pressing the Bombila on the lower side of the yerba until it reaches deep.
  6. You will realize that there are two differentiated levels- dry which is high and contains most of the yerba and wet which is low. Pour hot water to the lower side and avoid the higher part.
  7. Savor your infusion with the bombila.

Other popular ways to prepare yerba mate are with a french-press, a strainer, or a teabag. Preparing yerba mate with a tea bag or strainer is simple. It is not time-consuming and can be consumed readily. You can utilize the following steps for making yerba tea with the teabag:

  1. Get hold of a tea-bag
  2. Fill the bag with loose yerba mate inside and seal it well
  3. Drop the tea bag into the desired cup or mug
  4. Add hot or cold water accordingly
  5. Gently shake the tea bag up and down for infusion
  6. Voila! It’s ready

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, yerba mate or mate tea of Latin America is a beverage that has been around for centuries. The natives drink it primarily as a wellness drink. Yerba Mate benefits are immense. This infusion drink is made by brewing yerba with water. Yerba 2tastes bitter due to its alkaloid properties3 but with the addition of natural sugar like honey, it can be made sweet.

Although there have been aversive claims of drinking yerba mate excessively is suitable at moderate levels. Yerba mate benefits are many. It can be a powerful addition to good health and can be a good alternative to other caffeinated drinks around.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Advantages Does Consuming Yerba Mate Offer?

Antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals are just a few of the health-promoting ingredients found in yerba mate. It has been demonstrated to increase vigor, enhance mental clarity and attention, and even support weight loss. Additionally, it has been connected to a lower risk of diabetes4, heart disease, and several types of cancer.

2. How Does Coffee Compare to Yerba Mate?

Coffee and Yerba Mate Both Have Stimulating Effects, but Yerba Mate Offers a Longer-Lasting Energy Boost and Less Caffeine. Additionally, It Doesn’t Cause the Jitters or Crashes that Are Common with Coffee’s Drawbacks.

3. How Exactly Are Yerba Mate Prepared and Ingested?

With a metal straw known as a bombilla, yerba mate is traditionally sipped out of a hollowed-out gourd called a mate. After adding hot water and the yerba mate leaves to the gourd, the beverage is drank through a bombilla. You can also make yerba mate into tea and drink it from a conventional tea cup.

Read More Such Articles at Icy Health

  1. Thresher, Andrew, et al. “Are all nitrosamines concerning? A review of mutagenicity and carcinogenicity data.” Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 116 (2020): 104749. ↩︎
  2. Gawron-Gzella, Anna, Justyna Chanaj-Kaczmarek, and Judyta Cielecka-Piontek. “Yerba mate—A long but current history.” Nutrients 13.11 (2021): 3706. ↩︎
  3. Bhambhani, Sweta, Kirtikumar R. Kondhare, and Ashok P. Giri. “Diversity in chemical structures and biological properties of plant alkaloids.” Molecules 26.11 (2021): 3374. ↩︎
  4. Cole, Joanne B., and Jose C. Florez. “Genetics of diabetes mellitus and diabetes complications.” Nature reviews nephrology 16.7 (2020): 377-390. ↩︎

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