Popularly known as the “drink of the gods” by several indigenous South Americans, yerba mate is also regarded as “the green gold of the Indios” by European settlers.
This unique drink may not be entirely well-known by the Western cultures, but there are many yerba mate benefits that we can all benefit from in our daily lives!
What is Yerba Mate?
Yerba mate is a traditional South American brew which is believed to offer the strength of coffee, the euphoria of chocolate, and its own blend of unique yerba mate health benefits. Yes, you can get all these benefits in just one beverage!
Yerba is a traditional drink which is produced from dried leaves of a native plant of South America― the evergreen holly, Ilex paraguariensis. This tea is among the several Amazonian caffeine-containing plants that are used in preparing stimulating beverages such as the mate tea.
Yerba is popularly consumed in Southern America; and cultivated in Brazil, Paraguay, and northern Argentina. Fox News Health, 2016
Although this plant can be found in the wild, it can also be well-cultivated on plantations that are similar to the more familiar types of tea. As soon as yerba mate is brewed, it has a greenish color and an earthy herbal aroma.
The brewed mate tea has a mild flavor, which is often times described as an infusion of herbs and grass just like some varieties of green tea. Yerba mate contains tannins and caffeine just like black tea, however, it is less astringent than black tea.
Yerba mate often assumes the cultural importance that is exemplified by Japanese tea ceremonies, and coffee cafes.
Apart from the unique yerba mate benefits, sharing a drink from a traditional gourd is actually regarded as a sign of friendship and bonding, and a social event.
Interestingly enough, yerba mate drinking has its own vocabulary even!
It’s extremely popular in Uruguay where you can easily spot people walking down the street while sipping mate, and carrying a thermos of hot water that will be used to refresh the drink.
In Argentina, yerba is their national drink, and about 500 million dollars worth of mate is consumed annually. InfoLEG
Yerba Mate Health Benefits
You probably don’t know this yet, but in 1964, the Pasteur Institute discovered that yerba mate contains all vitamins that are essential to sustain life! Impressive, yes.
Yerba mate benefits are truly amazing for your body, let’s take a look at some!
Enhances Healthy Weight Loss
One of the many yerba mate benefits is that it helps in weight control.
There is a complex collection of saponins found in the leaves and stems of yerba mate, mainly oleanolic acid glycosides and ursolic acid, and the ingestion of yerba mate has shown to increase fat oxidation and energy expenditure during exercise.
It was concluded based on the research published in The US National Library of Science that exercise, when combined with the augmented metabolic benefits of yerba mate ingestion, could contribute to the prevention and the treatment of overweight and obesity associated metabolic health risks including hypercholesterolaemia and cancer, diabetes and hyperinsulinemia.
Basically, yerba is very good for helping people lose weight- which is very good for your health!
The researchers concluded that the acute ingestion of yerba mate before exercise enhances fat metabolism when you engage in light and moderate exercise intensities, and does not affect maximal performance negatively. Furthermore, the effects suggest a glycogen sparing potential for exercise performance.
In other words, exercising after drinking yerba will substantially help you burn fat. Especially if you already have a consistent and dedicated training program, yerba mate tea will help you burn fat and become leaner.
According to a study that was published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2016 which investigated the effect of yerba mate intake on muscle strength recovery and oxidative stress markers after engaging in eccentric exercise, it was discovered that the consumption of 600 ml of yerba mate improved the rate of recovery of isometric strength by 8.6 percent during the first day.
This truly is an incredible benefit for a natural drink, and is no doubt one of the best yerba mate benefits.
The study also found that the positive effect of yerba mate on muscle recovery was large and significant in agreement with reports stating that dietary phytochemical supplementation ameliorated muscle function after EEIMD.
Yerba is without a doubt one of the healthiest drinks on the planet.
Yerba is also very effective as an appetite suppressant, which is another way that it can improve your weight loss efforts. This is proven by science, as well!
Studies have shown the ability of this tea to suppress your appetite, helping you to intake less calories each day.
One of the main reasons that yerba is an excellent choice for an appetite suppressant is because it is a natural source for this, and will not disrupt your body in many additional ways as well.
Fat burning pills and other products which claim to suppress your appetite can come with a host of negative side-effects, but yerba will not do this!
Anti-Cancer Yerba Mate Benefits
The benefits of yerba mate tea are not solely based around weight loss or fat loss.
Based on a 2011 scientific study, it was discovered that yerba mate tea leaves possess both anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory capabilities. Similar to the cancer fighting ingredients of green tea or oolong tea, it was revealed that the caffeoylquinic acid (CQA) derivatives from yerba tea were able to treat human colon cancer successfully!
The scientists found that In vitro cancer cells actually died when they got exposed to the bioactive compounds that are present in a cup of yerba mate beverage, a truly incredible finding!
Also, cancer cells died due to apoptosis while the scientists increased the CQA concentration. Specifically, a study published in the Journal of Food Science concluded that “diCQAs found in yerba mate could actually be potential anti-cancer agents, and could also mitigate other diseases associated with inflammation.”
In a bid to estimate the yerba mate benefits, it was compared with other teas like green tea; which is believed to possess high anticancer potential.
Yerba mate benefits have actually shown to have the highest cytotoxicity against human liver cancer cells, even when compared to green tea.
Proteasome inhibitors are a very important aspect of cancer research, and a compound found in green tea known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCH) has exhibited the ability to inhibit proteasomes. However, similar compounds have been discovered in yerba mate, and these compounds show proteasome inhibition as well.
There are other compounds found in yerba that have been studied for their chemopreventive properties, and two of the compounds that show distinct cytotoxicity to HepG2 cells are quercetin and rutin.
These compounds are found in small concentrations in yerba mate, and they exhibit the diversity of flavonoids that are present which greatly contribute to its anticancer potential. Journal of Food Science
Promotes a Healthy Heart and is a Great Digestive and Elimination Tonic
Among the yerba mate tea health benefits is its positive effect in treating several heart-related conditions; such as irregular heartbeat, heart failure, and low blood pressure. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of yerba mate help to protect the heart and the cardiovascular system.
Yerba also contains theobromine, which helps to relax the blood vessels and allow for better blood flow.
One of the great yerba mate benefits is that it is used traditionally in the treatment of diarrhea, constipation, and indigestion.
It has a natural antibacterial effect against E. coli, which is one of the most common causes of food poisoning.
Yerba mate is also very useful not just for the prevention of urinary tract infections, but also for the treatment of both urinary infections, and bladder and kidney stones.
Yerba Mate Benefits Stimulate the Immune System
Apart from the polyphenols in yerba leaves, it also contains saponins; a class of chemical compounds found naturally abundant in several plant species. Saponins are bitter and highly soluble compounds that are believed to be among the factors behind the distinct flavor of yerba mate tea.
Saponins have great beneficial effects on bone health, blood cholesterol levels, and cancer.
Saponins have been found to specifically stimulate the human immune system, which aids the body in protecting against diseases. Frequent intake of yerba tea is a great way to increase your intake of phytochemicals and by proxy, phytonutrients.
Overall, this proves to be a great way tea naturally strengthens your body’s defenses.
A Nutritional Powerhouse
As earlier mentioned, another of the important yerba mate benefits is that it’s loaded with minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.
In fact, it contains practically all the important micro nutrients needed to sustain life. The following vitamins and high concentration of minerals can be obtained from each serving of mate:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B5
- Vitamin C and
- Vitamin E.
Minerals― There is a high concentration of inorganic compounds in yerba mate, and some striking minerals including: chromium, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, potassium, and manganese.
These are all of special interest as a result of their importance in human metabolism, and development.
Yerba mate not only contains 11 polyphenols, but also exhibits more antioxidant power than any other tea-based drink.
You can find other health-promoting compounds such as fatty acids, flavonols, carotene, chlorophyll, polyphenols, trace minerals, inositol, antioxidants, and at least 15 amino acids in this tea drink as well!
According to research conducted by Heck et al., 2007, that was published in the Journal of Food Science, the concentration of polyphenols in yerba mate has shown a strong correlation to its general antioxidant capacity, and it shows a slightly higher polyphenol concentration when compared to green tea.
Yerba mate contains an overall higher antioxidant capacity than green tea, and therefore has better potential for inhibiting free radical cells than green tea!
Helps to Reduce Bad Cholesterol
The consumption of yerba tea according to studies has proven to naturally improve serum lipid levels, which lowers cholesterol levels overall.
Available information from a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry indicates that yerba mate tea consumption led to a reduction of LDL (bad) cholesterol for healthy dyslipidemic people― those having high cholesterol level and/or triglycerides but healthy.
Yerba mate consumption also resulted in an additional LDL-cholesterol reduction in people on statin therapy.
Thus, by reducing the level of bad cholesterol in the body, yerba tea consumption can help to reduce the risk of various cardiovascular diseases.
According to an article published in NZ Herald, 2017, one of the yerba mate health benefits is that it helps to reduce the rapid swings in blood sugar levels and insulin which often leads to snacking.
It has a long history of being used traditionally to curb hunger, which helps in weight management.
Since it contains theobromine and theophylline, it helps to stimulate the metabolism and break down of stored fat.
Yerba Mate Tea Preparation
There are several ways to prepare the tea in order to enjoy the yerba mate benefits. It’s always better to prepare yerba tea in a way that will not require any special equipment.
One of the easiest ways to brew it is simply using yerba tea bags. You can also make yerba mate tea from loose leaves by simply using a strainer or infuser, just like you would do to any loose tea.
It’s better to buy yerba products that are organic, and you can also find it in ready-to-brew tea bags, loose-leaf tea, or even in a bottled cold beverage.
It’s advisable to avoid heavily smoked and roasted yerba tea, because it contains a higher level of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) than those that are not heavily smoked. The high-quality yerba mates make use of a flash-heating process in order to protect the antioxidants and nutritional properties, and also they are dried at low temperature.
While preparing the tea, allow the water or milk to simmer rather than boil. When you use boiling water, it leads to a more bitter tea.
You can use about one teaspoon per cup if you are using a loose tea (you can use less if you want it weaker, and more if you prefer it stronger).
Allow the tea to steep for three to five minutes.
Add your favorite natural sweetener, and drink it iced or hot.
Side Effects and Caution for Drinking Yerba Mate
Ideally, yerba is safe for most people when consumed in moderation.
However, because it contains caffeine, it should not be consumed too much and should not be consumed close to bed time.
Apart from the yerba health benefits, some of the known side effects include sleep trouble, nausea, upset stomach, increased heart rate and breathing, nervousness, headache, blood pressure and irregular heartbeat.
It’s advised that you reduce the overall daily intake of caffeine if you experience any side effects of caffeine overdose after taking it.
Conclusion of Yerba Mate Benefits
As indicated in Fox News Health, there are many yerba health benefits and this has resulted in the increasing popularity of yerba mate in the U.S market.
In order to reduce weight and keep it off, yerba tea has the ability to control glucose and suppress appetite. As a tea, it is easy to consume in various flavors from plain, to chai spiced.
You can also get yerba mate benefits from ready-to-drink beverages which can easily be found in natural food stores!