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7 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Yerba Mate

It shares similar health benefits with tea, is as strong as coffee, and is as fun as chocolate.


In this article, we discuss the top 7 health benefits of Yerba mate backed by science.


Overview of yerba mate

Yerba mate is an herbal tea produced from the twigs and leaves of the Ilex paraguariensis plant.

The leaves of the yerba mate are dried over a fire and steeped in hot water to produce the tea.

Yerba mate is usually consumed from a gourd and sipped with a metal straw. The straw is equipped with a filter at the lower end, which helps to strain the leaf fragments.

It is believed that sharing a drink from this traditional gourd strengthens the bond of friendship.



Top health benefits of yerba mate


1. It is rich in nutrients and antioxidants

Yerba mate is enriched with some beneficial phytonutrients, such as (1):

  • · Xanthines: Xanthines act as stimulants. Examples include theobromine and caffeine found in coffee, tea, and chocolate.
  • · Saponins: Saponins are bitter compounds with cholesterol-lowering and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • · Caffeoyl derivatives: These are the primary health-promoting antioxidants in yerba mate.
  • · Polyphenols: Polyphenols are a large group of antioxidants. They help reduce the risk of several diseases.
  • Studies have shown that yerba mate contains more antioxidants than green tea (2).


2. Yerba mate improves mental focus and boosts energy

The caffeine content of yerba mate (at 85 mg per cup) is less than that of coffee but more than the caffeine in a cup of tea (4).

So, just like other caffeinated beverages or food, it may boost your energy levels and reduce fatigue.


It is also important to note that caffeine affects the levels of specific signaling molecules in your brain, making it beneficial for mental focus (5, 6).

3. It may boost your physical performance

Caffeine improves muscle contractions and sports performance by 5% and reduces fatigue (7,) (8)(9)(10).


Because yerba mate contains a moderate amount of caffeine, drinkers can expect similar benefits regarding physical performance.


A study showed that people given a gram capsule of ground yerba mate leaves before a workout burn 24% more fat during moderate-intensity exercise (11).


Relying heavily on fat for energy during exercise saves your carb reserves for critical high-intensity moments during sporting activities. This could translate into enhanced performance.


4. Yerba mate protects against infections

Yerba mate prevents infections from parasites, bacteria, and fungi.


A test-tube study showed that a high dose of yerba mate extract completely deactivated E. coli, a bacteria responsible for food poisoning symptoms such as diarrhea and stomach cramps (12)(13).


Yerba mate also contains compounds that may prevent the growth of Malassezia furfur, a fungus that causes scaly skin, some skin rashes, and dandruff (14).

Finally, several studies suggest that compounds in yerba mate may protect against intestinal parasites.


5. Boosts your immune system

Yerba mate has saponins. Saponins are natural compounds with anti-inflammatory properties (115).


What’s more, it provides minute amounts of vitamin C and E, selenium, and zinc. These antioxidants give your immune system a boost and promote health (16)(17).

It is important to note that research on the direct effects of yerba mate on the immunity of humans is still ongoing.


6. Yerba mate lowers blood sugar levels

Yerba mate can lower blood sugar and reduce diabetes complications.


A recent study reports that yerba mate may improve insulin signaling (18).


It may reduce the formation of advanced glycation end products as well. Advanced glycation end products contribute to many diseases (19)(20).


7. Lowers your risk of heart disease

Yerba mate contains polyphenols and caffeoyl derivates, both antioxidant compounds, protecting against heart disease. In addition, animal and cell studies report that the extract of yerba mate may protect against heart disease (21)(22).


Yerba mate has a cholesterol-lowering effect in humans.


In a particular 40-day study, participants were asked to take 11 ounces of yerba mate daily. Results from the study showed that the intake of yerba mate lowered “bad” LDL cholesterol by 8.6–13.1% (23).


Right way to prepare Yerba Mate

Yerba mate is usually served in a gourd, also referred to as a calabash.

It is best sipped through a metal straw. There is a filter on the lower end of the metal straw. The filter helps to strain out the leaf fragments.

Here is the right way to prepare Yerba Mate:

You’ll fill the bottom third of the calabash with toasted or dried mate leaves, after which you’ll add hot water.

If there’s no calabash handy, you can prepare it in a French press.

The tea is typically served with burnt sugar, milk, or lemon juice. You may top it off with water a couple of times before making a new batch (with fresh leaves, of course).

Yerba is traditionally consumed hot, but you may serve it cold, especially if you’re staying in a hot location.

Have you tried yerba, mate? Let me know in the comments below how you liked it vs. coffee.

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