Yerba Mate: What Is It And What Are The Benefits?
It’s been said that yerba mate has the health benefits of tea, the strength of coffee, and the euphoria of chocolate - all in one drink. We’re checking out yerba mate and the hype surrounding it. Is it as good for you as they say? We’ll find out.
What is Yerba Mate?
Yerba mate is a caffeinated drink made from the leaves of a holly tree, called Ilex paraguariensis, grown in South America. The drink is native to Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Southern Brazil. It was first used to increase physical stamina by warriors and farmers and also for medicinal purposes. Native people thought it was an herb ‘from the gods’ and included it in religious and other important ceremonies. Yerba mate was believed to heal the sick and enhance life.
Drinking this beverage was a social event in the native cultures. The drink is passed around in the traditional gourd from one person to another as a bonding experience.
Here are a few interesting facts about yerba mate:
- Yerba mate is the official drink of Argentina.
- Around 98% of Argentinian homes consume the drink.
- Argentina spends up to $500M per year on yerba mate.
- It was consumed in place of scarce food during seasons of drought and famine.
- It took centuries for the European colonizers to figure out how to cash in on the popular plant.
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The Benefits of Yerba Mate
Yerba mate has many benefits to our mental and physical health.
Mental Clarity and Focus
Got work to do but just can’t focus? Try a yerba mate. It has properties that can boost all of your cognitive functions - focus, clarity, memory, learning, mood, and alertness. Yerba mate is naturally caffeinated, and we know the positive effects of caffeine on our moods, focus, and sense of alertness. It’s a stimulant that can make you more productive, creative, and motivated because it boosts the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine. More than that, yerba mate also contains theophylline and theobromine, which work with the caffeine to give a mild stimulant effect.
For those of you who are primarily concerned with your cognition and mental performance, yerba mate is an excellent way to get the benefits you want without the jitters or sometimes erratic energy fluctuations of coffee.
Yerba mate is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It may contain every micronutrient necessary to sustain your life.
Here are some of the nutrients in yerba mate:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B5
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
These other phytonutrients are also found in yerba mate:
- Trace minerals
- Amino acids
Finally, yerba mate contains 11 polyphenols and a large number of antioxidants.
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One of the best benefits of yerba mate is the energy increase it provides. The boost is smooth and even compared to that of coffee and other natural stimulants. When you need to be awake and alert but not jittery or over-stimulated, yerba mate should be your choice of tea. It won’t cause insomnia, making it an excellent remedy for people with physical and mental fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome. Athletes may use yerba mate to increase their energy for sporting endeavors.
Yerba mate has been reported to be an aid in reducing excessive body weight. It may accomplish this by reducing your appetite, while it increases insulin sensitivity and metabolism, energy to be active, and lifts your mood. In human studies, consuming just 3 grams over 12 weeks reduced the participants’ waist-to-hip ratios by 2%. This indicates that there was a loss in belly fat.
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As mentioned earlier, the native people who first used yerba mate used it for medicinal purposes, in addition to its other benefits. It may be used for the following conditions:
- Digestion and elimination issues
- Allergies and Sinusitis
- Memory loss
Other medicinal uses are listed and described below.
Strengthens Immune System
Yerba mate has a substance called saponins. These are natural emulsifiers that contain anti-inflammatory properties.
Yerba mate has been found to protect us against E. coli (a bacteria that causes food poisoning), fungi that lead to skin irritations and flakiness, and certain types of parasites.
Several antioxidants found in yerba mate can strengthen your immune system, making it easier to maintain health.
Traditionally, yerba mate has been used to relieve symptoms of constipation, indigestion, and diarrhea. It may also be used to treat and prevent urinary tract infections, as well as bladder and kidney stones. However, its effectiveness in these conditions is anecdotal. More studies need to be done.
Build Strong Bones
In a study of postmenopausal women, those who drank yerba mate had 10% greater bone density in their spines than those who didn’t drink it. An interesting fact about this result is that neither group exercised. So even without exercise, yerba mate may help you build stronger bones.
Improves Heart Health
Yerba mate contains theobromine which can relax blood vessels preventing blocked arteries. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of yerba mate make it good protection for your heart and whole cardiovascular system. It may also be effective in treating irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, and heart failure.
Protection from Cancer
This last benefit is controversial. There is some evidence to show that yerba mate may prevent certain types of cancers because it contains saponins (mentioned earlier), rutin, ursolic acid, chlorophyll, and chlorogenic acid.
The questionable bit is that yerba mate may also increase your chances of developing other kinds of cancer. This is because it contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are also found in tobacco and grilled meats. The risk of cancer may only apply to consumers who drink large quantities of yerba mate at a high temperature. Consumed in moderation may pose only minor risks.
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Yerba mate is a pleasant beverage to drink that may have some exciting and helpful properties. The increase in focus, energy, and overall alertness is well worth giving it a try. If you want the full experience, purchase it in loose leaf form and buy a cool gourde. Otherwise, enjoy a lightly brewed cup of tea that is proving to up your game and take your productivity to a new level.
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