Browse through the tea aisles of different health stores and you’re bound to find yerba mate leaf in the form of a tea bag, dried leaves, or even bottled drinks. And although it has gained popularity in the United States and Europe, it’s a classic drink in South America. Derived from a plant called Ilex paraguariensis, to make yerba mate, the leaves are processed several times and are then put through a wood smoke for slow drying. Alternatively, the leaves are, at times, aged in cedar chambers to boost flavor. In addition to its delicious taste, yerba mate packs in the health benefits. Here’s a reckoner of these.
1. Aids Weight Loss
If you’re on a diet or are overweight yerba mate leaf can be your best friend. Studies have found that it might help with weight loss. Being overweight or obese has been found to increase the risk of type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and other complications. Considering the fact that about 33.1% of Americans are overweight, 35.7% are obese, and the numbers of both are quickly rising, managing weight has never been so important.1
Yerba mate has been found to slow down gastric emptying which, in turn, helps you feel full for a long time. Prolonged satiety can help you with appetite control. In addition to this, the caffeine in it is believed to help burn fat. This might be attributed to thermogenesis, a process that burns fat.2 This could be why studies have found yerba mate to increase fat burning in obese men and women. Besides this, the saponins in yerba mate prevent cholesterol from being metabolized and, in doing so, prevent an increase in cholesterol levels, which has been found to lead to obesity. 3
To make things better, studies have found that yerba mate can normalize the expression of obesity-related genes excess of which can make it difficult to lose fat. All these factors, combined, make yerba mate ideal for weight control.4
2. Protects Liver Health
Yerba mate has been found to do a better job of killing human liver cancer cells than green tea.5
The largest organ in the body, the liver works hard to digest food, process nutrients, and remove toxins.6 Its health is, therefore, important to maintain. Yerba mate can help with this. Studies have found that it safeguards the liver from free radicals and oxidative stress.7
3. Supports Heart Health
Whether you have heart disease, are at risk of it, or would just like to avoid it, maintaining your heart health is vital. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S, with 610,000 people dying from it each year. That’s 1 in every 4 deaths!8 Yerba mate can help with this. Studies have found that it contains saponins, chemical compounds that lower cholesterol. Balancing cholesterol levels is key to cut your risk of heart disease in half.9
In addition to this, yerba mate has been found to lower blood pressure by promoting the excretion of sodium through the urine.10 Besides this, a few studies have also found that short-term intake of yerba mate may yield benefits quite similar to that of exercising.11 That said, until further studies validate this benefit, it might be best to have yerba mate in addition to maintaining a healthy lifestyle for best results.
4. Boosts Brain Function
Yerba mate can be an excellent study buddy, better even than the beloved coffee. As a central nervous system stimulant, it can perk you right up and help you focus. In fact, its caffeine content is right up there with coffee, with a cup providing 78 milligrams of it to coffee’s 85 milligrams.12 Besides this, one study, conducted in animals, found that yerba mate increased short- and long-term memory. In addition to this, it was also found to improve learning, focus, and concentration.13 Another similar study found that certain compounds in yerba mate exhibited anti-depressant effects. And while these benefits suggest a neuroprotective potential in humans, further studies are needed to fully validate them.14
5. May Reduce The Risk Of Cancer
Yerba mate has a grassy taste so if you love unsweetened green or black tea, it’s definitely your cup of tea. If not, you can add lemon juice, milk, or sugar for extra flavor.
Medical journals, magazines, and posts on the internet often explain how oxidative stress plays a huge role in cancer. They might also mention that antioxidants counter free radical activity that causes oxidative stress in the first place. Yerba mate is packed with one such powerful antioxidant which goes by the name chlorogenic acid. This polyphenol (a plant compound that exhibits antioxidant properties) has been found to prevent the growth of cancer cells, even when consumed in low doses. It was also found to protect DNA and cells from damage. Combine these benefits and yerba mate makes it hard for cancer to thrive in the body.15
In addition to antioxidant activity, research shows promise for yerba mate’s effects on hormone-related cancers. One study found that yerba mate has an inverse association with breast cancer. The higher the intake of the tea, the lower the risk. This, researchers believe, could be traced back to yerba mate’s ability to regulate hormones.16 Despite these promising studies, further research is needed to fully validate yerba mate’s effects on cancer. That said, adding it to an overall healthy diet can only benefit your health.
|↑1||Overweight & Obesity Statistics. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.|
|↑2||Martinet, A., K. Hostettmann, and Y. Schutz. “Thermogenic effects of commercially available plant preparations aimed at treating human obesity.” Phytomedicine 6, no. 4 (1999): 231-238.|
|↑3, ↑5, ↑7, ↑10, ↑12, ↑15||Heck, Caleb I., and E. Gonzalez De Mejia. “Yerba Mate Tea (Ilex paraguariensis): a comprehensive review on chemistry, health implications, and technological considerations.” Journal of food science 72, no. 9 (2007).|
|↑4||Gambero, Alessandra, and Marcelo L. Ribeiro. “The positive effects of yerba maté (Ilex paraguariensis) in obesity.” Nutrients 7, no. 2 (2015): 730-750.|
|↑6||Liver Disease. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.|
|↑8||Heart Disease Facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑9||High Cholesterol Facts. Centers for Disease Control.|
|↑11||Cahuê, Fábio, Simone Souza, Camilli Fernanda Martins Santos, Victor Machado, Jose HM Nascimento, Luciane Barcellos, and Verônica P. Salerno. “Short-term consumption of Ilex paraguariensis extracts protects isolated hearts from ischemia/reperfusion injury and contradicts exercise-mediated cardioprotection.” Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism ja (2017).|
|↑13||Prediger, Rui DS, Marcelo S. Fernandes, Daniel Rial, Sandro Wopereis, Vitor S. Pereira, Tamara S. Bosse, Camila B. Da Silva et al. “Effects of acute administration of the hydroalcoholic extract of mate tea leaves (Ilex paraguariensis) in animal models of learning and memory.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 120, no. 3 (2008): 465-473.|
|↑14||Ludka, Fabiana K., Lori de Fátima Tandler, Gislaine Kuminek, Gislaine Olescowicz, Jonatha Jacobsen, and Simone Molz. “Ilex paraguariensis hydroalcoholic extract exerts antidepressant-like and neuroprotective effects: involvement of the NMDA receptor and the L-arginine-NO pathway.” Behavioral pharmacology 27, no. 4 (2016): 384-392.|
|↑16||Ronco, Alvaro L., Edison Espinosa, Juan M. Calderon, Eduardo Lasalvia, Alejandro De Rosa Galante, and Gustavo Sanchez. “‘Mate’ Intake, Hormone-Based Risk Factors and Breast Cancer: a Case-Control Study.” Asian Pacific journal of cancer prevention: APJCP 18, no. 4 (2017): 941.|