In recent years, yerba mate (YER-bah MAH-tay) tea has become all the rage. This classic South American drink is packed with benefits! It’s become popular in the United States and Europe, earning it a spot in many health stores.
Yerba mate is made from a plant called Ilex paraguariensis. Argentina is the leading producer, followed by Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. To make yerba mate, the leaves are processed several times, followed by a slow drying stage with wood smoke. Sometimes, the leaves are aged in cedar chambers to boost flavor. It’s much different than green tea, which is quickly dried with extremely hot air.
From tea bags to bottled drinks, yerba mate can be enjoyed in many ways. You can also find supplements with or without other plant extracts. Regardless, the benefit of yerba mate won’t disappoint. Here’s what it can do for you.
5 Health Benefits Of Yerba Mate
1. Yerba Mate Reduces Cancer Risk
Oxidative stress plays a huge role in cancer. But, like most plants, yerba mate is a powerful antioxidant, thanks to a polyphenol called chlorogenic acid. Yerba mate prevents the growth of cancer cells, even at low doses. It also protects DNA and cells from damage. Together, yerba mate makes it hard for cancer to thrive in your body.1
Beyond antioxidant activity, this tea shows promise for hormone-related cancers. A 2017 study found that yerba mate has an inverse association with breast cancer. The higher the intake, the lower the risk. Researchers think this is caused by yerba mate’s ability to regulate hormones.2
2. Yerba Mate Improves Heart Health
As the leading cause of death, heart disease kills more Americans than any other disease. About 610,000 die from it each year. That’s 1 in every 4 deaths!3 To reduce your risk, drink yerba mate.
Yerba mate contains cholesterol-lowering compounds called saponins. Once your cholesterol levels reach a healthy range, you’ll cut your heart disease risk in half.4 Plus, as a diuretic, yerba mate decreases blood pressure by promoting sodium excretion through the urine.5 While nothing can replace exercise, short-term intake of yerba mate may offer similar benefits.6
3. Yerba Mate Boosts Brain Function
Can’t focus? Drink yerba mate. As a central nervous system stimulant, it can perk you right up. Additionally, yerba mate’s caffeine content rivals that of coffee. One cup of yerba mate has 78 milligrams, while one cup of coffee has 85 milligrams. 7
In a 2008 animal study, researchers found that yerba mate increases short- and long-term memory. Learning, focus, and concentration also improved.8 And according to another 2016 animal study, yerba mate’s compounds have anti-depressant effects. These benefits suggest a neuroprotective potential in humans.9
4. Yerba Mate Controls Weight
Being overweight or obese increases the risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other complications. About 33.1 percent of Americans are overweight, while 35.7 percent are obese. With these numbers quickly rising, managing weight has never been so important.10 Yerba mate can lend a hand here.
It’s been shown to slow down gastric emptying, resulting in greater feelings of satiety. This is big news for appetite control. Additionally, the caffeine burns fat, while saponins stop cholesterol metabolism.11 In obese men and women, yerba mate has even been found to boost thermogenesis, a process that burns fat.12 Amazingly, it can also normalize the expression of obesity-related genes, making yerba mate a smart choice for weight control.13
5. Yerba Mate Protects The Liver
The liver is your largest organ. It works hard to digest food, process nutrients, and remove toxins.14 With yerba mate, you can keep it in excellent shape with its antioxidant activity. According to the Journal of Food Science, it safeguards the liver from free radicals and oxidative stress. Yerba mate also does a better job at killing human liver cancer cells than green tea.15
Yerba mate has a grassy taste. If you love unsweetened green or black tea, it’ll be right up your alley. You can add lemon juice, milk, or sugar for extra flavor.
|↑1, ↑5, ↑7, ↑11, ↑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).|
|↑2||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.|
|↑3||Heart Disease Facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑4||High Cholesterol Facts. Centers for Disease Control.|
|↑6||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).|
|↑8||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.|
|↑9||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.” Behavioural pharmacology 27, no. 4 (2016): 384-392.|
|↑10||Overweight & Obesity Statistics. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.|
|↑12||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.|
|↑13||Gambero, Alessandra, and Marcelo L. Ribeiro. “The positive effects of yerba maté (Ilex paraguariensis) in obesity.” Nutrients 7, no. 2 (2015): 730-750.|
|↑14||Liver Disease. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.|