Yerba mate is a refreshing tea drink, native to the South American community. But its nutritional value made it a favorite of many around the world.
Today, you can get yerba mate from health stores and food chains. And you can even prepare it in a french press.
It’s not all hype, though. Several scientific studies found properties in yerba mate that contribute to a healthy life.
In this post, you’ll learn about the health benefits of drinking yerba mate tea.
What is Yerba Mate?
The scientific name of this plant is Ilex paraguariensis (Aquifoliaceae).
It is of the genus (Ilex), the evergreen holly shrubs. Mainly cultivated in the subtropical parts of South America.
Yerba mate tea is made from twigs and naturally prepared in a gourd, or “mate.” An extract from the plant gets made from specific processes. The extract is primarily formulated into four separate drinks:
- maté cocido, and
- maté tea.
The mate leaves used for the first two formulations are dry and ground. The difference between the first two drinks is the temperature of water used in the preparation.
For the former, the formulation is done with hot water. The latter use cold water instead. The leaves of mate tea get roasted. The leaves are brewed like several other herbal teas.
Maté cocido is merely a green maté formulated as an herbal tea. It is typically packaged in bags and marketed as maté tea.
Health benefits of Yerba Mate tea
Yerba mate has a variety of biological uses attributed to its constituents. It contains a high proportion of polyphenols.
This in turn gives its antioxidant properties, saponins, which reduce cholesterol and caffeine. Taking this tea has a lot of positive health benefits.
Let’s take a look at these benefits in detail.
1. Is rich in antioxidants
Several studies show that yerba mate is very rich in antioxidants in comparison to other alternatives such as green tea.
This is due to its high polyphenol content and its traditional method of preparation. This method extracts over 90 percent of its polyphenol content.
By mopping up any excess harmful free radicals in the body, antioxidants act as natural immune boosters. And yerba mate is very rich in antioxidants.
2. May have anti-cancer properties
A study carried out on mice, yerba mate not only protected DNA damage from Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), it also induced mutagenesis.
It increased DNA repair of affected chromosomal strands. As a tentative result, this suggests that yerba mate could prevent DNA damage in humans.
And so it may be an effective anti-cancer drug. More studies are needed to provide more insights.
3. Promotes weight loss
It does this by delaying the time the stomach empties its contents and also reducing the time the stomach got “full.”
For example, it promotes satiety by enhancing intestinal glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) amongst others.
Yerba mate has recently emerged as a leading candidate for the anti-obesity campaign. Recent researches are being carried out on how Yerba mate regulates adipogenesis.
4. May prevent cardiovascular diseases
Yerba mate contains a lot of polyphenols. Polyphenols had important health effects. They help lower endothelin and thromboxane levels.
And at the same time increases the systemic level of nitric oxide. What does all this mean?
Both effects lower the chances of arteriosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases significantly.
5. Promotes glucose tolerance
Several studies on mice feeding on a high-fat diet are showing promising results. Researchers found that yerba mate elevated the glucose tolerance and homeostasis of the test subjects at the end of the studies.
This suggests that yerba mate is an excellent drink for people suffering from a case of glucose intolerance.
6. Regulates cholesterol
As a result of its significant saponin content, yerba mate lowers LDL cholesterol levels, also called bad cholesterol, by as much as 13%.
Besides, yerba mate also elevates HDL cholesterol levels. HDL is, often regarded as ‘good’ cholesterol.
This may help reduce medical conditions caused by high cholesterol, such as hypertension.
7. May prevent osteoporosis
Drinking yerba mate is linked with higher bone densities in women, research has found.
A 2012 study evaluated women who took at least one liter of yerba maté every day for four years. The result was compared to women who did not take yerba mate tea.
Researchers found that those who took the beverage had a lesser risk of losing bone strength and density. This is even after accounting for other variables and factors.
8. Provide energy
Yerba mate contains a significant amount of caffeine. And like all caffeinated drinks provide an energizing effect after intake.
Caffeine is a cognitive enhancer as well, so it improves mental alertness.
9. Has anti-inflammatory effects
Yerba mate possesses strong anti-inflammatory properties as well. In a set of experiments carried out on mice, yerba mate significantly reduced both local and systemic inflammation.
This inflammatory process can affect the metabolism of glucose and the body’s sensitivity to insulin as well. Hence it is an effective anti-diabetic.
10. Lowers the risk of heart conditions
Yerba mate can significantly lower the risk of many heart conditions. It does this by lowering plasma levels of:
- LDL cholesterol
- glucose, insulin
- pancreatic lipase
It also enhances vasodilation and lowers the risk of arteriosclerosis.
11. May help fight depression
A study reported that the effect of yerba mate on mice. This research helped to uncover its antidepressant-like impact.
The researchers showed that the plant has neuroprotective properties on mice. Whether this benefit applies to man is yet to be validated scientifically.
Yerba mate tea is not only refreshing but it’s loaded with several health benefits. Although it is not suitable for everyone, regularly drinking yerba mate.
It is a useful herbal supplement, and a great alternative to other teas you see around today.