Yerba mate begins its life as a shrub and eventually grows into a tree that can actually be up to 49 feet tall. The leaves of the plant contain caffeine and xanthine alkaloids. If you look closely, you’ll also find there are small flowers on the tree, which are greenish-white in color.
These days, it’s primarily grown and processed in South America and the yerba mate tree can be found in northern Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and southern Brazil. However, the actual consumption of yerba mate only became widespread in Paraguay in the late 16th century. Due to its rise in popularity, it eventually became one of the main commodities of Paraguay.
The reason people were so keen to consume this plant was due to all the amazing health benefits of yerba mate. It’s loaded with polyphenols, contains three different types of xanthines (caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline), and has good-for-you minerals like potassium, magnesium, and manganese. Due to these great ingredients, people have turned to it because of it’s ability to suppress the appetite, help with weight loss, provide immune system support, and a variety of other reasons. It’s almost as if yerba mate is some type of “super tea”.
Below you will find 11 science-backed health benefits of yerba mate:
1. It helps with focus and energy.
If you struggle to stay focused and energized throughout the day, yerba mate just might be able to help you out. In fact, it’s said to be a better stimulant than green tea, coffee, or any other caffeinated drinks you may turn to for an energy boost. The reason it’s so effective is because its leaves provide you with caffeine, but yerba mate also contains theobromine. Theobromine is a stimulant that is found in chocolate. They both work together to provide you with the energy boost you need to get you through the day.
The caffeine found in yerba mate is natural and much more mild than what you’d find in sodas or your morning coffee. This is better for “improving mental cognition, mood, and athletic performance, without the infamous caffeine ‘jitters.’” If you often experience bursts of energy, followed by a crash, after drinking those sugary, caffeinated drinks, yerba mate can help you avoid that and keep your mind focused.
2. It gives your immune system a boost.
Your immune system is what keeps you functioning properly and fights off sickness. So, if you want to avoid getting sick all the time, you’ll want to make sure your immune system is in tip-top shape. And giving your immune system a boost is just one of the health benefits of yerba mate. In fact, many have used it to treat the common cold and even the flu.
Yerba mate works so well for your immune system because it contains polyphenols and flavonoids that work wonders for our bodies. Polyphenols are antioxidants that can strengthen the body’s defenses and protect it from sickness. The flavonoids also aid in immune system function and have been shown to be more effective than green tea and red wines. Yerba mate also contains saponins, which are natural compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties.
3. It’s high in antioxidants.
Yerba mate contains more antioxidants than green tea does, which is pretty impressive considering the popularity of green tea for its health benefits. Not only that, but yerba mate contains 15 amino acids and numerous vitamins and minerals. It has B vitamins, vitamin C, zinc, potassium, and manganese, just to name a few.
4. It may help with weight loss.
Are you trying to shed a few extra pounds and looking for something that could help? Try yerba mate. Research has shown yerba mate can help promote weight loss in a variety of ways. First, it works as an appetite suppressant by banishing the feelings of hunger. It can also increase the amount of calories and fat your body burns because it increases the 24-hour energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans. This means that you’ll burn more calories when you drink yerba mate on a regular basis. Research has also shown that it decreases the total number of fat cells and reduces the amount of fat they hold.
A 12-week study was also conducted to see the effectiveness of yerba mate on weight loss. A group of people who were deemed to be overweight participated in the study and a select portion of that group was given three grams of yerba mate per day. By the end of the study, they had lost an average of 1.5 pounds and reduced their waist-to-hip ratio by 2%. Those who were given a placebo gained an average of 6.2 pounds and increased their waist-to-hip ratio by 1%.
5. It helps relieve allergies.
Those who suffer from allergies know just how frustrating it can be. The itchy eyes, runny nose, and sneezing are enough to drive anyone crazy. While you may take a medication to combat allergies, yerba mate could help you out, thus limiting the need for prescription medications.
Here’s a fun fact for you… The Mediterranean diet consists of foods that are rich in polyphenols. Countries that tend to follow this diet actually have lower rates of allergies, asthma, and other inflammatory diseases than countries that follow the Western diet (United States, Canada, and England). Yerba mate is loaded with polyphenols, which is why it can provide a great benefit for you.
Yerba mate can even suppress an overactive immune system response to allergens, cutting down on the severity of the symptoms you experience. It has even been show to open up the respiratory passages, which is helpful if you struggle with stuffiness due to allergies.
6. It can help you get a better night’s sleep.
We all know just how important it is to get a restful night’s sleep. It’s essential that we give our bodies the proper amount of time to rest and recharge. However, many of us struggle to fall asleep and even wake up multiple times during the night. What are you to do? One of the health benefits of yerba mate is that it can promote a better night’s sleep, ensuring you are well-rested when you wake up every morning.
The reason it works is because yerba mate helps to relax your body’s muscles, creating a feeling of calm. It even helps put you in a better REM cycle while you sleep. Because some people may find that yerba mate makes their minds a little too active (because of the caffeine) it would be best to drink it in the morning instead of directly before bed.
7. It may reduce depression and anxiety.
Mental health has continued to become an increasingly common issue among people worldwide and many are striving to find the answers to what they’re dealing with. While you should never stop taking any depression or anxiety medications without first consulting your doctor, yerba mate may also be able to help you.
Yerba mate contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI’s), which are naturally occurring in the plant. MAOI’s are known mood enhancers and found in many of the depression and anxiety medications on the market today. Consuming it through yerba mate is just a more natural way to go about it and is much less likely to produce negative side effects.
And as we mentioned above, theobromine is also found in yerba mate. Theobromine is an ingredient found in chocolate and contributes to feelings of euphoria and positive moods overall. Instead of munching on that chocolate that’s loaded with sugar and artificial sweeteners, sip on some yerba mate for a similar effect.
8. It could possibly lower the risk of heart disease.
The antioxidant compounds, like caffeoyl derivatives and polyphenols, within yerba mate are pretty powerful and provide tremendous health benefits. One of the great things that these antioxidants can do is help lower the risk of heart disease. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death today, so drinking yerba mate regularly is a great way to keep your heart health in check. In fact, cell and animal studies have been conducted that have shown mate extract may provide protection against this devastating disease.
Lowering cholesterol levels is also essential in keeping your heart healthy and that’s yet another benefit yerba mate can provide. A 40-day study was conducted that required participants to drink 11 ounces of yerba mate a day. When compared with those who did not drink the yerba mate, the results were pretty amazing. Those that drank it were able to lower their LDL cholesterol levels by 8.6-13.1%.
9. It can possibly reduce the risk of getting some cancers.
Of course, the scariest disease we face today is cancer. A lot of people are being proactive with their health by consuming foods that have been shown to reduce the risk of getting certain cancers. Yerba mate is one option that people will want to incorporate into their daily lives.
Yerba mate provides our bodies with loads of antioxidants and polyphenols, which are essential for fighting cancer. In fact, it appears that yerba mate can inhibit and destroy tumors and certain cancer types, which is great news. Even better, there’s no harm in drinking it regularly, so you can just enjoy the benefits it provides without any kind of concerns.
10. It may help lower the risk of getting diabetes.
Yerba mate may also help lower the risk of developing another disease: diabetes. This is a disease that many people around the world are plagued with. It’s important to find ways to prevent it and to help those who live with it. Fortunately, yerba mate may be able to help. Here’s how… It’s been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes and hypoglycemia. Because those who have diabetes often struggle with their blood sugar levels, yerba mate provides an added benefit in that it may help lower blood sugar levels.
11. It can help with digestion.
Are you struggling with digestion issues? Try drinking yerba mate on a regular basis. It’s been shown to help with digestion and it just might be the thing you need to soothe those pesky tummy issues. In fact, the native people of South America used it for this very reason.
Yerba mate works by increasing the production of bile and other gastric acids. It can also keep your colon clean and help your body eliminate waste as necessary, which is essential to making sure we feel great. It has even been found to be a natural antimicrobial against E. coli.
Side Effects of Yerba Mate
Although there are many health benefits of yerba mate, there are a few side effects that you should watch out for if you plan to consume it on a regular basis. While it’s typically safe for most to consume, it does contain caffeine, which can always cause issues for some who are more sensitive to it. Side effects you may experience include the following: inability to sleep, upset stomach, nausea and vomiting, high blood pressure, increase heart rate, inability to sleep, headache, irregular heartbeats, and more. Make sure you keep an eye out for these issues and discontinue use of symptoms persist.
Yerba mate is likely unsafe when consumed in large quantities due to the fact that it contains caffeine. Don’t go overboard when consuming it and be smart about how much you’re drinking. It’s possible that drinking large amounts for a long period of time could increase the risk of mouth, esophageal, laryngeal, kidney, bladder, and lung cancer.
If you have an anxiety disorder, a bleeding disorder, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), high blood pressure, or osteoporosis, consult with your doctor before consuming yerba mate. It’s also potentially unsafe for those who consume heavy amounts of alcohol or those who smoke and consume yerba mate for extended periods of time.
Ask your doctor if you have any questions about consuming yerba mate.