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Properties of yerba mate

2023-05-29
Properties of yerba mate

Yerba mate is a veritable miracle of nature. The stimulating brew from South America was considered a source of health properties by the Guarani Indians centuries ago. Regular drinking of yerba mate can improve memory and concentration. It provides energy and helps with weight loss. What other properties does yerba mate have? What are the health benefits of miraculous brew? We have gathered all the most relevant information in today's blog post.

In this article we will look at each of the properties of yerba mate mentioned. For convenience, we have divided the content into several categories. If you want to jump to a specific subsection that interests you, just select it from the summary below. Enjoy your reading!

Summary:

  1. Yerba mate – what is it?
  2. How to drink yerba mate?
  3. Properties of mate tea
  4. Yerba mate is a source of vitamins and minerals!
  5. What else is found in yerba mate?
  6. How does yerba mate stimulate?
  7. Yerba mate for memory and concentration
  8. Yerba mate for weight loss
  9. Yerba mate vs sport
  10. Yerba mate and mental wellbeing
  11. Yerba mate – effects on the heart and cardiovascular diseases
  12. Yerba mate and sexual activity
  13. Yerba mate and beauty care
  14. Can yerba mate be combined with medicines?
  15. Is yerba mate carcinogenic?
  16. Does yerba mate have negative properties?

Yerba mate – what is it?

Yerba mate is a brew based on the leaves and twigs of Ilex paraguariensis, popular in South America. It was first tasted by the Guarani Indians living in the present-day borderlands of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. They discovered that the plant was excellent for fighting fatigue, curbing hunger and sharpening the senses. In the 17th century, during the conquest, the Jesuits took an interest in Indian life and mate tea inherent in it. It was thanks to the monks that the first holly plantations were established and exports of the raw material began. The infusion gained recognition throughout the colonies. It quickly became an integral part of everyday life for the Latin Americans of this part of the continent. Finally, yerba mate made its way to Europe, but due to political and economic turmoil, it didn’t initially gain as much fame here as it did in South America. In fact, it only gained significant interest in recent years, and to this day its popularity continues to grow. It is spreading more and more widely to countries outside the South American cultural circle. Yerba mate has excellent properties and many health benefits, which is why it is appreciated by many as an ideal stimulating drink and, above all, fully healthy alternative to coffee.

How to drink yerba mate?

To begin with, a short instruction for those who have not yet drunk yerba mate. How to make an infusion? It's easy! All you need is a little bit of dried product – to start with, we recommend choosing samples of yerba mate (50g) to get an idea of the different types of product and flavours. You also need a bombilla and mate gourd. You can manage without the last item by replacing it with a regular ceramic cup. However, the bombilla, which is a special tube equipped with a filter separating the grounds from the infusion, is absolutely essential – without it, drinking the infusion of finely cut leaves and twigs will be very unpleasant. Everything a beginner needs to get started with yerba mate can be found in our online shop. Beginners should be especially interested in our starter kits. They contain the necessary accessories along with a set of samples or a half-kilo packet of dried mate. We have quite a few of them. Surely there is something for everyone! Once you have your mate and the necessary tools, you can prepare the infusion. Pour 2-3 teaspoons of yerba mate into a container (the more dry product you use, the more intense will be the brew), pour in hot but cooled water (at a temperature of about 70-80°C) and insert the bombilla, plugging its mouthpiece with your finger. Do not stir! The infusion will be ready to drink after a few minutes.

Properties of yerba mate

Properties of mate tea

Let's say it again: yerba mate is a true miracle of nature. The stimulating brew from South America is known for its numerous health properties. It contains a whole range of micronutrients, minerals and vitamins. Thanks to the caffeine it contains, yerba mate provides energy, aids weight loss and supports the metabolism. Thanks to the polyphenols, it has antioxidant properties which translate into support for the immune system. Regular sipping of the infusion improves concentration and stimulates brain function. In addition, it can translate into improved mood. It is difficult to find another source of so many valuable compounds for the body. The properties of yerba mate quoted here in summary form may probably be familiar to you, if you have already heard about the miraculous drink of the Guarani Indians. In the following text, we will discuss them in more detail.

To summarise the introduction, we can highlight the following properties of yerba mate:

  • is characterised by its natural caffeine content and perfectly stimulates,
  • contains a range of vitamins and minerals,
  • has an antioxidant effect through the polyphenols it contains, improves immunity and helps slow down cell ageing,
  • contributes to a better functioning of the cardiovascular system, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease,
  • can improve concentration,
  • lowers cholesterol levels.

Yerba mate is a source of vitamins and minerals!

Yerba mate is excellent for nourishing the body. It contains a number of vitamins and minerals that are important for the daily functioning. These include B vitamins (such as vitamin B1, B2, B6), vitamin A, C and E. It also contains minerals such as zinc, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, silicon and magnesium. The last element in particular draws attention. That's right! While coffee flushes magnesium out of the body, yerba mate provides it! Among other things, zinc is essential for the proper development of the skeletal system, and is also responsible for hair and nail growth. Potassium ensures the acid-alkaline balance in the body. Phosphorus influences the development of bones, muscles and the nervous system. Calcium is also important for the proper functioning of the skeletal system – it is the building material for bones and teeth. Silicon, among other things, is involved in the synthesis of collagen.

Let's go back to the vitamins. Those belonging to the B group are primarily responsible for the work of the nervous system, which translates into our mental health. This is because they play an important role in the assimilation of carbohydrates, i.e. the conversion of glucose into the energy required by the brain. Indirectly, they therefore have an effect on relieving nervous tension and improving intellectual performance. Moreover, they improve concentration and prevent mood swings. Vitamins C and E are no less important for the functioning of our organism. They have an antioxidant effect, which slows down cell ageing and death, and generally improves immunity.

On the back of the packaging, you can find a lot of valuable information about what is in yerba mate. We have collected and compared the information provided by manufacturers on the nutritional values found on average in one serving of yerba mate, i.e. 50g of dried product poured over 500ml of water. We present this data in the form of an infographic:

Vitamins and minerals content in yerba mate

What else is found in yerba mate?

Yerba mate is not only packed with vitamins and minerals that exhibit numerous health benefits. It is also a rich source of polyphenols, which are organic chemical compounds that have strong antioxidant effects. Their role in the body is to stop or delay the oxidation of substances. They fight free radicals, which are harmful to the body – they cause cells to age faster, can damage DNA and have an impact on the development of cancer. One of the antioxidants contained in yerba mate is another valuable element for the body and worthy of description – chlorogenic acid. Its feature is a strong antioxidant effect, which translates, among other things, into improved immunity. In addition, according to scientists, chlorogenic acid can be helpful in the fight against diabetes. This is because it regulates sugar levels in the body. It is worth adding that this compound increases the body's sensitivity to insulin. Not surprisingly, it is sometimes used in the fight against insulin resistance. In addition, it has an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect. Saponins – another natural antioxidant – are also present in yerba mate. These compounds contribute to the characteristic bitter taste of the infusion. They exhibit many properties – they have diuretic, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects. They also cause the infusion to foam gently.

Yerba mate vs coffee. Which stimulates better?

The popularity of yerba mate is growing year by year. Although it is rich in vitamins and other compounds valuable to the body, it is not these that have brought Guarani's drink the greatest fame. The most valuable is caffeine, which gives yerba mate its strong stimulating effect. In this respect, yerba mate competes with coffee, and more and more coffee drinkers are choosing it as a healthier alternative. Which infusion is better for health and more strongly stimulating? It is not easy to determine unequivocally the caffeine content of yerba mate. This is influenced by factors such as the type and amount of dried product used to make the infusion, time of brewing and temperature of water used to pour leaves and twigs. In broad terms, it is assumed that 1 litre of yerba mate can contain around 70-650 milligrams of caffeine. Comparatively, there are 1700-2250 milligrams of caffeine in 1 litre of strong espresso coffee and 380-650 milligrams of caffeine in 1 litre of brewed coffee. In the table below, we have gathered information on the caffeine content of other drinks in which it is found:

Caffeine content in yerba mate

As you can see, coffee has a higher caffeine content than yerba mate. Does this mean that it will be a better stimulant? Not necessarily! In addition to caffeine, yerba mate contains theobromine and theophylline (in low concentrations), which influence the nervous system. They improve blood flow in the brain and, like caffeine, are stimulants, but their action has no side effects. They make yerba mate provide energy in a more balanced way. After a cup of coffee, we feel a sudden surge of energy. Unfortunately, a kind of "downhill" follows just as quickly, often involving weakness and trembling hands. With yerba mate it is completely different! Yerba mate is drunk slowly, so the caffeine is delivered more slowly, allowing for a harmonious feeling of stimulation without "spikes" in mood. What's more, it contains a whole range of valuable minerals and nutrients! It is no wonder that yerba mate is finding a growing number of enthusiasts.

Yerba mate for memory and concentration

Yerba mate is much more than a healthy source of natural caffeine and polyphenols. So let's momentarily set aside the stimulating potential of the “tea” and its antioxidant properties and look at its other remarkable qualities. As researchers proclaim, yerba mate consumption can improve concentration. This is another reason why it is favoured by students and white-collar workers. It is all due to the caffeine, vitamins and a large dose of magnesium. It is worth mentioning that there are special blends of yerba mate and ingredients to further stimulate brain function. Particularly noteworthy are the blends labelled "mas IQ". Apart from dried yerba mate, they contain ingredients which have been known in natural medicine for centuries for their properties supporting the work of the mind. These include ginseng or ginkgo biloba. The most popular product of this type in our online shop is Verde Mate Green Mas IQ.

Yerba mate for weight loss

An infusion based on Ilex paraguariensis can help you lose weight. Yerba mate helps to reduce the feeling of hunger, and less appetite means less snacking and better weight control. In addition, yerba mate helps to speed up metabolic processes, making it possible to burn fat faster. Chlorogenic acid, mentioned earlier, plays an important role in this regard. Its anti-diabetic properties are linked to an increase in insulin sensitivity and a reduction in glucose absorption. This, in turn, translates into better sugar management and no excess fat accumulation. The vitamins, minerals and antioxidants contained in mate tea support liver function. Thanks to a more efficient metabolism, harmful substances that are deposited due to excess sugar and fat are removed from the body. A better metabolism is also influenced by the diuretic effect that yerba mate owes to the saponins it contains. More efficient detoxification of the body translates into better weight loss results.

Any type of yerba mate can help with weight loss. However, it is worth taking an interest in herbal blends prepared specifically with weight loss in mind. These include products labelled “silueta”. The word comes from the Spanish language and literally means "silhouette". In addition to yerba mate itself, siluetas most often contain additives that have been known for centuries in natural medicine for their digestion-supporting effects. These include herbs such as South American boldo, mint, cistus or fennel. It is worth pointing out that mate teas with herbal ingredients not only have a great effect. They are also generally very tasty. Yerba mate for weight loss are very popular in our shop. Of these, customers most often praise the following products:

We have no doubt that everyone who wants to lose weight should take an interest in Guarani’s drink. However, we should remember that we can't treat yerba mate as a “wonder drug” for obesity. After drinking it, you will not suddenly and magically lose a few kilos. The desired effect of a slim figure can only be achieved by taking a holistic approach to the treatment. In order to achieve a slim figure, you need to take care of a healthy, balanced diet and exercise, and yerba mate can be a great addition to these activities.

Yerba mate vs sport

Athletes are increasingly willing to include yerba mate in their daily diet. No wonder. A portion of the infusion before training is a way to provide a balanced dose of nutrients and minerals, as well as a set of vitamins. Yerba mate is stimulating, but unlike coffee, it contains a lot of magnesium. As a result, it does not cause a sudden surge of energy and a rapid loss of strength and feelings of irritability. That is not all. Thanks to yerba mate, carbohydrate metabolism is stimulated. This translates into an increase in energy reserves and improved performance, allowing for longer physical activity. The infusion also has the effect of preventing the accumulation of lactic acid and slows down the appearance of muscle soreness. Add to this its previously mentioned antioxidant properties, and the conclusions are obvious. Yerba mate is an excellent support for physical exercise! Examples come from the best. World-class athletes are fans of yerba mate infusions. Celebrities such as Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or Antoine Griezmann have been photographed with a calabash full of life-giving mate tea. As you can see for yourself, the best of the best know what's good!

Yerba mate and mental wellbeing

It is hard to deny that depression has become one of the more serious diseases of civilisation these days. It turns out that yerba mate can help to improve the mental condition. This effect is due to the B vitamins and magnesium contained in the infusion. As a result, yerba mate can provide relief from states of depression, mild anxiety and mood swings. It is therefore worth including in the daily diet. Yerba mate is relaxing and calming. Its preparation requires certain steps and the whole process is a kind of ritual. It is drunk slowly, savouring each sip. This inevitably forces you to stop for a moment and put aside the things that cause you stress on a daily basis. Besides, if you love yerba mate, drinking it immediately improves your mood and you simply feel better. Drinking mate in the morning will put you in a positive frame of mind for the whole day, and drinking it throughout the day will make every activity more enjoyable. Remember, however, that the infusion, although healthy, is not a "cure for all ills". It is not a substitute for professional therapy for serious psychological problems.

Properties of yerba mate

Yerba mate – effects on the heart and cardiovascular diseases

When consumed regularly, yerba mate shows positive effects in supporting the cardiovascular system. Here, the anti-atherosclerotic effect of the chlorogenic acid and other antioxidants contained in it is indicated in particular. An infusion based on yerba mate helps in the fight against "bad cholesterol" – LDL. It contains more fat than protein, causing it to build up in the blood vessels. As a result, it can be the cause of a heart attack. Regular consumption of yerba mate (a dose of around 0.5 litres per day is usually suggested here), is a great way to support LDL metabolism. This is all due to the saponin and paraoxonase enzyme contained in mate tea. Here again, we remind you that mate, despite its positive effects on the body, is not a cure. Rather, it should be considered as a supplement to the diet that should be balanced and abundant in healthy, unprocessed foods. Only with a comprehensive approach to cardiovascular health can the desired results be achieved. Let's also not forget that although yerba mate is healthy, there are some contraindications to drinking it. Among these are very high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. This is why we emphasise once again that the basis for an informed and effective treatment is regular medical consultation!

At this point, it is worth mentioning that the positive effects of drinking yerba mate have been confirmed by the scientific community, which only reinforces our conviction of what a miraculous plant yerba mate is. Some products even boast recommendations from medical institutions. One of these is the popular Argentinian yerba mate Rosamonte. The Argentine Cardiovascular Society, which brings together heart specialists from all over the country, issued a flattering opinion on it. Not surprisingly, the company responsible for the brand, Hreñuk, includes this information on its product packaging.

Yerba mate and sexual activity

A diet rich in valuable minerals and nutrients, a healthy cardiovascular system, emotional stability and general life vigour are cited among the factors for a successful sexual life. As you have learnt from the previous sections of this article, yerba mate has many positive properties and can affect virtually every one of the areas mentioned here. It can therefore be concluded that, indirectly, yerba mate has a positive effect on libido. Interestingly, some manufacturers offer special blends that can further enhance the potential of yerba mate as an aphrodisiac. These most commonly contain catuaba and muira puama. These plants, which originate from the Amazonian forests, have been recognised by the local people as natural potency remedies for centuries. In our online yerba mate shop, you will find several products containing these additives. Customers most often choose Brazilian Verde Mate Green La Potente and Yaguar Amore, or Paraguayan Kurupi Katuava and Guarani Katuava. We heartily recommend them!

Yerba mate and beauty care

Yerba mate has an excellent effect on the whole body – not only on the inside, but also on the external appearance. It can be helpful in beauty care. Yerba mate contains substances that have a positive effect on many aspects of beauty. These include, in particular, silicon and zinc, as well as B, C and E vitamins. They are responsible for stimulating hair growth, the appearance and condition of the skin and strengthening the nails. Therefore, if you want to take care of your appearance in a completely natural way, it is worth including yerba mate in your daily diet.

Can yerba mate be combined with medicines?

We have pointed out several times in this text that yerba mate is not a medicine and, despite the many properties it shows, it cannot replace specialised treatment under the guidance of a doctor. What about combining yerba mate with medicines? An infusion of Ilex paraguariensis is unlikely to affect the effects of the light headache remedies we reach for in moments of weakness. However, due to the caffeine content, which causes an increase in blood pressure and hyperactivity, it is better to be cautious about combining mate with certain medicines. We have no information regarding whether yerba mate conflicts with specific medications and to what extent, but we recommend caution. If you regularly take something and prefer to be sure that drinking yerba mate is completely safe, you should definitely consult your doctor.

Is yerba mate carcinogenic?

There are rumours that yerba mate has carcinogenic properties. Over the course of several decades, scientists have carried out a number of studies to find out whether yerba mate is indeed carcinogenic and what factors allegedly contribute to such effects. It was found that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (abbreviated as PAHs), which are harmful substances that result from the incomplete combustion of organic matter, are found in yerba mate dried using the traditional method of smoke and fire. PAHs are absorbed into the body through the oesophagus, which is irritated by the high temperature of the brew. These reports have now been debunked by further studies. It has been found that indeed, harmful PAHs are found in smoke-dried yerba mate, but the amount is not significant – no more than in coffee, cocoa or grilled meat. The risk of cancer when drinking yerba mate is the same as when drinking any beverage with a temperature higher than 65°C, even pure hot water.

Does yerba mate have negative properties?

Finally, let us dispel any doubts. We often get questions from our customers about whether there are contraindications to drinking yerba mate. It is an undeniable fact that yerba mate is healthy, but indeed, there are some contraindications to its consumption. Fortunately, they apply to a small group of people. Due to its high caffeine content, we strongly advise against giving the brew to children. Caffeine raises blood pressure, causes hyperactivity and can cause irritability, and these are not desirable actions in young babies. The increase in blood pressure that results from caffeine also means that drinking yerba mate should be avoided by those suffering from arterial disease. Drinking mate should also be avoided by pregnant women and young mothers. The caffeine contained in yerba mate is stimulating, so drinking the brew in the evening or even late in the afternoon is not recommended so as not to risk sleeping problems.


Source of information:

  1. Wikipedia: Yerba mate, Caffeine.
  2. A. Gawron-Gzella, J. Chanaj-Kaczmarek, J. Cielecka-Piontek, Yerba Mate-A Long but Current History, Nutrients, 2021.
  3. C. I. Heck, E. G. De Mejia, Yerba Mate Tea (Ilex paraguariensis): A Comprehensive Review on Chemistry, Health Implications, and Technological Considerations, Journal of Food Science, 2007.
  4. D. H. Markowicz Bastos, D. M. de Oliveira, R. L. T. Matsumoto, P. de Oliveira Carvalho, M. Lima Ribeiro, Yerba maté: Pharmacological Properties, Research and Biotechnology, Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Science and Biotechnology, 2007.
  5. La Agencia Internacional para la Investigación del Cáncer (IARC) declara que el mate no es cancerígeno, Instituto Nacional de la Yerba Mate.
  6. oec.world.
  7. Fundación Cardiológica Argentina.

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