Proven Yerba Mate Health Benefits
Yerba mate is a drink that combines the energy of coffee, the earthy tones of tea, and a rich cultural history. It comes in various styles, offering earthy, grassy, or slightly smoky notes. It can be enjoyed hot or cold, with some preferring the refreshing chill of "tereré" on hot days.
Unlike tea or coffee, it's traditionally extracted from a hollowed-out gourd using a special metal straw called a bombilla. It is naturally rich in caffeine, providing a gentle energy boost without the jitters of coffee. So, let us learn more about Yerba Mate's benefits and nutrition.
What Is Yerba Mate?
Yerba mate is an herbal tea beverage made from the leaves and stems of the plant named llex paraguariensis and is found in South American countries like Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. This indigenous tea is claimed as strong as coffee and provides health benefits like tea but leaves you feeling euphoric like chocolate.
It is known for its leaves, specifically dried over a fire, and then stepped into hot water to make a tea-like beverage called mate. The tea generates a grassy and earthy flavor which can be strong for some people. Its flavor depends on how you brew it. The flavor resembles an infusion of vegetables, herbs, and grass and is reminiscent of some varieties of green tea.
Yerba Mate Nutritional Composition
Here is what a one-cup (12g) serving of branded yerba mate beverage looks like:
- Calories: 15
- Fat: 0g
- Sodium: 0mg
- Carbohydrates: 3g
- Fiber: 0g
- Sugars: 0g
- Protein: 0.5g
- Vitamin C: 7.8 mg ( 13% of RDI)
- Magnesium: 48 mg (12% of RDI)
- Zinc: 0.6 mg (4% of RDI)
Only 15% of calories can be seen in the yerba mate beverage with most coming from carbs. The absence of fiber implies that it comes from either sugars or starch. All the yerba mates are not the same as some contain added sugars while processing changing their nutritional profile.
There is no presence of fats in yerba mate unless other ingredients are added. However, it does consist of a trace amount of protein measured at half a gram per one-cup serving. It also boats vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, magnesium, and zinc which cover almost a total of 29% of Regular Dietary Intake (RDI).
1. Delivers A Balanced Energy Boost
Yerba mate provides sustained energy without the jitters or crashes often associated with coffee due to the unique combination of caffeine and other existing compounds found in its leaves.
It contains 80mg of caffeine per cup which is the same amount of caffeine as a cup of most types of coffee posses offering a certain increase in your energy level when taken. The compound called theobromine is also there which contributes to the smooth and long-lasting energy boost of yerba.
2. Rich In Antioxidants
Yerba mate is a rich source of antioxidants and several beneficial plant compounds. Xanthines like caffeine and theobromine offer stimulating effects akin to those found in tea, coffee, and chocolate. Caffeoyl derivatives, unique to yerba mate, serve as primary antioxidants, supporting health benefits.
Saponins exhibit anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering properties, while polyphenols, a diverse group of antioxidants, are linked to disease risk reduction. Older research suggests yerba mate's antioxidant potency rivals that of green tea, highlighting its potential as a health-promoting beverage rich in beneficial compounds.
3. Reduce Fatigue Enhanncing Physical Performance
Yerba mate contains other compounds, like theobromine, which may improve muscle contractions and reduce fatigue, potentially enhancing overall performance. The caffeine in yerba mate can offer a temporary energy boost and improve mental clarity, aiding in focus and motivation during exercise.
Studies show yerba mate can increase your body's reliance on fat for fuel during exercise, sparing your carbohydrate stores for high-intensity moments. This could translate to better endurance in activities like cycling or running.
4. Help You Loose Weight And Belly Fat
The nutritional compositions show that there is almost no presence of fats in yerba mate which can support weight loss and reduce body weight and belly fat. It dares to boost metabolism when taken and increase the amount of stored fat burned for energy.
In a 2015 study on people with overweight, those given 3 g of yerba mate powder per day lost an average of 1.5 pounds (lbs), or 0.7 kilograms (kg). They also lowered their waist-to-hip ratio by 2% indicating belly fat reduction.
5. Reduce Inflammation
The yerba mate is a rich source of polyphenols and saponins which possess anti-inflammatory properties within it. These antioxidants can help to reduce a prevent damage caused by free radicals which promotes oxidative stress.
Another one is a healthy dose of vitamin C also called L-ascorbic acid assists in regenerating other antioxidants in the body and also acts as an antioxidant in the body. Regular consumption of these beverages provides a considerable amount of antioxidants needed to help with inflammation issues.
6. May Lowers Risk Of Heart Disease
Yerba mate possess antioxidants such as caffeoyl derivates and polyphenols which can help protect against cell damage and potentially reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease. Its consumption may be associated with lower levels of total and LDL ("bad") cholesterol, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease.
Having yerba mate also helps in reducing the inflammation that occurs in blood vessels and the heart thus benefiting heart health.
7. Lowers Blood Sugar levels
Yerba mate may also lower the blood sugar level, improving insulin signaling thus reducing symptoms in people suffering from Type II diabetes.
It has been identified that from 2011, people who consumed 11 ounces of yerba mate three times a day significantly decreased their fasting blood sugar levels and hemoglobin A1c, a long-term blood sugar control marker.
8. Aids In Digestion
Yerba mate contains compounds like saponins and tannins that might stimulate the production of bile and other digestive enzymes, potentially aiding digestion.
It is known for its quick effects on the gastrointestinal tract and helps repair damaged tissues in the digestive tract. It helps to stimulate the natural movement of the digestive tract keeping everything more regular.
9. May Help To Fight Cancer
Yerba Mate is known for its anti-cancer compounds as when the extract is added to the colon cancer cells, the cells will self-destruct. They consist of saponins, ursolic acid, rutin, tannin, chlorogenic acid, and chlorophyll.
Though all of its properties are not known yet, it is said to have cancer-cell-destroying properties to reduce cancer risks. However, more studies are being done on how it can able to kill off cancer cells.
10. May Prevent Against Infections
Yerba mate extracts have anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, and anti-fungal properties, inhibiting the growth of pathogens like E. coli, Salmonella, and Candida albicans.
It showed improved immune markers in athletes consuming yerba mate, while another reported reduced H. pylori bacteria in the stomach in the past research. Its dose of extract can also help to deactivate the E.coli bacteria which cause the symptoms of food poisoning, such as stomach cramps and diarrhoea.
11. Improves Bone Density
Yerba mate aids in improving bone density through its rich composition of nutrients essential for bone health. It contains significant amounts of calcium, a crucial mineral for bone strength and density. Additionally, yerba mate provides vitamin D, which enhances calcium absorption and helps regulate bone metabolism.
Furthermore, its antioxidant properties may protect bone cells from oxidative stress, preventing damage and promoting overall bone health. Regular consumption of yerba mate as part of a balanced diet may contribute to maintaining strong and healthy bones.
How To Prepare Yerba Mate
You can prepare yerba mate in two main ways: the traditional method using a gourd and bombilla, or a simpler method using a mug and strainer.
- Fill the gourd about 75% full with yerba mate and tilt the gourd so the leaves form a slanted mound on one side.
- Pour warm water onto the yerba mate mound base and let it sit for a minute to hydrate the leaves.
- Then, insert the bombilla on its empty side angled towards the bottom avoiding the stirring.
- Slowly pour hot water onto the base of the mound again aiming close to the bombilla to avoid wetting the upper part.
- As the water level decreases, add more hot water to the same side.
- You can refill the gourd with fresh yerba mate and repeat the process until the flavor weakens.
Mugs And Strainer Method
- Place the desired amount of yerba mate (1-2 tablespoons for loose leaf, 1-2 tea bags) in the mug.
- Pour hot water over the yerba mate.
- Steep for 3-5 minutes.
- Strain the yerba mate and enjoy.
Yerba Mate Safety And Side Effects
While yerba mate can offer health benefits, excessive or prolonged consumption may lead to adverse effects. Common side effects include excess stimulation, insomnia, upset stomach, hypertension, and increased heart rate. Additionally, it may inhibit platelet aggregation and elevate the risk of esophageal and other cancers when consumed excessively.
It's crucial to exercise caution and awareness regarding yerba mate intake, especially if predisposed to conditions like high blood pressure, anxiety disorders, heart issues, diabetes, or osteoporosis. Avoiding excessive consumption and considering potential risks can help ensure safe and responsible usage of yerba mate.
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