Mate is a non-alcoholic drink made from Yerba Mate, the leaves of the tree Ilex paraguariensis. It is widely consumed in South America. It can be consumed as a tea or as an ingredient in foods or supplements. The indigenous people have used it for centuries as a social and medicinal beverage. The health benefits of Yerba Mate include decreasing cholesterol, protecting the liver, stimulating the brain, diuretic properties, and benefiting the heart, among many others [R].

Mate is bitter, and it is an acquired taste. Both the preparation of the mate and the drinking process are considered almost ceremonies.

Learn more about Yerba Mate in this post.

Constituents of Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate contains the following:

  • Chlorogenic acid (crypto and neo)
  • Theophylline
  • Theobromine
  • Caffeine
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B complex
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Caffeic acid
  • 3,4-dicaffeoylquinic acid
  • 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid
  • 4,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid
  • Quercetin-3
  • Rutinoside

Also, Yerba Mate contains a variety of saponins. These saponins give the mate its distinct taste and also decrease inflammation and cholesterol [R].

Additionally, Yerba Mate contains minerals that include: aluminum, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, nickel, potassium, and zinc [R].

Health Benefits of Yerba Mate

1) Yerba Mate Improves High Cholesterol

Yerba Mate significantly reduced blood cholesterol, glutathione reductase, and hardening of arteries (cholesterol-related damage) in rabbits [RR].

Yerba Mate also decreased LDL and increased HDL (good cholesterol) in patients on long-term statin therapy more than statins alone, according to a study on 30 patients with high cholesterol [R].

2) Yerba Mate Prevents Cancer

Cancer cells have more topoisomerase II, an enzyme required for cell division, than normal cells. Yerba Mate decreased topoisomerase II and had a cytotoxic effect on human liver cancer cells [R].

3) Yerba Mate Prevents Heart Disease

Yerba Mate improved the recovery from heart damage, as seen in experiments with rat tissues [R].

Another study showed that Yerba Mate relaxed arterial beds and improved blood flow in rats [R].

4) Yerba Mate Helps With Diabetes

AGEs (advanced glycation end products) contribute to diabetes complications like poor blood flow, bad vision, kidney damage, and inflammation [R]. AGEs are produced from high blood sugar, so if you want to reduce them with Yerba Mate, it’s best to not add sugar.

Yerba Mate causes a significant dose-dependant reduction of AGEs mainly through stopping the second phase of AGE production, which is a result of Yerba Mate’s antioxidant capacity (according to test-tube studies) [R].

Also, Yerba Mate lowered blood glucose in mice, which is another way of preventing AGE production [R].

Yerba Mate may have an additional effect on diabetes by lowering insulin resistance [R].

5) Yerba Mate Relieves Pain

Yerba Mate relieved pain in mice through the noradrenaline pathway [R].

6) Yerba Mate Combats Depression

In mice, Yerba Mate helps with depression through NMDA receptors (similar to ketamine) [R].

7) Yerba Mate Is Better Than Red Wine Or Green Tea

According to a comparative review, Yerba Mate prevents free radical damage better than red wine and green tea [R].

8) Yerba Mate Increases Energy

Yerba Mate prevented ATP (cellular energy), ADP, and AMP decrease, which increased energy [R].

This effect is probably due to the inhibition of the ATPase (an enzyme that breaks down ATP) by caffeine [R].

9) Yerba Mate Helps Smokers

Smoking in the short term causes lung inflammation and oxidative damage. However, Yerba Mate decreased smoking-related lung inflammation and oxidative damage in mice [R].

10) Yerba Mate Prevents DNA Mutation

Yerba Mate is an anti-mutagen, which prevents DNA damage and improves DNA repair after oxidation damage [R].

11) Yerba Mate Has Antioxidant Effects

Yerba Mate is a rich source of polyphenols with antioxidant properties significantly stronger than green tea, according to test-tube experiments [R].

Thus, Yerba Mate likely prevents heart and blood flow disease, cancer, aging, and autoimmune disorders through its antioxidant capacity [R].

12) Yerba Mate Prevents Neurodegenerative Disorders

According to one review, Yerba Mate contains methylxanthines that combat Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, both disorders of the nervous system. Thus, Yerba Mate can prevent these disorders [R].

13) Yerba Mate Improves Memory

Yerba Mate specifically improved short-term memory in as little as 1.5 hours after administration in rats [R].

14) Yerba Mate Reduces Inflammation

The anti-inflammatory effect of Yerba Mate was studied in mice with pleurisy (fluid in the lung). Yerba Mate inhibited inflammation and allowed the lung fluid to be carried away [R].

Yerba Mate decreased inflammatory molecules in mice on high-fat diets, lowering inflammation [R].

Yerba Mate helps in the treatment of asthma, arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease in mice [R].

15) Yerba Mate Helps Metabolic Syndrome

By increasing satiety (feeling full from eating), Yerba Mate lowered food intake, body weight, and blood fats in mice [R].

16) Yerba Mate Burns Fat

In a study of 14 volunteers, Yerba Mate increased energy use from fat storage during exercise suggesting a potential role in weight loss and sports performance [R].

Additionally, Yerba Mate reduced the accumulation of fat in mice fed a high-fat diet [R].

17) Yerba Mate Kills Microbes

Certain bacteria and fungus were killed by Yerba Mate in mice experiments. Yerba Mate prevents dandruff, tinea, and eczema by killing Malassezia furfur. Yerba Mate can also prevent food poisoning, Crohn’s disease, meningitis, gastro, and cellulitis by killing E. coli and Staph. aureus [R, R, R].

Yerba Mate also stops the growth of H. pylori, which causes progressive damage to the lining of the stomach [R].

18) Yerba Mate Reduces Anxiety

Continuous intake of Yerba Mate reduced anxiety in mice probably by way of the acetylcholine/cholinergic system [R].

19) Yerba Mate Helps With Weight Loss

By promoting satiety, decreasing body weight, BMI (body mass index), and food intake, burning fat during exercise, reducing cholesterol, fats, and glucose levels, helping with anxiety, and having diuretic effects, Yerba Mate is a good allied in weight loss [RRRRR].

20) Yerba Mate Protects The Liver

Yerba Mate is listed as a hepatoprotective. As such, Yerba Mate stimulated bile flow and treated gallstones, as well as prevented enlargement of the spleen and inflammation of the stomach in mice [R].

Yerba Mate also prevented liver inflammation in mice [R].

21) Yerba Mate Helps With Swelling

As Yerba Mate contains caffeine, which has a diuretic effect, it helps reduce the swelling due to fluid retention of different origins [R].

Yerba Mate Combinations

When Yerba Mate is combined with guarana and damiana, it slows the emptying of the stomach and helps to feel full from less food [R].

Yerba Mate, along with green tea, asparagus, black tea, guarana, and kidney bean extracts, also reduces body fat [R].

With extra quercetin, Yerba Mate reduced prostaglandin 2, IL-6 (Interleukin 6), IL-1 beta (Interleukin 1 beta), and NF-kB (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells), enhancing its anti-inflammatory properties [R].

Combined with Datura (scopolamine), Yerba Mate prevents the memory loss associated with smoking or drinking datura and Brugmansia [R].

Yerba Mate Controversy

Drinking Yerba Mate has been correlated with esophageal, mouth, lung, bladder, kidney, and other cancers of the head and neck.

However, the geographical regions where this correlation was found is also correlated with high alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking.

Thus, Yerba Mate’s contribution is unknown. Consuming hot drinks can cause these problems, so perhaps this is from where the correlation comes [R].

A technique for measuring PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), a known cause of cancer stemming from red meat and smoking, was used to find that Yerba Mate is equivalent to smoking in 200 healthy adults [R].

Although, it is important to note that many users achieved the same minimum PAH achieved by non-users; if you smoke and/or take Yerba Mate, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re at a higher risk of cancer.

There have been a number of scientific articles published to suggest Yerba Mate causes cancer, although often no new evidence is presented [R].

Wikipedia claims that Yerba Mate is a MAOI (Monoamine oxidase inhibitor). However, their reference says that Yerba Mate inhibits neither MAO-A (Monoamine oxidase A) nor MAO-B (Monoamine oxidase B) [R].

Yerba Mate Preparation

The preparation of the mate varies considerably from region to region. However, the typical preparation is inside an empty pumpkin container (which is also called “the mate”). There are more or less “strict rules” about how to prepare a good mate:

  • You should put the Yerba Mate in the container and soak it in cold water (this avoids that the Yerba Mate gets burned by the hot water)
  • Then, you insert a special metallic straw, which has little holes in its bottom
  • The water for the mate should be around 70 to 85 °C (158 to 185 °F), never boiling
  • You pour the mate with hot water and you drink it with the straw (you’re supposed to drink it all, it’s not like a tea or a coffee that you can have there for hours)
  • Variations include adding sugar, sweetener, or herbs and/or using cold juice, lemonade, milk

Although many people drink mate in solitude, it is actually a social activity. People gather together and share the (same) mate. One person is in charge of pouring, and the mate is usually shared in a circle. Everyone drink from the same mate (nice broth for germs). If you don’t want to keep drinking, you return the mate saying “thank you.”

Yerba Mate can also be steeped in water, near its boiling point, like any other herbal tea. This is called “boiled mate.” Only drinking cold Yerba Mate tea was not associated with an increased risk of cancer [R].

A new technique involves brewing a probiotic beverage, which suggests Yerba Mate could be a perfect tea for Kombucha [R].

Risk

Pregnant women should not have more than 3 cups of Yerba Mate tea per day, as too much caffeine significantly lowers birth rate and is a risk for infant mortality [RR].

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FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.

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