With 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, 11 polyphenols, caffeine, and a high amount of antioxidants, yerba maté triumphs as nature’s most balanced stimulant.
Yerba maté contains caffeine, theophylline and theobromine, well-known stimulants also found in tea, coffee, and chocolate. The caffeine content varies between that of green tea and coffee. Unlike tea, yerba maté has low tannin content so it can be strong like coffee without becoming extremely bitter. Unlike coffee, yerba maté is not oily and acid forming, so it is less likely to cause stomach acid and jitters.
Plant Nutrients Found In Yerba Maté
Introduced to the world by the Guarani Indians of South America, yerba maté is a traditional, widely consumed beverage of ancient origins made from the leaves of the tree Ilex paraguariensis.
It contains ingredients that help keep its drinkers healthy and energetic.
Xanthines: these plant compounds act as stimulants.
Caffeoyl derivatives: the main health-promoting antioxidants in tea. They're especially good for heart health.
Saponins: bitter compounds have certain anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering properties.
Polyphenols: a powerful group of antioxidants important for health, particularly heart health.
What Is Yerba Maté?
Yerba maté has become a cultural phenomenon throughout South America. Its benefits are obvious – in Buenos Aires, where people carry their maté with them throughout the day, the site of an obese person is rare.
Maté grows in Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Brazil, but it is most abundant in Paraguay, where it is also cultivated. The plant is classified vaguely, according to Western herbal medicine, as aromatic, stimulant, bitter, aperients (laxative), astringent, diuretic, purgative, sudorific (sweat inducing) and febrifuge (fever reducing).
Yerba Maté Health Benefits
Yerba maté has been used to support healthy cholesterol levels, liver health, and to stimulate the central nervous system. it is also an antioxidant powerhouse that contains many beneficial plant nutrients.
Of the six commonly used stimulants in the world (yerba maté, coffee, tea, kola nut, cacao, and guarana), yerba maté is the healthiest, delivering both energy and nutrition. The metabolic effects of the maté appear to include the ability to maintain the aerobic breakdown of carbohydrates during exercise for long periods of time. As a result, more calories are burned, thereby increasing cardiac efficiency and delaying build-up of lactic acid. It has been suggested for obesity management.
How to Prepare Yerba Maté
it's traditionally consumed hot, but may also be served cold, which is especially refreshing in hot climates. It's prepared similarly to other loose teas, and is traditionally served in a fourd, or calabash, but that's not required.
As with all herbs, please consult with your health care provider before consuming yerba maté.
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods
1. Guayaki website, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Noborders.net website
2. Heck CI et al. Yerba Mate tea: a comprehensive review on chemistry, health implications, and technological considerations. J Food Sci. 2007 Nov;72(9):R138-51.