Maybe you’ve seen the gourds at the last festi you were at or lot you were on. Maybe one of your more eclectic friends has brought it up. Traditionally, you can find it in what I like to call a wizard shop- that is a place where you get crystals, spells, sage and hippie smells. What is it? Yerba Mate- a rain forest plant that has a lot of history, health benefits and some ‘splaining to do. The health benefits of yerba mate are pretty astonishing. But what is it all about? Is it safe to drink? I’m not sure drinking rando rain forest foliage is usually on my list- however, the health benefits and history are worth a closer look. Especially since maybe it’ll help all of us drink a little less coffee.
Yerba mate comes from the naturally caffeinated leaves of the holly tree, Ilex Paraguariensis, found deep in the South American rain forest. Usually found on the Atlantic or Eastern rain forest, yerba mate leaves are hand harvested by yerbateros (cultivators) from small farms and indigenous communities in Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. After the leaves are dried and ground, a gourd is filled with mate leaves and hot water to make a tea. Then yerba mate is enjoyed socially with friends or family. You can find the health benefits of yerba mate, a brief history and like… some cool mystical stuff.
A Brief History
The history of yerba mate is dense with mysticism and folklore. It originates in the South American countries of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina. Considered a gift from the goddess of the moon Yari, yerba mate was originally thought of as both medicinal and sacred. Of course, as with any natural remedy that is effective and sustainable, during colonial times it was viewed as a threat to the newly established colonies and was therefore outlawed. In some instances, disobedience even meant excommunication! Nevertheless, the Guarini people who cultivated the plant knew the health benefits of yerba mate early on and continued to produce and use it for generations. Traditionally, yerba mate is brewed with hot water and then consumed from a gourd.
A Yerba Mate Gourd
What’s in it?
To understand the health benefits of yerba mate it’s best to understand what chemicals and compounds make it so unique. It is choc full of plant nutrients:
- Xanthines: Better known as stimulants. They include the “-ines”… caffeine and theobromine, which are also found in tea, coffee, and chocolate.
- Caffeoyl derivatives: or antioxidants in the tea.
- Saponins: These bitter compounds have certain anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering properties.
- Polyphenols: This is a large group of antioxidants, linked to a reduced risk of many diseases.
In fact, the health benefits of yerba mate may actually eclipse the health benefits of green tea. It contains 7 out of 10 necessary amino acids as well as almost every single vitamin and mineral our bodies need. However, important to note that it contains a small amount of those nutrients- perhaps why it was such a sustainable drink for the indigenous Guarini people.
At 85 mg of caffeine per cup it’s perhaps in a Goldilocks zone.
More than Tea less than Coffee.
Coffee > Yerba Mate > Tea
So switch out your coffee and give it a try. Most people report that it has all of the benefits of coffee without the jittery feel. It overall is most certainly more nutritous than coffee and tea.
What’s does it do for us?
Here are some claims for the heath benefits of yerba mate and how it effects our bodies and performance from the website healthline which is reviewed by medical practitioners:
- Yerba mate increases your body’s reliance on fat for fuel during exercise. It may also improve muscle contractions and reduce fatigue, all of which may contribute to better physical performance.
- Yerba mate may have some anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, and anti-fungal properties.
- Yerba mate may reduce appetite, boost metabolism, and increase the amount of fat burned for fuel. This could help you lose weight.
- Yerba mate has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may boost your immune system.Yerba mate may improve insulin signaling and blood sugar control.
- Yerba mate’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cholesterol-lowering properties may help protect against heart disease.
Green tea is seen is the ultimate tea for health, weight loss and fat burning by many fitness fanatics and dieters. This has happened for two simple reasons:
- Green tea has been proven to have a positive impact on weight loss due to its chemical composition.
- Many green tea drinkers are not aware of Yerba Mate and the greater potential of its own phytochemicals.
Many tea drinkers swear by the health benefits of Yerba Mate for weight loss because it contains the following:
- Chlorogenic acid
- Caffeic acid
- 3,4-dicaffeoylquinic acid and 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid
- Minerals such as phosphorous, iron, and calcium
- Vitamins C, B1, and B2
Medical tests showed that yerba mate had a positive effect on the reduction of lipid accumulation and increased adipose tissue. In other words, fatty lipids are not absorbed at the same rate, reducing the build of fatty tissue.
Yerba Mate consumption has an effect on the intake of food and energy expenditure. This means a higher metabolic rate and a greater chance of burning existing fat.
You can find some more information from the actual sources:
- Anti-obesity and anti-diabetic effects of Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) in C57BL/6J mice fed a high-fat diet (URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3315195/)
- Anti-obesity effects of Yerba Mate (Ilex Paraguariensis): a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial (URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4583719/)
Your Yerba is showing
Although the health benefits of yerba mate are pretty awesome it’s also part of a culture. As mentioned before Yerba is drank out of gourds traditionally. They used to all be ceramic or clay but now since yerba mate has become a little more mainstream, many companies have created more durable metal varieties there are a couple examples
#1 Best selling Yerba Mate in the world
You can drink yerba mate cold or hot- some studies suggest that the hot preparation releases some carcinogenic aromatic hydrocarbons that may lead or cause some forms of cancer. If that concerns you there is a ready made cold yerba mate that is delicious and readily available. Guayakiyerbamate.com is here to bring it to you!