Yerba Mate Is a Healthy Source of Caffeine
by Jessica Pieterse – Registered Dietitian (SA)
The following are health benefits of yerba mate. Note that batches may differ in health benefits as cultivation, production and processing may cause a variation in the production or destruction of bioactive compounds which give the tea its health benefits.
Caffeine products are popular as they stimulate the central nervous system leading to increased concentration and decreased fatigue. Research shows that a moderate caffeine consumption of less than 400 mg/day poses no significant health risks to a healthy non-pregnant individual. The caffeine content of typical caffeine containing beverages are as follows: fizzy cold-drinks (30-40mg), green tea (35mg), black tea (55mg), yerba mate (78mg), energy drinks (80mg), instant coffee (76-106mg) and brewed coffee (100-170mg) per 250ml.
Yerba mate contains polyphenols which are compounds found in food that are linked to antioxidant properties. The purpose of antioxidants is to neutralise oxygen free radicals which are destructive compounds in the body that can cause cancer, inflammation, liver and cardiovascular disease. The level of polyphenols in yerba mate extracts can be greater than those of green tea and similar to levels found in red grapes.
Weight Maintenance, Blood Sugar Control and Heart Disease
Yerba mate has been reported to have potential benefits in weight loss, lowering blood sugar levels and decreasing the risk for heart disease. Current studies have used mice and therefore, conclusions are not relevant presently and human studies are needed. The proposed benefits that need further investigation are:
Yerba mate may aid in the slowing down of stomach emptying leading to a feeling of fullness, which may assist weight loss.
Yerba mate contains saponins which have been potentially linked to lowering blood sugar levels.
Yerba mate may reduce cholesterol, triglycerides and atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of arteries).
The next time you are feeling exhausted, consider alternatives to your usual cup of coffee. Yerba mate tea has a similar caffeine content to instant coffee and energy drinks but contains no sugar or other additives. Yerba mate tea will provide a kick of energy as well as antioxidants, unlike energy drinks or fizzy cold-drinks.
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