14 Yerba Mate Benefits + Safety & Cancer Risks

14 Yerba Mate Benefits + Safety & Cancer Risks

What is Yerba Mate?

Yerba mate (or mate) is a non-alcoholic drink made from the leaves of the tree Ilex paraguariensis . It has been widely consumed in South America for centuries as a social and medicinal beverage. Yerba mate can be consumed as a tea or as an ingredient in foods or supplements [ 1 ].

Some people believe that yerba mate decreases cholesterol, protects the liver, stimulates the brain, and protects the heart, among many other benefits [ 1 ].

Mate is bitter, and many consider it an acquired taste. Both the preparation of the mate and the drinking process are considered to be almost ceremonial. Learn more about yerba mate and its benefits. Constituents

Yerba mate is full of compounds that have beneficial effects . It contains the following compounds [ 1 ]: Vitamin Bs

Caffeic acid

3,4-dicaffeoylquinic acid

3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid

4,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid


Also, yerba mate contains a variety of saponins. These saponins are what give mate its distinct taste. They also decrease inflammation and cholesterol [ 1 ].

Additionally, yerba mate contains minerals such as aluminum, chromium , copper , iron , manganese , nickel, potassium , and zinc [ 1 ]. Caffeine Content

Yerba mate contains approximately 9.8 mg of caffeine per oz. For comparison, a regular cup of coffee has about 17 mg/oz and espresso has 40 mg/oz. Both green and black tea have approximately 5 mg/oz. The effect of caffeine on energy is probably due to its similarity in structure to adenosine ; it most likely occupies adenosine receptors in the brain. Binding of adenosine causes sleepiness, so caffeine occupying the receptors instead blocks this sensation [ 2 ].

Yerba mate prevented ATP (cellular energy), ADP, and AMP decrease, which increased energy in rats [ 3 ]. Antioxidant Activity

Yerba mate is a rich source of polyphenols with antioxidant properties. Its antioxidant properties are stronger and better at preventing oxidative damage than that of red wine and green tea . A comparison of 30 medicinal plants of Mexico determined that yerba mate leaves contained the highest levels of antioxidants [ 4 , 1 , 5 ].

Thus, yerba mate is being researched for potential benefits to heart disease, cancer, aging, and autoimmune disorders through its antioxidant capabilities [ 6 ].

Smoking in the short term causes lung inflammation and oxidative damage. Yerba mate decreased cigarette-smoke exposure-related lung-inflammation and oxidative damage in mice. However, it should be noted both mate and cigarette smoke contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a type of carcinogen [ 7 , 8 , 9 ]. Potential Benefits of Yerba Mate

Yerba mate is generally recognized as safe, but supplements have not been approved by the FDA for medical use and generally lack solid clinical research. Regulations set manufacturing standards for them but don’t guarantee that they’re safe or effective. Speak with your doctor before supplementing. 1) Cholesterol

People with abnormal cholesterol levels were put into 3 treatment groups, yerba mate, dietary intervention, or both. Surprisingly, only the group consuming yerba mate (330 mL of tea with 20 mg/mL mate) experienced a decrease in LDL cholesterol. Total, HDL , and non-HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels did not change across all groups (74 participants) [ 10 ].

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 [ 11 ].

People with abnormal cholesterol levels (but not on medication) given 50 – 100 g/day of yerba mate had lower levels of total and LDL cholesterol after 12 weeks. However, HDL cholesterol levels also fell . In the 50g group, triglyceride levels also decreased (study with 121 patients) [ 12 ].

It also reduced cholesterol, glutathione reductase, and hardening of arteries (cholesterol-related damage) in rabbits [ 13 , 1 ].

However, in one study, yerba mate (3 g for 15 days) did not improve cholesterol levels (92 HIV/AIDS patients) [ 14 ]. 2) Weight Management

By promoting satiety, burning fat during exercise , reducing cholesterol, fats, and glucose levels and decreasing body weight, BMI (body mass index), and food intake, yerba mate may aid in weight loss [ 15 , 16 , 17 , 18 , 1 ].

Supplementation with yerba mate (3 g/day for 12 weeks) reduced body fat mass, body fat percentage, and waist-hip ratios of 30 obese participants, with no adverse side effects [ 19 ].

Yerba mate supplementation (1,000 mg) before exercise increased fat metabolism (fatty acid oxidation) and the energy used metabolizing the fat (crossover study with 14 healthy participants) [ 16 ].In a mouse study, it affected food intake and energy utilization and reduced the levels of cholesterol, triglycerides , and sugar in the blood. Additionally, it reduced the accumulation of fat in mice fed a high-fat diet [ 17 ].In a mouse study, yerba mate increased GLP-1 (a hormone that reduces blood sugar levels) and leptin (hormone that inhibits hunger ) levels [ 15 ]. 3) Diabetes To test yerba mate’s effect on diabetes , 29 type 2 diabetes and 29 pre-diabetes patients were given either 330 mL/3x a day of roasted mate tea, dietary intervention, or both (over 60 days). In the type 2 diabetes patients, mate tea decreased fasting glucose, glycated hemoglobin A1c ( HbA1c ), and LDL cholesterol levels. However, total energy intake, protein, carbohydrate, cholesterol, and fiber didn’t change. In the prediabetic patients, tea with dietary intervention improved cholesterol and triglyceride levels and reduced their consumption of fat and cholesterol and increased their fiber intake [ 20 ].Some researchers believe that yerba mate may have an additional effect on diabetes by lowering insulin resistance [ 21 ].Yerba mate lowered blood glucose in mice [ 17 ].AGEs (advanced glycation end-products) contribute to diabetes complications like poor blood flow, bad vision, kidney damage, and inflammation. 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, as a result of its antioxidant capacity, caused a […]

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