Yerba Mate Taragüi - What are the virtues of yerba mate for your health?
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What are the virtues of yerba mate for your health?

Those who drink tea and coffee might not be aware that Mate infusions are significantly healthier and have more benefits. Below, a summary of its virtues and the reasons why it should be seen as a super beverage.

1: Yerba mate is full of nutrients

fattening a maté of Taragüi yerba mate

Mate is a highly nutritious beverage, as proved by multiple scientific studies which show its favourable effects on physical and mental health. Yerba mate possesses, in a natural way, practically every micronutrient the human body needs. The regular intake of mate will better your general immune system, detoxify your body and prevent several illnesses. Apart from antioxidants and polyphenols, yerba is full of minerals, amino acids and key vitamins. Those contained in Yerba Mate are principally from the B-complex –  this includes 8 of the 13 key vitamins required for the right activity of the DNA, cell renewal as well as metabolic proficiency of fats and proteins

Moreover, it has important minerals like potassium and magnesium, which enrich the cardiac function, amongst other virtues. It contains chlorophyll, phytonutrients, tannins, minor elements and flavonoids – these add further properties and health benefits. (Read more on the nutritional properties of yerba mate here). Its caffeine content is made up for with theobromine and theophylline, which act on the central nervous system with a strong result; it not only energises but also restores the body and mind.  

Actually, yerba mate satisfies all the needs to be regarded as a superfood; it has a strong effect on health, represents a great source of vitamins and minerals, and has various phytonutrients and phytochemicals like antioxidants, detoxifying elements, phytoestrogens and cell regulators. Read more about why Yerba could be regarded as a superfood.

Yerba Mate, which has more antioxidants than green tea, is reckoned as one of the best beverages worldwide by the acclaimed CNN Travel publication. It depicts Mate as one of the world’s “most surprising and pleasant discoveries”. In the list, yerba is placed above the top selling energy drinks.

2: Yerba Mate can prevent diseases

CONICET scientists (National Council for Scientific and Technical Research)

The Mate tea has potent compounds which the Guarani people – the indigenous natives of South America – have utilised for therapeutic reasons since ancient times. (Read more on the origins of yerba mate here). However, the healing properties of Mate is not a myth. The benefits of consuming Mate have been demonstrated several times throughout history, alongside its effectiveness in keeping certain diseases under control.

For instance, research carried out by Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil, and published in the  Journal of the American College of Nutrition, states that consuming Mate tea on a regular basis can prevent – and as far reverse – Type 2 diabetes. The study, conducted in diabetic and pre-diabetic people, revealed that the Yerba Mate is very effective in lowering “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides in pre-diabetic patients, and in decreasing the risk of having coronary artery disease.

By discouraging the accumulation of bad cholesterol and triglycerides in the arteries, Yerba Mate lowers the risk of arteriosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases as well. At the same time, it raises HDL cholesterol – “good cholesterol”, decreasing the risk of heart diseases. Polyphenols in Yerba Mate protect myocardial tissue while preventing cell death provoked by blood flow restriction.

Experimental research carried out by the University of Buenos which appeared in the celebrated Movement Disorders journal has proven that Yerba Mate may extend the life of neurons affected by Parkinson’s Disease. According to the study, some elements in Yerba, like theobromine and chlorogenic acid possess better neuroprotective virtues than caffeine and nicotine, which suggests that Yerba Mate could have the key not just to prevent Parkinson’s disease, but also to elaborate treatments in the future.

Even though the habit of consuming Mate is not sufficient to prevent osteoporosis, it has indeed a protective effect on bones and helps keep the bone density, as per a study by the University of Rosario. This has been deeply studied in patients who have a risk of losing bone density fast, like menopausal women.

By preventing oxygen from harming red blood cells – a process called oxidative stress – consuming one liter of Mate tea a day could prevent illnesses which result from this process, like Alzheimer’s disease. Moreover, the University of Illinois showed caffeoylquinic acid and its derivatives obtained from Yerba Mate induce the death of colon cancer cells, but also lower the inflammation which triggers this type of cancer.

3: Yerba mate as an antioxidant

Yerba maté Taragüi

The Mate tea, in its usual way, is a strong antioxidant which exceeds red wine, green tea, black tea, as well as orange juice. Thanks to its significant content of polyphenols (chlorogenic, gallic acids), yerba can regenerate cellular balance and neutralise the damaging effects of free radicals which speed up the aging process and the development of chronic diseases.

Yet, the simple presence of polyphenols in food or beverages does not ensure that the body can assimilate them completely. So what is the secret behind Yerba Mate’s super antioxidant power? As per many studies over time, this can be so thanks to the manner in which we drink Mate: by adding hot water (its habitual preparation), every antioxidant is properly extracted. That is to say that though there are other methods for drinking Mate such as cold brew (known as “terere”) and boiled Mate (tea bags), the one which has up to 90% more antioxidants than the popular green tea is the traditional hot Mate, in which the biggest quantity of yerba is used.

The antioxidant properties of Yerba Mate can be boosted along the manufacturing process, above all in the ‘aging’ phase where it is stored with care between 6 and 15 months to reach maturity  as well as its unique flavour, colour and aroma. For this reason it is key to choose high quality Yerba Mate with a trusty production process (Read more about how to recognise high-quality yerba mate). Another element that truly affects the antioxidant power of Yerba Mate is the addition of natural herbs like mint, pennyroyal, peppermint and lemon balm that add their healing virtues to the ones of the Yerba Mate, strengthening the antioxidant effect.

Antioxidants improve the body’s natural defenses and avoid cell decay, usually accelerated by regular stress and the excess of free radicals. This is why Yerba raises the self-protective and preventive skills of those that consume it.

4: Yerba mate controls cholesterol and helps improve blood pressure

nice picture of a maté with Taragüi yerba mate

Several studies have proven that Yerba Mate, when consumed on a daily basis, betters cardiovascular health since it reduces cholesterol levels between 15% and 18%. This, in turn, can prevent illnesses like arteriosclerosis. Furthermore, it has a mild hypotensive and vasodilating effect which could be beneficial for people that have high blood pressure. This is due to the fact that yerba mate enhances the activity of cardio-protective elements, saponins, which help the body’s ability to decrease LDL cholesterol (also called “bad cholesterol”) much more rapidly than normal. Also, saponins increase HDL cholesterol (“good cholesterol”), avoiding cardiovascular problems.

Cholesterol is needed for the body to make healthy cells. However, when too much cholesterol is circulating in the blood, this gets oxidised and builds up into fatty deposits which clog the arteries, heightening the risk of  certain illnesses like arteriosclerosis and other cardiovascular problems. The antioxidant properties of polyphenols, together with the action of vitamin C, magnesium and manganese that yerba mate contains, lower cholesterol oxidation and prevent its accumulation in the arteries. This way, they act as a hypotensive vasodilator agent and contribute to cardiovascular wellness. Read more on the nutritional properties of yerba mate.

Because of that, apart from a healthy diet and exercise, to include Yerba Mate in your everyday life is an excellent natural way to decrease your bad cholesterol levels.

5: Yerba helps digestion

breakfast of a toast with cheese and a maté with Taragüi yerba mate.

Consuming Mate tea enriches digestion by encouraging bowel movement and the flow of digestive juices. Yerba is a great ally to alleviate constipation, provided you drink 2 liters of water a day as well. Apart from supplying a good liquid intake that also aids the digestive system, the impact of Yerba on intestinal functioning is proven.

The properties are strengthened when adding digestive herbs to our Mate tea. The most popular are dandelion (antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, diuretic), sage (antibiotic, astringent, antioxidant, soothing), rosemary (purifying, stimulating), pennyroyal (aphrodisiac and soothing during menstrual pain) and mint (analgesic). Then, make sure you create your own mate infusion with some of these herbs.

It is also beneficial to mix your Mates with foods rich in fiber. Among the top snacks to eat with your Mate tea and better digestion are fruits like apple, pineapple, orange – you can even add some slices to the infusion – high-fiber bars and nuts. Due to the energy boost, Yerba Mate also lets you have healthy habits which enhance your digestive system, such as exercising and doing sports.

6: Yerba mate has a natural energising effect

graphic design of a Taragüi maté

Due to its caffeine content, at times called “mateína”, Yerba Mate intensifies energy and concentration, favouring a better performance in everyday tasks which require focus and alertness, like studying, working or doing physical activity. Even though the effect is similar to that of coffee, and although both possess around the same quantity of caffeine, the stimulating process differs.  On occasions, the effect of coffee may be too strong, while Yerba Mate “awakens” people gradually, in a pleasant way. This could be due to the fact that caffeine in Yerba Mate is diluted in greater quantities of water, then drunk sip by sip. Read more on the undisputed benefits of mate over coffee.

Mate is also significantly healthier than commercial energy and hypertonic drinks, as they have high concentration of elements such as caffeine (at times they have so much caffeine that they can bring about insomnia and agitation), sugar (up to 10%), colourants, carbs and electrolytes. In turn, Yerba Mate is a natural beverage and its energising effects come from nature itself, not from artificial processes. Plus, Mate brings innumerable virtues to the body, while commercial drinks, even if they are not toxic, do not add much value either. Read more on the comparison between yerba and commercial energy drinks.

Mate, being a really special energy source, stimulates neurons and fosters brain functioning, awareness, memory and reasoning. Moreover, it possesses other xanthines, theobromine and theophylline, whose soothing effect helps regulate body systems. Therefore, it appears that Yerba Mate’s restorative effect on body and mind is better than other drinks that have caffeine, since it brings about a double outcome – both stimulating and soothing at once. Consuming Mate during the day can be energising and stimulating while also calming. And though Yerba Mate offers physical energy and lifts your spirits, it does not impact your sleep and rest.

7: Yerba mate detoxes your body

pregnant woman holding her belly

Yerba Mate has a diuretic and mildly laxative effect too, since it lowers fluid retention and enhances renal function. This enables the body to get rid of toxins and to purify itself in a natural way – the diuretic effect is 100% natural. Yerba inhibits the antidiuretic hormone, called arginine vasopressin (AVP) or argipressin, which in turn promotes urinary elimination. In spite of this, 2 liters of water per a should be drunk so that the body remains hydrated.

Yerba Mate encourages bowel movement too, aiding the body in its natural process of getting rid of waste and toxins. That is why it is advisable for those suffering from constipation. This property can be magnified if you add digestive herbs to your Mate tea, and you eat high-fiber foods.

In spite of this, professionals agree that Yerba Mate does not replace the minimum water consumption suggested: 2 liters per day. Therefore, alongside your mate kit, do not forget to keep a glass of water at hand so you make the most of your Mate.

8: Yerba mate is ideal for sports

soccer player stopping a ball with his foot and a Taragüi maté next to him

Yerba Mate is a major source of properties which favour the practice of sports, beginning with its amount of caffeine which stimulates the nervous system – ideal prior to any physical or intellectual activity. This beverage is suggested for athletes as a substitute for commercial energy drinks.

Before training, Mate functions as a stimulating drink, more natural than energy drink as well as other sport supplements. During training, Mate contributes to the metabolism of carbohydrates with more effectiveness and prevents lactic acid from accumulating in the body. This translates into enhanced energy, increased physical stamina, less burnout, as well as the ability to train longer. Additionally,  with Yerba Mate the rate of recovery after working out increases significantly, as shown in a study by the British Journal of Nutrition. Mate betters motor skills and contains anti-inflammatory effects post training, especially in high-impact workouts. Read more on the benefits of yerba before, during and after training.

Actually, some believe that Yerba Mate is the secret to the success of some celebrated football players from the national teams of Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay – even stars like Leo Messi and Luis Suarez, who consume Mate tea on a regular basis. Yerba Mate supplies them with energy and improves their general physical condition, which results in better performance on the field. Read more on how football players tap into yerba mate.

However, the virtues of Yerba Mate have gone beyond the borders of South America, and nowadays, more and more international sportspeople are consuming Mate. Such is the case of Antoine Griezmann, scorer from France, who admits drinking Mate tea every morning. Also, Wu Lei, striker from China, who created a buzz in Chinese media when posting a photo of himself drinking Mate with his teammate “El Mono” Vargas, and even Alice Beretta, a professional hockey player for the Italian national team.

9: Yerba mate helps you keep a healthy weight

woman doing a yoga pose and next to her a maté Taragüi

Apart from having no fat and barely any sodium, Yerba Mate is really low in calories, so it can be smoothly included in any diet and in the routine of anybody that is trying to control their weight or eat healthily. Read more about Yerba Mate and weight loss.

Since it is a diuretic and purifying drink, Mate tea prevents weight gain resulting from fluid retention, whilst encouraging the elimination of toxins. It also enhances your metabolism and helps burn more calories, particularly when you do physical activity – for which, in turn, Yerba Mate supplies the energy you need. Read more on how mate helps when doing sports and physical activity here. Even though Yerba Mate should not replace meals, it is true that consuming Mate produces satiety and decreases appetite in general, which can help in weight loss. Plus, as it has a positive effect on mood, it may prevent “emotional appetite” or hunger caused by stress, too.

However, what turns Yerba Mate into the ideal complement to a healthy lifestyle are its numerous nutritional benefits, which not only contribute to weight loss but help keep a long-lasting well-being. The virtues of Yerba Mate are so advantageous that consuming it on a regular basis is truly recommended for staying in shape physically, mentally and emotionally.

Indeed, for those who watch their looks, Yerba Mate is the perfect ally in their beauty routine. For instance, it has great properties for the skin and hair. There are shampoos, oils, emulsions, soaps and even salts produced with Yerba Mate extract.

10: Yerba mate functions as an antidepressant

woman fattening a maté to warm up

Yerba Mate also has a positive impact on mental and emotional health and is seemed as a kind of natural antidepressant. That is why it has the fame of being a “good companion” throughout the day. Taking Mate in the morning, for instance, ensures motivation and energy for the day thanks to its caffeine content. Anyway, this energy provided by Yerba Mate is soft for the body and mind, with no unattractive side effects. Plus, as we take Mate tea slowly, the body assimilates this energy in a gradual way. As opposed to other drinks such as coffee, tea or commercial energy drinks, consuming Mate tea has really little influence on your sleep cycle. Therefore, it normally does not cause insomnia. Read more on the benefits of mate over coffee.

Additionally, Mate is habitually shared with family, friends and peers in drinking rounds known as “mateadas”, especially in Argentina. The ideal ritual to create good memories with your loved ones, while promoting a healthy social life.

How to make the most of all the benefits of yerba mate

Though it appears as if mate was a miracle drink, the truth is all these virtues have been scientifically demonstrated, and by just including Yerba Mate in your everyday routine, you could have the power of the jungle. Nonetheless, there are more efficient ways to tap into that power.

  • Firstly, we must use top-quality Yerba Mate. This is key so as to obtain the best taste, aroma and experience. To find out the quality of Yerba Mate, you will use your five senses and analyse the colour, texture, smell and even the sound of its leaves. Learn how to recognise high-quality yerba mate. Oftentimes, the quality of Mate is given by the whole production process, from start to finish. For instance, at Las Marías, the quality of Taragüí’s Yerba is ensured at every stage of production, from the selection of the best plants to the packing in its place of origin. Learn more about the production of Yerba at Las Marías. 
  • You may also select a specific Yerba Mate based on your taste and  convenience. If you prefer citrus flavours, you can choose fruit-flavoured Yerba Mate; if you like sweet flavours, there are versions with vanilla or honey. Read more about how to pick your Yerba Mate according to your personality. There are versions with no “palo” (stem), or low-dust. You could also strengthen the virtues and taste of Yerba Mate by adding a few herbs at home. For instance digestive ones like mint, or calming ones like chamomile.

After selecting the best Yerba, you will want the right tools to prepare it. Check that you have a proper Mate container – we suggest glass with a thermal insulating coat such as leather – and cure it correctly before using it, a proper “bombilla” or Mate straw – the top ones are alpaca or silver – and make sure it gets good servicing. Read our tips here.

  • Also, while preparing your Yerba Mate tea, consider the weather. Though the most traditional and the one which best brings out all the components is the hot Mate tea (read the instructions), the cold version, “tereré”, is highly popular in the summer. This cold beverage is made of Yerba Mate, ice and water, although it is common to incorporate natural flavours or powder juice. Read more on how to prepare a good tereré drink.  
  • If you have a health condition, make sure you consult your doctor about the preferred ways to add Yerba Mate to your everyday routine. If you are pregnant, we advise you to continue reading about Yerba and pregnancy.
  • In places like Argentina, it is habitual to consume Mate at any time of day, though especially at breakfast and in the afternoon. Take this opportunity to have a gourmet moment with your Mate infusion and try a few recipes! Some ideas here
  • Are you travelling? That is okay; your Yerba Mate is going with you! Grab your Mate kit and order your Yerba online to have it shipped at your preferred address. Taragüí ships throughout  Europe and we will even let you know the top spots to have Mate in Barcelona, one of the top tourist and cosmopolitan cities around the world.

Information sources