The coffee substitute, yerba mate (yer-bah mah-tay), has stayed under the radar for some time. However, this unique tea from the regions of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina, can be found more and more within mainstream consumption. The reason? Some believe that drinking this tea is good for you.
One of the main attractions to yerba mate tea is that it contains high amounts of caffeine, practically equivalent in dosage to the stimulating effects of coffee. But that's about all it has in common with the popular American drink. Coffee comes from a legume (the coffee bean) which has a different molecular makeup (be sure and check with your doctor if caffeine is a health issue). It is believed that because of the yerba mate combination of caffeine and two other components (theobromine and theophylline) the result creates a healthier stimulant choice than coffee.
This is due primarily to the fact that yerba mate creates a calm energy without jittery, anxiety ridden side effects. It is an energy that slowly rises, then tapers off and slowly glides the drinker back down. This is unlike the common coffee crash that makes some coffee drinkers reach for cup after cup after cup in order to maintain the stimulating effect of the drink. In addition, yerba mate also brings along some serious disease fighting troops.
After studying yerba mate the lead researcher at the University of Illinois has been quoted as saying, "Our studies show that some of the most important antioxidant enzymes in the body are induced by this herbal tea." Not only does yerba mate have about 52 more active compounds than green tea, but it scores much higher on the ORAC (oxygen radical absorption capacity) scale as well. This basically means that the phytochemicals in yerba mate are up front and center when fighting free radicals that cause disease, including certain cancers. Think of it as landing a few million highly skilled soldiers into your immune system.
If you are young and on the run chances are your metabolism is firing on all cylinders. This keeps your weight and your energy levels in check. However, mostly after age 30, the body begins a slow spiral into a sluggish metabolism that is harder to get up and running each day. Yerba mate has been studied regarding its affect on metabolism, and it has been found that it has almost 90% more of metabolism boosting ingredients than green tea. It is not a cure all, but it certainly seems as if adding yerba mate to ones diet can be one tool that helps.
Saponins are found in yerba mate. These are powerful phytochemicals that are known to boost the immune system. They also possess the ability to work as a natural anti-inflammatory agent.
Vitamins and Minerals
Another study from Utah's Mountainwest Institute of Herbal Sciences states that yerba mate contains "...practically all of the necessary vitamins to sustain life." Some of the vitamins and minerals include vitamins A, C, E and B-complex as well as iron, selenium, potassium and 15 amino acids.