If you’ve ever heard of yerba mate, you may know that the term refers to an exceptionally healthy drink not unlike tea that come from the leaves of a tree that’s indigenous to the rain forests of South America, and more specifically, Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. If you aren’t familiar with the term, it’s about time you learned more about it, because in addition to being known as the “drink of the gods,” it’s a delicious and highly enjoyable beverage that just happens to pack a considerable nutritional punch as well as numerous energy-boosting components.
Of the six known natural stimulants in the world, yerba mate is hands-down the healthiest, offering an astounding 24 different vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants, amino acids and natural caffeine. In fact, it combines many of the most desirable aspects of some of the other stimulants into one glass, including the energy-boosting aspects of coffee, the happiness-inducing aspects of cocoa and the healthy and nutritional benefits of tea.
Though yerba mate’s popularity in America has grown considerably in recent years, it has been common in other cultures for centuries. The Aché Guayakí hunter-gatherer tribe of Paraguay have long relied on the beverage to boost overall health, increase focus and invigorate their minds and bodies on a daily basis, and the beverage has remained popular throughout South America for hundreds of years since.
Here’s a look at PurMedica’s top five yerba mate benefits (in no particular order) you should know about so you can brew up a cup of your own, sit back and reap the benefits.
1. It’s extremely versatile.
Like most teas, yerba mate can be enjoyed hot or cold. Also like many teas, people like to add a few drops of lemon juice, a spoonful of sugar or a pinch of mint to enhance the flavor and make it more in line with their preferences. Additionally, it can be brewed up in an assortment of different ways. You can make it in your coffee maker or French press, or steep it using a tea ball or strainer. Traditionally, the drink is served up in a gourd, and the host is expected to enjoy the first sips. Just as coffee and tea can be made and enjoyed in a variety of different manners, yerba mate can, too.
2. It offers all the benefits of coffee without the undesirable side effects.
While coffee can be great for giving you a boost and increasing your overall alertness, you may experience undesirable side effects if you have too much of it or make it too strong. Yerba mate, on the other hand, gives you a jolt that many people describe as “clean” and “gentle.” In other words, it’s noticeable – but not so noticeable that it gives you that dreaded crash that often accompanies coffee. Many athletes around the world have discovered the energy-boosting benefits of yerba mate, and most of them would also agree that the drink is unlikely to interfere with your regular sleep patterns in the way that coffee sometimes does.
3. It’s great for the mind.
Evidence suggests that yerba mate is great for boosting one’s mood as well as one’s memory and degree of alertness. It helps stimulate the production of dopamine, the “happy” chemical, and it contains other helpful compounds such as theobromine, which is a natural relaxer. In addition to theobromine and caffeine, yerba mate contains a compound known as theophylline, and together, the three offer minor stimulant effects. While the three components are also found in green tea, there is a notable distinction between green tea and yerba mate. Yerba mate has a more concentrated antioxidant makeup than green tea, and this makes it more nutritionally valuable. Yerba mate also contains about 50 more chemicals inside than green tea, which together boost mental clarity, alertness and overall health and well-being.
4. It can be used for numerous medicinal purposes.
Yerba mate is known to boost the immune system, and it can also be used for a variety of healing efforts and medicinal purposes. It can be used to aid digestion or increase weight loss, and it can also be used to help counter pain, depression or exhaustion. Many people also find that yerba mate lessens the effects of allergies or sinus problems. The drink also contains what are known as saponins, which are compounds that act as natural anti-inflammatories.
5. Yerba mate helps strengthen bones.
Unlike caffeine-laden coffee, which has long been associated with the loss of bone minerals, yerba mate has been shown to enhance bone density in drinkers, even if they aren’t especially active or prone to exercising. It is also an ideal choice for women who’ve already gone through menopause, because this is a population especially at risk for developing osteoporosis, a condition that weakens the bones.
Yerba mate offers an endless stream of health benefits for drinkers, and it tastes great besides. Next time you reach for a cup of tea or crave a cup of coffee, consider yerba mate instead.