Our society loves our caffeine. From lattes and espressos to all varieties of tea, caffeinated beverages are a staple in most of our lives. Instead of just sticking to Starbucks, consider yerba mate as an alternative.
Yerba mate tea is a South American beverage made by steeping the ground leaves and stems of the yerba mate plant. Yerba mate is a central nervous system stimulant that contains twice the caffeine of a cup of black tea, but less than a cup of coffee. What really sets yerba mate apart is the number of other nutrients it contains: antioxidants, amino acids, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals.
Check out some of the benefits of drinking yerba mate tea. And next time you're looking for a mid-afternoon caffeine boost, reconsider your coffee.
1. Yerba mate tea is rich in antioxidants.
Yerba mate contains about 90 percent more antioxidants than green tea (though some experts point out each tea contains different antioxidants) and has remarkable immune-boosting properties. It can slow the signs of aging, detoxify the blood and has been linked to cancer prevention. Yerba mate also helps reduce stress and insomnia. The antioxidants and amino acids also help fat and cholesterol move through your bloodstream, keeping them from accumulating on artery walls.
Yerba mate may also helps prevent arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and blood clots.
2. It's a tea that provides increased mental focus.
Proponents of yerba mate tea say that the minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, amino acids and polyphenols found in it have a balancing effect on the caffeine it contains. Users report increased mental energy, clarity and focus, and add that yerba mate doesn't cause any of the uncomfortable side effects associated with drinking caffeinated beverages, such as headaches, stomachaches and jitters.
3. Yerba mate enhances physical endurance.
The chemical compounds and nutrients in yerba mate tea affect your metabolism to make your body use carbohydrates more efficiently, which means you'll get more energy from the food you eat. You'll also burn more of the calories your body has stored in fat cells. Regular yerba mate consumption also helps keep lactic acid from building up in your muscles, helping you decrease post-workout soreness and cut your recovery time.
4. It aids digestion.
The native peoples of South America have long used yerba mate tea as a traditional herbal remedy against digestive ailments. Yerba mate aids digestion by stimulating increased production of bile and other gastric acids. Yerba mate helps keep your colon clean and effective.
5. Yerba mate tea helps you control your weight.
Native South American peoples have traditionally used yerba mate as part of a lifestyle that includes a healthy diet and exercise. Yerba mate has stimulant qualities to help you feel full sooner after you begin eating, and it slows your digestion so that your stomach stays full longer. Combining yerba mate with a healthy diet and regular exercise can help boost your metabolism to burn more calories, and it can help you eat less by curbing your appetite slightly.
Of course, as with any caffeinated drink, consume yerba mate in moderation. For a delicious vegan and sugar-free treat, try adding a few drops of stevia and 1 to 2 tablespoons of coconut butter to yerba mate for a “mate latte.”
Photo credit: Paul Delmont