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8 Useful properties of yerba mate (confirmed by science)

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Like in Europe and America, coffee, mate in South America, it is more than just a drink; it is part of the national culture of most of the continent. Many people consider mate "tea", although it is not in any way. If tea is the leaves of a tea bush, then mate is the leaves and stems of the evergreen holly of Paraguayan. This is a branched tree-like shrub with a smooth whitish bark, which in the wild often grows up to 15 meters tall. This plant is common in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. Yerba mate is the name of a drink obtained by brewing shredded and dried leaves of a shrub. By the way, in South America, in the homeland of the drink, the word mate is pronounced with emphasis on the first syllable.

In order to get “Paraguayan tea” from the holly of Paraguayan, young shoots of the plant are harvested, breaking off the stems along with the leaves. After collecting, the branches are thoroughly dried at high temperature. The dried product is crushed and crushed in the most thorough way to obtain a dry powder.

According to some scientists, mate may well claim the title of the oldest drink on our planet. There is evidence that the Indians used mate as early as the 7th millennium BC. In addition to taste and healing properties (about them a little later), the Indians highly esteemed mate for - neither more nor less - divine origin. According to legend, a fair-skinned and blue-eyed (interestingly, among the peoples of Latin America, deities were fair-skinned and looked very much like Europeans - for example, the Aztecs believed in such a god Quetzalcoatl very expensive at one time), God Paya Sharume traveled with his retinue and settled on Overnight in a lost forest hut. The owners, a deep old man and his beautiful daughter, gave them all their meager supplies. For this, Paya Sharume thanked the old man “in a divine way”: when he learned that he was hiding his daughter from people, he promised to turn her into a plant endowed with magical properties that the whole world would love.

When Europeans arrived on the continent, a new stage in the history of mate began. The first thing the Jesuits branded the mate as sinful and diabolical and forbade its use - however, they did so with almost everything they met in the countries where they arrived. By the way, “yerboy”, which in Spanish means simply “grass”, was called the Spanish Jesuits by the mate. So, while the clergy were doing their favorite thing - uprooted heresy, other Spaniards, less confused by dogma and prejudice, tasted an amazing drink that gave the Indians strength and protected them from scurvy, which was sweeping the Spaniards. In the end, the Jesuits had to come to terms with defeat in this struggle - and they did it expertly: they simply established control over the trade in mate, which in Europe for this reason they began to call the "Jesuit infusion."

Nowadays, mate is extremely popular in many countries of South America - especially in Argentina and Chile, where it has long been a favorite drink of Gaucho shepherds, giving them strength for hard work and allowing them to get by with a minimal diet.

Useful properties of mate

Mat contains a large number of vitamins and minerals, it really has unique healing and tonic properties. According to scientists from the Paris Pasteur Institute, it contains vitamins A, C, E, P, all B vitamins (moreover, in a concentration higher than bee honey), magnesium, calcium, iron, copper, sulfur, nicotinic acid, pantothenic acid and more. Yerba mate contains matein, which, having an effect similar to caffeine on the body, does not carry with it its side effects, such as overexcitation of the central nervous system, increased heart rate, and nervous tremor. Matein is a stimulant of both physical and mental activity of a person, moreover, it is mild and not addictive. In addition, mate is considered a useful tool for normalizing sleep. According to South American experts, Paraguayan tea significantly reduces the manifestations of depression, neurosis, anxiety syndromes, and regulates the sleep cycle. Many scientists note the immunostimulating effect of the drink and even insist on its use by residents of large cities.

In all this there is only one “but”: the Montevideo Institute of Oncology believes that the use of hot mate is “possibly carcinogenic” - in their opinion, this can lead to oncology of the esophagus. Apparently, this remark is due to the fact that in some regions (for example, in Paraguay) it is customary to drink mate that is burning hot - and it is harmful to the esophagus and stomach to drink any boiling water - even with mate, even without.

How to brew and consume mate

Properly drink mate from special dishes - calabash (the names also include calabash, calabash) through a metal tube - bomb. Classical calabash is a small pumpkin dugout. The bombilla tube is always made of metal, stainless steel or silver, although long ago the tubes were simply hollow plant stems. The bombilla, straight or curved, but it always ends up flatter than the rest of the tube, and a wide strainer. According to one of my Argentinian acquaintances, they never wash a bomb - they just change to a new one.

Experts say that you can’t immediately buy calabash and, just when you come home, drink mate from it. First, prepare the dishes: pour mate into calabash, about 2/3 of the volume of the vessel. Pour in hot water (not boiling water!). Without covering, leave the calabash for a day, and then pour the infusion and gently, preferably with a soft cloth, clean the calabash.

But here the container is prepared, you can begin to prepare the mate. So, in calabash we put yerba mate powder on 2/3 of the volume, cover it with a palm and shake it lightly. Now large fractions have fallen to the bottom. We tilt the calabash so that all the tea leaves are gently poured to one wall. Now we insert into the void under the other wall with a bomb and smoothly return the calabash to a vertical position. After that, gently, but not boiling water (ideal temperature 70-80 degrees), carefully fill the tea leaves, but not completely, but to the level of intersection of the powder and the bomb. At the same time, the hole of the bombilla must be plugged with a finger so that welding does not get into the tube. Let it brew for a minute or two, so that the tea leaves are completely moistened and slightly pressed, and then carefully add water almost to the top of the calabash. In the process of brewing the mate, the bombilla is not moved and the tea leaves are not stirred.

Good morning to you with calabash mate!
Your Roman Mironenko

What is yerba mate?

Yerba Mate is a herbal tea made from the leaves and branches of a plant called Holly Paraguayan (lat. Ilex paraguariensis).

Leaves are usually dried over a fire and then immersed in hot water to make tea.

Yerba mate is traditionally consumed from a container made of pumpkin and drunk using a metal tube, in the lower part of which there is a filter for filtering out leaf fragments.

They say that sharing this drink is a kind of sign of friendship and affection.

Yerba mate is a type of tea made from dry leaves and twigs of the Holly Paraguayan plant.

1. Rich in antioxidants and nutrients.

Yerba mate contains several useful plant nutrients, among which (1):

  • Xanthines: These compounds act as stimulants. These include caffeine and theobromine, which are also found in tea, coffee and chocolate.
  • Caffeic acid derivatives: These compounds are the main health enhancing antioxidants in tea.
  • Saponins: These bitter compounds have certain anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering properties.
  • Polyphenols: This is a large group of antioxidants associated with a reduced risk of developing many diseases.

Interestingly, the antioxidant defense of yerba mate tea seems to be slightly higher than that of green tea (2).

Moreover, yerba mate can contain seven of the nine essential amino acids, in addition to almost all the vitamins and minerals your body needs (1, 3).

Nevertheless, tea contains a very small amount of these nutrients, so it is unlikely that it will make a big contribution to your diet.

Yerba Mate is rich in antioxidants and many healthy plant nutrients.

2. Can increase energy and improve mental concentration

At 85 mg of caffeine per cup of yerba mate, it contains less caffeine than coffee, but more than a cup of tea (4).

Therefore, like any other caffeinated food or drink, yerba mate can increase your energy level and make you less tired.

Caffeine can also affect the level of certain signaling molecules in your brain, which makes it especially useful in improving attention levels (5, 6).

Several studies in humans have observed an improvement in attentiveness and reaction time in participants who took a single dose containing 37.5-450 mg of caffeine (7).

In addition, those who regularly consume yerba mate often make rave reviews that it improves alertness like coffee - but without the side effects of the nervous system.

However, these reviews have not yet been scientifically proven.

Due to its caffeine content, yerba mate can help increase energy levels and mental concentration.

3. May improve physical performance

It is also known that caffeine improves muscle contractions, reduces fatigue and improves athletic performance by 5% (8, 9, 10, 11).

Since yerba mate contains a moderate amount of caffeine, those who drink it can expect similar effects in relation to physical performance.

In fact, in one study, those who were given one 1 gram capsule of ground yerba mate leaves right before training burned 24% more fat during moderate-intensity exercises (12).

A higher dependence on the use of fat as an energy source during exercise spares your carbohydrate reserves for high-intensity critical moments, such as cycling uphill or running to the finish line. This can lead to improved athletic performance.

The optimal amount of yerba mate to drink before training is currently unknown.

Yerba Mate increases your body's dependence on fat as a source of energy during exercise. Its use can also improve muscle contractions and reduce fatigue, which can help improve physical performance.

4. Can protect against infections

Yerba mate can help prevent bacterial, parasitic, and fungal infections.

One in vitro study showed that a high dose of yerba mate extract inactivated Escherichia coli - bacteria that cause food poisoning symptoms, such as stomach cramps and diarrhea (13, 14).

Compounds in yerba mate can also prevent the growth of Malaysia furfur - a fungus that causes peeling of the skin, dandruff and some skin rashes (15).

Finally, studies show that the compounds contained in it may provide some protection against intestinal parasites (1).

However, most of these studies have been done on isolated cells. It is currently unclear whether this drink will have similar effects on the human body. Therefore, additional studies are needed (16, 17).

Yerba mate may have some antibacterial, antiparasitic and antifungal properties. However, more research is needed.

5. May help you lose weight and burn belly fat

Animal studies show that yerba mate can reduce appetite and speed up metabolism, which can help lose weight (18).

It seems to reduce the total number of fat cells and reduces the amount of fat that they contain (19).

Human studies show that yerba mate can also increase the amount of stored fat burned for energy (12, 20).

In addition, in a 12-week study involving overweight people, those who took 3 grams of yerba mate powder per day lost an average of 0.7 kg. They also reduced their waist-to-hip ratio by 2%, which indicates a loss of belly fat (21).

In comparison, placebo participants gained an average of 2.8 kg and increased the waist-to-hip ratio by 1% over the same 12-week period (21).

Yerba mate can reduce appetite, increase metabolism and increase the amount of fat burned for energy. It can help you lose weight.

6. May strengthen your immune system

Yerba mate contains saponins, which are natural compounds with anti-inflammatory properties (1, 22).

In addition, it provides the body with a small amount of vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and zinc. These antioxidants can strengthen your immune system and improve your health (23, 24).

However, researchers have not yet investigated the direct effect of yerba mate on the human immune system.

Yerba Mate has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can strengthen your immune system.

7. Lowers blood sugar

Yerba mate can help lower blood sugar and reduce the complications of diabetes.

In fact, a recent animal study reports that its use can improve insulin signaling (25).

It can also reduce the formation of glycation end products (AGEs), which are involved in the development and worsening of many diseases (26, 27).

However, human studies are currently lacking.

Yerba mate can improve insulin signaling and blood sugar control. Nevertheless, additional studies on humans are needed.

8. May reduce the risk of heart disease

Yerba mate contains antioxidant compounds, such as derivatives of caffeic acid and polyphenols, which can protect against cardiovascular diseases.

In vitro and animal studies have also reported that yerba mate extract may provide some protection against heart disease (28, 29).

In one of the 40-day studies, participants who drank 330 ml of yerba mate daily reduced their level of “bad” LDL cholesterol by 8.6–13.1% (30).

Nevertheless, more research is needed before solid conclusions can be drawn.

The antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cholesterol-lowering properties of yerba mate can help protect against heart disease.

How to make yerba mate

Yerba mate is traditionally served in a vessel made of pumpkin called calabash.

It is usually drunk through a metal straw that has a filter on the lower end to filter out leaf fragments.

To make yerba mate, fill the bottom third of the calabash with dried or toasted mate leaves before adding hot water.

If you do not have a calabash, you can cook it in a French press.

Tea is often served with fried sugar, lemon juice or milk, and you can add hot water to it several times before using new leaves to make a new batch.

Traditionally consumed hot, yerba mate can also be served cold, especially when it is hot outside.

Yerba mate can be consumed hot or cold and prepared in the same way as other loose teas. It is traditionally served in a bowl of pumpkin called calabash.

Safety and side effects

Yerba mate is unlikely to harm healthy adults who sometimes drink it.

However, those who drink it regularly may be at increased risk of the following diseases and conditions:

Studies show that consuming large amounts of yerba mate for a long time may increase the risk of developing cancer of the upper respiratory tract and digestive tract (1, 31, 32, 33).

One possible explanation is that yerba mate contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) - known carcinogens that are also found in tobacco smoke, barbecue and grilled meat (1).

It is also often used at very high temperatures. This can damage the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract and digestive tract, increasing the risk of the formation of cancer cells (31, 34).

Nevertheless, some compounds in it can protect against other types of cancer (1, 35).

Caffeine-related side effects

Yerba Mate contains caffeine. In some people, too much caffeine can cause headaches, migraines, and high blood pressure (36, 37).

Pregnant women should limit their intake of yerba mate to a maximum of three cups per day. Too much caffeine can increase the risk of miscarriage and low birth weight (38, 39).

Drug interactions

Studies show that some yerba mate compounds have the activity of a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). MAOI is often prescribed as a medicine for depression and Parkinson's disease (1).

Therefore, people taking MAOI drugs should use yerba mate with caution.

Наконец, благодаря содержанию кофеина он также может взаимодействовать с миорелаксантом Тизанидином или антидепрессантом Флувоксамином. Лица, принимающие эти препараты, должны избегать йерба мате, так как это может усилить действие препаратов (40).

Frequent use of yerba mate may increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Pregnant women and people sensitive to caffeine or taking certain medications should drink it with caution.

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