Mate is a non-alcoholic drink made from Yerba Mate, the leaves of the tree Ilex paraguariensis. It is widely consumed in South America. It can be consumed as a tea or as an ingredient in foods or supplements. The indigenous people have used it for centuries as a social and medicinal beverage. The health benefits of Yerba Mate include decreasing cholesterol, protecting the liver, stimulating the brain, diuretic properties, and benefiting the heart, among many others [R]. For many other great performance enhancing biohacks you can check out my book SelfHacked Secrets to see which biohacks have helped me the most to change my life from functionally illiterate to a successful and hardworking.
Mate is bitter, and it is an acquired taste. Both the preparation of the mate and the drinking process are considered almost ceremonies.
Learn more about Yerba Mate in this post.
- Constituents of Yerba Mate
- Health Benefits of Yerba Mate
- 1) Yerba Mate Improves High Cholesterol
- 2) Yerba Mate Prevents Cancer
- 3) Yerba Mate Prevents Heart Disease
- 4) Yerba Mate Helps With Diabetes
- 5) Yerba Mate Relieves Pain
- 6) Yerba Mate Combats Depression
- 7) Yerba Mate Is Better Than Red Wine Or Green Tea
- 8) Yerba Mate Increases Energy
- 9) Yerba Mate Helps Smokers
- 10) Yerba Mate Prevents DNA Mutation
- 11) Yerba Mate Has Antioxidant Effects
- 12) Yerba Mate Prevents Neurodegenerative Disorders
- 13) Yerba Mate Improves Memory
- 14) Yerba Mate Reduces Inflammation
- 15) Yerba Mate Helps Metabolic Syndrome
- 16) Yerba Mate Burns Fat
- 17) Yerba Mate Kills Microbes
- 18) Yerba Mate Reduces Anxiety
- 19) Yerba Mate Helps With Weight Loss
- 20) Yerba Mate Protects The Liver
- 21) Yerba Mate Helps With Swelling
- Yerba Mate Combinations
- Yerba Mate Controversy
- Yerba Mate Preparation
- Health Tools I Wish I Had When I Was Sick
Constituents of Yerba Mate
Yerba Mate contains the following:
- Chlorogenic acid (crypto and neo)
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B complex
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Caffeic acid
- 3,4-dicaffeoylquinic acid
- 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid
- 4,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid
Also, Yerba Mate contains a variety of saponins. These saponins give the mate its distinct taste and also decrease inflammation and cholesterol [R].
Additionally, Yerba Mate contains minerals that include: aluminum, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, nickel, potassium, and zinc [R].
Health Benefits of Yerba Mate
1) Yerba Mate Improves High Cholesterol
Yerba Mate also decreased LDL and increased HDL (good cholesterol) in patients on long-term statin therapy more than statins alone, according to a study on 30 patients with high cholesterol [R].
2) Yerba Mate Prevents Cancer
Cancer cells have more topoisomerase II, an enzyme required for cell division, than normal cells. Yerba Mate decreased topoisomerase II and had a cytotoxic effect on human liver cancer cells [R].
3) Yerba Mate Prevents Heart Disease
Yerba Mate improved the recovery from heart damage, as seen in experiments with rat tissues [R].
Another study showed that Yerba Mate relaxed arterial beds and improved blood flow in rats [R].
4) Yerba Mate Helps With Diabetes
AGEs (advanced glycation end products) contribute to diabetes complications like poor blood flow, bad vision, kidney damage, and inflammation [R]. AGEs are produced from high blood sugar, so if you want to reduce them with Yerba Mate, it’s best to not add sugar.
Yerba Mate causes a significant dose-dependant reduction of AGEs mainly through stopping the second phase of AGE production, which is a result of Yerba Mate’s antioxidant capacity (according to test-tube studies) [R].
Also, Yerba Mate lowered blood glucose in mice, which is another way of preventing AGE production [R].
Yerba Mate may have an additional effect on diabetes by lowering insulin resistance [R].
5) Yerba Mate Relieves Pain
Yerba Mate relieved pain in mice through the noradrenaline pathway [R].
6) Yerba Mate Combats Depression
In mice, Yerba Mate helps with depression through NMDA receptors (similar to ketamine) [R].
7) Yerba Mate Is Better Than Red Wine Or Green Tea
According to a comparative review, Yerba Mate prevents free radical damage better than red wine and green tea [R].
8) Yerba Mate Increases Energy
Yerba Mate prevented ATP (cellular energy), ADP, and AMP decrease, which increased energy [R].
This effect is probably due to the inhibition of the ATPase (an enzyme that breaks down ATP) by caffeine [R].
9) Yerba Mate Helps Smokers
Smoking in the short term causes lung inflammation and oxidative damage. However, Yerba Mate decreased smoking-related lung inflammation and oxidative damage in mice [R].
10) Yerba Mate Prevents DNA Mutation
Yerba Mate is an anti-mutagen, which prevents DNA damage and improves DNA repair after oxidation damage [R].
11) Yerba Mate Has Antioxidant Effects
Yerba Mate is a rich source of polyphenols with antioxidant properties significantly stronger than green tea, according to test-tube experiments [R].
Thus, Yerba Mate likely prevents heart and blood flow disease, cancer, aging, and autoimmune disorders through its antioxidant capacity [R].
12) Yerba Mate Prevents Neurodegenerative Disorders
According to one review, Yerba Mate contains methylxanthines that combat Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, both disorders of the nervous system. Thus, Yerba Mate can prevent these disorders [R].
13) Yerba Mate Improves Memory
Yerba Mate specifically improved short-term memory in as little as 1.5 hours after administration in rats [R].
14) Yerba Mate Reduces Inflammation
The anti-inflammatory effect of Yerba Mate was studied in mice with pleurisy (fluid in the lung). Yerba Mate inhibited inflammation and allowed the lung fluid to be carried away [R].
Yerba Mate decreased inflammatory molecules in mice on high-fat diets, lowering inflammation [R].
Yerba Mate helps in the treatment of asthma, arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease in mice [R].
15) Yerba Mate Helps Metabolic Syndrome
By increasing satiety (feeling full from eating), Yerba Mate lowered food intake, body weight, and blood fats in mice [R].
16) Yerba Mate Burns Fat
In a study of 14 volunteers, Yerba Mate increased energy use from fat storage during exercise suggesting a potential role in weight loss and sports performance [R].
Additionally, Yerba Mate reduced the accumulation of fat in mice fed a high-fat diet [R].
17) Yerba Mate Kills Microbes
Certain bacteria and fungus were killed by Yerba Mate in mice experiments. Yerba Mate prevents dandruff, tinea, and eczema by killing Malassezia furfur. Yerba Mate can also prevent food poisoning, Crohn’s disease, meningitis, gastro, and cellulitis by killing E. coli and Staph. aureus [R, R, R].
18) Yerba Mate Reduces Anxiety
Continuous intake of Yerba Mate reduced anxiety in mice probably by way of the acetylcholine/cholinergic system [R].
19) Yerba Mate Helps With Weight Loss
By promoting satiety, decreasing body weight, BMI (body mass index), and food intake, burning fat during exercise, reducing cholesterol, fats, and glucose levels, helping with anxiety, and having diuretic effects, Yerba Mate is a good allied in weight loss [R, R, R, R, R].
20) Yerba Mate Protects The Liver
Yerba Mate is listed as a hepatoprotective. As such, Yerba Mate stimulated bile flow and treated gallstones, as well as prevented enlargement of the spleen and inflammation of the stomach in mice [R].
Yerba Mate also prevented liver inflammation in mice [R].
21) Yerba Mate Helps With Swelling
As Yerba Mate contains caffeine, which has a diuretic effect, it helps reduce the swelling due to fluid retention of different origins [R].
Yerba Mate Combinations
When Yerba Mate is combined with guarana and damiana, it slows the emptying of the stomach and helps to feel full from less food [R].
Yerba Mate, along with green tea, asparagus, black tea, guarana, and kidney bean extracts, also reduces body fat [R].
With extra quercetin, Yerba Mate reduced prostaglandin 2, IL-6 (Interleukin 6), IL-1 beta (Interleukin 1 beta), and NF-kB (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells), enhancing its anti-inflammatory properties [R].
Combined with Datura (scopolamine), Yerba Mate prevents the memory loss associated with smoking or drinking datura and Brugmansia [R].
Yerba Mate Controversy
Drinking Yerba Mate has been correlated with esophageal, mouth, lung, bladder, kidney, and other cancers of the head and neck.
However, the geographical regions where this correlation was found is also correlated with high alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking.
Thus, Yerba Mate’s contribution is unknown. Consuming hot drinks can cause these problems, so perhaps this is from where the correlation comes [R].
A technique for measuring PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), a known cause of cancer stemming from red meat and smoking, was used to find that Yerba Mate is equivalent to smoking in 200 healthy adults [R].
Although, it is important to note that many users achieved the same minimum PAH achieved by non-users; if you smoke and/or take Yerba Mate, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re at a higher risk of cancer.
There have been a number of scientific articles published to suggest Yerba Mate causes cancer, although often no new evidence is presented [R].
Wikipedia claims that Yerba Mate is a MAOI (Monoamine oxidase inhibitor). However, their reference says that Yerba Mate inhibits neither MAO-A (Monoamine oxidase A) nor MAO-B (Monoamine oxidase B) [R].
Yerba Mate Preparation
The preparation of the mate varies considerably from region to region. However, the typical preparation is inside an empty pumpkin container (which is also called “the mate”). There are more or less “strict rules” about how to prepare a good mate:
- You should put the Yerba Mate in the container and soak it in cold water (this avoids that the Yerba Mate gets burned by the hot water)
- Then, you insert a special metallic straw, which has little holes in its bottom
- The water for the mate should be around 70 to 85 °C (158 to 185 °F), never boiling
- You pour the mate with hot water and you drink it with the straw (you’re supposed to drink it all, it’s not like a tea or a coffee that you can have there for hours)
- Variations include adding sugar, sweetener, or herbs and/or using cold juice, lemonade, milk
Although many people drink mate in solitude, it is actually a social activity. People gather together and share the (same) mate. One person is in charge of pouring, and the mate is usually shared in a circle. Everyone drink from the same mate (nice broth for germs). If you don’t want to keep drinking, you return the mate saying “thank you.”
Yerba Mate can also be steeped in water, near its boiling point, like any other herbal tea. This is called “boiled mate.” Only drinking cold Yerba Mate tea was not associated with an increased risk of cancer [R].
A new technique involves brewing a probiotic beverage, which suggests Yerba Mate could be a perfect tea for Kombucha [R].
Health Tools I Wish I Had When I Was Sick
At SelfHacked, it’s our goal to offer our readers all the tools possible to get optimally healthy. When I was struggling with chronic health issues I felt stuck because I didn’t have any tools to help me get better. I had to spend literally thousands of hours trying to read through studies on pubmed to figure out how the body worked and how to fix it.
That’s why I decided to create tools that will help others cut down the guesswork:
- Lab Test Analyzer – a software tool that will analyze your labs and tell you what the optimal values are for each marker — as well as provide you with actionable tips and personalized health and lifestyle recommendations to help you get there.
- SelfDecode – a software tool that will help you analyze your genetic data from companies such as 23andme and ancestry. You will learn how your health is being impacted by your genes, and how to use this knowledge to your advantage.
- SelfHacked Secrets – an ebook where we examine and explain the biggest overlooked environmental factors that cause disease. This ebook is a great place to start your journey if you want to learn the essential steps to optimizing your health.
- SelfHacked Elimination Diet course – a video course that will help you figure out which diet works best for you
- Selfhacked Inflammation course – a video course on inflammation and how to bring it down
- Biohacking insomnia – an ebook on how to get great sleep
- Lectin Avoidance Cookbook – an e-cookbook for people with food sensitivities
- BrainGauge – a device that detects subtle brain changes and allows you to test what’s working for you
- SelfHacked VIP – an area where you can ask me (Joe) questions about health topics
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.
HOW WOULD YOU RATE THIS ARTICLE?