Yerba Maté (pronounced “yerba mahtay”) is a medicinal and cultural drink of ancient origins. Introduced to the world by the Guarani Indians of South America, Mate contains ingredients that help keep its drinkers healthy and energetic. More than a drink, Yerba Mate has become a cultural phenomenon throughout South America. Its benefits are obvious. In Buenos Aires, where people carry their Maté with them throughout the day, the site of an obese person is rare. Maté is an infusion, containing stimulants such as caffeine, prepared by steeping dried leaves of erva-mate (Portuguese) / yerba mate (Spanish) in hot water. It is the national drink in Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay and a common social practice in parts of Brazil, Chile, eastern Bolivia, Lebanon, and Syria. As with other brewed herbs, erva-mate / yerba mate leaves are dried, chopped, and ground into a powdery mixture called yerba.
Yerba Maté is Packed with Naturally-Occurring Nutrients and Antioxidants! There are 196 volatile (or active) chemical compounds found in the Yerba Maté plant. Of those, 144 are also found in green tea. Yerba Mate contains 11 polyphenols. Polyphenols are a group of phytochemicals. Phytochemicals (phyto- meaning plant) are recently-discovered compounds that act as powerful antioxidants and are considered to exhibit anti-cancer effects in mammals by strengthening an organism’s natural defenses and protecting it against cellular destruction (i.e. lycopene in tomatoes, flavonoids in blueberries, and isoflavones in soy). In addition to polyphenols, Yerba Maté leaves contain saponins (In fact, one recent study yielded 3 new saponins in the Yerba Mate leaf!) Saponins are phytochemicals that have been found to specifically stimulate the immune system and aid the body in protecting against disease.
In 2005, researchers at the University of Illinois studied 25 different types of maté. They found the tea to contain “higher levels of antioxidants than green tea”… and, based on cell studies, “may help prevent oral cancer.” Studies show that some of the most important antioxidant enzymes in the body are induced by this herbal tea. - Elvira de Mejia, Lead Researcher at U. of Illinois...
Each infusion of Maté contains:
- Vitamins: A, C, E, B1, B2, Niacin (B3), B5, B Complex
- Minerals: Calcium, Manganese, Iron, Selenium, Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus
- Additional Compounds: Fatty Acids, Chlorophyll, Flavonols, Polyphenols, Trace Minerals, Antioxidants, Pantothenic Acid and 15 Amino Acids.
- According to Dr. Mowrey, Director of Mountainwest Institute of Herbal Sciences, one group of investigators from the Pasteur Institute and the Paris Scientific Society concluded that Yerba Mate contains “practically all of the vitamins necessary to sustain life.” They focused especially on Pantothenic Acid, remarking that it is “rare to find a plant with so much of this significant and vital nutrient. . . It is indeed difficult to find a plant in any area of the world equal to Mate in nutritional value.”
In addition, results from a study done by researchers at the University of Madrid assert a high content of mineral elements, especially K, Mg, and Mn, in Mate. They considered those findings “to be of great relevance” to the nutritional value of Maté infusions.