Yerba Mate, or simply mate, is a tea obtained from the dried leaves of the evergreen bush Ilex paraguariensi, a plant from South America, where drinking mate is still a real ritual. Year after year the fame of mate is overcoming the borders of South America to spread throughout the world thanks to its important health benefits. But what exactly are the properties of mate? Today we are talking about this, discussing the results of the latest scientific research.
A freshly prepared infusion of mate provides linoleic and alpha linolenic acids, which are unsaturated fatty acids important for the health of the heart, brain, microbiota and to counteract inflammation and aging processes. Not only that, mate also contains polyphenols, which are antioxidant substances, saponins, that have anti-inflammatory properties, zinc, magnesium, iron, vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium (Lutomski et al, Ann Agric Environ Med, 2020 - Rzasa Duran et al, Antioxidants , 2022). Mate then provides water-soluble caffeine, capable of stimulating the brain, memory and cognitive functionality (Gawron Gzella et al, Nutrients, 2021).
Mate and overweight
Mate helps to counteract overweight. Indeed, the daily intake of supplements containing 3 grams of yerba mate allowed in 12 weeks to reduce body weight, waistline and visceral fat (Lutomski et al, Ann Agric Environ Med, 2020 - Gawron Gzella et al, Nutrients, 2021). This effect can be traced back to mate's ability to accelerate metabolism and increase energy expenditure (Gawron Gzella et al, Nutrients, 2021).
Mate and physical activity
Mate, when taken before physical activity, increases the body's ability to burn fat by almost 25%. Not only that, yerba mate maximizes the benefits of physical activity, improving mood and even satiety more than physical activity alone (Lutomski et al, Ann Agric Environ Med, 2020 - Gawron Gzella et al, Nutrients , 2021).
Mate, blood sugar, cholesterol and fatty liver
Mate counteracts excess cholesterol and is beneficial in the case of fatty liver (Lutomski et al, Ann Agric Environ Med, 2020). Not only that, the intake of yerba mate counteracts insulin resistance and has been shown, after 4 weeks of intake, to reduce blood sugar (Gawron Gzella et al, Nutrients, 2021).
Mate against inflammation, cellular and cerebral degeneration
Studies have shown that taking mate helps to counteract cellular degeneration, especially those affecting the colon, esophagus and bladder (Rzasa Duran et al, Antioxidants, 2022). In addition to this property, mate reduces circulating pro-inflammatory substances and helps reduce the risk of developing neurodegeneration, such as Parkinson's disease (Rzasa Duran et al, Antioxidants, 2022 - Saenz Farret et al, Clin Neuropharmacol, 2022).
Mate as an external treatment for skin and hair
Mate has not only important benefits when taken internally. In fact, even the external applications of mate can be useful in counteracting some skin conditions. This effect can be traced back to the presence in the mate of substances capable of inhibiting the growth of a fungus, Malassezia furfur, responsible for dandruff, skin rashes and seborrheic dermatitis (Lutomski et al, Ann Agric Environ Med, 2020).
Mate, how to take it and warnings
Mate is generally served in a special container, called matero, made from a small pumpkin. The herbal tea is then sipped with a straw, called bombilla, which ends with a filter, which allows you to drink the tea while keeping the leaves in infusion. However, not everyone has matero and bombilla at home and therefore mate can be prepared like a normal tea. Heat a cup of water to 70-80°C, remove from the heat and add a tablespoon of dried yerba mate. Leave to infuse for 5 minutes, then filter and drink. If you want to use the herbal tea for topical applications, you can prepare a more concentrated infusion, with a spoonful of mate infused for ten minutes. Filter and, once the infusion has cooled down, you can use it to make compresses on the scalp or skin to combat dandruff and dermatitis. Leave the mate wrap on for ten minutes, then rinse. Like any food and drink, mate, however beneficial, should not be taken in excess. Studies indicate, in fact, that drinking more than two and a half liters of hot mate per day increases the risk of cellular degeneration of the esophagus, as well as bringing too much caffeine which can cause nervousness, headaches and high blood pressure (Rzasa Duran et al, Antioxidants, 2022).