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Categories: Medicinal plants

Yerba mate: what it is, benefits and how to prepare the infusion

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lbobvalla
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Yerba mate is a medicinal plant that has a thin gray stem, oval leaves, and small green or purple-red fruits.

It is widely consumed in Argentina, the southern region of Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, and Paraguay, being used mainly as a non-alcoholic beverage for socialization in these countries.

This plant is rich in caffeine and is characterized by the fact that it is consumed in a container called mate, pore, or porongo or “zucchini”, which has a kind of metal straw called a light bulb, which has small holes that prevent the leaves pass through it. 

Its scientific name is Ilex paraguariensis and its herb can be bought dry or in the form of drops in natural products stores, in supermarkets, or online stores.

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Benefits of yerba mate

Yerba mate may provide several health benefits including: 

Lower cholesterol, as it is rich in antioxidants and contains saponins, which help reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol, thus preventing the appearance of atherosclerosis and other heart diseases such as a heart attack or stroke;

Promote weight loss, as some studies indicated that it delays gastric emptying and increases the feeling of fullness.

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In addition to this, it is believed that it may have effects on adipose tissue, controlling some genes related to obesity, such as inflammatory markers; 

Act as an antibacterial, acting against  Streptococcus mutans, which is found in the oral cavity and is one of the main causative agents of tooth decay. In addition, it has also been seen properties against other bacteria such as  Bacillus subtilis, Brevibacterium ammoniagenes, Propionibacterium acnes, Staphylococcus aureus, among others;

Prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, because it helps regulate blood sugar and some types of cancer. This is because yerba mate is rich in antioxidants that prevent damage caused by free radicals to cells, as well as having anti-inflammatory properties;

Act as an antifungal, against microorganisms such as  Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Candida utilis, Pityrosporum ovale, Penicillium chrysogenum, and  Trichophyton mentagrophytes ;

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Stimulate the body, improve mood and improve concentration, as it is rich in caffeine and B vitamins, the latter are important micronutrients for the proper functioning of metabolism, acting as coenzymes that participate in the reactions of the catabolism of nutrients, to obtain energy from food consumed;

Help increase defenses, because it has vitamin C, E, and other minerals that help strengthen the immune system.

In addition to this, it could improve blood circulation, as it contains potassium, a mineral that helps relax the arteries, allowing blood to pass more easily.

What are its properties

Yerba mate has in its composition caffeine, saponins, polyphenols, xanthines, theophylline, theobromine, folic acid, tannins, minerals, and vitamins A, B1, B2, C, and E. For this reason, it acts as an antioxidant, diuretic, mild laxative, stimulant, antidiabetic, antiobesity, anticancer, antibacterial, antifungal, hypocholesterolemic, and aid indigestion.

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How much can you take

Some scientific studies usually use a dose of 3 cups of 330 ml each of yerba mate per day for up to 60 days.

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It is also known that it is safe to drink up to 1.5L a day, but it has not been shown that in higher doses there can be toxicity. 

In the case of consuming a yerba mate extract supplement, the recommendation is between 1000 to 1500 mg per day. 

How to prepare it

There are different ways to prepare yerba mate, it can be eaten cold, hot, combined with some natural juices and even milk. 

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1. Yerba mate tea

Ingredients

Yerba mate;

Boiling water.

Preparation method

Place the yerba mate halfway through the mate, cover it with your hand and shake it for 10 seconds, leaving the yerba towards one of the sides of the mate, leaving it at an angle of approximately 45º.

Next, pour the warm water, moistening the bottom of the mate and letting it rest for a few seconds, this process is called priming. 

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Introduce the bulb in the humid area and rest it on the wall of the mate. Add jets of hot water where the bulb is located, trying not to wet the top of the yerba and drink.

2. Tereré

Ingredients

Yerba mate for tereré;

Coldwater and ice.

Preparation method

Fill 1/2 glass with yerba mate, add cold water, ice, and if you want some fruit juice. Fit the bulb, prime, and drink. 

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Possible side effects of yerba mate

Its consumption is safe, however, since it contains caffeine, yerba mate can in some cases cause insomnia or difficulty sleeping. 

Contraindications

Mate is contraindicated in children, pregnant women, and people with insomnia, nervousness, anxiety problems, or high blood pressure, due to its high caffeine content. 

In addition, in the case of diabetic patients, this drink should only be used under the guidance of the doctor; since it lowers blood sugar levels and it may be necessary to adapt the treatment. 

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