• Ruben Contreras

Yerba Mate explained

Updated: Dec 11, 2020

Sustaining a balanced, high-energy life

Taragui Yerba Mate
Photo: Rubén Contreras

Navigating today's world sometimes demands ongoing multiple challenges that put our minds and bodies under intense commitments and strenuous routines in addition to lack of rest. That’s one of the reasons why many of us consciously decide to do things differently to get a different result, starting with the things we eat and drink. Whatever the case might be, one of the central lessons from this year will be for sure choosing nourishment as our own number one priority. Ironically, oftentimes, this can leave our drive levels quite depleted thanks to certain uncanny circumstances we’ve gone through – like this year – when life has set the bar considerably high in our jobs, family and of course, collectively. Obviously, there needs to be something like a source of energy. A boost. Fortunately, in Paraiso Tropical Latin Food Market, you can get The Boost.

Enter yerba mate

Yerba mate is a highly popular refreshment in Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay, southern and central-western Brazil, the Gran Chaco of Bolivia, and southern Chile. Also, in places as distant as Syria and Lebanon (where Argentina is the main supplier), yerba mate is popular among the Druze community.

In Canada, the United States, Syria, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, South Korea, South Africa, France and Spain, there has been an increasing growth of local established yerba mate drinkers in recent years.


Yerba mate selection at Paraiso Tropical Latin Food Market
Photo: Rubén Contreras

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the Guarani and then, the Tupi peoples, consumed yerba mate in the area that now comprises of southern Brazil and Paraguay. Due to widespread consumption during and after the Spanish colonization (particularly in Paraguay in the late 16th century among both settlers and indigenous Guarani), yerba mate became Paraguay’s main commodity.

By the mid-17th century, the Jesuits domesticated and established plantations in Misiones, Argentina, disrupting the Paraguayan producers of yerba mate, but the Jesuits' subsequent expulsion in the 1770s contributed to the thriving industry in Paraguay. Although a century later, economic and demographic devastation triggered generalized havoc, even losing complete regions with yerba mate plantations to the hands of Argentina.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, the yerba mate plant became domesticated, once again giving way to plantation systems: for years to come, Brazil and Argentina see the status of largest producer shift back and forth between them, though Brazil is the largest producer today with 53% of the shares for the yerba mate market; followed by Argentina at 37%, and Paraguay at 10%.

The mighty leaf benefits

Yerba mate (“yerba" being a Spanish term for “herb”) or just mate or chimarrao in Brazil – which Paraiso Tropical prides itself on having one of the best selections in town – provides you with the strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate. But in taking a close look at the benefits we find:

Weight Loss

While drinking yerba mate with its corresponding health benefits, you still, of course, need to be involved proactively. Eating healthy, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep are necessary to losing weight. However, drinking yerba mate at least once or twice a day, you’ll be able to see the results very soon. Studies have been made in Brazil backing these claims.

But how can a brewed beverage help you achieve your weight loss goals?

Increased Metabolism

Since the percentage of caffeine in yerba mate is fairly high, your body’s metabolism will speed up, which will, in turn, cause the body to burn more fat, because this involves using more energy. So there’s an energy boost, as well as a physical boost. Because of this, athletes drink yerba mate.

A nice hot cup of Taragui yerba mate.
Photo: Rubén Contreras

Promotes Feelings of Well-Being

The higher ratio of xanthine – caffeine, theobromine and theophylline – content of yerba mate can also improve your mood.

Theobromine is naturally found in cacao and selected tea plants and, unlike caffeine, it offers a longer lasting, more relaxed energy without peaks and crashes, which feels more like a good night of sleep coupled with a “holistic high”, meaning you feel more focused.

Meanwhile, theophylline contains anti-inflammatory effects. It relaxes and opens air passages in the lungs, aiding easy breathing.

Digestive Health

A regular cup of yerba mate can aid with digestion and other problems, such as constipation or diarrhea because of its high choleretic effect (the increase of the volume of bile secretion from the liver), as well as the amount of solids secreted.

Improved Sleep

Poor sleep habits impact your body, increasing blood sugar, hormone imbalances, increased fat storage, and higher stress levels. These can all promote weight gain.

Yerba mate encourages healthy, deeper sleep. It is known to promote more REM cycles, which is vital for restful, restorative sleep.

Improves Brain Function

We already know that yerba mate can help improve your focus and concentration, thanks to its caffeine content. We also talked earlier about the “mood benefits” that yerba mate provides.

Stress and depression have adverse effects on your brain; the brain eventually suffers from cognitive decline. Relieving this negativity is healthy for your brain and keeps it operating like a younger brain.

Speaking of a younger brain, did you know that the many antioxidants that are packed into one cup of yerba mate protects your brain from aging? By protecting your brain with antioxidants, you make a whole lot of difference for the both your brain and you.

Yerba mate may also have the power to improve your memory. Scientists have noticed a boost in people’s short-term social memory after they have been on a regimen of yerba mate.

Increases Energy

A nice, warm cup of yerba mate is one of the most pleasant ways to relieve fatigue. The caffeine helps for sure, but the real champion here is theobromine, but we already discussed its effects earlier in regards to promoting feelings of well-being.

Meanwhile, the caffeine – a vasoconstrictor (meaning that it causes the blood vessels to shrink), stimulates the brain cortex and the heart. Caffeine also acts as an analgesic, so your body feels even better.

Yerba Mate
Rubén Contreras

Rich in Polyphenols and Antioxidants

Green tea is widely applauded for its many antioxidants, but did you know that yerba mate contains considerably more? The dried leaves of the yerba mate plant contain 10% polyphenols, which is a large group of antioxidants.

In yerba mate, most of the polyphenols are found in shredded leaves and the least amount in twigs. That may help you decide which brand to purchase if this is a selling point for you.

A clear example of the benefits of a high-percentage polyphenols regime can be seen in the Mediterranean diet: people do not suffer from allergies, asthma, and inflammatory diseases at the same rate as people in countries with a non-Mediterranean diet.

Another benefit of polyphenols leads back to weight loss. Polyphenols are rich in chlorogenic acid, which reduces food cravings and encourages the body to burn more fat.

Reduces Blood Pressure

One of the many health benefits of yerba mate is that it reduces blood pressure. Although not entirely scientifically proven, it has been found out that consuming yerba mate presented significantly fewer diagnoses of hypertension and coronary disease.

Different yerba mate varieties have differing compositions. Depending on the ratio of caffeine to theobromine, you could see improved blood pressure readings.

Boosts Immune System and Protects the Liver

Yerba mate tea may help keep our immune system strong, even fighting simple things like the common cold thanks to polyphenols, which work to strengthen defenses.

Like theobromine, the saponins found in yerba mate have anti-inflammatory properties. The latter are natural emulsifiers that boost the immune system.

Because yerba mate aid