Does Yerba Mate Make You Lose Weight? The Studies Explained
Yerba mate is gaining popularity across the globe thanks to its numerous health benefits.
This traditional South American drink has the strength of coffee, the appeal of chocolate, and many of the health benefits that you would receive from herbal tea.
In this article, we will be looking at the following topics:
- What is yerba mate?
- How yerba mate boosts your immune system
- The types of antioxidants and nutrients found in yerba mate
- How yerba mate can help you lose weight
- Any safety issues and side effects
Want to know more? Let’s see what science has to say.
What is Yerba Mate?
As aforementioned, Yerba mate is an herbal tea derived from twigs and leaves of the Ilex paraguariensis plant of South America, primarily in Paraguay, as well as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay.
The leaves are usually dried over a fire, then added to hot water to make tea.
Traditionally, yerba mate is served from a container known as a gourd and sipped with a metal straw that has a filter to strain out any leaf fragments. The act of sharing yerba mate from the traditional gourd is seen as a sign of bonding and friendship.
Rich in Nutrients and Antioxidants
One of the main reasons people drink yerba mate is the numerous beneficial nutrients in the leaves. These include: 1
Xanthines: These compounds, which include caffeine and theobromine, are natural stimulants that are also found in coffee, tea, and chocolate.
Caffeoyl derivatives: These compounds are the primary antioxidants of yerba mate tea.
Saponins: These nutrients offer numerous cholesterol-lowering and anti-inflammatory properties.
Polyphenols: These are a collection of antioxidants known to reduce your risk of developing many diseases.
According to some studies, yerba mate offers more antioxidant benefits than green tea. 2
Additionally, scientific research has shown that yerba mate also contains seven essential amino acids, otherwise known as the building blocks of proteins, playing a vital role in cell building and other bodily functions. The tea also contains nearly every mineral and vitamin your body requires. 1 3
That being said, these nutrients are only present in minimal quantities. As such, they will not have much of an effect on your health on their own.
How Yerba Mate can Help You Achieve a Healthy Weight
Numerous animal studies have shown that yerba mate can boost your metabolism and significantly reduce appetite, both of which will help you achieve a healthy weight. 4
Science has shown that yerba mate may decrease the number of fat cells in the body and the amount of fat these cells hold. 5
In addition, research into the effects of yerba mate on the human body suggests that tea can increase the amount of stored fat used for energy. 6
One 12-week study saw researchers give overweight people 3 grams of yerba mate powder a day. They noted that participants lost an average of 1.5 pounds. They also saw a decrease in the average waist-to-hip ratio, which was reduced by 2%, indicating some lost belly fat. Participants who were given a placebo gained 6.2 pounds on average and saw their waist-to-hip ratio decreased by 1%. 7
May Boost Your Immune System
As mentioned earlier, yerba mate is full of saponins, nutrients with anti-inflammatory properties. The tea also contains varying amounts of vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and selenium. These antioxidants are known to increase your immune system and promote general good health.1 8 9 10
There is still minimal research into how the human immune system responds to yerba mate consumption.
Safety and Side Effects
Yerba mate will not cause any harm to healthy adults who drink it in moderation.
That being said, there could be an increased risk of several side effects if you drink yerba mate regularly.
Some studies suggest that drinking a lot of yerba mate over a prolonged period of time could increase your risk of digestive tract and upper respiratory cancers.
Caffeine-Related Side Effects
We also recommend that pregnant women should limit yerba mate to only three cups per day. Too much caffeine can potentially lead to miscarriage or low birth weight. 18
Some research has shown that yerba mate contains compounds that have monoamine oxidase inhibitor activity. These MAOIs are commonly prescribed as medication to treat Parkinson’s disease and depression. 1
As such, if you are on these types of medication, you may want to reconsider the amount of yerba mate you intend to drink.
Also, yerba mate may interact with Luvox (an antidepressant) or Zanaflex (the muscle relaxer) due to the high caffeine content. People who take these medications should avoid yerba mate altogether, as it can have an adverse increase in the drugs’ potency. 19
Additional Health Benefits
- Lower risk of heart disease
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Lower blood sugar levels
- May protect against infections
- Improve physical performance
- Improve mental focus
- Boost energy
As you can see, yerba mate can indeed help you lose weight, but the health benefits do not stop there. When taken alongside a healthy diet and with caution, yerba mate can benefit your overall health and provide an added boost of vital nutrients that help your body work efficiently and effectively.
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