Yerba Mate vs Coffee: Should You Switch?

September 03 2021 – Diana L

Yerba Mate in calabash mug with bombilla

Yerba Mate in calabash mug with bombilla

What started as a popular drink in South America is now spanning the world – Yerba Mate. This cultural drink has now become trendy with athletes and performers. But it's more than a trend, it's a great alternative to drinking coffee.

While both can give you the kick of caffeine you are craving, Yerba Maté provides a healthy bonus! Read on to learn about the health benefits of Yerba Mate.


Benefit 1: Slow-releasing energy boost

Yerba Mate has less caffeine than coffee with about 78mg per 5oz cup compared to 85mg in the same amount of coffee. However, the compounds and nutrients in Yerba Mate are absorbed slowly into the body avoiding the jolt, jitters, and crashes that can be experienced from caffeine in coffee.

Athletes in particular enjoy this slow and steady release of energy. Studies have shown that mate drinkers who consume a cup before activity may burn more fat while exercising. Yerba generates a more energy-efficient bodily process using fat instead of carbs which could help enhance performance and reduce fatigue.


Benefit 2: Nutrient and antioxidant-rich

(Even more than green tea!)

By now you've probably heard that green tea is loaded with antioxidants. Mate takes that a step further! Yerba mate is filled with beneficial plant-based nutrients, essential amino acids, plus nearly every vitamin and mineral a healthy body needs.

With all those nutrients plus the powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, Yerba mate may help you stay healthier when you meet up with the next cold or flu bug.

drinking yerba mate as an alternative to coffee

Benefit 3: Easier on the digestive tract

Drinking yerba mate helps promote good digestive help. Coffee can be highly acidic which may cause or upset ulcers, IBS, gastritis, Crohn’s disease, acid reflux, and heartburn, whereas Yerba Mate can help fight off parasites and keep your tract clean, naturally. Mate may also help prevent UTIs and kidney stones. Some studies also show that the anti-inflammatory compounds in mate may also help reduce the risk of colon cancer.


Benefit 4: Bone density booster

Caffeine has been potentially linked to bone density loss and risk of fracture, yet studies show yerba mate was associated with increased bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. 


Benefit 5: Healthy heart

If you're not convinced yet, Yerba Mate may also help protect against heart disease and improve heart health by lowering high blood pressure, reducing bad cholesterol, and keeping arteries clear.


Benefit 6: Avoid bad breath

It's been know for sometime (since WebMD reported this finding years ago) that the powerful antioxidants in Yerba Mate – called polyphenols – have a significant impact on bad breath. 

In the “bad breath” study, researchers combined black tea extracts with three species of bacteria (all linked with bad breath) in petri dishes for 48 hours. They compared the results with bacteria that sat alone. In all cases, tea polyphenols inhibited the growth of bacteria by 30% and reduced the production of compounds that cause bad breath.

An extra bit of good news is that all tea that comes from the Camellia sinensis plant actually contains these same bad-breath-busting polyphenols. Some herbal teas also contain polyphenols, but the amount varies depending on where the tea originated.

Yerba Mate in calabash mug with bombilla

Digging into the Myths about Yerba Mate

If you have been researching about Yerba Mate, you may have come across some articles that concerned you, and you should be when it comes to your health. But let's dig into what the fuss is all about.

Does Yerba Mate cause cancer?

Since the 1930s there has been a theory that hot liquids create a risk of throat cancer. The idea was that hot liquids may destroy the inner lining of the esophagus, and during the regeneration of the cells, something goes awry and the cells then turn cancerous.

However, if you go on to read, the liquids used in the studies were much hotter than any human consumes. Plus, if this claim is based on hot liquids, wouldn't it make sense that this would apply to any hot liquid whether it is tea, soup, hot chocolate, or even coffee?

When making Yerba Mate the water should be brought close to boiling and allowed to cool as it steeps. The mate should never be made with boiling water as it will burn your mouth even before it gets to your throat. Plus boiling water will burn the Yerba and destroy the flavor.

Do Yerba Mate leaves contain carcinogens?

Some are concerned about the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in yerba mate. Just like grilled meats, and coffee, yerba mate may contain PAHs if the leaves and stems were smoked during the drying process. PAHs also occur in coffee due to exposure to air pollution during sun-drying of the beans as well as during the roasting process.

Today, the smoking process of Yerba Mate is much more controlled, and many mates are air-dried instead of smoked. Several countries are also requiring that mate be tested for PAHs. So again, doesn't this sound like there is no greater risk from Yerba Mate than there is from coffee or your own backyard barbeque?

Just a few thoughts to sit, sip, and ponder...

The content in this article is offered as information only. Always refer to your doctor for complete medical advice.



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