Is Yerba Mate Bad for You?

In some Latin American countries, such as Uruguay, Argentina and some regions of Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, mate is a very popular drink. It is prepared with yerba and hot water, and it is taken through a bombilla that acts as a filter. The result is an infusion that may or may not be accompanied by a meal. Beyond all, mate is a ritual, since it is had and shared among several people, and this is also why it has become an unavoidable habit for many.

But very recently, a video that a man named Eugenio Maldonado shared on Facebook went viral where he shows how he filters the yerba and discards the dust that, when weighed, represents more than half the content of a newly purchased package.

From there, the debate about the consumption of mate, and, in particular, about how yerba can affect health was triggered again.

Some connoisseurs point out that the powder is a fundamental component of the yerba that gives foaminess to the mate, but that it is necessary to differentiate between that which comes from the ground leaf and that which is the result of the manipulation of the grinding in general. The latter would be a component that would decrease the quality of the yerba.

On the other hand, in itself yerba mate does not harm your health. That it does so has to do with the quality of the yerba, the way it is processed and the way it is taken (the excessive temperature of the water, the lack of hygiene of the containers, adding a lot of sugar, etc.).

If you have stomach or intestinal problems, you can try changing your herb for an organic one that you get in a local health food store, and also adding some medicinal herbs such as chamomile or pennyroyal. But in all cases, try to limit its consumption and leave it for a time of day when you can enjoy it calmly and without haste.

According to the nutritionist and professor at the Universidad Mayor, Carolina Pye, the greatest benefit of yerba mate is its antioxidant power, due to the polyphenols it has and which are the same present in wine or chocolate.

But it also contains phytochemicals, which help stimulate the immune system, protecting the body from chronic diseases, such as cancer, or preventing cardiovascular accidents.

"Mate is stimulating, it helps you hydrate, fills your stomach and then you eat less and lose weight and it has polyphenols," said the professional, who demystified its "magic" to lose weight, since while it inhibits the antidiuretic hormone, and therefore favors the elimination of urine, this does not necessarily cause a reduction in weight.

The latter, despite stimulating peristalsis, or bowel movement. "It is true that it improves metabolism and keeps you hydrated, but to lose weight is not the only thing, you have to comply with other factors as well," explained Pye.

Also, the other big warning has to do with the temperature for consumption. A study published by the Uruguayan doctor Eduardo de Stefani, concluded that consuming an infusion or even soups that are too hot could lead to some cancers in the mouth and pharynx.

Its stimulating properties due to mateine help fight mental and physical fatigue, just like coffee.

It is recommended 2 to 3 mates per day, that is, never more than a liter, and always accompanied by little sugar, or as far as possible brown sugar or natural sweeteners.

30th Aug 2020

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