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This South American Tea Is A Health Super Star

You might be familiar with the many health benefits surrounding green tea.

Green tea is loaded with catechins (a type of natural phenol and antioxidant)  which lend itself to being one of the most powerful beverages in the world.

Turns out there’s another equally powerful tea capable of delivering a wide variety of positive health results.

The tea in question is Yerba Mate.

Traditionally harvested in South America, this tea is also chock-full of healthy minerals and antioxidants.

Inside of Yerba Mate are B-vitamins, vitamin C, manganese, potassium, and zinc, as well as powerful antioxidants including  quercetin, theobromine, and theophylline.

But one of the biggest reasons to enjoy Yerba Mate is because of the unique kind of stimulanrt it contains.

Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple explains.

But the big draw for most yerba mate enthusiasts is the promise of a “clean” caffeine-like buzz, free of jitters and unpleasantness, which yerba mate is said to provide. Drinkers report being in control of their wakefulness; they can stay up for hours, alert and on their game, but sleep is always right around the corner – if they want it. Basically, yerba mate is supposed to give you energy without the negative side effects. A common claim is that yerba mate is actually completely free of caffeine and that its stimulating effects come from a mysterious compound called mateine. Mateine, they say, is a stereoisomer of caffeine, thus giving it the stimulating qualities with none of the downfalls.

Mateine is actually caffeine. It’s just a synonym, possibly derived from the word “mate” itself. In fact, the caffeine content of dry mate leaves is similar to that of dried coffee beans and tea leaves (though brewed yerba mate tends to have lower levels). How do we then explain away all the anecdotal evidence of jitter-free wakefulness?

Well, there’s more to yerba mate than just caffeine/mateine. Take theobromine, for example. Theobromine, best known for being the primary alkaloid in cacao and highly toxic to dogs, exerts a smoother, longer-lasting stimulatory effect. Whereas caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, theobromine is an effective vasodilator, relaxing the smooth muscle in blood vessels and allowing better blood flow.

It’s present in varying amountsin each variety of yerba mate, some with caffeine/theobromine ratios of 10:1 and others with ratios of 2:1, and can actually lower blood pressure in hypertensive individuals. Pure caffeine has the tendency to increase blood pressure. It’s plausible, then, that various ratios of theobromine and caffeine have different effects paired together than either do alone.

That means to enjoy Yerba Mate also gives you the ability to enjoy caffeine without the deleterious affects associated with many caffeinated beverages.

To enjoy Yerba Mate means you can get the same kind of zip you’d get from other teas, without the obsessive worrying about what the caffeine might be doing to your body (thanks theobromine).

There are some weak correlations between Yerba Mate and cancer, but most of these are probably attributed to the temperature at which it’s consumed, and not the Mate itself.


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Category: Blog, Food, Weight Loss, Wellness

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