Yerba mate is commonly consumed as herbal tea in many parts of the world. It is available either as tea bags or as concentrates for use in dietary supplements.
In addition to appetite suppression, Yerba mate increases energy expenditure and affects body fat favourably. Furthermore, it has numerous health benefits as well. And, what’s more amazing is that Yerba mate is one of the very few herbal supplements that are totally free of any adverse effects!
Not surprising then, we have given Yerba mate a thumbs up; read on to find out why.
What is Yerba Mate?
Yerba mate is commonly consumed as herbal tea in many parts of the world. It is available either as tea bags or as concentrates for use in dietary supplements (Filip, Lopez, Giberti, Coussio, & Ferraro, 2001; Athayde, Coelho, & Schenkel, 2000; Schinella, Troiani, Davila, de Buschiazzo, & Tournier, 2000). Yerba mate extract is derived from the plant Ilex paraguariensis.
In many respects Yerba mate is similar to green tea including weight reducing abilities and health benefits. However, mate tea differs from green tea in its flavour, physical appearance and chemical constitution. These are mostly attributed to differences in processing – while mate tea is dried gradually using wood smoke, making of green tea involves quick, high temperature air drying (Kang et al., 2012).
What is the Chemical Make-up of Yerba Mate?
Yerba mate is a stimulant which acts at the level of the central nervous system.
As expected, Yerba mate is (chemically) made up of numerous biologically active ingredients (Pomilio, Trajtemberg, & Vitale, 2002; Filip, Sebastian, Ferraro, & Anesini, 2007; Zaporozhets, Krushynska, Lipkovska, & Barvinchenko, 2004; Kang et al., 2012); some of these are:
Methyl xanthines: like caffeine and theobromine
Polyphenols: like chlorogenic acid (similar to green tea)
Purine alkaloids: like caffeic acid
Flavonoids: like quercetin, kaempferol and rutin
Miscellaneous: like amino acids, minerals and vitamins C, B1 and B2
How Does Yerba Mate Cause Weight Loss?
Weight-reducing abilities of Yerba mate are attributed to its high methylxanthines (like caffeine) and polyphenol (chlorogenic acid) content. Saponins interfere with cholesterol metabolism and are also thought to work synergistically with methylxanthines and chlorogenic acid to cause weight loss (Kang et al., 2012; Han, Zheng, Xu, Okuda, & Kimura, 2002; Rodriguez de Sotillo & Hadley, 2002).
Some suggested mechanisms by which Yerba mate causes fat loss are (Kang et al., 2012):
Decreases deposition of fats in adipocytes
Decreases differentiation of preadipocytes to adipocytes* (fat cells)
Decreases growth of adipose tissue
Increases energy expenditure due to stimulation of metabolism
Increases sensitivity to leptin
Causes appetite suppression
*preadipocytes are immature cells which cannot store fat. Mature adipocytes on the other hand, can.
Does Yerba Mate have Other Health Benefits?
Yerba mate seems to possess a plethora of health benefits (Kang et al., 2012; Bracesco, Sanchez, Contreras, Menini, & Gugliucci, 2011; Heck & de Mejia, 2007). Some of these are:
Anti-atherosclerotic – reduces blood cholesterol and triglycerides; lowers risk of cardiovascular diseases
Anti-thrombotic – reduces the formation of clots in blood vessels and therefore the risk of cardiovascular or pulmonary diseases
Anti-diabetic – affects blood sugar levels favourably. Reduction of body weight also helps in improving insulin sensitivity and thus helps prevent or fight diabetes
Anti-inflammatory, cardio-protective and hepato-protective – Yerba mate helps fight oxidative stress, avoids development of metabolic diseases and protects the heart and liver
As is apparent, these benefits along with weight reduction caused by Yerba mate will help prevent almost all metabolic diseases – obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes type 2, arthritis and the likes.
Are There Any Unpleasant Effects to the Use of Yerba Mate?
According to some researchers, Yerba mate holds an edge over other fat-reducing agents because its lack of adverse effects (Kang et al., 2012). A paper published in Obesity Reviews in 2005 confirmed that as opposed to other herbal supplementary ingredients, Yerba mate (and Garcinia cambogia) is free of any adverse effects (Pittler, Schmidt, & Ernst, 2005).
What is the Scientific Evidence in Favour of Yerba Mate?
Evidence identifying anti-obesity and other health benefits of Yerba mate abounds in scientific literature.
Numerous human and animal studies have indentified the ability of Yerba mate to cause weight loss (Andersen & Fogh, 2001; Pittler & Ernst, 2004; Opala, Rzymski, Pischel, Wilczak, & Wozniak, 2006; Arcari et al., 2009).
A study conducted by Korean scientists and published in 2012 concluded that Yerba mate affects obesity favourably – reduces body weight, reduces the rate of growth of fat tissue and the amount of visceral fat (Kang et al., 2012). Furthermore, the authors of the study also indentified the ability of Yerba mate to lower blood cholesterol (anti-atherosclerotic) and blood sugar levels (anti-diabetic).
Other studies have also indentified the (above mentioned) anti-atherosclerosis actions of Yerba mate (Andallu & Varadacharyulu, 2003; Mosimann, Wilhelm-Filho, & da Silva, 2006).
More recently, health benefits afforded due to the strong anti-oxidant property of Yerba mate have also been proved (Kraemer, Taketa, Schenkel, Gosmann, & Guillaume, 1996; Gosmann, Guillaume, Taketa, & Schenkel, 1995; Miranda et al., 2008).
Yerba Mate – Our verdict
Supplementing with Yerba mate seems to be a win-win situation. Not only will you stand to reduce weight and end up looking good but will also ward off metabolic diseases. What’s more, Yerba mate seems to be safe with no unpleasant effects whatsoever!
We give Yerba mate a thumbs up!
Andallu, B. & Varadacharyulu, N. C. (2003). Antioxidant role of mulberry (Morus indica L. cv. Anantha) leaves in streptozotocin-diabetic rats. Clin Chim.Acta, 338, 3-10.
Andersen, T. & Fogh, J. (2001). Weight loss and delayed gastric emptying following a South American herbal preparation in overweight patients. J Hum.Nutr.Diet., 14, 243-250. Online Resource
Arcari, D. P., Bartchewsky, W., dos Santos, T. W., Oliveira, K. A., Funck, A., Pedrazzoli, J. et al. (2009). Antiobesity effects of yerba mate extract (Ilex paraguariensis) in high-fat diet-induced obese mice. Obesity (Silver.Spring), 17, 2127-2133. Online Resource
Athayde, M. L., Coelho, G. C., & Schenkel, E. P. (2000). Caffeine and theobromine in epicuticular wax of Ilex paraguariensis A. St.-Hil. Phytochemistry, 55, 853-857. Online Resource
Bracesco, N., Sanchez, A. G., Contreras, V., Menini, T., & Gugliucci, A. (2011). Recent advances on Ilex paraguariensis research: minireview. J Ethnopharmacol., 136, 378-384. Online Resource
Filip, R., Lopez, P., Giberti, G., Coussio, J., & Ferraro, G. (2001). Phenolic compounds in seven South American Ilex species. Fitoterapia, 72, 774-778. Online Resource
Filip, R., Sebastian, T., Ferraro, G., & Anesini, C. (2007). Effect of Ilex extracts and isolated compounds on peroxidase secretion of rat submandibulary glands. Food Chem.Toxicol., 45, 649-655. Online Resource
Gosmann, G., Guillaume, D., Taketa, A. T., & Schenkel, E. P. (1995). Triterpenoid saponins from Ilex paraguariensis. J Nat.Prod., 58, 438-441. Online Resource
Han, L. K., Zheng, Y. N., Xu, B. J., Okuda, H., & Kimura, Y. (2002). Saponins from platycodi radix ameliorate high fat diet-induced obesity in mice. J Nutr., 132, 2241-2245. Online Resource
Heck, C. I. & de Mejia, E. G. (2007). Yerba Mate Tea (Ilex paraguariensis): a comprehensive review on chemistry, health implications, and technological considerations. J Food Sci., 72, R138-R151. Online Resource
Kang, Y. R., Lee, H. Y., Kim, J. H., Moon, D. I., Seo, M. Y., Park, S. H. et al. (2012). Anti-obesity and anti-diabetic effects of Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) in C57BL/6J mice fed a high-fat diet. Lab Anim Res., 28, 23-29. Online Resource
Kraemer, K. H., Taketa, A. T., Schenkel, E. P., Gosmann, G., & Guillaume, D. (1996). Matesaponin 5, a highly polar saponin from Ilex paraguariensis. Phytochemistry, 42, 1119-1122. Online Resource
Miranda, D. D., Arcari, D. P., Pedrazzoli, J., Jr., Carvalho, P. O., Cerutti, S. M., Bastos, D. H. et al. (2008). Protective effects of mate tea (Ilex paraguariensis) on H2O2-induced DNA damage and DNA repair in mice. Mutagenesis, 23, 261-265.
Mosimann, A. L., Wilhelm-Filho, D., & da Silva, E. L. (2006). Aqueous extract of Ilex paraguariensis attenuates the progression of atherosclerosis in cholesterol-fed rabbits. Biofactors, 26, 59-70. Online Resource
Opala, T., Rzymski, P., Pischel, I., Wilczak, M., & Wozniak, J. (2006). Efficacy of 12 weeks supplementation of a botanical extract-based weight loss formula on body weight, body composition and blood chemistry in healthy, overweight subjects–a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Eur J Med Res., 11, 343-350. Online Resource
Pittler, M. H. & Ernst, E. (2004). Dietary supplements for body-weight reduction: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr., 79, 529-536. Online Resource
Pittler, M. H., Schmidt, K., & Ernst, E. (2005). Adverse events of herbal food supplements for body weight reduction: systematic review. Obes Rev, 6, 93-111. Online Resource
Pomilio, A. B., Trajtemberg, S., & Vitale, A. A. (2002). High-performance capillary electrophoresis analysis of mate infusions prepared from stems and leaves of Ilex paraguariensis using automated micellar electrokinetic capillary chromatography. Phytochem.Anal., 13, 235-241. Online Resource
Rodriguez de Sotillo, D. V. & Hadley, M. (2002). Chlorogenic acid modifies plasma and liver concentrations of: cholesterol, triacylglycerol, and minerals in (fa/fa) Zucker rats. J Nutr.Biochem., 13, 717-726. Online Resource
Schinella, G. R., Troiani, G., Davila, V., de Buschiazzo, P. M., & Tournier, H. A. (2000). Antioxidant effects of an aqueous extract of Ilex paraguariensis. Biochem.Biophys.Res.Commun., 269, 357-360. Online Resource
Zaporozhets, O. A., Krushynska, O. A., Lipkovska, N. A., & Barvinchenko, V. N. (2004). A new test method for the evaluation of total antioxidant activity of herbal products. J Agric.Food Chem., 52, 21-25.
About the Author: Kelly Johnson
Kelly's background is in sports science, and after leaving university with a first she has developed a passion for finding out which supplements work and how they affect the body.
When she finally grabs some downtime, Kelly loves to trek; so she can usually be found up a mountain somewhere.
Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.