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Home arrow Nutrition arrow Healthy Eating arrow Is Yerba Mate Healthy? Exploring the Benefits

Is Yerba Mate Healthy? Exploring the Benefits

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: March 23, 2023
7 min read 913 Views 0 Comments
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Yerba mate is an herbal tea drink native to South America. It is known for its ability to increase focus and has many health benefits, but is it considered a healthy choice? We have examined all the facts to help you decide in this article.

is yerba mate healthy

If you are looking for an alternative to coffee, you may have heard of yerba mate tea. People have been drinking yerba mate to wake them up and increase alertness for years, but are there any benefits of consumption, and is it considered healthy?

We’re going to take a closer look at yerba mate tea in this article to find out whether you would benefit from drinking it. For the facts, keep reading now.

Is Yerba Mate Healthy? Here’s What the Research Says

Yes, drinking yerba mate can be considered a healthy choice. This herbal tea has a long history of boosting focus and contains many nutrients. It is rich in plant compounds, like antioxidants, which can protect your cells from free radicals, reducing your risk of heart disease and some cancers.

Yerba mate has antifungal, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties, may support weight loss, and can increase mental clarity. It also contains less caffeine than coffee, making it great for those looking to reduce their caffeine intake due to side effects.

The health benefits of drinking yerba mate are extensive, and some even consider this herbal tea a better choice than coffee. However, there could be some drawbacks to excessive consumption.

Research has found a link between the excessive consumption of yerba mate and some cancers. However, the studies suggest that the risk is reduced by consuming yerba mate at cooler temperatures, so yerba mate is still a healthy choice if drunk in moderation.

What Is Yerba Mate?

Yerba mate tea has its roots in South America and is made from the yerba mate plant. The leaves and stems of the plant are dried, usually over a fire, and then brewed in hot water. Traditional yerba mate is drunk from a container known as a gourd, though it is now available worldwide in tea bags and loose-leaf form.

The yerba mate plant is a relative of the holly plant. It contains natural caffeine, much like black tea, and so is considered a stimulant. The caffeine content, however, is much less than that of coffee, so while care should still be taken by people with sensitivities to caffeine, it could offer a lower caffeine alternative.

While yerba mate is usually drunk as a tea, you can also find it as a cold drink, and yerba mate extract may be used as an ingredient in natural energy drinks.

4 Health Benefits of Yerba Mate

The benefits of mate are extensive and it is easy to see why so many people choose to drink this herbal tea. We have examined the health benefits of it below so you can decide if it is a good choice for your diet!

#1 Rich in antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that protect the body from the damage caused by oxidative stress. Yerba mate contains many antioxidants, including saponins and polyphenols. Saponins are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and are thought to lower cholesterol levels. Polyphenols are found in many tea drinks and are known to reduce the risk of lots of different diseases, including some cancers.

Some studies have actually shown that yerba mate tea has a similar antioxidant effect to that of green tea, which is known for its incredible health benefits. Getting more antioxidants into your body adds protective benefits.

#2 Has antifungal properties

There is research that suggests yerba mate has antifungal properties, making it adept at protecting the body from fungal infections. Indeed, a study has shown it may prevent the growth of a fungus known to cause dandruff and skin rashes.

In addition, there is some anecdotal evidence that yerba mate consumption may be an effective method of preventing or fighting off yeast infections caused by the overgrowth of candida. However, more research is needed to establish the effectiveness of yerba mate in this role.

#3 Might help to lose weight

Research has shown that drinking yerba mate tea could help you to lose weight, reduce belly fat, and lower your body mass index. It is thought to increase the amount of body fat that is burned for fuel while also decreasing the amount of fat that is stored within fat cells.

While there are certain weight loss benefits of yerba mate, it is important to pair consumption of the tea with a healthy diet and regular exercise, like a daily run, to ensure that you are losing weight in a healthy way.

#4 Helps lower blood sugar

There is a lot of evidence that yerba mate can help to lower blood sugar levels. In fact, in one study, drinking yerba mate tea was found to help people with type 2 diabetes to significantly lower their fasting blood sugar levels.

In addition, another study found that the yerba mate plant may improve insulin signaling. Improving the body’s response to insulin can help to keep blood sugar levels within the optimum range and may boost insulin sensitivity.

3 Disadvantages of Yerba Mate

While yerba mate does have many health benefits, there are also some drawbacks to consumption. We have addressed these below to give a balanced view of this herbal tea.

#1 Insomnia

One of the main benefits of yerba mate is that it increases alertness and focus. However, drinking caffeinated beverages later in the day is known to delay sleep and induce insomnia. Insomnia can be debilitating and increases daytime sleepiness, which can be dangerous. For this reason, if you have a sensitivity to caffeine, it is best to avoid yerba mate.

For people who do not have sensitivity to caffeine and would like to try yerba mate, it is best to stop consumption of caffeinated beverages around 3 PM to ensure they do not disrupt your sleep.

#2 Migraines

For some people, caffeine intake can cause headaches and migraines. As yerba mate contains a moderate amount of caffeine, this should be taken into account by people whose migraines are triggered by caffeinated beverages.

#3 Upset stomach

Another side effect caused by the caffeine content in yerba mate is an upset stomach. Caffeine can cause contractions in the intestines and may also increase stomach acid production, which can lead to gut problems.

If you find you experience these side effects when consuming yerba mate tea, try switching to non-caffeinated options, like herbal tea.

Nutrition Facts of Yerba Mate

Yerba mate is an incredibly beneficial plant. It contains lots of nutrients and plant compounds which offer a variety of health benefits. We have taken a closer look at the nutritional facts of yerba mate to help you get to know this tea a little better.

Nutritional value per 100g

The nutritional value of yerba mate tea per 100g is as follows.

Yerba mate (per 100g)

Contains magnesium

Yerba mate contains 400mg of magnesium per 100g, which is equal to the RDA of magnesium for men and more than the RDA for women. Magnesium is crucial and is involved in many biochemical reactions that support the proper functioning of the body.

The mineral plays a role in energy production as well as nervous system regulation and is known to promote heart health, reduce the symptoms of depression, and regulate blood sugar levels.

Contains calcium

Per 100g, yerba mate contains 83mg of calcium. This mineral is integral to healthy bones and teeth, and when taken with vitamin D, it can help prevent high blood pressure. Calcium is also used by the heart, the nervous system, and your muscles to support proper functioning.

Not getting enough calcium each day can present problems, including weakened bones, risk of osteoporosis, and children not growing to their full height potential.

How to Prepare Yerba Mate

To make yerba mate, you should first buy yerba mate tea bags or loose-leaf mate, then follow the steps below.

  1. Begin to boil the water in a kettle or pan. Take off the boil as the water begins to simmer. Do not use fully boiling water to make yerba mate tea.
  2. Add your mate tea bags or loose-leaf tea to a cup or teapot. Follow the guidelines on the packaging for how much loose-leaf tea to add to make one cup to get the taste just right.
  3. Add the water and steep the tea for 5 minutes before straining/removing the bags. Enjoy!


Is yerba mate healthier than coffee?

Yerba mate could be a healthier choice than coffee for some people. It is much lower in caffeine and contains lots of nutrients. In addition, yerba mate is brewed on its own, while many people add creamers, syrups, and sugar to coffee, which makes it less healthy.

Is yerba mate a superfood?

Yerba mate is considered a superfood due to its very high antioxidant content. The term superfood usually refers to foods that are incredibly high in certain nutrients and plant compounds.

Is it okay to drink yerba mate every day?

While many people worldwide drink yerba mate daily, some research suggests excessive consumption could increase your risk of certain illnesses. For this reason, we would recommend only drinking it in moderation.

A Word From a Nutritionist

Yerba mate is a traditional tea native to South America. It has many health benefits that make it a healthy choice to add to your diet, and it could be an excellent alternative to coffee. It contains less caffeine than coffee but can still help you to wake up in the mornings and boost your ability to focus.

One of the main health benefits of yerba mate is its antioxidant content. Antioxidants are plant compounds that can reduce your risk of disease, lower cholesterol levels, and have anti-inflammatory effects on your body.

If you are considering switching from coffee to yerba mate leaf tea, be aware that mate can cause sleep disruption, headaches, migraines, and an upset stomach.

While there are many health benefits of yerba mate, we recommend drinking it in moderation to reap the benefits while protecting yourself from some of the drawbacks of consumption.


There are many health benefits of yerba mate that make it an excellent addition to your diet. With a high antioxidant and nutrient content and benefits for weight loss, this tea drink can support a healthier lifestyle when consumed in moderation.

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: March 23, 2023
7 min read 913 Views 0 Comments

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