Yerba maté: Health Benefits
Yerba maté (also known simply as maté) is a tea made from the dried leaves of Ilex paraguariensis, an evergreen shrub in the holly family that grows in Central and South America. Maté (pronounced MAH-tay) is most abundant in Paraguay, where it has been the centuries-old drink of the Guarani Indians as well as a traditional treatment for everything from fatigue to appetite control to a weakened immune system.
Yerba Mate has grown in popularity for its weight loss benefits, cholesterol reduction, and its ability to improve focus and mental clarity. One of the biggest health benefits of yerba mate is that it is a side-effect free stimulant. Although it has a small amount of caffeine, it also has xanthines, theobromine and theophylline, which are stimulants. The ingredients stimulate myocardial tissue (heart tissue) while relaxing smooth muscle tissue. It contains 20 vitamins and minerals — including magnesium, potassium and manganese — 15 amino acids and some say, has 90% more antioxidants than green tea.
Yerbe Mate contains Vitamins: A, C, E, B1, B2, Niacin (B3), B5, B Complex. Minerals: Calcium, Manganese, Iron, Selenium, Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc. Additional Compounds: Carotene, Fatty Acids, Chlorophyll, Flavonols, Polyphenols, Inositol, Trace Minerals, Antioxidants, Tannins, Pantothenic Acid and 15 Amino Acids
Other purported benefits include: Boosts immunity, Brain stimulant, Anti-fatigue, Detoxifies blood, Reverses aging, Appetite control, Fights insomnia, Weight loss aid, Cleans colon, Combats allergies, Relieves stress,Diuretic
Yerba Mate: History
Mate was first consumed by the indigenous Guaraní and also spread in the Tupí people that lived in southern Brazil and Paraguay, and became widespread with the European colonization. In the Spanish colony of Paraguay in the late 16th century, both Spanish settlers and indigenous Guaranís, who had, to some extent, before the Spanish arrival, consumed it. Mate consumption spread in the 17th century to the River Plate and from there to Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru. This widespread consumption turned it into Paraguay’s main commodity above other wares, such as tobacco, and Indian labour was used to harvest wild stands.
In the mid 17th century, Jesuits managed to domesticate the plant and establish plantations in their Indian reductions in Misiones, Argentina, sparking severe competition with the Paraguayan harvesters of wild stands. After their expulsion in the 1770s, their plantations fell into decay, as did their domestication secrets. The industry continued to be of prime importance for the Paraguayan economy after independence, but development in benefit of the Paraguayan state halted after the War of the Triple Alliance (1864–1870) that devastated the country both economically and demographically. Some regions with mate plantations in Paraguay became Argentinean territory.
Brazil then became the largest producer of mate. In Brazilian and Argentine projects in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the plant was domesticated once again, opening the way for plantation systems. When Brazilian entrepreneurs turned their attention to coffee in the 1930s, Argentina, which had long been the prime consumer, took over as the largest producer, resurrecting the economy in Misiones Province, where the Jesuits had once had most of their plantations. For years, the status of largest producer shifted between Brazil and Argentina. Now, Brazil is the largest producer, with 53%, followed by Argentina, 37% and Paraguay, 10%.