Yerba mate is frequently misunderstood. It gets mistaken for tea all the time, and it is easy to see why. Both beverages offer many health benefits, and they look similar. They are both brewed in hot water. And they are both delicious.

The truth is that yerba mate is very different from tea. It does not come from the camellia sinensis plant as tea does, but from a holly plant. This plant, the Ilex paraguariensis [1], is only found in a couple of regions in South America.

Yerba mate provides a plethora of health benefits; it is energetic, nutritious, and promotes well-being and physical strength. And most of these health benefits come from the caffeine content of mate leaf, which is from 0.9%-2.2%. [8]

How much do you know about the yerba mate health benefits? Let’s find out.

Yerba Mate Weight Loss Benefit

Who doesn’t dream of a simple yet effective weight-loss tool? While drinking yerba mate will not make your pounds melt away all on their own, it can help them along.

One of the many yerba mate health benefits is to help you in the process of losing weight. But, it is necessary to remember that you need to do a bit of the work, as well. A healthy diet, exercise, and plenty of sleep are all key components to losing weight.

But once you add this tasty beverage to your routine, you will be on the yerba mate weight loss program almost instantly. [2][3]

The health benefits of yerba mate have not been extensively studied yet, but some scientists are weighing in. Brazilian scientists have concluded that there is plenty of evidence to support the weight loss claim.

Drinking yerba mate each day is a healthy way to lose weight naturally. Even 1 or 2 cups a day will make a difference. [4]

But how can a brewed beverage help you achieve your weight loss goals? [9]

Increased Metabolism

Yerba mate contains a fair amount of caffeine [5], which increases the body’s metabolism. This, in turn, helps your body burn more fat because it is using up greater energy. And this, oddly enough, produces more energy for you.

Not only do you get an energy boost, but also a physical boost. Athletes drink yerba mate for this reason. It helps them to train longer; if you can work out longer, you can achieve your weight loss goals more easily.

One analysis also determined that yerba mate contains actinobacterium [6], a bacterium thought to alter the way the body digests fat. The effect? You gain less weight, or possibly even lose weight.

Yerba mate is packed with nutrients that maintain metabolic balance. In other words, when you lack certain nutrients in your diet that can lead to weight gain. Yerba mate is so dense with nutrients that it supplements dietary deficiencies.

Promotes Feelings of Well-Being

The caffeine component of yerba mate can also improve your mood. Yerba mate has a higher ratio of theobromine and theophylline [7][8], alkaloids that make you feel good.

Because you have these feelings of well-being, you are less likely to eat because of your emotions. When your mood is improved, you don’t tend to turn to food for comfort.

Feeling blue leads to a decrease in physical activity. So not only are you suffering from emotional eating but then you aren’t working off those extra calories.

Between an extra boost of energy plus positive feelings, exercise will be a breeze!

Digestive Health

If you are having gastrointestinal issues, losing weight is even more difficult than usual. A regular cup of yerba mate can aid digestion, making your tummy feel better, and helping things work regularly.

It has laxative properties, so you can keep things moving and feeling comfortable. It is hard to feel energetic when you are backed up.

Another yerba mate benefit is that it acts as a diuretic [1], preventing the body from retaining water. The more you are urinating, the less bloating you feel. Not only do you feel better, but you look better, too.

You will also enjoy a full stomach after drinking a cup of yerba mate. When it creates a full feeling in your stomach, you eat less. Yerba mate is an excellent choice for your morning beverage for that reason. That, and you’ll start your day with a little pep in your step!

Improved Sleep

Poor sleep habits have grave ramifications for your body. Increased blood sugar, hormone imbalances, increased fat storage, and higher stress levels are all side effects of not getting proper sleep. These can all promote weight gain.

Yerba mate encourages healthy sleep. It is known to promote more REM cycles, and it helps you sleep more deeply. These are both vital for restful, restorative sleep.

And when you are getting the recommended 8 hours of shut-eye, you aren’t likely to indulge in any midnight snacking!

Improves Brain Function

Drinking yerba mate regularly has many cognitive health benefits. We already know that it can help improve your focus and concentration, thanks to its caffeine content. [10]

We also talked earlier about the “mood benefits” that yerba mate provides. Not only do you feel better, but so does your brain! When your spirits are lifted, your whole body reaps the health benefits.

Stress and depression have adverse effects on your brain; the brain eventually suffers from cognitive decline. Relieving this negativity is healthy for your brain and keeps it operating like a younger brain.

Speaking of a younger brain, did you know that the many antioxidants that are packed into one cup of yerba mate protect your brain from aging?

Antioxidants are a potent tool in fighting oxidation, which damages your cells. By protecting your brain with antioxidants, you are doing it, and yourself, a tremendous favor!

Yerba mate may also have the power to improve your memory. Scientists have noticed a boost in people’s short-term social memory after they have been on a regimen of yerba mate.

Increases Energy

A nice, warm cup of yerba mate must be one of the most pleasant ways to relieve fatigue. The caffeine helps for sure, but the real champion here is theobromine.

Theobromine [11] is an alkaloid that, when working in tandem with caffeine, offers an energy boost without any negative side effects. Drinking coffee can make you jittery and jumpy, ending with an energy crash. In comparison, Yerba mate provides a smooth, gentle energy lift.

Theobromine relaxes the smooth muscle tissue in the circulatory system. It opens up the blood vessels for better blood flow, which can contribute to the energy boost.

The caffeine, meanwhile, stimulates the brain cortex and the heart. Caffeine also acts as an analgesic, so your body even feels better. [12]

Rich in Polyphenols and Antioxidants

Green tea is widely applauded for its many antioxidants. Did you know that yerba mate contains considerably more? It also contains polyphenols, which is a large group of antioxidants. [13]

The dried leaves of the yerba mate plant contain 10% polyphenols! Most of the polyphenols are found in shredded leaves and the least amount in twigs. That may help you decide which brand to purchase if this is a selling point for you.

Polyphenols in black tea vs. green tea vs. yerba mate

The Mediterranean diet is loaded with polyphenols. In countries where this diet is a staple, people do not suffer from allergies, asthma, and inflammatory diseases at the same rate as people in other countries.

Another benefit of polyphenols leads back to weight loss. Polyphenols are rich in chlorogenic acid, which reduces food cravings and encourages the body to burn more fat. [14]

Reduces Blood Pressure

One of the many health benefits of yerba mate is that it reduces the blood pressure. Although not entirely scientifically proven, it has been found out that consuming yerba mate presented significantly fewer diagnoses of hypertension and coronary disease. [19]

Different varieties of yerba mate have differing compositions. Depending upon the ratio of caffeine to theobromine, you could see improved blood pressure readings.

Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, which means the blood vessels essentially shrink. Theobromine, a vasodilator, relaxes the blood vessels, resulting in improved blood flow. If the correct ratio between caffeine and theobromine is present, it is an effective way to lower blood pressure.

Boosts Immune System and Protects Liver

We rely on our immune system to keep us running each day. When it begins to lag, so do we. It is vital to our general well-being. [18]

Yerba mate tea may help keep our immune system strong, even fighting simple things like the common cold. Thanks for this must go once again to our friends, polyphenols, which work to strengthen defenses.

Yerba mate leaves are a reliable source for most of the essential vitamins and minerals our body needs. Aside from the many antioxidants, it also contains flavonoids, which also boost the immune system.

The saponins found in yerba mate have anti-inflammatory properties. They are natural emulsifiers that boost the immune system. That makes three different components, all working separately in one beverage to come to the aid of your immune system!

Because yerba mate aids in digestion, it takes some stress off the liver. It is also discovered to have hepatoprotective properties, which means it protects the liver cells.

Regulates and Lowers Blood Sugar Levels

If you suffer from diabetes or pre-diabetes, yerba mate is likely the ideal drink for you. Studies have shown it to slow hyperglycemia or excess sugar in the blood.

By improving glycemic control, it can help to regulate your blood sugar level. In some cases, it has even helped to lower blood sugar levels.

Flavonoids have also been proven to reduce glycemic index significantly. A diet with a high level of flavonoids would be very effective in lowering blood sugar levels.

Protects Heart and Prevents Heart Disease

Heart disease is a leading cause of death these days. Antioxidants have been shown to lower the risks of heart disease. Studies show that yerba mate may even protect your heart because it contains so many anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Drinking yerba mate can also lower cholesterol. A study indicated that people who drink 11 oz. each day lowered their LDL cholesterol by up to 13%. [15]

This study was done using a control group who did all the same things as the yerba mate drinking group, only without the yerba mate. The control group did not lower their levels. [19]

Antibacterial Properties: Protects Against Infection

Researchers have found yerba mate to kill E. coli cells, which is a bacterium found in the intestines. It causes stomach cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea. Drinking yerba mate may also protect against other intestinal parasites.

Studies have concluded that the components of yerba mate deactivate food pathogens. Considering that E. coli and other bacteria could be deadly, this is a huge win in yerba mate’s favor!

Reduces Anxiety

While yerba mate is never recommended as a replacement for a person’s antidepressant or antianxiety medication, it is possible that regular drinking may help reduce symptoms. [5]

MAOIs are mood enhancers often used in such prescriptions and are found naturally occurring in the yerba mate plant. To get these effects from a natural source means fewer side effects than when they come from a laboratory.

And back to the hero of yerba mate, theobromines…remember that they naturally create positive moods. That can be a big help in battling anxiety.

Yerba Mate Side Effects

Of course, nothing we consume is ever 100% positive, with no possible negative side effects. Any resource on yerba mate will happily extoll its virtues but must mention some potential adverse side effects. [17]

Yerba mate side effects

For the casual drinker, these aren’t likely to be a problem. But for people who drink yerba mate in excess, they may want to cut back.

Does Yerba Mate Cause Cancer?

There is no definitive reason to point to yerba mate as causing cancer, though there is some slightly worrying circumstantial evidence. It has been linked to cases of cancer in the esophagus, digestive tract, and upper respiratory.

It seems likely that it could be more related to the water temperature than anything. Drinking scalding water is not recommended, and the temperature should be kept under 150 degrees Fahrenheit. [16]

It is important to keep in mind, though, that yerba mate leaves have been found to contain Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These are the same carcinogens found in tobacco and grilled meat.

So, while you don’t have to avoid yerba mate altogether, it may be best to drink it in moderation.

Can Yerba Mate Cause Anxiety?

No. Yerba mate itself does not cause anxiety and may even help alleviate it. However, if you are sensitive to caffeine, this may be a different story.

People who do not react well to caffeine often feel anxious when they drink it. It can cause heart palpitations and make your blood feel like it is racing. These feel similar to feelings of anxiety.

Caffeine sensitive people also report insomnia, headaches, and nausea as other side effects of caffeine. If you have a low tolerance for caffeine or struggle with anxiety, you may want to take a pass on yerba mate.

Can You Be Allergic to Yerba Mate?

It is exceedingly rare for a healthy individual to be allergic to yerba mate. Typically, and symptoms of an allergic reaction would likely come from mixing yerba mate with prescriptions or other medication.

Always be sure to check for possible interaction warnings if you are on regular medication or any antibiotics. If uncertain, be sure to check with your doctor.

If the reaction you are experiencing is redness, swelling, and tingling around your lips, it could be that you are having an allergic reaction to your bombilla. Most bombillas are stainless steel, copper, or nickel.

You may also want to switch to a different gourd if yours contains metal.

Learn How to Prepare Yerba Mate Tea

Though using yerba mate tea bags is simpler, you may want to consider the traditional method of preparing loose-leaf yerba mate seriously. Honestly, the loose-leaf method is just as simple, if only slightly more intimidating.

You simply fill your gourd half-full of yerba mate, wet it with cold water, then fill it with hot water. Final step: sip and enjoy all the amazing yerba mate health benefits you are drinking in!


The numbers in square brackets are clickable links pointing to studies, scientific papers, and trusted sources.