Yerba Mate Tea: Does It Work? Is It Safe?

An alternative beverage gaining popularity, Yerba Mate tea is a traditional brew from South America with a smoky, bitter flavor.

People choose it for its antioxidant properties and energizing effect.

The tea does have caffeine in an amount that falls somewhere between that of black tea and coffee, or about 80 milligrams per cup.

Yerba Mate is often compared to green tea, and is said to have more antioxidants. While both beverages do contain antioxidants, the antioxidants they contain are of very different types.

The antioxidants in green tea are epigallocatechin gallate compounds, white chlorogenic acid is the primary antioxidant found in Yerba Mate.

Both compounds are thought to work to help prevent heart disease. Yerba Mate tea also contains vitamins and minerals as well as beneficial plant compounds such as quercetin.

Unfortunately, the consumption of antioxidant beverages doesn’t always translate into improved health, though research studies are still being conducted.

One thing researchers have found is that regular drinkers of large amounts of Yerba Mate tea (more than one liter per day) seem to have an increased risk for certain types of cancers, including lung cancer, and cancers of the digestive system, including the mouth and esophagus.

One study even had results that indicated that 20% of all cancers in South America might be traced back to Yerba Mate consumption.

These studies aren’t conclusive, and more studies are being conducted. Until then, if you want to drink Yerba Mate for its antioxidant and energizing effects, we suggest moderation.