You might see soccer players like Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez walking around with a thermos in one arm and some peculiar-looking cup in the other, drinking from it through a steel straw. And if you’re still wondering what that elixir was – then look no further. This is yerba mate, and we’re going to explain exactly what it is and the benefits that come from drinking it.
What is Yerba Mate?
Yerba Mate (or mate for short) is a special kind of herb that is native to South America – specifically parts of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and south Brazil. It is drunk, in various forms, by large swathes of these countries’ populations.
But the way to drink mate is just as special as the ingredient itself. People generally use a special wooden cup, or a hollowed-out gourd, which they fill about two-thirds the way up with the herbs. Then, they add a steel straw called a “bombilla” to the cup, followed by close-to-boiling water from a thermos flask.
In Argentina and Uruguay, in particular, it is considered to be the national drink and is an extremely important component of the culture and way of life. People drink mate during all occasions, including at breakfast, parties, asados (national BBQs), and even weddings.
The Benefits of Yerba Mate
So why are so many people obsessed with this herby, earthy, tea-like drink? Let’s break it down.
1. It Is a Natural Stimulant
While mate contains caffeine (or “mateine,” depending on who you ask), it provides drinkers with a calm energy boost that drags out for a long period of time – unlike coffee, which is notorious for giving quick boosts, jitters, and crashes. Drinkers can feel more focused and alert after drinking mate.
2. Good for Digestion
It is widely believed that mate is good for improving gut health and digestion. It includes saponins, which are known for having anti-inflammatory qualities.
3. It Has Antioxidants
Packed with antioxidants such as flavonoids and polyphenols, mate is known for fighting against oxidative stress. This means that the risk of chronic diseases is decreased significantly.
4. Rich in Nutrients
Mate is full of rich nutrients, including minerals and vitamins – potassium, vitamins B and C, and magnesium. Not to mention the fact that it also is a source of vital amino acids.
5. Great for Mental Health
Many consider this drink to have a positive impact on their mental clarity, mood, and even cognitive functions. Studies have also shown that mate can help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.