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The Nutritional Properties of Yerba Mate

By Daryl H. Bryant (501 words)
Posted in Living with MS on June 13, 2013

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The Nutritional Properties of Yerba Mate

Chronic fatigue remains one of the symptoms that many MS patients deal with on a daily basis. Instead of reaching for yet another cup of coffee, give yerba mate a try. Yerbe refers to a an evergreen tree belonging to the holly family that grows wild in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Peru along with Paraguay where it thrives in abundance. Noted as having multiple medicinal properties, yerbe continues as a mainstay among South American herbal remedies.

Though undoubtedly enjoyed by native tribes for thousands of years, European explorers first learned of the vitality laden drink toward the end of the 16th century. Locals of all ages were fond of the beverage made by steeping the dried, ground leaves and young twigs in warm water, making a tea with a flavor similar to green tea. Brewed using approximately four ounces of yerbe to one quart of water, the tea features a variety of nutrients and benefits.

Yerba Mate Nutritional Value

During the 1960s, researchers from the Paris Scientific Society and the Pasteur Institute evaluated the nutritional value of the plant. They discovered that yerbe contains on average 24 vitamins and minerals in addition to 15 amino acids that include:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B2
  • Biotin
  • Niacin
  • Riboflavin
  • Panthothenic acid
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorus
  • Sodium
  • Sulfur
  • Fiber

Additional Chemical Components

The plant also contains compounds known as xanthenes, consisting of caffeine, theobromine and theophylline. The leaves and twigs required for brewing one cup of tea contains only up to 1.7 percent of caffeine compared with the 3.2 percent found in a similar amount of ground coffee. Like caffeine, theobromine and theophylline have diuretic, appetite suppressant and stimulating properties, but additionally cause vasodilatation. Commonly used in asthma and other respiratory medications, theophylline can also relax bronchial muscles. The various chemical compounds also feature anti-inflammatory characteristics that benefit MS patients.

Other Health Benefits

Having antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, South American countries often used the tea as a healing tonic for various gastrointestinal ailments. The warm liquid combined with the fiber content and stimulating effects also help in resolving constipation.

Though the tea stimulates the central nervous system, enhances mood and psychomotor function, the substance does not cause nervousness or have addictive effects. Though improving mental alertness, Yerba does not disrupt sleep cycles.

The plant’s vasodilating properties increase oxygen circulation throughout the body, which ensures a constant supply of nutrients to the heart and other body organs/tissues. Athletes find that drinking the tea enhances endurance by improving the body’s ability to utilize stored carbohydrates while delaying lactic acid formation and accumulation.

Yerbe’s nutritional value combined with antimicrobial and vasodilating characteristics help the immune system fight infection while increasing resistance. Commonly consumed in South America during illness, the tea shortens convalescence periods.

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