By Allison Brooks
Yerba mate tea is made from the yerba mate plant in South America. It is traditionally brewed and served in dried-out gourds and sipped through a straw with a filter on one end. Popular among tea-drinkers for its jitter-free caffeine boost, it is a great natural source of physical and mental energy. Yerba mate contains vitamins A, B1, C, E, B2, B3 and B5 as well as the minerals calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, manganese, phosphorous and zinc. With over 196 active compounds, Yerba Mate boasts 11 polyphenols, powerful antioxidants which also exhibit anti-cancer effects. The Pasteur Institute stated, “It is difficult to find a plant in any area of the world equal to mate in nutritional value.” Not only do the high values of anti-oxidants and vitamins make yerba mate tea nutritionally attractive, but there are also important medicinal uses of this tea.
Some of the medicinal benefits of yerba mate tea include its ability to reduce oxidative stress on heart and liver cells, protect DNA from damage in yeast cells, and improve blood flow through blood vessels. Now, yerba mate tea is also being studied for its ability to fight cancer.
One new study published in Science Daily (Jan 23, 2012) maintains that compounds in mate tea induce death in colon cancer cells as evidenced by in-vitro studies. Scientists want to induce death in cancer cells, also known as apoptosis, to stop cancer cells from spreading. What scientists have found is that colon cancer cells self-destruct when their DNA becomes damaged, and apparently one cup of yerba mate tea provides enough bio-active compounds to cause human colon cancer cells to die. While it is not a cure for cancer, the scientists behind this study believe that there is enough evidence to warrant further studies. They will also expand their research to see if yerba mate has an effect on other severe cancers such as pancreatic, late-stage breast and lung cancers. If yerba mate can cause cancer cells to die, there is hope that it can help control the spread of cancer and also help with the treatment.
In the meantime, enjoy one of South America's best energy boosts!