Yerba Mate


Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) grows in the subtropical regions of South America and was originally consumed by the South American aboriginals (Bastos et al., 2007). Yerba Mate is one of the most commonly used plants in South America, consumed mostly as a tea preparation as well as in food formulations (Arçari et al., 2009; Kang et al., 2012). Yerba Mate is known to have numerous psychobiological activities after consumption, which is notably attributed to the plants high polyphenol levels (Arçari et al., 2009). Yerba Mate also contains the flavonoids quercetin and rutin, chlorogenic and caffeic acids, and saponins (Arçari et al., 2009). Formica and Regelson (1995) note that flavonoids have been shown to have antiprostanoid, anti-inflammatory, antiatherosclerotic, antithrombotic, antihypertensive, and antiarrhythmic effects. The main producer of Yerba Mate is Argentina, where the plant holds great social and economic importance (Bastos et al., 2007). The plant, typically consumed as a tea in a traditional gourd is commonly known for its stimulating properties, where the caffeine within the Mate was previously incorrectly defined as mateine. In addition to caffeine, Yerba Mate contains the methylxanthines theobromine, and may contain theophylline (Bastos et al., 2007). Currently, Mate is used as a healthy alternative to coffee and tea and is touted for its valuable effects on health.

Benefits and Effects

  • Inhibits cancer cell proliferation and shows a chemoprotective affect through NF‐κB inhibition (Arçari et al., 2009; Bastos et al., 2007; de Mejía et al., 2010; Puangpraphant et al., 2013);
  • Holds a high antioxidant capacity and protects against DNA damage (Heck & De Mejia, 2007; Filip, 2000; de Mejía et al., 2010);
  • Vasodilatation effects (Arçari et al., 2009; Loch, 2014);
  • Inhibits glycation and atherosclerosis (Arçari et al., 2009; De Morais et al., 2009; Heck & De Mejia, 2007);
  • Promotes thermogenic effects (Arçari et al., 2009);
  • Shows antiobesity and antidiabetic effects in animal studies, through the normalization of triglyceride lipids, HDL and LDL cholesterol, and glucose (Acari et al., 2009; Bastos et al., 2007; Kang et al., 2012).


In Brazil and Argentina Yerba Mate is consumed by millions in its tea form at approximately one litre per day (Bastos, 2007).


Arçari, D. P., Bartchewsky, W., Santos, T. W., Oliveira, K. A., Funck, A., Pedrazzoli, J., … & Carvalho, P. D. O. (2009). Antiobesity Effects of yerba maté Extract (Ilex paraguariensis) in High‐fat Diet–induced Obese MiceObesity17(12), 2127-2133. DOI: 10.1038/oby.2009.158

Bastos, D. H. M., Oliveira, D. D., Matsumoto, R. T., Carvalho, P. D. O., & Ribeiro, M. L. (2007). Yerba mate: pharmacological properties, research and biotechnologyMed Aromat Plant Sci Biotechnol1(1), 37-46. Retrieved from

Filip, R., Lotito, S. B., Ferraro, G., & Fraga, C. G. (2000). Antioxidant activity of Ilex paraguariensis and related species. Nutrition Research, 20(10), 1437-1446. DOI: 10.1016/S0271-5317(00)80024-X

Formica, J. V., & Regelson, W. (1995). Review of the biology of quercetin and related bioflavonoidsFood and chemical toxicology33(12), 1061-1080. DOI: 10.1016/0278-6915(95)00077-1

Heck, C. I., & De Mejia, E. G. (2007). Yerba Mate Tea (Ilex paraguariensis): a comprehensive review on chemistry, health implications, and technological considerations. Journal of food science, 72(9). DOI: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2007.00535.x

Kang, Y. R., Lee, H. Y., Kim, J. H., Moon, D. I., Seo, M. Y., Park, S. H., … & Cho, S. W. (2012). Anti-obesity and anti-diabetic effects of Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) in C57BL/6J mice fed a high-fat dietLaboratory animal research28(1), 23-29. DOI: 10.5625/lar.2012.28.1.23

Loch, C. R., Ril, F. T., Schwedersky, M. B., Fiorentin, T. R., Agranionih, C. M., Parizzi, R. C., … & Cichoski, A. J. (2014). Metabolic parameters of rats fed with prato cheese containing Yerba Mate extract (Ilex paraguariensis St. Hill) and probiotic cultures. Revista Brasileira de Tecnologia Agroindustrial, 8(2). DOI: 10.3895/S1981-36862014000200011

Luzia, L. A., Bastos, D. H. M., & Rondó, P. H. (2015). Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis A. St. Hil) and risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Journal of Food and Nutrition Research, 3(3), 182-190. Retrieved from

de Mejía, E. G., Song, Y. S., Heck, C. I., & Ramírez-Mares, M. (2010). Yerba mate tea (Ilex paraguariensis): Phenolics, antioxidant capacity and in vitro inhibition of colon cancer cell proliferationJournal of Functional Foods2(1), 23-34. DOI: 10.1016/j.jff.2009.12.003

Miranda, D. D., Arçari, D. P., Pedrazzoli, J., Carvalho, P. D. O., Cerutti, S. M., Bastos, D. H., & Ribeiro, M. L. (2008). Protective effects of mate tea (Ilex paraguariensis) on H2O2-induced DNA damage and DNA repair in mice. Mutagenesis, 23(4), 261-265. DOI: 10.1093/mutage/gen011

De Morais, E. C., Stefanuto, A., Klein, G. A., Boaventura, B. C., De Andrade, F., Wazlawik, E., … & da Silva, E. L. (2009). Consumption of yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) improves serum lipid parameters in healthy dyslipidemic subjects and provides an additional LDL-cholesterol reduction in individuals on statin therapy. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 57(18), 8316-8324. DOI: 10.1021/jf901660g

Puangpraphant, S., Dia, V. P., Mejia, E. G., Garcia, G., Berhow, M. A., & Wallig, M. A. (2013). Yerba mate tea and mate saponins prevented azoxymethane‐induced inflammation of rat colon through suppression of NF‐κB p65ser311 signaling via IκB‐α and GSK‐3β reduced phosphorylation. Biofactors, 39(4), 430-440. DOI: 10.1002/biof.1083

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