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Coffee Lovers Rejoice with Yerba Mate

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Dear Pharmacist,
My husband and I are tea lovers and we were so glad to find out about matcha green tea from your article last year. Are you aware of other healthy tea drinks such as this? –P.M. Tulsa, Oklahoma


Answer: Yes, as a matter of fact. When I was traveling through northern California, I stumbled upon a cool cafe that only serves yerba mate, pronounced “yerba-mah-tay.” The drink gives you energy like coffee with the same fantastic health benefits as green tea.


The most popular brand of yerba mate is made by Guayaki, a company that cultivates the South American herb. I like their brand (and they don’t pay me to say that) because they use USDA certified organic herbs, they are fair-trade and kosher. Their beverages are easily found at supermarkets and health food stores nationwide.


Yerba mate has been used medicinally for centuries. It contains powerful antioxidants, essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids. There’s no doubt this drink can increase alertness, mental clarity, immune function and general well-being because it sweeps away free radicals that cause destruction in the body.


Just like coffee and chocolate, yerba mate contains stimulants such as caffeine and theobromine so it sparks more energy, but it seems to cause less (if any) jitteriness and palpitations. There is enough evidence to suggest that the carotenes, B vitamins and antioxidants in yerba mate can reduce your risk cancer.  That said, a small study suggests that drinking more than one liter of yerba mate per day could increase one’s risk for oral cancer. Experts suspect this finding is due to drinking piping hot beverages all day long. I’ve examined the literature for months and have decided that yerba mate  is good for you in moderation.


Both yerba mate and coffee contain an antioxidant called chlorogenic acid which appears to protect the liver from cirrhosis and possibly cancer.  Amazing, but too much of this compound might increase levels of homocysteine, an inflammatory chemical.

If you visit Argentina or Paraguay for example, you will see people walking around sipping yerba mate out of hollow gourds, much the same way that Americans tote their cup of Starbucks.  Yerba mate is sold in bags, just like coffee. To make it use a French press, or a regular coffee maker.  If it tastes bitter, it’s because you’ve used boiling water, you only want to use hot water, not boiling.  Be fancy like me and make a yerba mate latte!  Sweeten your brew with some agave syrup (or vanilla syrup) and make the latte by frothing some almond milk or vanilla hemp milk. You can learn more about the health benefits of yerba mate, where to buy it, and how to make it by visiting www.guayaki.com or calling 888-482-9254.


Did You Know?

This won’t come as any surprise to my loyal readers, but a new study found that eating lots of bacon, hot dogs, cold cuts and red meat can dramatically increase your risk for cancer.

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