The yerba mate run rings around green tea in antioxidant power…


Yerba Mate

In a recent dispute between the chimarrão and the Oriental bowl for tea, the first came out winning. In fact, it won hand down and the victory was recorded, exactly ten days ago, in the British Nutrition Journal, which featured prominently the work done at the Institute of Cardiology of Rio Grande do Sul. For a good reason: there are 17 million heart related deaths every year. Cardiovascular diseases increased by more than 40% since 1990 and mate has proven that thanks to its antioxidants it can – far more than green tea – avoid the famous plaques in the arteries, capable of leading to cardiac risks.

Attention: yerba mate did not do this feat in laboratory glassware. Nor in mice or any other guinea pig. The effect was found in 142 men and women, between 35 and 60 years of age, all overweight. Therefore, the results reveal what has been observed in our life as it is, i.e. in the human body. And I say more: the study was what scientists call a randomized controlled

This means that people were randomly selected to drink or not the mate, but all variables were controlled. For example, scholars compared those who did gymnastics on one side, that of yerba mate, with those who did gymnastics on the other side, that of green tea; who was sedentary of a group with who was sedentary of another. Because of this methodology, which never compares apples and oranges, the findings are always very reliable. That is why you can trust it: the yerba mate has everything, even though the comparison with green tea seems unfair

For the time being, only 1 million people have a habit of consuming yerba mate beverages worldwide, while 158 million Americans have already joined green tea – and yet, that number is a little sip close to the 400 thousand tons that will end up in the Chinese bowl every year

Not to mention the tea of the Camellia sinensis is one of the oldest drinks prepared by men, if we think about the records of History, which go back 5,000 years. And it is also the most studied on the planet. Today, precisely, there are almost to 30,000 published researches on its health benefits. Therefore, there is no denying them. But the yerba mate or Ilex paraguariensis – which the colonizers met through Indians, like the Guarani, who lived in the southernmost part of the continent – was really surprising

In this case, all the research was done on the chimarrão, which is the object of studies of the cardiologist Vera Portal and her team at the Instituto de Cardiologia a long time ago. There, previous work had already shown that the habit of taking the chimarrão lowered cholesterol levels and blood pressure

Biomedical Guilherme Balsan jokes that he stumbled upon the line of research, in which he got involved to do his doctorate. But the mission he was given made a huge difference: from frozen blood samples in earlier phases of this long research on chimarrão, he went hunting for molecules that could justify the proclaimed effects. And comparing them, he found two substances that seemed to be always different, for the better, among the fans of yerba mate.

One was leptin, secreted by fat cells in the body and famous for satiety. In fact, leptin also has a tremendous anti-inflammatory role. Another molecule is paraoxonase-1, or simply PON-1, usually found in very low levels in those who suffered a heart attack. With these two targets set, the scientists set out for action.

Mixes made at home with the herb itself, but served cold, for example. It is likely that, although the concentration of antioxidant compounds get lower than that of the chimarrão, due to the amount of leaves and the temperature of the water. The mate, using at home with the herbal in bulk, as is already found in supermarkets, always offers some of its beneficial compounds. However, medical researcher Vera Portal, cautious, prefers to state that, for now, the guarantee is that the chimarrão does a huge good to the chest.



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