Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Nutritional Value Associated With Yerba Mate

The Pasteur Institute and the Paris Scientific society in 1964 were interested in this healthy source of vitamins and did a thorough study of its properties. The investigators concluded "it is difficult to find a plant in any area of the world equal to mate in nutritional value" and that yerba mate contains "practically all of the vitamins necessary to sustain life." In addition, results from a study done by researchers at the University of Madrid assert a high content of mineral elements in mate.

While yerba mate has been used as a base for herbal medicines in South America for centuries, the plant’s benefits and therapeutic properties have recently been verified by a number of scientific studies. The chemical components of yerba mate are similar to those found in green tea; however, yerba mate is much more nutritious. Each infusion of yerba mate contains:

• Vitamins: A, C, E, B1, B2, Niacin (B3), B5, B Complex
• Minerals: Calcium, Manganese, Iron, Selenium, Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc
• Additional Compounds: Carotene, Fatty Acids, Chlorophyll, Flavonols, Polyphenols, Inositol, Trace Minerals, Antioxidants, Tannins, Pantothenic Acid and 15 Amino Acids.

Nicknamed the “liquid vegetable,” the yerba mate plant contains 196 volatile (or active) chemical compounds – of which 144 are also found in green tea. Yerba mate contains 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, and 11 polyphenols, a group of phytochemicals which act as powerful antioxidants. Polyphenols are considered to exhibit anticancer effects in mammals by strengthening an organism’s natural defenses and protecting it against cellular destruction.

In addition to polyphenols, yerba mate leaves contain saponins. Saponins are phytochemicals that have been found to specifically stimulate the immune system and aid the body in protecting against disease. In fact, one study yielded three new saponins in the yerba mate leaf. These "natural detergent" compounds (glycosides) are found in a wide variety of plant life, which bind with cholesterol so it cannot be reabsorbed into the system and is excreted from the body.

Yerba mate is high in chlorophyll which helps reduce the binding of carcinogens to DNA in the liver and other organs. It also breaks down calcium-oxalate stones (better known as kidney stones) and can boast higher polyphenol and antioxidant counts than either green or black teas.