Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Yerba Mate Could be Polyphenol Plus for Beverages

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are looking to target antioxidant properties from Mate tea for use as functional beverage ingredients, reports FoodNavigator-USA.com. Mate or yerba mate is a tea-like drink traditionally consumed in South American countries by pouring boiling water onto a high concentration of leaves.

It is drunk in very high concentrations in many Latin American countries as part of a daily social ritual, in which it is passed around amongst friends and coworkers. It has what is often described as an "acquired" and earthy taste. According to their published research, the Illinois researchers have shown yerba mate tea is a rich source of polyphenols.

Green tea extracts are already used in functional beverages for their antioxidant properties, but the leader of the Urbana-Champaign research believes mate tea could bring even greater functional benefits. "The beverage industry can really take advantage of mate tea to add concentrated antioxidants to juices or teas," said Dr. Elvira de Mejia, assistant professor of food chemistry and food toxicology at Urbana-Champaign