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What is yerba mate? What you need to know about the South American main course

By Vaseline May31,2024

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Football icons David Beckham and Lionel Messi are among the most famous fans of yerba mate, an ancient herbal tea long popular in countries like Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, to name a few.

“If it’s good enough for Leo,” Beckham captioned a photo of himself drinking yerba mate and tagging Messi in an Instagram Story post last summer.

The global yerba mate market is predicted to continue to rise over the next decade, especially as it is seen as a healthier alternative to coffee and other teas, according to a trends report from Future Market Insights.

If it’s good enough for Messi, Beckham and others, does that mean it’s right for you? Here’s what nutritionists want you to know about yerba mate.

What is yerba mate?

Yerba mate is a plant native to South America. The leaves are dried and then steeped in hot water to make tea, which can be served hot or cold.

Nutritionists, including Virginia-based registered dietitian and diabetes educator Caroline Thomason, praise the drink for its health benefits, which include “antioxidants, vitamins and minerals: namely vitamin C, B vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium.”

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Does yerba mate give you a buzz?

It is considered an alternative to coffee, but yerba mate still provides some caffeine.

“At approximately 80 mg of caffeine per cup, it contains less caffeine than a cup of coffee and a different nutritional profile,” Thomason tells USA TODAY.

Although the two drinks are often compared, she notes that one drink is “not necessarily better or worse for our health.” The main difference, Thomason adds, is that “some people find the effects more subtle than those of coffee, due to the lack of an energy crash.”

Who shouldn’t drink yerba mate?

As with any food or drink containing caffeine, those prone to feeling jittery or anxious may want to avoid it.

And Thomason reminds us, “If you drink it before you go to bed, it can disrupt your sleep patterns and keep you awake.”

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