Yerba mate tea is a Latin American herbal beverage that contains several beneficial components. I have already covered its health benefits and caffeine content in earlier articles. In this article, we are going to dig deeper into yerba mate nutrition facts and the concentration of different bioactive compounds.
See table 1 below for nutritional information of yerba mate brewed with 500 ml (17 oz) of water at 70 °C (158 °F) using 50 g (1.8 oz) of dry yerba mate. This is a typical amount of yerba mate consumed during one drinking session. See the third column for the percentage of the EAR (Estimated Average Requirements) per day that the amount of each nutrient represents. EAR is the amount that nutrient that is expected to satisfy the needs of 50% of people. For some nutrients, the EAR is not established (NE). Note that the amounts of nutrients can vary considerably, depending on the yerba mate product and brewing method used for preparing the infusion.
Polyphenols are a group of phytochemicals that contain a benzene (C6H6) ring bound with a hydroxyl group(s) (-OH). Yerba mate contains 11 different polyphenols. The variety of mate, how it has been processed, and the brewing method, all affect the concentration of polyphenols dissolved in yerba mate tea.
The types of polyphenolic compounds in mate tea differ significantly from the ones in green and black tea, mainly because mate has a high concentration of chlorogenic acid but it doesn’t contain any catechins. This means, that if you drink both yerba mate and green (or black) tea, they complement each other very well, and you can get a wide range of different beneficial polyphenols.
When compared to other drinks, yerba mate tea has a much higher level of polyphenols. Polyphenol concentration also has a strong correlation with the antioxidant capacity of a beverage. See the chart below, where the total amount of polyphenols of different beverages has been compared:
Xanthines are purine alkaloids, with stimulant properties, which can be found in many different plants including yerba mate, coffee, tea, and chocolate. Yerba mate tea contains three xanthines that are caffeine (1,3,7‐trimethylxanthine), theobromine (3,7‐dimethylxanthine) and theophylline (1,3‐dimethylxanthine). In dry yerba mate leaves, the concentration of caffeine (1%-1.5%) is the highest of these three. Theobromine concentration is the second highest (0.3%-0.9%) while theophylline is present in a much lesser concentration.
The drying process of yerba mate leaves has a considerable effect on the concentration of caffeine and chlorophyll. When mate leaves were dried with a traditional method, including three different stages with different temperatures, the caffeine concentration decreased by 30% and the chlorophyll concentration by 70% to 80%. However, when mate tea is brewed from dry leaves it has more caffeine than if it is brewed from fresh leaves. This is likely to be explained by the disruption of cells and a decrease in moisture during the drying process.
READ ALSO: Yerba Mate Tea Reviews – 5 Popular Brands
Yerba mate leaves contain several caffeoyl derivatives including caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid. Caffeic acid has antioxidant capabilities that prevent oxidative stress, which helps with preventing DNA damage. Chlorogenic acid has a pivotal role in glucose and fat metabolism regulation. In addition to polyphenols, caffeoyl derivatives can be considered as the major antioxidant compounds in yerba mate.
Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) belongs to the family of holly trees (Ilex), and while all of them contain caffeoyl derivatives, their concentration in yerba mate is significantly higher than in the other holly trees. The high concentration of these compounds is the main contributor to the high antioxidant capacity of yerba mate tea.
Saponins are bitter-tasting compounds with anti-inflammatory properties found in many plants. Yerba mate contains 19 different saponins, from which matesaponin D is the most abundant accounting for 30% of the total amount of saponins. The saponins are forming some foam on the surface when you brew yerba mate tea, as you can see in the image below:
Saponins stimulate the immune system and help your body with protection against pathogens. In addition, many saponins found in yerba mate have antiparasitic properties. Saponins in yerba mate also have several other beneficial properties. They help with heart and artery function, protect the liver from damage, lower bad cholesterol, and increase metabolism.
Yerba mate tea contains a high amount of thiamin or vitamin B1. Thiamin is essential for glucose metabolism and important for nerve, muscle, and heart functions. It is involved in the process of electrolytes flowing into and out of nerve and muscle cells. Just by drinking half a liter of yerba mate, you can already get about 85% of your daily need of thiamine.
Another vitamin found in abundance in yerba mate is vitamin B6. Like thiamine, it plays an important role in our carbohydrate metabolism. In addition, it is important for fat metabolism and the creation of neurotransmitters and red blood cells. Yerba mate also contains pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), which is an essential nutrient necessary for making blood cells.
A relatively high amount of niacin (vitamin B3) is also present in yerba mate. It acts as an antioxidant in our bodies and has an important role in the repairing of DNA and cell signaling function. It can also help with lowering cholesterol and boosting brain functions.
There is also some vitamin C in yerba mate tea, which, as we all know, is important for our health. However, the amount of vitamin C in mate tea is quite low, only a few milligrams in half a liter, while the estimated average requirement per day is 75 mg.
Yerba mate tea is also a good source of minerals, mainly magnesium, potassium, manganese, and iron, which are important for human metabolism and development. Potassium might also assist with keeping blood pressure at lower levels, especially with people suffering from hypotension.
Yerba Mate Nutrition Facts – Conclusions
It is evident, that yerba mate contains an incredible amount of nutrients that are good for us. I like to drink yerba mate tea mainly because of its energizing effect and great taste. But the fact that it also provides us with so many beneficial and nourishing substances, is also very important to me. Even if you are following a healthy and balanced diet, it never hurts to get some extra antioxidants and vitamins in your body. It is said that the rich nutrient content of yerba mate has even helped the past generations of people in Argentina with surviving the harsh conditions without getting sick and malnourished.
There are several great yerba mate products to choose from. Check out the reviews here to find the right one for you!
I hope this article provided you with sufficient information related to yerba mate nutrition content. If you have any questions or comments related to yerba mate nutrition facts, you can post them below.