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Coffee vs. Yerba Mate: Which Is Healthier?

May 17, 2010

Yerba mate is a hot beverage that can be found in nearly any health foods store. This drink is often compared to coffee, but you may wonder which of these drinks is a healthier choice. Read below about the benefits of both coffee and yerba mate.

What is Coffee?

Coffee is a beverage that is prepared by roasting seeds from the coffee plant. The coffee plant is a small evergreen bush with the name coffea. The seeds remain on the plant until they are ripened, then they are picked, dried and roasted. 

These seeds are often referred to as coffee beans. Coffee seeds are grown in over 70 countries and are traded worldwide. Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world.

Benefits of Coffee

Coffee provides the body with an energizing effect. A cup of coffee has 85mg of caffeine, which is three and a half times greater than cola or tea. Coffee has antioxidants, which prevents free radicals from creating cell damage.

Certain health studies have shown that coffee reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, cirrhosis of the liver, Alzheimer’s disease and gout.

A study published by Science Daily shows that individuals who drink 3 to 5 cups of coffee per day are less likely to develop dementia. Harvard Medical School published a study showing that drinking 1 to 3 cups of coffee a day reduces diabetes risk.

What is Yerba Mate?

The yerba mate beverage is derived from the leaves and twigs of a tropical plant grown mainly in Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil and Uruguay. The leaves are dried and then steeped in hot water much like a tea to create the beverage.

Benefits of Yerba Mate

Yerba mate provides the body with a very strong stimulant. The stimulant in yerba mate is similar to 100 to 200 mg of caffeine. These stimulants come from theobromine, xanthines and theophylline found in the leaves.

Proponents of yerba mate claim that the stimulant found in this beverage does not cause the jitters, anxiety or stomach distress like coffee. Additionally, yerba mate has 20 vitamins and minerals, including potassium and magnesium, 15 amino acids and supposedly 90% more antioxidants than green tea.

With such a high level of stimulant, yerba mate has shown to cause high blood pressure. Furthermore, excessive yerba mate use has been linked to esophagus cancer.

Which is Healthier: Yerba Mate or Coffee?

In general, both coffee and yerba mate provide the body with specific health benefits. Both these drinks provide antioxidants and stimulants. It is not necessarily a case of either-or but instead you could reap benefits from both of these beverages if consumed in moderation.

For individuals who already suffer from raised blood pressure, then they should avoid yerba mate. Additionally, smokers should not consume yerba mate because the combination has shown to increase the risk of lung and esophagus cancer.

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