Yerba Mate may not be the most well-known herbal tea in the UK, but fans of this South American plant have been celebrating its health-giving properties for a long time. There are many drinkers that insist that Yerba Mate tea is much better for weight loss than green tea. Luckily for us, science has come to the rescue and can back up these claims with some hard evidence.
The potential of Yerba Mate when losing weight
The benefits of this herbal remedy were presented in a 2012 paper called Anti-obesity and Anti-diabetic Effects of Yerba Mate (Ilex Paraguariensis) in Mice Fed a High-fat Diet. The aim here was as follows:
“to evaluate the effects of Yerba Mate extract on weight loss, obesity-related biochemical parameters, and diabetes in high-fat diet-fed mice.”
Obesity was induced in these mice before they were split into groups. Three groups were given their appropriate amount of Yerba Mate via an intragastric gavage over the 4 weeks, a control group was kept on the high fat diet to compare progress and there was a fourth group that went back to a normal diet. Body fat was recorded weekly, blood was taken at the end of the trial and fat tissues and organs were dissected.
What is it about the composition of Yerba Mate tea that made it such a good subject for this study?
Green tea is seen is the ultimate tea for health, weight loss and fat burning by many fitness fanatics and dieters. This has happened for two simple reasons:
- Green tea has been proven to have a positive impact on weight loss due to its chemical composition.
- Many green tea drinkers are not aware of Yerba Mate and the greater potential of its own phytochemicals.
Many tea drinkers swear by Yerba Mate for weight loss because it contains the following:
- Chlorogenic acid
- Caffeic acid
- 3,4-dicaffeoylquinic acid and 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid
- Minerals such as phosphorous, iron, and calcium
- Vitamins C, B1, and B2
It is this extensive list of components that led scientists to carry out this 2012 Yerba Mate anti-obesity study. The combination of all these elements had the potential for significant weight loss, they just needed the evidence to prove it.
What did these scientists discover about Yerba Mate and anti-obesity?
The results of this Yerba Mate study were surprisingly conclusive and reaffirmed the suspicions of many keen drinkers: Yerba Mate can be beneficial for weight loss. This was seen in two ways.
Firstly, tests showed that the herb had a positive effect on the reduction of lipid accumulation and increased adipose tissue. In other words, fatty lipids were not absorbed by the mice at the same rate, reducing the build of fatty tissue.
Secondly, Yerba Mate consumption had an effect on the intake of food and energy expenditure. This meant a higher metabolic rate and a greater chance of burning existing fat.
The mice in the Yerba Mate test groups showed decreased water and food intake while the body weight of the control group rose. An examinations of the fatty tissue during dissection showed that the mice that had Yerba Mate supplementation were carrying less weight.
The size of the adipocytes in these test subjects was also smaller than that of the control group and Cholesterol levels were also lower in the Yerba Mate groups than the control group.
The science behind this study is fascinating and encouraging, but we need more than one study on mice to be sure that Yerba Mate weight loss treatments really are a good idea.
There are two issues with this study that the more reserved or sceptical reader will have already spotted.
- This study was carried out in 2012, so it is already a little out of date.
- The study was carried out on mice, not humans.
In order for any remaining critics to be won over to Yerba Mate in dieting, we need another study to back up these findings. A great example that supports the ideas of this initial study came from Korea in 2015. In a paper titled Anti-obesity effects of Yerba Mate (Ilex Paraguariensis): a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, researchers tested a Yerba Mate supplement on a group of human subjects to record any possible links to weight loss. This time the specified aim was:
“to investigate the efficacy and safety of Yerba Mate supplementation in Korean subjects with obesity.”
The method here was pretty simple and followed typical procedures. Subjects were given capsules to take three times a day for 12 weeks. Half were given the Yerba Mate supplement and half the placebo. Progress was measured via abdominal fat distribution, blood lipid profiles and anthropometric parameters. Safety parameters such as adverse reactions, health and vital signs were also measured to determine the safety of the Yerba Mate capsules.
The results were pretty impressive and followed the expected trends. Once again, the Yerba Mate supplementation had a positive effect on weight loss. Those taking the capsule saw a significant decrease in body fat mass and percentage body fat compared to the placebo group. Furthermore, there were no significant changes seen in the tests of the safety parameters. The final statement may have been a little cautious, with researchers stating that “Yerba Mate supplementation may be effective for treating obese individuals”, but this is good enough evidence for most avid drinkers.
What can we learn from these two studies when it comes Yerba Mate and anti-obesity?
Both of these studies have led to some pretty interesting conclusions about the potential of Yerba Mate supplementation. Not only have both studies shown that subjects “both rodent and human” can decrease body weight by regularly taking this herbal remedy, there is also a high chance of appetite suppression and there were no significant adverse effects. This is welcome news to all those that drink this tea as a healthier alternative to regular tea and coffee. These scientific conclusions give some reliable weight to the notion that we should all be drinking Yerba Mate for weight loss.
- Anti-obesity and anti-diabetic effects of Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) in C57BL/6J mice fed a high-fat diet (URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3315195/)
- Anti-obesity effects of Yerba Mate (Ilex Paraguariensis): a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial (URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4583719/)