(Natural News) These days, a lot of people swear by the health benefits of yerba mate: The South American herb that’s giving coffee a run for its money, thanks to its ability to stimulate the mind without the nasty crashing and jittery effects. The findings of a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food adds another benefit to the beverage known as the “Drink of God” – researchers have found that long-term supplementation of yerba mate could reduce adiposity, that is, the condition of being overweight or obese, as well as improve obesity-related insulin resistance.
Yerba mate and the obesity problem
Obesity – the state where the body has built up excessive amounts of fat – is a dangerous condition that has swept across the world. In the U.S. alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 40 percent of all adults in the country are either overweight or obese. If left untreated, this can result in complications which can affect major organs such as the liver and the heart. However, one of the more serious complications of obesity is insulin resistance (IR), a condition that occurs when the body does not properly respond to the hormone insulin. Insulin regulates the conversion of blood sugar (glucose) into energy that cells use to function. To note, obesity and IR are closely associated, with the latter being a key factor in the onset of Type 2 diabetes over time.
Researchers indicated that a person’s diet was one of the driving factors for obesity. “Most notably, a high-fat diet (HFD) comprises one of the main environmental factors that contribute to obesity and related metabolic disturbances,” they wrote in the study.
To counter the effects of obesity, the team looked at dried yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) leaves, which has been reported to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and glucose-lowering actions. In particular, they examined the effects and the underlying mechanisms of adding yerba mate in a person’s diet, especially its effects on HFD-induced obesity and its pertinent metabolic dysfunction. To test their theory, the researcher used 20 male C57BL/6J mice, separating them into two groups. Both groups were fed with an HFD for 16 weeks; however, one group had dried yerba mate powder incorporated in their diet. During this time, the energy expenditure of the mice was measured using an indirect calorimeter. At the end of the trials, white adipose tissue (WAT), as well as blood, was collected from the mice for analysis.
Researchers found that mice that were given yerba mate had a significantly lower body weight than the group that was given HFD. The white adipose fat was also smaller in the yerba mate group, building on previous evidence that suggests the herb’s anti-obesity effect. (Related: Yerba Mate: The Powerhouse Nutrient For Healing, Anti-Aging And Enhances Fat Metabolism.)
“Yerba mate also decreased levels of plasma lipids (free fatty acids, triglycerides, and total cholesterol) and liver aminotransferase enzymes,” they added. The enzymes, in particular, are biomarkers for liver inflammation, which can be caused by lipid cell buildup.
Based on the results, the researchers concluded that adding yerba mate in a diet can help with weight loss strategies for obese people, as well as management for obesity-related conditions such as IR, thanks to its anti-obesity effect. In the study, the team also added that future studies should determine the maximum tolerated dose of yerba mate powder.
Putting yerba mate and coffee in a head-to-head
If there’s one thing that both drinks – the study used dry yerba mate, but it’s traditionally steeped into tea – have is that both contain roughly the same amount of caffeine per serving. However, it’s how the energy is distributed that gives yerba mate the edge. Unlike coffee which shocks the system with a burst of energy, yerba mate provides a constant boost in energy, giving a person a steady kick that can last for at least six hours.
Yerba mate is also better since it doesn’t have the “coffee crash” that comes when the caffeine wears off. Instead, the tryptophan in yerba mate provides a calming effect, which is great especially for those in need of a quick fix.
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