As much as I’d like to pretend like I never need a little caffeine boost, there are just certain times over the course of a busy day when I need a little help to focus and push through. I’ve been trying to avoid coffee as much as possible except for one cup every once in a while — I’m concerned about vitamin loss, the acidic effect it has on ph balance in the blood, and just overall addiction to caffeine — but I have been drinking Yerba Mate in the early afternoon. I find it really helps me get through the last few hours of the work day while still being productive and helps me transition from work into my usual hour-long gym session right afterwards.
I’d read a lot about mate’s apparent benefits, from high levels of antioxidants to it’s chlorogenic acid content which helps with weight management, and I really like the milder and more even boost it gives me in contrast to the highs and lows of coffee. However, I stumbled upon this really disturbing video from the tireless Dr. Michael Greger at NutritionFacts.org, “Update On Yerba Mate: Why This Herbal Tea May Increase Cancer Risk” —
Holy crap! An increase in the rate of cell death? I don’t want that! But before I threw out my giant bag of loose leaf mate, I decided to do a little more research. See, I drink a special kind of mate, simply because I happen to like the taste more – it’s Mate Factor Organic Fresh Green unsmoked tea. I ran into a few things on the internet that suggested the carcinogens discovered in the above study might have been from the charcoal “smoking” process that lots of Yerba Mate tea is subjected to. I emailed Dr. Greger about it, and he alerted me to this question and answer session he posted on his site:
Is yerba maté tea really bad for you?
Whoa! Really?! It seems there must be a lot of problems for the South Americans who consume loads of this daily? I haven’t read anything negative — any other info on how this is affecting people who have been drinking it for years?
Poxacuatl / Originally posted in Is Yerba Maté Tea Bad For You?
The latest review suggests that the drying method (using firewood) may be to blame for the high levels of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons found in maté drinks, so a different production method may obviate this problem. That would be great since new evidence suggests that yerba maté may protect bone strength and improve blood sugar and cholesterol control in diabetics. I’ll let you know if I find more research in this evolving area.
Looks like I’m going to keep drinking my tea, and I recommend it to you too, especially if you’re having a tough time giving up the ol’ cup of Joe. But make sure you get the “unsmoked” kind — I recommend this one.