Just 123 days until August 3rd – as fast as this year is going, we’ll be under 100 days soon. Time to get serious. Already, I’m finding the volume of training (13 to 16 hours per week) a bit overwhelming — since I also work, train and write for a living, I find myself going hard most waking hours every week.
This has lead to an unhealthy co-dependence…or dependence… on coffee and while I love the stuff and do believe it has health benefits – you can have too much of a good thing. So, I’m bringing Yerba Mate back.
I go back and forth with this South American tea. I love the energy it provides – clean and no jitters – but it doesn’t have the heft of coffee. There’s something so satisfying about a deep, rich cup of coffee in the morning. That lack of heft and acidity, though, may also give my digestive system a bit of a break.
To prepare yerba mate, brew it just like any other tea – and embellish it with honey or stevia, or have it plain, as I often do. You can also add a splash of almond milk, coconut sugar and a sprinkle of cocoa. Mate lattes are available, but I haven’t the capability of making such in my humble home.
Yerba Mate is a known source of antioxidants, which reduce inflammation and diminish the effects of aging. It can also curb your appetite and is not as hard on your system as coffee. Adrenal fatigue, characterized by out-of-whack cortisol production, groggy mornings and wide-eyed nights, is less likely to happen with yerba mate. If you have been diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, though – mate might be out as it does still have caffeine notes Brendan Brazier, triathlete and vegan nutritionist extraordinaire.
Yerba mate contains vitamins A, C, E, B1(thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin) and B5 (Pantothenic acid), as well as calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc. It’s also rich in chlorophyll, flavonols, polyphenols, tannins and some amino acids. It has caffeine as well as the stimulants theophylline and theobromine, which are less potent than caffeine. It provides you with a nice, steady stream of energy for a workout, but doesn’t leave you wide-eyed at bed time. The Journal of Food Science notes that yerba mate can help lower your cholesterol levels, protect your liver and benefit the cardiovascular system. It may also play a role in weight management, by suppressing the genes responsible for obesity.
Yerba mate is generally considered safe. The few epidemiological studies about mate playing a role in the development of esophageal and mouth cancer aren’t substantiated by a scientific peer-reviewed study. Many of the epidemiological studies that tie mate to cancer examined people who also used tobacco, had poor hygiene habits and nutritional deficiencies. Basically, unless you’re drinking liters upon liters of the stuff daily, through a hot straw in a hut in South America, you’re probably just fine.
Buy loose leaves or bags, like tea. You can brew it in a coffee maker (drip style). I’ve never seen k-cups, but then again, I’ve never looked for them. You can even get flavored varieties – I’m partial to mint and chai versions. I’ll be exploring some homemade mate chai too…soon…in all my free time.