How Yerba Mate Can Fight Cancer
Ilex paraguariensis, more commonly known as Yerba mate, is a shrub (sometimes growing to the size of a small tree) in the holly family, and is native to South America. The leaves and twigs of the shrub are used steeped in water to produce a tea, a process dating back to 16th century Paraguay, and is traditionally drunk out of a hollow gourd. Although its advocates have touted the drink’s health benefits for many years, only recently have its true chemical constituents been uncovered and researched.
The Yerba Mate Plant has been found to contain a number of natural chemicals previously thought exclusive to other plants, such as caffeine, theobromine (an alkaloid found in chocolate that contributes to its bitter flavor), and theophylline. These three chemicals are known as xanthines, and have a direct, positive effect on your body’s level of alertness and wakefulness, as well as relaxing bronchial muscles and improving blood flow (which in turn may contribute to better heart health). In addition to these chemicals, Yerba Mate has recently (as of 2005) been found by researchers at the University of Illinois to exhibit very significant benefits in fighting cancer due to its high antioxidant and polyphenol constituents. Polyphenols, a type of phytochemical, is unique in that rather than having direct anti – cancer properties, it protects against cancer cells by strengthening the body’s own natural defenses against cellular mutation. These same properties have been demonstrated by the antioxidants found in popular foods such as blueberries, tomatoes, and soy, improving the already credible findings.
Keeping all these positive health effects in mind, it’s no wonder why Yerba Mate has been around for so long, and is still widely recognized and used. As an addition to a healthy and balanced diet, there is no doubt that it can be highly beneficial, but for best results, it should be consumed at least three times a week. Preparation is fairly easy, and involves simply steeping the leaves in water for roughly four to five minutes. Sugar or milk can be added to suit personal preference, and when combined with vitamins and supplements, can certainly lead to a long, healthy, and cancer – free life.