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Yerba maté: Pharmacological Properties, Research and Biotechnology

  • Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition Project - Brazil


Maté (Ilex paraguariensis St. Hilaire) is a plant originary from the subtropical region of South America, and present in the South of Brazil, North of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. Maté beverages have been widely consumed for hundreds of years as infusions popularly known as chimarrão, tererê (both from green dried mate leaves) and maté tea (roasted mate leaves). The popular medicine and the herbalists recommend it for arthritis, migraines, constipation, rheumatism, hemorrhoids, obesity, fatigue, retention of liquid, hypertension, and for stomach and liver diseases. Recently published research has proved scientifically the actions of maté which may explain many of the cited pharmacologic effects such as its chemopreventive activity, cholerectic effect and intestinal propulsion, vasodilatation effect, inhibition of the glication and as a free radical scavenger. Maté beverages are rich in many bioactive compounds such as caffeine, phenolic compounds (mainly phenolic acids) and saponins. This review discusses the latest scientific data on maté physiological properties and their correlation with the bioactive compounds present in the maté leaves and aqueous infusions.
Received: 27 February, 2007. Accepted: 9 April, 2007. Invited Review
Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Science and Biotechnology ©2007 Global Science Books
Yerba maté:
Pharmacological Properties, Research and Biotechnology
Deborah Helena Markowicz Bastos1* Daniela Moura de Oliveira1 Ruth Lobato Teixeira
Matsumoto1 Patrícia de Oliveira Carvalho2 Marcelo Lima Ribeiro2
1 Nutrition Department, School of Public Health, University of São Paulo, Av. Dr. Arnaldo 715, CEP 01246-904, São Paulo-SP, Brazil
2 Sao Francisco University, Av. São Francisco de Assis, 218, CEP 12916-900, Bragança Paulista-SP, Brazil
Corresponding author: * dmbast
Maté (Ilex paraguariensis St. Hilaire) is a plant originary from the subtropical region of South America, and present in the South of Brazil,
North of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. Maté beverages have been widely consumed for hundreds of years as infusions popularly
known as chimarrão, tererê (both from green dried mate leaves) and maté tea (roasted mate leaves). The popular medicine and the
herbalists recommend it for arthritis, migraines, constipation, rheumatism, hemorrhoids, obesity, fatigue, retention of liquid, hypertension,
and for stomach and liver diseases. Recently published research has proved scientifically the actions of maté which may explain many of
the cited pharmacologic effects such as its chemopreventive activity, cholerectic effect and intestinal propulsion, vasodilatation effect,
inhibition of the glication and as a free radical scavenger. Maté beverages are rich in many bioactive compounds such as caffeine,
phenolic compounds (mainly phenolic acids) and saponins. This review discusses the latest scientific data on maté physiological
properties and their correlation with the bioactive compounds present in the maté leaves and aqueous infusions.
Keywords: biological effects, caffeine, functional food, Ilex paraguariensis, minerals, phenolic compounds, saponins
Abbreviations: LDL, Low density lipoproteins; CGA, Chlorogenic acid; 5-CQA, 5 caffeoylquinic acid; pCoQA, p-coumaroylquinic
acid; FQA, feruoylquinic acid ; diCQA, di esters from caffeoyl quinic acids; HPLC/MS, High Pressure Liquid Cromatography/ Mass
Spectrometry; TBARs, Thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances
INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................................................................................................ 37
MAIN BIOACTIVE COMPOUNDS IN MATÉ LEAVES AND MATÉ BEVERAGES.............................................................................. 38
Purine alkaloids....................................................................................................................................................................................... 38
Phenolic compounds................................................................................................................................................................................ 39
Saponins .................................................................................................................................................................................................. 41
Minerals................................................................................................................................................................................................... 41
BIOLOGICAL ACTIVITIES....................................................................................................................................................................... 41
Antioxidant, antimutagenic and cellular protective actions..................................................................................................................... 41
Thermogenic effects and weight loss....................................................................................................................................................... 43
Anti-diabetic actions................................................................................................................................................................................ 43
Digestion improvement ........................................................................................................................................................................... 43
Anti-fatigue and stimulant actions........................................................................................................................................................... 43
Circulatory system action and hypocholesterolemic effect...................................................................................................................... 43
Chimarrão ingestion and cancer incidence.............................................................................................................................................. 44
CHALLENGES AND PERSPECTIVES ..................................................................................................................................................... 44
REFERENCES............................................................................................................................................................................................. 44
Yer b a m a té ( Ilex paraguariensis) is a plant originary from
the subtropical region of the South America, present in the
South of Brazil, North of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.
It was consumed by native South American Indians when
the new world was discovered by the Europeans. Nowadays
the aqueous extract of yerba ma (product constituted ex-
clusively from dried and crumbled leaves and branches of I.
paraguariensis, according to Brazilian and Argentinian
legislation) is consumed at a rate of more than 1 liter per
day by millions of people and constitutes the main alterna-
tive to coffee and tea (Mosimann et al. 2005). This product
is prepared mainly as four different types of beverages: the
chimarrão and maté cocido, consumed in the south of Bra-
zil, Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay; the tererê, consumed
in the central west of Brazil and Paraguay, and the maté tea,
consumed in the South-east of Brazil, Argentina and Uru-
guay. Both chimarrão and tererê are made with green dried
and crumbled maté leaves. The first is prepared with hot
water and the second with cold water. The beverages are
prepared by compacting a certain amount of maté, previ-
ously moistened with water, against the wall of a vessel
made from a gourd or “cuia”. The beverage is drunk by
sucking through a silver pipe called “bomba”, which has a
flattened perforated disc at the end immersed in the infusion
to act as a filter (Mazzafera 1997). Maté tea is prepared with
roasted leaves and brewed as any other herbal tea (Bastos et
al. 2005). Maté cocido refers to green maté brewed as a
herbal tea, usually commercialized in bags, as maté-tea.
Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Science and Biotechnology 1(1), 37-46 ©2007 Global Science Books
The main maté producer is Argentina (270.000 tons in
2005), followed by Brazil (238.869 tons in 2005) (IBGE
2005; Parra 2007), and most part of the produced yerba
maté is processed and sold as chimarrão.
The maté culture has great economic and social impor-
tance, once it is carried through by a great number of small
producers and cooperatives. The genetic improvements of
the culture are recent; having began in the 1970s in Argen-
tina and in the 1990s in Brazil. They have been focused
mostly the adaptation, production of green mass and resis-
tance to plagues and diseases (Resende et al. 2000).
The processing of yerba maté consists of three different
stages: a) a rapid drying process called “sapeco”, made
within 24 hours after the harvest, aiming to inhibit enzy-
matic activity and lower the moisture level; b) a partial dry-
ing stage called “secado” that reduces the moisture to a
level between 3 and 6% that usually takes place in rotating
drums heated by the burning of wood or gas (“barbaqua”)
or, depending on the technological level of the producer,
takes place in more modern machines that reduces the
processing time, and c) a further drying and subsequent
grinding stage, after which the yerba maté is called “can-
cheada” (Esmelindro et al. 2002; Bastos et al. 2006). Pro-
cessing conditions (time/temperature of the drying stages)
and other parameters such as sex of the plant, genetic vari-
ability and type of ground may differ among diverse pro-
ducers and have influence on the quality, sensorial charac-
teristics and amount of bioactive substances of the final
product (Resende et al. 2000; Esmerelindro et al. 2002).
Maté processing remains practically unchanged from an-
cient times. Differences among the raw material as well as
the design of the maté drying plants result in a product that
does not reproduce chemical composition from one year to
The popular medicine and the herbalists recommend the
use of yerba maté for arthritis, headache, constipation,
rheumatisms, hemorrhoids, obesity, fatigue, fluid retention,
hypertension, slow digestion and hepatic disorders (Bastos
and Torres 2003). Recent published research have scienti-
fically proven the actions of I. paraguariensis that explain
many of the cited pharmacologic effects, such as: chemo-
preventive activities (preventing cellular damage that may
cause chronic diseases) (Ramirez-Mares et al. 2004; Filip et
al. 2007), choleretic effect and intestinal propulsion (Gor-
zalczany et al. 2001) vasodilatation effect (Baisch et al.
1998), inhibition of glication (non-enzymatic reaction be-
tween blood sugar, proteins and lipids, forming products
that accumulate providing stables sites for catalyzing the
formation of free radicals) (Lunceford and Gugliucci 2005)
and inhibition of oxidative stress (Gugliucci 1996; Gugli-
ucci and Menini 2002).
The increasing numbers of patents related to yerba
maté products indicates the recent interest in the biological
activities of this plant as well as its economical potential.
There are 29 international patents of products made with
Ilex paraguariensis registered since 1963, with several indi-
cations, as shown in Table 1. The majority of them were
registered after 2000.
Maté contains many bioactive compounds. Native South
Americans were aware of its stimulating properties due to
caffeine, which was once incorrectly named mateine. Nowa-
days, maté beverages are also recognized as a rich source of
phenolic acids, which are responsible for the in vivo and in
vitro antioxidants activities demonstrated by many studies.
The main phenolic acids presents in maté are the chloro-
genic acids. In addition to substantial amounts of purine
alkaloids and phenolic acids, the leaves of maté also contain
triterpenoid saponins. These bitter and higher water-soluble
compounds are likely to be responsible in part for the taste
and foaming of the beverages and explain their choleretic
Compared to other stimulant beverages, such as tea and
coffee, there are few scientific reports relating to yerba maté
and, unfortunately, the first papers published relating yerba
maté and public health brings epidemiological data on the
relationship of chimarrão intake and cancer of the esopha-
gus. It seems, from these epidemiological studies, that the
high incidence of esophageal cancer in the population that
heavily consumes chimarrão is due to the water temperature,
and not due to substances naturally present in the plant ma-
terial. The same fact is observed in Asia, where populations
drinking large volumes of tea at a high temperature present
the same pathology. Only in the latter part of the 1990s was
the first report on the antioxidant effect of yerba maté
brought to the scientific media by Dr. Alessandro Gugliucci,
and from that time on, the interest on this South American
native plant is gradually increasing.
This review discusses some of the main bioactive com-
pounds present in maté leaves and aqueous infusions and
the latest scientific data on maté physiological properties.
Purine alkaloids
Caffeine (1,3,7-trimethylxanthine), theobromine (3,7-dime-
thylxanthine) and theophyline (1,3-dimetylxanthine) are the
main purine alkaloids in plant foods (Fig. 1). Biological sig-
nificance is attributed to the purine alkaloids, since the pu-
rine bases are the main component of nucleoproteins which
Tab le 1 International patents of products from Ilex paraguariensis (1963-
Type of product Number of
International Patents
Weight loss/thermogenesis supplements 11
Cosmetic with slimming effects 5
Supplement to reduce glucose/cholesterol
Supplement against the oxidative stress and its
Supplements to treat metabolic syndrome and
Product for promotion of alcohol and
acetaldehyde degradation
Energy drink/ powder 2
Sports drink 1
Aphrodisiac supplement 1
Hair cosmetic 2
Supplement against insomnia 2
Tot a l 29
Source: - Derwent Innovations Index (2007)
Caffeine Theobromine
Fig. 1 Molecular structure of purine alkaloids.
Yerba maté composition and pharmacological properties. Bastos et al.
make up the bulk of cellular nuclei, playing an important
role in the living organism.
Amongst these three compounds, caffeine is the most
abundant in coffee, tea and yerba maté, while theobromine
is the most abundant in cocoa seeds. Theophyline is usually
lower in coffee and tea, and its presence in maté is still a
matter of controversy (Schubert et al. 2006).
The high concentration of caffeine that accumulates in
some plants is related to its protection effect on the tissue
from young leaves, fruits and flowers, from predators such
as insect larvae and beetles, or by the inhibition effect that
caffeine might have on the germination of other seeds,
when it is released in the soil from the bean (Waller 1989;
Chou and Benowitz 1994; Nurminen et al. 1999; Hewavi-
tharanage et al. 2000; Ashihara and Crozier 2001).
Caffeine is one of the plant products with which the ge-
neral public is familiar and its ingestion is commonly rela-
ted with adverse effects on health. Short-term side effects
from caffeine include palpitations, gastrointestinal distur-
bances, anxiety, tremor, increased blood pressure and in-
somnia (Chou and Benowitz 1994; Nurminen et al. 1999).
On the other hand, caffeine influences central nervous, car-
diac, muscular and renal activities. Its effect on the central
nervous system (CNS) is confined to the cortical centers
responsible for higher psychic functions, and results in a
well coordinated enhancement of the cerebral functions and,
consequently, in great vigilance and mental activity (Boku-
caha and Skobeleva 1980). Stimulating properties long
known by the native South America inhabitants are due to
the presence of such compounds. Caffeine also accelerates
metabolism and oxygen intake by body tissues and have the
potential to produce significant effects on metabolic targets
such as satiety, thermogenesis, and fat oxidation (Wester-
terp-Plantenga et al. 2006).
After its oral ingestion, caffeine is absorbed, distributed
to various tissues and broken down to metabolites with
variable pharmacological actions which are further excreted.
Caffeine is believed to interact with receptors for which
adenosine is the normal substrate.
Some authors indicate that coffee is the main source of
caffeine in the adult population, although caffeine intake
varies widely since half of the population does not drink
coffee while some individuals consume substantial amounts
(Barone and Roberts 1996; Mandel 2002). The consump-
tion of maté or other typical beverages were not taken in
account in any of the previous revisions on caffeine con-
sumption, and it might not be wrong to state that the main
source of caffeine in some South America regions is the
maté, chimarrão or tererê.
It is very difficult to establish the amount of caffeine in
one cup of coffee, tea or maté-tea and in one “cuia” of chi-
marrão or tererê. Mazzafera (1994) determined the con-
tents of caffeine, theobromine and theophyline in develop-
ing and old leaves, fruits, bark and wood from yerba maté
in southest Brazil. This study confirmed that the caffeine
distribution pattern is the same described for coffee, and
that the content of caffeine, theobromine and theophyline in
young leaves and immature fruits were higher than the
values found for old leaves and mature fruits.
Schubert et al. (2006) investigated variations of total
methylxanthines in leaves from two I. paraguariensis popu-
lations collected at one-month intervals over the course of
one year in the south region from Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul
state). The levels varied from 1.92 to 10.37 mg/g (Ijuí city)
and 1.77 to 9.17 mg/g (Santa Maria city). The presence of
caffeine and theobromine were confirmed for all the anal-
yzed samples, while theophyline was not detected. The au-
thors found significant variation in the methylxanthine con-
tent of all samples analyzed, confirming seasonal fluctua-
tion. Methylxanthine contents were higher during the sum-
mer in both localities. Lower contents were observed
throughout the winter period and part of the fall period. En-
vironmental and agronomical factors such as light intensity
and temperature, stress conditions, presence of predators,
kind and frequency of trimming, besides plant age, might
contribute to the observed behavior.
Processing widely influences the bioactive compound
content of the aqueous extract. According to Bastos et al.
(2006) and López et al. (2006) the content of methylxan-
thines as well as phenolic acids increased after the drying
stages of maté leaves, which is in disagreement with Esme-
relindo et al. (2002). This incongruence might be due to the
great differences in the processing technology used among
producers, specially the time and temperature of leaves ex-
posure and to the extraction methodology.
Few published research studies have reported on the
caffeine content of maté beverages. And among those pub-
lished, comparison is rather difficult due to the differences
in the brewing process and analytical procedure (Tab l e 2 ).
Heavier chimarrão and tererê drinkers may intake from
1 to 6 L of these beverages per day, indicating that maté is
an important source of caffeine in the diet (Barros et al.
2000). Curiously, unlike coffee drinkers, chimarrão and te-
rerê drinkers do not complain about caffeine side effects.
Phenolic compounds
The presence of phenolic acids in yerba maté leaves is
known since 1935, when Woodard and Cowland (apud Ali-
karidis 1987) reported the presence of a substance that they
called “coffetannin” which, when hydrolyzed, resulted in
caffeic acid.
Tab l e 2 The content of caffeine in a cup or cuia of maté beverages
(chimarrão, tererê or maté-tea).
Beverage Caffeine (ug/mL)
Clifford and Ramirez
Bastos et al.
Chimarrão 90-180 290-790 202-330
Te re rê na na 112-204
Maté tea na na 44-110
na = not a nalyzed
Caffeoyl =
Dicaffeoylquinic acid drivatives
R1 = R4 = H; R2 = R3 = caffeoyl
R1 = R2 = H; R3 = R4 = caffeoyl
R1 = R3 = H; R2 = R4 = caffeoyl
R2 = R3 = H; R1 = R4 = caffeoyl
Caffeoylquinic acid derivatives
R1 = R2 = R3 = H; R1 = caffeoyl (chlorogenic acid)
R1 = R3 = R4 = H; R2 = caffeoyl (neo-chlorogenic acid)
R1 = R2 = R4= H; R3 = caffeoyl (crypto-chlorogenic acid)
Fig. 2 Yerb a m a main phenolic
compounds molecular structure.
Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Science and Biotechnology 1(1), 37-46 ©2007 Global Science Books
Chlorogenic acids (CGAs) belong to the cinnamic
acids family, which comprehend a series of trans-phenyl-
3-propenoic acids differing in their ring substitution. These
compounds are widely distributed as conjugates in plant
material. The most common are caffeic (3,4-dihydroxicin-
namic), ferulic (3-methoxy,4-hydroxy), sinapic (3,5-dime-
thoxy,4-hydroxy) and p-coumaric (4-hydroxy) acids.
CGAs are a family of esters formed between certain of
these trans-cinammate acids and quinic acid (1l-1(OH),3,4/
5-tetrahydrocyclo-hexane carboxylic acid) and the most
common individual chlorogenic acid is 5-O-caffeoylquinic
acid (5-CQA). According to Clifford (2000) the CGAs
may be subdivided by the identity, number and position of
the acyl residues. Mono-esters of caffeic acid (caffeoylqui-
nic acids – CQA), p-coumaric acid, p-coumaroylquinic
acids (pCoQA) and ferulic acid (feruloylquinic acids –
FQA) and di-esters (diCQA) are the main phenolic acids in
yerba maté (Fig. 2).
Carini et al. (1998) using HPLC/MS and HPLC/Tan-
dem MS were able to identify 10 different phenolic consti-
tuents from yerba maté aqueous infusion, including the 3
naturally isomers 5-CQA (which were named neo-chloro-
genic acid, chlorogenic acid and crypto-chlorogenic acid),
as well as 3 isomeric dicaffeoylquinic acids, rutin (querci-
tin-3 rutinoside), a diglycosyl derivative of luteolin and 2
isomeric caffeoyl-glucosides. Bastos et al. (2007) using
direct infusion electrospray insertion mass spectrometry
(ESI-MS) identified the main phenolic compounds from
aqueous, ethanolic and ether extracts from green and roas-
ted yerba maté. Compounds identified in water and etha-
nolic extracts from green maté were: caffeic acid, quinic
acid, caffeoyl glucose, caffeoylquinic acid, feruloylquinic
acid, dicaffeoylquinic acid and rutin. The roasted yerba
maté polar extracts exhibited also caffeoylshikimic acid
and dicaffeoylshikimic acid.
CGAs are potent antioxidant compounds and may act
as hydrogen or electron donors and also as transition metal
ion chelators (Carini et al. 1998). Previous studies have de-
monstrated the antioxidant activities of the polyphenols as
hydrogen-donating free radical scavengers and their struc-
tural dependence (Jovanovic et al. 1994; Rice-Evans et al.
1996). Its ability to inhibit the oxidation of low-density
lipoproteins (LDLs) demonstrates their potential as chain-
breaking antioxidants (Mangiapane et al. 1992; Miura et al.
1995; Salah et al. 1995; Vinson et al. 1995). Other studies
suggest that polyphenols might inhibit free radical forma-
tion and propagation of free radical reactions though the
chelating of transition-metal ions (Morel et al. 1993; Pa-
ganga et al. 1996; van Acker et al. 1996).
CGA is absorbed by humans in the intestine after bac-
terial metabolism (Oltoff et al. 2000, 2003).
Ingestion of CGAs improved glucose tolerance and mi-
neral pool distribution in obese Zucker rats and resulted in
the decrease in postprandial blood glucose concentrations,
important parameters related to diabetes mellitus type 2
(Herlinget et al. 1999; Sotillo and Hadley 2002a, 2002b). A
similar effect was observed in studies with humans (John-
ston et al. 2003, 2004). Some of the proposed mechanisms
are (a) the ability of CGAs to inhibit enzymes responsible
for the glucose intake at the intestine lumen (Hara and Hon-
da 1990; McCarty 2005) and (b) the dissipation of an Na+
gradient in the cells’ apical region, which, according to
Welsch (1989) reduced in 89% the glucose absorption by
the intestine membrane in the presence of CGA.
Another source of CGAs, Cecropia obtusifolia, was
able to reduce rats blood glucose concentration to levels si-
milar to those obtained with the reference drug glibencla-
mide (Andrade-Cetto et al. 2001).
Six from nine cohort studies in Europe and the United
States related coffee consumption to a lower risk in the de-
velopment of type 2 diabetes. The CGAs present in coffee
seems to respond for this property (Johnston et al. 2003,
2004; van Dam 2006).
Most of the biological activities of yerba maté are attri-
Tab le 3 Yerba maté phenolic content determined in several researches (1990-2005).
Sample/extraction procedure Analytical methodology Results Reference
Methanolic extract from five samples of
green yerba maté and maté tea
commercialized in Argentina and United
Kingdon were analysed.
Reverse Phase HPLC
Detection at 313 nm.
Chlorogenic acids content varies from 16
to 41 mg fro the brownish samples and
from 107 to 133 mg for the greenish
samples (in 200 mL volume).
Clifford and Ramirez-
Martinez 1990
Aqueous or methanolic extracts from
leaves from I. argentina Lillo, I.
chamaedrifolia Reisseck, I. integerrima
(Veel. Conc.) Reisseck, I. microdonta
Loes, I. paraguariensis A. St. Hill and I.
taubertiana Loes.
Paper chromatography; UV detection for
Detection of flavonols and flavones with
Detection of protoantocyanidines with
Free and glycoside kaempferol were
detected in I. chamaedrifolia; free
quercitin was detected in all samples; rutin
was detected in all species but I.
chamaedrifolia; and proantocianidines
were detected in I. integerrima.
Ricco et al. 1991
Water infusion from 18 chimarrão maté
samples from south Brazil (3 g/60 mL)
5-CQA and caffeic acid were
determined by RP- HPLC. Detection at
313 nm.
Total phenolics were measured by the
Folin-Ciocalteau method with phenol as
Total phenolics varied from 0.78-1.6
Mazzafera 1997
Water infusion from dried and minced
leaves at 30% (p/v) and 5% (p/v).
Caffeoyl derivatives were determined by
spectrophotometry with 5-CQA as
Phenolic content was 10.71% (w/w) for
Ilex paraguariensis and varied from 0.96-
6.83% (p/p) for the other Ilex species.
Filip et al. 2000
Aqueous extract from I. paraguariensis
5% (w/v). Aqueous extracts from other
Ilex spp. 30% (w/v).
EP-HPLC detection at 325 nm for
caffeic acid derivatives;
Rutin detection at 255 nm;
Quercitin detection at 254 nm;
Kaempferol detection at 263 nm.
I. paraguariensis showed the highest
phenolic content among the species. Total
phenolic content for I. paraguariensis was
9.608% (w/w) and varied from 0.118-
1.900 (w/w) for the other species. Rutin,
quercitin and kaempferol contents were
0.0060; 0.0031 and 0.0012% (w/w),
respectively for I. paraguariensis and
lower for the other species.
Filip et al. 2001
Water infusions from maté-tea (1
bag/cup) and chimarrão-maté (3 g/60
mL) prepared as chimarrão (hot wat er)
or tererê (cold water).
RP-HPLC. Detection at 323 nm. 5-CQA content varied from 427.0 to 464.6
μg/mL for the chimarrão beverage; from
264.9 to 370.7 μg/mL for the tererê
beverage and from 59.7 to 126.9 μg/mL
for the maté-tea.
Bastos et al. 2005
Yerba maté composition and pharmacological properties. Bastos et al.
buted to the presence of phenolic compounds, and the
amount of these substances present in the leaves or in the
beverages may vary considerably due to innumerous fac-
tors, such as agronomic procedures, processing technology
and brewing methodology. Some of the different results for
phenolic composition of yerba maté leaves and beverages
are shown in Table 3.
Saponins are a vast group of glycosides widely distributed
in higher plants which are distinguishable from other gly-
cosides by their surface active properties. They dissolve in
water to form colloidal solutions that foam upon shaking.
The biological applications of saponins are usually based
on their membrane-disrupting properties, and formation of
large mixed micelles with steroids and bile acids. They are
believed to form the mains constituents of many plants
drugs and folk medicines, and are considered responsible
for numerous pharmacological properties. For example, the
ginseng (Panax ginseng) root, one of the most important
medicinal oriental products used worldwide, has saponins
as the major bioactive constituents.
Saponins can be classified into two major groups based
on the nature of their aglycone skeleton: the steroidal sapo-
nins, mostly present in the angiosperms and the triterpe-
noids saponins, most common in the dicotyledonous angio-
sperms. Biological and pharmacological activities of sapo-
nins have been related in several reviews, the most recent
being by Sparg et al. (2004). Haemolytic activity, mollus-
cicidal activity, anti-inflamatory activity, antifungal/anti-
yeast activity, antibacterial/antimicrobial activity, antipara-
sitic activity, cytotoxicity and antitumoral activity, antiviral
activity among others have been described in the literature.
The leaves of I. paraguariensis contain a significant
amount of triterpenoid saponins. Monodesmosidic and bi-
desmosidic saponins have been isolated from the aerial
parts of yerba maté, and all compounds contained the urso-
lic or oleanolic moieties (Fig. 3).
Saponins may be used as a chemical fingerprint for the
authentication of yerba maté. Adulteration by variable
quantities of leaves of other South American Ilex species,
showing complete different saponin profile from yerba
maté, is rather common (Pires et al. 1997).
Gosamnn and Schenkel (1989) reported the isolation
and elucidation of a new saponin, named matesaponin,
from the leaves of yerba maté which is a three sugar resi-
due bidesmoside (matesaponin 1: ursolic acid 3-O-[β-D-
glucopyranoyl ester). In the sequence, other matesaponins,
named metasaponins 2, 3, 4 and 5 were characterized by
Gosmann and Guillaume (1995) and by Kraemer et al.
Martinet et al. (2001) characterized two minor saponins
obtained from the methanolic extract of the leaves of I. pa-
raguariensis as oleanolic acid-3-O-(β-D-glucopyranosyl-
ester (guaiacin B) and oleanolic acid-3-O-(β-D-glucopyra-
pyranosyl)-(28Æ1)-β-D-glucopyranosyl ester (nudicaucin
C). Both are isomeric forms of the known matesaponins 1
(MSP 1) and 2 (MSP 2) and differ only by the nature of the
aglycone: they have oleanolic acid instead of ursolic acid,
as found in the matesaponins.
The triterpenoids ursolic acid and its isomer, oleanolic
acid, are compounds found widely in the plant kingdom
that have many biological effects: anti-inflammatory, anti-
arthritic, and antitumor activity, hepatoprotective effects in
mice, and membrane-stabilizing properties (Liu 1995; Sa-
raswat et al. 2000; Martin-Araon et al. 2001; Saravanan et
al. 2006).
Saponins are reported to interfere with cholesterol me-
tabolism and to delay the intestinal absorption of dietary fat
via inhibition of pancreatic lipase activity (Hosttetmann and
Marston 1995; Han et al. 2002, 2005).
Caffeine, saponins and phenolic contents are one of the
main targets for yerba maté genetic improvement due to
their role in the bitter and astringent attributes of the beve-
rages (Sturion et al. 2004).
Ash content from yerba maté leaves ranges from 5.07 to
9% (Sanz and Isasa 1991; Esmerelindo et al. 2002). There
is little research work available on the mineral content of
commercial yerba maté, and the data are relative to chi-
marrão-type yerba maté leaves and infusions (Table 4).
Sanz and Isasa (1991) reported that the mineral extrac-
tion from the leaves, during the infusion process, does not
show the same behavior. For example: calcium content in
the leaves is higher (80-90%) than that found in the infu-
sion, because of its low water solubility. On the other hand,
sodium present in the leaves is easily extracted by the infu-
sion process.
According to the data reported by Heinrichs and Mala-
volta (2001), a chimarrão drinker may ingest all the neces-
sary potassium and magnesium from the beverages, while
ingesting slow amounts of sodium and aluminum.
The mineral contents from leaves change drastically de-
pending on the agricultural practices. The use of fertilizers
and the soil have an important impact in the mineral com-
position of the leaves and should be taken in account for the
production of higher nutritional products.
Antioxidant, antimutagenic and cellular protective
It is well established that oxygen radicals are involved in
various pathological states such as cancer, cardiovascular
disorders, inflammation, and liver diseases (Ames et al.
1993; Halliwell 1994). They are ubiquitous in our natural
environment but they are also formed in the issue by endo-
genous mechanisms (Cerutti 1985). The attack of reactive
oxygen species (ROS) on DNA generates a multiplicity of
DNA damage, including the modification of bases. Besides
DNA damage, lipid peroxidation is one of the main delete-
rious effects of oxidant attack on bimolecules through the
disruption of the structural integrity of membranes. The
high vulnerability of tissues to lipid peroxidation has been
partly attributed to their high content of long-chain polyun-
saturated fatty acids (PUFA), such as arachidonic and doco-
sahexaenoic (DHA) acids (Kubo et al. 1997). The oxidation
Oleanolic acid
Ursolic acid
Fig. 3 Oleanolic and ursolic acids: molecular structures.
Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Science and Biotechnology 1(1), 37-46 ©2007 Global Science Books
of PUFAs in cell membranes has received considerable at-
tention because of its contribution to potential damage to
biological systems. Additionally, it has been reported that a
high content of unsaturated fatty acid may increase the oxi-
dative stress (Cosgrove et al. 1987).
I. paraguariensis extracts are very potent inhibitors of
low-density lipoproteins (LDL) oxidation and have anti-
mutagenic effects (Table 5). In 1995 Gugliucci and Stahl
demonstrated that I. paraguariensis extract was able to in-
hibit LDL oxidation in vitro. The inhibition of lipid peroxi-
dation was monitored by diene conjugates and thiobarbi-
turic acid-reactive substances (TBARS), as well as LDL
apoB modification. The authors showed that this inhibition
has a concentration-dependent effect. Subsequently Gugli-
ucci (1996) extended these observations in vivo demons-
trating that the antioxidants present in I. paraguariensis are
absorbed and reach sufficient high levels in whole plasma
from healthy humans to inhibit copper-induced LDL auto-
oxidation as shown by end-term production of TBARS.
These results were further corroborated by Gugliucci and
Menini (2002) employing three different oxidation systems
(copper, peroxynitrite and lipoxygenase) on human LDL.
The antioxidant activity of Ilex species were also evalu-
ated by Filip et al. (2000). The results presented by these
authors showed an antioxidant potential of the Ilex extracts
inhibiting a chemically initiated oxidation of synthetic
membranes (liposomes) measured by TBARS production.
Schinella et al. (2000) investigated the antioxidant proper-
ties of an aqueous extract of I .paraguariensis, in rats, using
a free radical-generating system. They were able to de-
monstrate an inhibition in the lipid peroxidation in rat liver
microsomes in a concentration-dependent way. Addition-
ally, the extract was also able to inhibit the H2O2-induced
peroxidation in red blood cell membranes exhibiting radical
scavenging properties to ward superoxide anion.
Bracesco et al. (2003) evaluated the antioxidant proper-
ties of I. paraguariensis infusion by means of induction of
DNA double-strand breaks by H2O2 in Saccharomyces ce-
revisiae as well as peroxide and lipoxygenase-induced hu-
man LDL oxidation. Their results suggested that maté infu-
Tab le 4 The mineral content (mean value) in yerba maté products.
Mineral Aqueous infusion
Commercial Yerba maté a
*g/Kg ** mg/Kg
Commercial Yerba mated
Aqueous infusion d
Resinous material c
*mg/100 g **mg/L *** mg/Kg
N 11 16 * --- ---
P 41 0.9 * --- --- 152.25 *
K 683 13 * 915.4 539.3
Ca 44 6.3 * 622.5 79.6 239.8 *
Mg 188 4.9 * 456.5 170.8 75.75 *
S – SO4 58 0.9 * --- --- ---
B 2,2 32 ** --- ---
Cu 0.28 8.9 ** 1.0 0.9 ---
Fe 0.33 185 ** 12.8 0.3 ---
Mn 34 880 ** 43.1 26.2 ---
Ni 0.03 1.9 ** --- --- ---
Zn 0.20 40 ** 2.6 0.5 ---
Al 3.43 403 ** --- --- ---
Ba 1.25 --- --- --- ---
Cd 0.00 <0.01 ** --- --- 0.01 **
Co --- <0.01 ** --- ---
Cr 0.04 1.5 ** --- --- <0.05 ***
Na 3.23 39 ** 17.6 16.1 151.38 *
Pb 0.00 <0.03 ** --- --- ---
Si 6.31 --- --- --- ---
a 70% leaves 30% sticks (Heinrichs and Malavolta 2001).
b prepared with 70 g commercial yerba mate /1L water (Heinrichs and Malavolta 2001).
c yerba maté collected in Irati, Paraná, Brazil (Efing et al. 2006).
d commercial samples purchased in Spain (Sanz and Isasa 1991).
Tab le 5 Antioxidant and cellular protective actions summary data.
Sample Analytical Methodology Results Reference
In vitro TBARS production Inhibit LDL oxidation Gugliucci and Stahl 1995
In vivo – heath human plasma TBARS production Inhibit LDL oxidation Gugliucci 1996
In vitro – liposomes TBARS production Inhibit LDL oxidation Filip et al. 2000
In vivo – rat liver and
red blood cells
Lipid peroxidation induced; erythrocyte mem-
brane peroxidation and free radical generation.
Inhibit LDL oxidation;
Free radical scavenging properties
Schinella et al. 2000
In vivo – human plasma TBARS production, diene conjugates formation
and total polyphenols
Inhibit LDL oxidation Gugluicci and Menini
In vivoSaccharomyces cerevisiae
and human plasma
Double strand breaks determination (TAFE),
TBARS production, diene conjugates formation
and 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl assay (DPPH).
Decrease DNA breaks;
Inhibit LDL oxidation
Bracesco et al. 2003
In vitro - HepG2 cells and
Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Cytotoxicity, TPA-induced ornithine decarboxy-
lase, quinone reductase and topoisomerase acti-
Cytotoxic activity;
inhibition of topoisomerase
Ramirez-Mares et al.
In vitro – murine hepatoma cells Total antioxidant capacity (ORAC) and quinine
reductase assay
Antioxidant and chemopreventive
Chandra and Mejia 2004
In vitro – murine RAW264.7
1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl assay (DPPH),
nitration of BSA, and LDH cytotoxicity
Inhibition of protein nitration and
cytoprotective effects
Bixby et al. 2005
In vivo – rabbits Lipid profile; TBARS production and antioxidant
Reduced atherosclerotic lesion Mosimann et al. 2006
Ex vivo – Wistar rat submandibular
Peroxidase secretion Prevention of oral pathologies and
potential chemopreventive action
on oral cavity
Filip et al. 2007
Yerba maté composition and pharmacological properties. Bastos et al.
sion decreased, in a dose dependent way, the number of
DNA double strand-breaks, and peroxynitrite and lipoxy-
genase-induced human LDL oxidation are inhibited by the
extracts in a potent, dose-dependent fashion.
Ramirez-Mares et al. (2004) studied the in vitro che-
mopreventive activity of maté tea evaluating cytotoxicity,
TPA-induced ornithine decarboxylase and quinone reduce-
tase activities using HepG2 cells. The topoisomerase inhi-
bitory activity was also tested using Saccharomyces cere-
visiae. The results presented by the authors suggest that cy-
totoxic activity and the inhibition of topoisomerase II may
contribute to the overall chemopreventive activity of maté
extracts. Maté quinone reductase activity was also tested
by Chandra and Mejia (2004), but they found no induction
of this enzyme in Hepa1 c1 c7 murine hepatoma cells at
the concentration range tested (0.5-10.5 mg/mL).
Bixby et al. (2005) showed the in vitro protective ef-
fects of I. paraguariensis against peroxynitrite-induced cy-
totoxicity, which is implicated in the pathogenic mecha-
nisms of stroke, myocardial ischemia, diabetes and diabe-
tes-associated cardiovascular dysfunction (Szabo 2003). I.
paraguariensis extracts proved the highest inhibition of
protein nitration, and the highest promotion of cell survival,
being over 60% at dilutions of 1/1200, whereas green tea
or red wines displayed modest effects at the same concen-
The ability to inhibit the oxidation of LDL demons-
trates their potential as chain-breaking antioxidants (Man-
giapane et al. 1992; Miura et al. 1995; Vinson et al. 1995;
Salah et al. 1995). It was suggested that the antioxidant ac-
tivity may be related to the presence of polyphenolic com-
pounds that might inhibit free radical formation and pro-
pagation of free radical reactions though the chelation of
transition-metal ions (Morel et al. 1993; van Acker et al.
1996; Paganga et al. 1996). The ursolic and oleanolic acids,
the main saponin derivatives in I. paraguariensis (Pires et
al. 1997) might also play an important role as antioxidants.
Anesini et al. (2005) demonstrated that maté infusions
may also act as peroxidase, what was further reinforced by
Filip et al. (2007) that investigated the activity of aqueous
extracts of I. paraguariensis (herbarium specimen) and
commercial yerba maté on peroxidase secretion in female
rat submandibular glands. Spectrophotometrical determina-
tion of peroxidase activity showed that both extracts pro-
duced a significant increase in both secreted and total per-
oxidase activity. Caffeine and CGA were proved to play an
important role in the induction of peroxidase secretion in-
duced by the extracts. As peroxidase is an oral enzyme in-
volved in the defense of the oral cavity, it seems that the
ingestion of the infusions might play an important role in
protection against pathogenic process.
Thermogenic effects and weight loss
Martinet et al. (1999) studied various commercially-avail-
able plant preparations that have claimed to possess anti-
obesity action. No significant increase in energy expendi-
ture (EE) was noted after treatment with any of the prepa-
rations. In addition, no change in respiratory quotient (RQ)
was shown, except after treatment with I. paraguariensis
extract, where a drop in RQ was observed, indicating a rise
in the proportion of fat oxidized. The results suggested the
poor potential of these plant preparations in the treatment
of obesity, except possibly for the maté extract.
In 2001, a research team studying obesity at the Char-
lottenlund Medical Center in Denmark tested a herbal pre-
paration of yerba maté, guaraná, and damiana (YGD) for
gastric emptying and subsequent weight loss (Andersen
and Fogh 2001). They concluded that the herbal prepara-
tion, YGD capsules, significantly delayed gastric emptying,
reduced the time to perceived gastric fullness and induced
significant weight loss over 45 days in overweight patients
treated in a primary health care context. In addition, main-
tenance treatment given in an uncontrolled context resulted
in no further weight loss, nor weight regain in the group as
a whole.
Among several plants used with weight loss purpose,
reported by 14 herb sellers in Porto Alegre, Brazil, I. para-
guariensis was cited twice (Dickel et al. 2007).
Anti-diabetic actions
Yerba maté has been shown to inhibit the formation of ad-
vanced glycation end products (AGEs), with an effect com-
parable to that of two pharmaceutical grade AGE inhibitor
drugs. Lunceford and Gugliucci (2005) reported that poly-
phenol-rich I. paraguariensis extracts are capable of inhi-
biting AGEs (or Maillard reaction products) on a protein
model in vitro, whereas green tea displays no significant
effect. Glycation, the nonenzymatic adduct formation
between sugar aldehydes and proteins, is one key molecular
basis of diabetic complications due to hyperglycemia. The
AGEs, which are irreversibly formed, accumulate with
aging, atherosclerosis, and diabetes mellitus (Wiemsperger
2004). Phenolics, such as chlorogenic acids, have been
claimed to modulate the activity of glucose-6-phosphatase
involved in glucose metabolism (Hemmerle et al. 1997).
Digestion improvement
Research conducted by a team at Catedra de Farmacologia
in Buenos Aires, Argentina found that yerba maté does in-
duce an increase in bile flow and enhance intestinal transit
(Gorzalczany et al. 2001). According to the results obtained
with the four species of Ilex studied, the choleretic activity
of I. paraguariensis was slow, gradual and sustained, while
that I. brevicuspis is rapid, reaches a maximum and de-
creases rapidly.
Anti-fatigue and stimulant actions
Yerba maté is a CNS stimulant. The metabolic effects of
maté appear to include the ability to maintain aerobic
breakdown of carbohydrates during exercise for long peri-
ods of time. As a result, more calories are burned, thereby
increasing cardiac efficiency and delaying the build-up of
lactic acid.
In fact, a US Patent in 2002 cites yerba maté as inhi-
biting monoamine oxidase (MAO) activity by 40-50% in
vitro. The underlying study suggests that maté might be
useful for treating a variety of disorders such as “depression,
disorders of attention and focus, mood and emotional disor-
ders, Parkinson’s disease, extrapyramidal disorders, hyper-
tension, substance abuse, eating disorders, withdrawal syn-
dromes, and the cessation of smoking”.
Circulatory system action and
hypocholesterolemic effect
Stein et al. (2005) verified that the aqueous extract and an
acid n-butanilic extract from I. paraguariensis induced
vasodilatation in the mesenteric arterial vascular beds from
standard-diet rats in a dose dependent manner, what was
not observed with a hypercholesterolemic-diet. These au-
thors observed that chronic oral administration of yerba
maté in hypercholesterolemic-diet rats resulted in a signi-
ficant reduction in serum levels of cholesterol (30% reduc-
tion) and tryglicerides (60.4% reduction). These authors
suggest that the antioxidant activity of yerba maté infusions
might be responsible, in part, for the decrease in plasma
levels of cholesterol and triglycerides and that the induced
vasodilatation observed for both aqueous and acidified bu-
tanol fraction from yerba maté are mediated by release of
endothelium-derived substances.
Gorgen et al. (2005) suggest than I. paraguariensis is
able to interfere in the circulatory system, acting as a diu-
retic and hypotensive agent. The chronic ingestion of aque-
ous extract of I. paraguariensis promoted a decrease of
ATP, ADP and AMP hydrolysis in rat blood serum. Thus, it
seems that this treatment can alter the nucleotidase pathway,
Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Science and Biotechnology 1(1), 37-46 ©2007 Global Science Books
modulating the balance in the purine levels which can in-
duce relevant effects, for example in the cardiovascular
Mossiman et al. (2006) evaluated whether maté infu-
sions could reduce the progression of atherosclerosis in 1%
cholesterol-fed rabbits. After 2 months of treatment, maté
intake did not change the lipid profile or hepatic choles-
terol content of control or hypercholesterolemic rabbits.
However, the atherosclerotic lesion area was considerably
smaller in the hypercholesterolemic-maté group, and the
aortic cholesterol content was around half that of the HC
group. In spite of this, the thiobarbituric acid-reactive sub-
stances (TBARS) in the atherosclerotic aorta, liver and se-
rum, and the activity of the antioxidant enzymes in liver
and aorta did not differ among groups. The results showed
that I. paraguariensis extract can inhibit the progression of
atherosclerosis in cholesterol-fed rabbits, although it did
not decrease the serum cholesterol or aortic TBARS and
antioxidant enzymes.
Chimarrão ingestion and cancer incidence
The high esophagus cancer incidence in some South Ame-
rica localities where population traditionally consumes
chimarrão was the concern of several epidemiological stu-
dies published during the 1980s-1990s (Vassalo et al.
1985; Muñoz et al. 1987; Victoria et al. 1987; de Stefani et
al. 1991, 1996, 1998; Dietz et al. 1998; Barros et al. 2000;
Castellsagué et al. 2000). These studies could not find a
positive correlation between chimarrão drinking and can-
cer. The main issue may be the temperature in which chi-
marrão is drunk, that leads to lesions in the tissues. Con-
fusion factors, such as smoking, expressive alcohol and
meat barbecue consume, were revealed in these studies.
One important problem in the yerba maté production
chain is the contamination of maté products with policy-
clic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) that are potential carci-
nogenic compounds. They are originated from the burning
of the wood, which is traditionally used in the drying pro-
cess of maté leaves. These compounds are hydrophobic
and its content in maté beverages is usually very low, but
becomes important due to the large amount usually drunk/
day/person. Fagundes et al. (2006) evaluated the degree
and sources of PAH exposure of the inhabitants of the re-
gion of southern Brazil. They measured a PAH metabo-
lite:1-hydroxypyrene glucuronide (1-OHPG) from two
hundred healthy adults (half smokers, half non smokers,
half male and half female) urine. They suggested that both
tobacco smoke and maté both contribute to high levels of
benzo[α]pyrene exposure in the people of southern Brazil,
what might contribute to the high rates of ESCC observed
in this population. The authors stated that the increased
urine 1-OHPG concentrations associated with maté suggest
that contaminants, not just thermal injury, may help ex-
plain the increased risk of ESCC previously reported for
In a case-control study aiming to investigate bladder
cancer and maté consumption in Argentina, involving 114
Argentinean case-control pairs concluded that maté with
pump, consumed from the last 20 years by the subjects,
was associated with bladder cancer in ever-smokers but not
in never-smokers. Maté cocido (green maté in bags) was
not associated with bladder cancer (Bates et al. 2007).
The scientific interest in yerba maté as a functional food or
a medicinal plant may be considered recent if compared
with other plant products, like Camellia sinensis, that simi-
lar to maté, were traditionally consumed by the indigenous
populations in Asia before the European people arrival. The
extension of this scientific interest delay may be well visu-
alized by the fact that maté was not described as a source of
caffeine or phenolics (in South America) in the main scien-
tific reviews published on this subject.
Although there are yet few results from in vivo studies
relating to the popular therapeutic attributes of this product,
they seem to corroborate the pharmacological properties
popularly attributed to this plant. Antioxidant activity, tested
by different methodologies in different in vitro and in vivo
systems, is the same or even superior of some plants/foods
that are usually recognized as health promoters.
I. paraguariensis beverages have almost the same pro-
file of purine alkaloids and phenolic compounds from coffee,
another stimulant beverage with other recognized potential
application in public health field, as diabetes.
Nowadays, the search for foods that bring, within the
regular diet, bioactive substances, as phenolic compounds,
phytoestrogens or probiotics, is a may concern in the nutri-
tion field. Yerba maté, besides its stimulant activity, long
known by the indigenous South American inhabitants,
seems to fulfill the requirements as a functional food. In
spite of it, there is yet much to be done: there are not
enough human based studies to support the properties ver-
ified in vitro and in vivo models with animals. Besides, there
is a necessary effort towards the improvement of the pro-
duction chain, what might result in a raw product with certi-
ficated quality. Nowadays, most of the maté products lack
quality in one or another way: huge differences in chemical
composition from one harvest to another, the possible con-
tamination with aromatic polycyclic hydrocarbons and the
lack of microbiological control.
The increasing number of maté products patents, as well
as the growing interest in this product, by countries whose
population do not traditionally consume maté beverages,
and the increasing number of published papers about I. pa-
raguariensis pharmacological properties may impulse a new
era for this traditional product that is considered by the pro-
ducers and consumers as “environmentally correct, socially
fair and economically feasible”.
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... The ability of maté to quench reactive oxygen species was correlated to its polyphenol content especially chlorogenic acid. CGA exhibits strong antioxidant effect reported to regulate the activity of glucose-6-phosphatase taking part in glucose metabolism and to ultimately decrease blood glucose level (Bastos et al., 2007). Cichoric acid is present in chicory and dandelion that stimulates the immune system and improves lipid metabolism and posing these coffee substitute as potential functional food in the market (Ahmed and Rashid, 2019). ...
... CNS stimulation and weight loss properties of yerba maté are also attributed to its caffeine content as currently reported in green coffee (Lelyana, 2017;Bastos et al., 2007). Trigonelline, an alkaloid isolated from fenugreek, is reported to exhibit a strong hypoglycemic activity, improve glucose tolerance posing it as potential functional food for the treatment of diabetes type II. ...
... Cycloartane glycosides present in Astragalus boeticus L. accounted for its cytotoxic effect against human colon cancer cell lines (Graziani et al., 2019). Matesaponins I-V isolated from yerba maté exhibited antimicrobial effect in addition to lowering lipid level in obese rats (Bastos et al., 2007), and suggestive for its beneficial anti-hyperlipidemic and antioxidant effects similar to the anti-obese agent as in green coffee (Choi et al., 2016). Moreover, saponins mediate for the distinct bitter taste of mate beverages though disfavored by consumers. ...
Coffee is one of the most popular beverages used worldwide owing to its rich flavor and several health effects. Nevertheless, its caffeine content renders its use rather limited for certain individuals warranting for the development of coffee substitutes with similar flavor though with other health effects. Several coffee substitutes are present in the market belonging to different plant organs to encompass a myriad of phytoconstituents. The production of these coffee substitutes expose them to roasting to mimic that of coffee aroma and flavor, concurrent with chemical changes. This review provides state of the art on reported plants used as coffee substitutes with regards to its quality characteristics, sensory characters, chemical composition, health benefits and to rationalize for its choice as coffee substitute. Further, impact of roasting, as well as health hazards associated with such chemical changes in these substitutes is presented for the first time.
... Yerba Mate Despalada is theoretically without twigs (in reality it contains up to 10% of them), while Yerba Mate Elaborada is a type of dried tea containing about 35% of twigs. • Packaging-the product is crushed before packing and can be flavored with natural fruit essences, such as pomelo juice or other citrus fruits [1,3,10,[12][13][14]. ...
... The following flavonoid compounds are also found in Yerba Mate: rutin, quercetin 3-rhamnoside and 3-glucoside, kaempferol 3-rhamnoside and 3-glucoside, and luteolin diglycoside. Their total content per catechin is about 70 mg/g d.m., while the amount of rutin alone determined in 23 traditional Argentine and one Paraguayan Yerba Mate was 15-35 µg/g extract [12,21,23,27]. ...
... Guaiacin B and nudicaucine C, which are analogues of mate saponin 1 and 2, derivatives of another aglycone, oleanolic acid, have also been identified [6, 12,32]. The MALDIand LDI-MS method developed by Petroselli et al. to assess the quality of the raw material now allows the detection of known saponins in I. paraguariensis leaves, as well as new ones not previously described as components of commercial Yerba Mate. ...
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Bearing in mind the growing interest in Yerba Mate, a comprehensive study has been prepared containing the most important aspects and possibilities of its use. The introduction of the work contains the species characteristics of Yerba Mate, as well as information about the origin and places of cultivation. The next part focuses on the analysis of the composition, pointing to purine alkaloids, polyphenols, saponins, and minerals as groups of active compounds responsible for the clinical activity of Yerba Mate. The review of the results of preclinical and clinical studies indicates activity in relation to the stimulating effect, reducing weight by stimulating lipolysis, cardioprotective, anti-diabetic, and anti-inflammatory effects. The information about the action of Yerba Mate is supplemented by the characteristics of its potential toxicity in terms of PAHs content (in particular benzo[α]pyrene) and preparation as a determinant of increased irritation. The current data on the effects of Yerba Mate and the wide safety margin of its use position this raw material as a valuable component of functional food. The growing frequency of consuming Yerba Mate, conditioned by the availability resulting from the globalization of the market and the information provided about it’s the pro-health effects, will position Yerba Mate's popularity among wider population groups.
... The antioxidant, antiobesity, and anti-inflammation activities of yerba mate extracts and components have previously been reviewed. (Bastos et al., 2007;Heck and De Mejia, 2007) Anti-diabetic -Advanced glycation end products have been found to be controlled by yerba mate (Lunceford and Gugliucci, 2005;Poswal et al., 2019). ...
... The ability to maintain aerobic glucose breakdown during exercise for lengthy periods of time appears to be one of maté's metabolic benefits. As a result, more calories are expended, improving cardiac efficiency and delaying lactic acid build-up (Bastos et al., 2007). ...
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The purpose of this study is to create awareness among Hospitality Professionals, Tea connoisseurs, students, and researchers of India and neighboring countries about this Tea. Yerba Mate tea, an infusion prepared from the leaves of the Ilex paraguariensis tree. It is a popular non-alcoholic beverage in South America that is quickly gaining traction in the international market, either as tea or as a component of prepared foods or nutritional supplements. For ages, the indigenous people have consumed it as a social and therapeutic beverage. Yerba Mate tea is Argentina's national drink, but it's also well-known for its energizing, rejuvenating, and weight-loss effects. South American footballers, who appear to carry their mate gourds with them wherever they go, have popularized the drink in Europe. This review focuses on the history, production, and health benefits of Yerba.
... Yerba mate (YM), under the botanical name Ilex paraguariensis, is a plant native to South America which grows in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Brazil (Bastos et al., 2007;Heck and De Mejia 2007). YM is an excellent source of polyphenols, specifically: caffeoyl derivatives (caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, 3, 4-dicaffeoylquinic acid, 3, 5dicaffeoylquinic acid, and 4, 5-dicaffeoylquinic acid); these components are responsible for the antioxidant activity attributed to YM (Filip et al., 2000). ...
... YM is endowed with several biological properties, which many authors attribute to polyphenols (Bastos et al., 2007). It has been demonstrated that YM has antioxidant capacity (Filip et al., 2000), anti-inflammatory properties (Alves et al., 2019), antiobesity effect (Ko and Auyeung 2013), cardiovascular protective effect (de Veiga et al., 2018), and anti-tumoral effects (Amigo-Benavent et al., 2017). ...
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Breast cancer (BC) is the most frequent cancer in women and tumor metastasis is a major cause of cancer-related deaths. Our aim was to evaluate anti-metastatic properties of yerba mate extract (YMe) in BC models. 4T1, F3II, MCF-7, and MDA-MB231 cell lines were used to perform in vitro assays. The F3II syngeneic mammary carcinoma model in BALB/c mice was used to evaluate tumor progression, BC metastasis and survival. Cells were inoculated subcutaneously into the flank for the heterotopic model and into the mammary fat pad for the orthotopic model. YMe was administered p.o. in a dose of 1.6 g/kg/day. In vitro YMe inhibited cell proliferation and reduced tumor cell adhesion, migration and invasion. These biological effects were cell-line dependent. In vivo YMe reduced tumor metastasis and increased mice survival in both models. Our preclinical results suggest that YMe could modulate tumor progression and metastasis in BC models.
... A quick exposition to high temperatures, called "Zapeca"; 2. drying until a 3% of moisture is reached, in a system called "barbacuá", where the material is exposed to hot air in rotating drums heated by gas or wood; and; 3. a milling process with additional drying (Esmelindro et al. 2002). For mate-tea, on the other hand, the material used is the roasted product of the yerba (Bastos et al. 2007). Furthermore, while chimarrão and mate-tea are made with the addition of hot water, terere is obtained by using cold or iced water (Bastos and Torres 2003). ...
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Popularly known as "Yerba mate", Ilex paraguariensis St Hil. (Aquifoliaceae) is a South American plant extensively used to prepare many beverages, with "chimarrão", "terere" and "mate-tea" as three of the most consumed, and the preparations methods, from the plant material process to extraction mode, determines the type of the final beverage. With many health benefits and also cultural and economic relevance, in this work the volatile compounds composition of these three main beverages were analyzed through headspace solid-phase microextraction (HS-SPME) used in combination with gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Through this technique, 39 main volatile compounds were identified with spectral similarity above 90%. Using Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and Heatmap analysis, the volatile compounds composition was profiled for all the extracts and start material, and a good homogeneity among the replicates was observed, along with similarities between extracts and their start materials, as well as a notorious distinctive clustering of the different Ilex paraguariensis products, all good indications of the capability of the entire methodology used to analyze volatile compounds profiles. Limonene and n-hexanal were found as the main volatile compounds, and their abundances seem to be affected by the extraction modes, mainly due to water temperature and plant drying process. This work successfully compared the volatile profile of "chimarrão", "terere" and "mate-tea" beverages and their start materials using HS-SPME-GC-MS techniques, with the identification of the volatile compounds as well as the impact of the preparation modes in these ones.
... In producer countries (e.g., Argentina, Brazil), mate production is an important branch of agriculture and has a special status in the economy. The leaves of I. paraguariensis used for preparing the beverage has become a valuable source of bioactive substances known to have therapeutic efficacy in treating or preventing the development of arthritis, inflammatory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, haemorrhoids, headache, hepatic disorders, and obesity [2,3]. It is known that different yerba mate beverages are used in South American folk medicine, for example, by the Guarani people [4]. ...
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Plants from the Ilex genus are known for properties such as antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activity, can act as antiobesity agents and thus can be helpful in medicine. Some holly species, such as Ilex paraguariensis (widely known in the form of popular beverage: yerba mate), have been investigated, while others have been partially researched or remain unknown. Therefore, we performed qualitative and quantitative phytochemical analyses and screened antimicrobial properties of lesser-studied species (I. aquifolium L., I. aquifolium ‘Argentea Marginata’ and I. × meserveae ‘Blue Angel’). I. paraguariensis was used as a standard species for comparison purposes. Investigations were performed on water extracts due to their expected activity and composition. Antimicrobial research included evaluating minimal inhibitory, bactericidal (Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli) and fungicidal concentration (Candida albicans, Alternaria alternata, Fusarium oxysporum, and Aspergillus niger) of extracts. The influence of the extracts on the production, eradication, and viability of bacterial biofilms was also analysed. It was established that Ilex paraguariensis possesses the richest profile of hydroxycinnamic acids derivatives in terms of component concentration and diversity. Ilex spp., especially I. × meserveae, contain a slightly higher amount of flavonoids and more different flavonoid derivatives than I. paraguariensis. However, the strongest antibacterial activity was shown by I. aquifolium L. and its cultivar ‘Argentea Marginata’ in terms of minimal inhibitory, bactericidal and fungicidal concentration, and biofilm assays. Extracts from both species significantly reduced the biofilm viability of S. aureus as well, which may be of use in the production of multicomponent lavaseptics, antiseptics, diuretics (supporting urinary tract infection therapy) and, due to their action on fungi, additives to growth media for specific fungi. The significant content of saponins enables Ilex extracts to be used as natural emulsifiers, for example, in cosmetics. Moreover, relatively high chlorogenic acid and rutin content may suggest use of Ilex spp. to treat obesity, digestive problems, in chemoprevention, and as preservatives in the food industry.
... Mir o et al. (1998) and Brito et al. (2018) evaluated the fruit extract effects of yerba mate on Zea mays L. SAVE 484 and on Pomacea canaliculata (Lamarck, 1822), respectively, and both found toxic effects on tested organisms. Different biological effects are attributed to the active chemical compounds in leaves and fruits, such as saponins (aglycone), terpenoids, oleanolic and ursolic acid (Brito 2020), polyphenols (chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, 3,4-dicafeoylquinic acid, 3,5-dicafeoylquinic acid, and 4,5-dicafeoylquinic acid), xanthines (caffeine and theobromine), flavonoids (quercetin, kaempferol and rutin), amino acids (Pomilio et al., 2002;Zaporozhets et al., 2004), vitamins (A, B1, B2, B3, C and E), and minerals (K, Mg, Ca, Mn, F, Se, P, Zn) (Bastos et al., 2007;Heck and Mejia, 2007;Silva et al., 2008). ...
Crop infestation species have acquired resistance to herbicides, stimulating the search for new control methods. Plants secondary metabolites can hold more sustainable alternatives, as they can be used for development of natural herbicides. This study evaluated phytotoxic effects of aqueous extracts of Ilex paraguariensis leaves on Conyza bonariensis, an infesting species of Brazilian crops. Different concentrations of decoction and infusion extracts were tested in germination and growth bioassays. Adult plants were evaluated for leaf anatomy effects caused by the yerba mate extract. HPLC analysis was used to quantify the three major chemical constituents. The most effective aqueous extract (decoction 1.0%) decreased the percentage of seed germination, germination speed index, and percentage of germination-derived seedling formation, and increased the time for seedling formation. Shoot and root growth were not affected by this extract. In adult plants, the same extract damaged epidermis and palisade/lacunous parenchyma six hours after exposure. Caffeine was found as the major compound of this extract, followed by rutin and quercetin. Therefore, aqueous extract by decoction 1.0 % of I. paraguariensis leaves showed potential for control of C. bonariensis infestation and rather promising for the development of a natural herbicide.
... Other studies have further highlighted yerba mate's benefits. Mate is effective against obesity [30,31] prevents hearth attacks [32], contributes to avoid the complications of chronic diabetes thanks to its antiglycation action [33], stimulates the nervous system [34], and contributes to intestinal propulsion [26,31,35]. Thus, yerba mate is a pleasant drink, with medicinal properties [36]. ...
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Mate is the most consumed beverage in South America. There is interest in expanding yerba mate sales into the old and new markets by promoting its health properties and energizing effects. The research study aims to explore Argentinian and Italian purchasing and consumption behavior and perception of yerba mate. The exploration includes agro-food chain stakeholders’ views, and consumers’ habits, perception, knowledge of yerba mate in relation to other market positioning caffeine-containing products. Data collection includes qualitative method, such as interviews with agro-food chain stakeholders, that is producers, processors, consumers, and quantitative consumer survey. Data collection was carried out in Argentina and in Italy. Results show that in Argentina yerba mate consumption is driven by habit and tradition, and in Italy yerba mate is mostly unknown. Consumers tend to drink yerba mate in Argentina and other caffeine-containing beverages in Italy to socialize, and as source of energy. Consumers have little awareness of yerba mate antioxidant properties. Yerba mate provides the energy of coffee drinking, and the taste and pleasure of tea drinking. Italian consumers’ key challenge to yerba mate drinking is the longer time it takes, compared to the usual espresso. Italians perceive it as an energetic or relaxing beverage, with a consumption experience similar to tea and infusions. There is need to update commercialization strategy of yerba mate in Italy.
It has been estimated that more than 70% of all drugs approved worldwide between 1981 and 2006 for human health are derived from or structurally similar to natural compounds. The identification of biological matrices containing bioactive compounds with therapeutic and nutraceutical potential is necessary to supply the global market demands. Researches have indicated that the consumption of dry and aqueous extracts of Ilex paraguariensis A. St.‐Hil. is safe, providing that plant biomass does not be exposed to smoke over the drying process, avoiding contamination (e.g., ) with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon compounds, and can might help avoiding many diseases, with important potential applications in the pharma and nutraceutical industries. A survey was carried out covering the main therapeutic and nutraceutical studies performed on I. paraguariensis extracts and their relationship with the global patents granted in the last 20 years for the products using this specie in their composition. In the PubMed database, by searching for the term “Ilex paraguariensis,” an output with 497 scientific publications was found. Each paper was analyzed individually and 26 publications encompassing exclusively therapeutical and nutraceutical approaches of that plant species were selected. For the patent screening regarding Ilex‐derived products, the survey considered three patent databases: European Patent Office (EPO) (Espacenet), World Intellectual Property Organization, WIPO), and National Institute of Industrial Property (NIIP—Brazil). The criterion chosen to select the patents in the databases was the inclusion of the terms “Ilex paraguariensis” and “yerba mate” in the title and/or in the abstract, considering the patents issued from 2000 to 2020. Additionally, only patents with therapeutic and nutraceutical potential were considered on the survey. The screening and selection of the documents were performed independently by two researchers and the information cross‐checked at the end. This review contributes to show the state of the art over the last 20 years on the knowledge about the therapeutical and nutraceutical usages of the yerba mate, associated to a certain number of issued patents. The patent survey afforded 62 relevant documents covering products based on Ilex paraguariensis biomass. Considering the number of patents issued, most of them are related to the pharmaceutical area (30), followed by food supplements and beverages (17), cosmetics (10) and, finally, nutraceuticals (5). A detailed analysis of the patents issued showed that most are related to pharmaceutical grade products, generally, marketed as oral and injectable compositions for treatments of obesity, insulin resistance, hyperlipemia and diabetes mellitus, arteriosclerosis, neurological diseases, and SARS‐Cov‐2, for example. In this work, a curious fact is that there are few patents for food, cosmetics, and nutraceuticals products containing yerba mate. Therefore, it seems to be relevant to take into account the potential of that species as source of bioactive compounds for the development of new products not only intended to the pharma sector. In this sense, 26 reports were identified showing possibilities and trendiness in developing new yerba mate based products, such as packaging, biopesticides, antiseptics, and food supply, expanding the possibilities of technological applications of this plant species.
This study aimed to determine whether the addition of Ilex paraguariensis residue to the basal diet of laying hens improves bird health, production, fatty acids, egg quality, and transfer of chlorogenic acids to the egg. One hundred twenty birds of the Hy-line lineage were used, divided into five groups with six replicates and four birds per replicate, as follows: T0 (control group, without IPPR supplementation), T0.5 (basal diet plus 0.5% of IPPR), T1 (basal diet plus 1% IPPR), T1.5 (basal diet plus 1.5% IPPR), and T2 (basal diet plus 2% IPPR), for two consecutive cycles of 21 days each. The productive performance of the birds, physicochemical composition of eggs, fatty acid profile, the concentration of chlorogenic acids in eggs, leukocyte count, serum biochemistry, oxidant and antioxidant status, total bacterial count in eggs, and feces were evaluated at 21 and 42 days of the experiment. The addition of IPPR to the birds' diet no-change eggs production and feed conversion. In the egg yolks of birds that consumed IPPR, there were chlorogenic acids. There was a reduction in the total bacterial count in the feces and eggshells of the birds that received 2% of the IPPR. IPPR intake also reflected a reduction in total saturated fatty acid levels and increased monounsaturated fatty acids. These findings suggest that IPPR is a compelling alternative for laying hens; however, its ingestion also has negative effects that are discussed in below. Chlorogenic acids in the egg are desirable, as these phenolics have nutraceutical effects in humans.
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The contents of caffeine and 5-caffeoylquinic acid (5 cqa) in three yerba maté beverages (chimarrão, tererê and maté tea) were determined in this study. Analyses were performed by HPLC. Yerba maté (Ilex paraguariensis) is widely consumed in South America. It is rich in phenolic acids, which are absorbed by the body and may act as antioxidants or as free radical scavengers. One "cuia" (the apparatus used to drink chimarrão and tererê, comprising 500 mL) of chimarrão contains 135 mg of caffeine and 226 mg of 5-cqa. One "cuia" of tererê contains 85 mg of caffeine and 163 mg of 5-cqa. One cup (182 mL) of maté tea contains 13 mg of caffeine and 16 mg of 5-cqa. These data can be used to establish the dietary intake of bioactive compounds in these beverages.
Ilex paraguariensis aqueous extract ( mate) is an antioxidant-rich beverage widely consumed in South American countries. Here we questioned whether mate could reduce the progression of atherosclerosis in 1% cholesterol-fed rabbits. New Zealand White male rabbits (n = 32) were divided into four groups: control (C, n = 5), control-mate (CM, n = 5), hypercholesterolemic (HC, n = 11) and hypercholesterolemic-mate (HCM, n = 11). The daily water and mate extract consumption was approximately 400 ml. After 2 months of treatment, mate intake did not change the lipid profile or hepatic cholesterol content of control or hypercholesterolemic rabbits (p > 0.05). However, the atherosclerotic lesion area was considerably smaller in the hypercholesterolemic-mate group (HCM, 35.4% vs. HC, 60.1%; p < 0.05). In addition, the aortic cholesterol content was around half that of the HC group (HCM, 36.8 vs. HC, 73.9 mu g/mg of protein, p < 0.05). In spite of this, the thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances (TBARS) in the atherosclerotic aorta, liver and serum, and the activity of the antioxidant enzymes in liver and aorta did not differ among groups (p > 0.05). The results showed that Ilex paraguariensis extract can inhibit the progression of atherosclerosis in cholesterol-fed rabbits, although it did not decrease the serum cholesterol or aortic TBARS and antioxidant enzymes.
Coffee is a major source of caffeine, which has been shown to acutely reduce sensitivity to insulin, but also has potentially beneficial effects. We prospectively investigated the association between coffee consumption and risk of clinical type 2 diabetes in a population-based cohort of 17 111 Dutch men and women aged 30-60 years. During 125 774 person years of follow-up, 306 new cases of type 2 diabetes were reported. After adjustment for potential confounders, individuals who drank at least seven cups of coffee a day were 0-50 (95% CI 0.35-0.72, p=0.0002) times as likely as those who drank two cups or fewer a day to develop type 2 diabetes. Coffee consumption was associated with a substantially lower risk of clinical type 2 diabetes.
The inhibition of α-amylase from human saliva by polyphenolic components of tea and its specificity was investigated in vitro. Four kinds of green tea catechins, and their isomers and four kinds of their dimeric compounds (theaflavins) produced oxidatively during black tea production were isolated. They were (−)-epicatechin (EC), (−)-epigallocatechin (EGC), (−)-epicatechin gallate (ECg), (−)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg), (−)-catechin (C), (−)-gallocatechin (GC), (−)-catechin gallate (Cg), (−)-gallocatechin gallate (GCg), theaflavin (TF1), theaflavin monogallates (TF2A and TF2B), and theaflavin digallate (TF3). Among the samples tested, EC, EGC, and their isomers did not have significant effects on the activity of α-amylase. All the other samples were potent inhibitors and the inhibitory effects were in the order of TF3>TF2A>TF2B>TFl>Cg> GCg > ECg > EGCg. The inhibitory patterns were noncompetitive except for TF3.