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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Maté?

Maté is an evergreen tree native to Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The leaves and small stems of the tree are used to make a tea-like caffeinated beverage. Maté has traditionally been used to enhance alertness and mental function, and also to treat digestive problems.

Maté is widely advertised as a healthful beverage, said to provide all the presumed benefits of green tea, such as preventing cancer and heart disease. However, the basis for this claim is largely theoretical. Maté does contain antioxidant polyphenols similar to those in tea, but this by itself does not demonstrate that mate is health-promoting; numerous substances with strong antioxidant properties have failed to prove beneficial in double-blind , placebo-controlled studies. Even green tea itself has not yet been proven to offer any health benefits.

In the test tube, mate has shown effects that suggest possible value for reducing cancer risk. 1 2 However, these findings are far too preliminary to rely upon; in fact, there is stronger evidence that maté could under...

Safety Issues

As a widely consumed beverage maté is generally assumed to be entirely safe. However, this may be an incorrect assumption. Numerous studies have found associations between high consumption of maté in South American and increased rates cancer of the esophagous, mouth, throat, and larynx. 3 4 It is widely stated that this increased risk is entirely due to the practice of drinking maté at very high temperatures. However, the underlying evidence is not so clear-cut. The data actually suggest that at least some of this increased risk is be due to the maté itself, rather than the temperature at which it is consumed. 5 In addition, maté consumption has also been associated with increased risk of kidney and lung cancer, which would not be expected to be influenced...