Yerba maté may boost antioxidant levels for overweight and obese people: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / Aleksandr_Vorobev
© Getty Images / Aleksandr_Vorobev
Consuming one liter per day of yerba maté – but not green tea – may increase levels of an antioxidant enzyme linked to HDL (good) cholesterol for obese and overweight people, says a new study from Brazil.

Data from an eight week randomized clinical trial indicated that yerba maté consumption was associated with 10% increases in antioxidant enzyme paraoxonase-1 (PON-1), which is closely related to high density lipoprotein (HDL), compared to control (apple tea) and green tea.

A reduction in leptin levels was also recorded in the maté group, reported researchers led by Guilherme Balsan and Vera Lúcia Portal from the University Cardiology Foundation – IC/FUC.

 “The daily intake of one liter of yerba mate for eight weeks in subjects affected by overweight or obesity and dyslipidemia increased their antioxidant capacity through the elevation of serum levels of PON-1 and associated positively with the increase of the HLD-c, stressing the protective role of this compound against atherosclerotic disease,”​ wrote the researchers in the Nutrition Journal​.

“[T]he reduction in leptin levels in the YM group was significantly related to reduction of insulin and BMI.

“These results demonstrate the antioxidant role of yerba mate and its possible benefits in glycemic metabolism and in the control of body weight.”

Increasing attention

Yerba maté (Illex paraguariensis​) is a tea-like drink traditionally consumed in South American countries by pouring boiling water onto a high concentration of leaves. The active ingredients of the beverage include polyphenols and caffeoyl derivatives, such as caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, and different forms of dicaffeoylquinic acid. Yerba maté also contains phytosterols and saponins.

The beverage has been garnering increased attention outside of South America thanks to the global appeal of soccer stars from Latin America like Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez of Barcelona.

The new study looked at the potential benefits for mitochondrial biogenesis and thermogenesis.

Study details

The Brazilian researchers recruited 142 overweight or obese men and women aged between 35 and 60 years to participate in their trial. The participants were randomly assigned to receive one liter per day of yerba maté, green tea, or apple tea (control) for eight weeks.

Results showed that participants in the yerba maté group experienced increases in antioxidant capacity linked to greater levels of PON-1, and this was positively associated with increased levels of HDL-cholesterol.

On the other hand, green tea consumption did not impact PON-1 or leptin, said the researchers.

“Epidemiological and cohort studies provided convincing evidence on the protective paper of PON-1 against artery disease, through its ability to prevent lipid oxidation and limit the development of atherosclerotic lesion due to its connection with HDL,” ​explained the researchers. “In the present study, the variation in the levels of PON-1 also presented significant association with HDL. This result reinforces the fact that PON-1 is closely associated with HDL, promotes the inhibition of LDL oxidation and decreases oxidized lipids in atherosclerotic lesions.

“It is also an evidence of the antioxidant activity of yerba mate in humans, resulting in increased levels of the enzyme and a positive interaction with HDL.

“These results suggest that yerba mate and other nutritional antioxidants, by a mechanism not yet fully elucidated, improve levels of antioxidant enzyme PON-1 and can protect against cardiovascular events.”

The researchers called for additional larger studies to confirm these results.

Source: Nutrition Journal
2019, 18​:5, doi: 10.1186/s12937-018-0426-y
“Effect of yerba mate and green tea on paraoxonase and leptin levels in patients affected by overweight or obesity and dyslipidemia: a randomized clinical trial”
Authors: G. Balsan, et al.

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