Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctor: Is yerba mate good for my heart?

Ask the doctor

Is yerba mate good for my heart?

Q. Is it true that drinking yerba mate can lower blood pressure and cholesterol?

A. It is true "" in rabbits. I wouldn't count on it doing the same thing for yourself, though.

Yerba mate (YAIR-ba MAH-tay) is a tea made from the leaves and twigs of Ilex paraguariensis, a holly tree that grows in South America. It's a popular brew in some South American countries, where it is drunk much as coffee is drunk here. Promoters claim that yerba mate lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, aids weight loss, fights cancer, and sweetens bad breath. Those claims are based on small studies in animals and cell cultures. There's no evidence that it does the same things in humans.

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