Many women have concerns about drinking yerba mate tea during their pregnancy. I’ve compiled some research and cultural facts to help provide the best information on the topic, allowing you to decide for yourself, whether yerba mate is safe to consume during pregnancy.
What is Yerba Mate?
Yerba Mate (pronounced YER-bah MAH-tay) is an herb grown in South America. Made from the leaves and stems of a holly plant (ilex paraguariensis), mate has been traditionally drunk by the Guaraní Tribe for thousands of years.
Health benefits include increased focus and concentration, mood enhancer, decreasing high blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, anti-cancer, anti-diabetes, strengthens bones, natural energy, weight loss, muscle relaxant, and diminishes negative effects from junk food diets.
Caffeine in Yerba Mate
It is generally accepted that pregnant women should decrease their caffeine intake during pregnancy, limiting the exposure to the fetus, which lacks the necessary enzymes to metabolize caffeine.
The American Pregnancy Association reports that moderate caffeine intake during pregnancy does not negatively affect pregnancy. The organization defines a moderate intake as 150 to 300 milligrams daily.
Mate contains roughly the same amount of caffeine as coffee—85 mg/cup.
In a Brazilian study published in the Journal of Nutrition, “Maté Drinking During Pregnancy and Risk of Preterm and Small for Gestational Birth,” 2005, it was concluded, during a study of over 5000 women, over 70% of whom drunk mate daily:
Prevalence of daily maté drinking was high in pregnant women and, contrary to the hypothesis, no harmful effect on intrauterine growth or duration of pregnancy was detected.
South American Women and Yerba Mate
In South America, as Mate is the National Drink of Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay, and Southern Brazil, mate is safely consumed by thousands of women during pregnancy.
The same 2005 study “suggests that the amount [300 mg / daily avg.] of maté regularly consumed during pregnancy in South Brazil is probably safe for the fetus.”
Conclusion and Recommendation for Drinking Yerba Mate While Pregnant
Evidence from studies and cultural traditions suggest that it’s safe to consume yerba mate during pregnancy. Though, to lean on the side of caution, it may be best to not exceed 300 mg/daily.
This can easily be achieved by not using several fresh servings of yerba mate daily; instead, using the same tea bags / loose-leaf herb to make multiple brews, still allowing you to benefit from the high nutritional content of the herb while not exceeding the recommend caffeine intake during pregnancy (300 mg/day).
Preparing Yerba Mate During Pregnancy
As most of the caffeine (85 mg/8oz) will be consumed during the first brew, it may be best to continue to use the same yerba mate herb several times, instead of brewing a fresh pot each time.
Using a french press or teapot (for loose-leaf), add one teaspoon of yerba mate per 8oz. Allow mate to brew for 3 minutes, then pour mate into a thermos or cup for drinking (do not let the herb continue to brew). Repeat process with the same herb up to three times.
David “Mate” Askaripour is the founder of Circle of Drink, Inc. (circleofdrink.com) and Yerbamateland.com, which provides yerba mate products and educational information.
This presentation was intended for educational purposes only and should not substitute for medical advice from your doctor.
- Iná S. Santos, “Mate drinking during pregnancy and risk of preterm and small for gestational age birth,” Journal of Nutrition, 2005.
- Elvira de Mejiá, “Yerba Mate Tea (Ilex paraguariensis): a comprehensive review on chemistry, health implications, and technological considerations,” Journal of Food Science, 2007.
- Lidiane Caroline Zenaro, Effects of aqueous extract of yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) on the oxidative stress in rats fed a cafeteria diet, International Journal of Natural Sciences Research, 2014.