Yerba Maté Has Most Antioxidants, Polyphenols

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill.—Yerba maté tea-based beverages contained the largest antioxidant and polyphenol content among tea-based and non-tea-based drink in a recent study published in the Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety (doi 10.1111/j.1541-4337.2010.00111.x).  This contributes to the functionality of the beverage, which has been shown to include anti-inflammatory and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol-lowering properties that help aid in the prevention of diabetes and heart disease.  Brands included in the study were Guayakí Yerba Mate, Honest Tea, Monster Energy, Red Bull, and Sobe, among others.

Researchers from the University of Illinois Urbana reviewed the U.S. energy drink market with emphasis on its market size, target demographic, active ingredients, potential benefits, safety and regulations. Several mainstream energy drinks, 16 non-tea-based and 15 tea-based, including yerba maté, were analyzed for their antioxidant content using the ORAC assay, and the total polyphenol concentration was measured in the same energy drinks with the Folin-Ciocalteu method.

They found tea-based energy drinks had much higher antioxidant capacities  and polyphenol concentrations than non tea-based energy drinks. Yerba maté drinks contained up to 100-fold higher amounts of antioxidants and polyphenols compared to the mainstream non-tea-based drinks, and Guayakí Yerba Maté had the largest antioxidant and polyphenol content among the tea-based drinks.

Polyphenols contain antioxidant properties and have been found to aid in the prevention of several degenerative diseases, including cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer.

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