Uruguay mate?

Uruguay was one of the very good surprises during our journey around the world. It is not a very touristic destination, therefore locals were happy to meet foreigners and as curious about us as we were about them.


We spent some days in the lovely village of Colonia del Sacramento were we enjoyed an intimate concert surrounded by artists from various fields. It was one of the rare moments during this travel when we felt we belonged to the place where we were and we were really into the moment. As I liked a lot the voice of the singer and she writes herself all the songs I share with you her SoundCloud page: https://soundcloud.com/valeria-bone

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In this article, I thought to write about the controversial effect of the music on the brain development but I changed my mind while walking in the local market. The local market is like everywhere else, some vegetable, bakery products, clothes, various unuseful objects. But what caught my attention was that so many people were drinking mate.

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Tea, coffee or mate?

In Uruguay, the answer is simple, definitively mate. It doesn’t sound like an easy exercise as one has to walk with a cup full of herbs and carry at the same time a thermos bottle of hot water. To put the hot water in the cup already full of yerba mate seems to be a complex exercise of dexterity. The taste is quite bitter but interesting.


Even more than the tea, the mate is particularly rich in polyphenol and has an important antioxidant capacity. However, no need to run at your local drug dealer to buy the precious mate, even if it is sometimes sold as one of these “super food” that is supposedly good for health. These superfoods, drinks or supplement are a vast business and their effects are rarely not supported by serious investigations.

The example of the polyphenols is enlightening, in vitro, meaning in artificial conditions like cells kept in Petri dishes their antioxidant properties are clear. It is not that clear in vivo, once tested on animals like mice or humans. In fact, antioxidant dietary supplements are simply not effective in preventing diseases and do not improve health. The case of antioxidant-rich food is largely debated and the common sense advice is to diversify the alimentation.


Yet, I can see one very good effect of the regular mate consumption is to keep people hydrated. Indeed to drink enough is recommended for good health.

Bjelakovic G, Nikolova D, Gluud C (2013). “Meta-regression analyses, meta-analyses, and trial sequential analyses of the effects of supplementation with beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E singly or in different combinations on all-cause mortality: do we have evidence for lack of harm?”PLoS ONE.


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