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Sunday, February 05, 2006
The so-called healthy pick-me-up has, gulp, caffeine: scientists.

YERBA MATE, is becoming the next trendy drink, following on the heels of coffeehouse fads such as chai and green-tea lattes. It's showing up in everything from energy drinks to cocktails.

Its main selling point? That it's a healthy pick me-up without caffeine side effects, according to companies that make and sell the South American herbal tea.

The only problem: Scientis now say the main stimulant in mate isn't an alternative mateine, as its champions claim, but, instead, is plain old caffeine.

NO such thing as Mateine?
And though mate (promounced mah-tay) is widely marketed as a health drink, some health care practitioners warn that it might worsen blood pressure and anxiety.

The research comes from scientists at Florida International University who are studying mate and related plants. According to Bradley Bennett, director of the state university's Center for Ethnobiology and Nature Products, the main stimulant in mate is caffeine. It also has theophylline, which gives most teas their kick, plus theobromine the stimulant in chocolate.

Mateine, says Bennett, doesnt exits.

The controversy over Yerba Mate has caused several companies to change their marketing language. Tea packages from Pixie Mate, which was introduced last April, say that "the zip" in mate comes from the compound "mateine, a wholly different kind of boost than coffee's caffeine." Co-founder T.J. McIntyre says that now that the company knows that mate is full of caffeine -- about the same amount as in coffee - it's cahnged the labels.

Doctor has concerns
Guayaki,another brand, saw sales increase by 35 percent in 2005 and plans to introduced ready-to-drink mate tea, as well as three flavors of mate-based energy drinks., nationwide in March. Its Web site lists how many milligrams of caffeine are in each of its drinks.

In Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and southern Brazil, mare is made by stuffing a hollowed-out gourd with loose leaves, wetting them with boiling water and sipping the bitter infusion, through a metal straw. Many of the new beverages mask mate's bitterness with sugar and flavorings, such as ginger, cloves and vanilla.

Some health professionals have concerns about mate. Dr. David Goldenberg, director of head and neck surgery at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa, has reviewed studies that he says suggest a link between South America's mate and head and neck cancers. The link isn't well understood -- it might be due in part to the fact that many South Americans drink large amounts of hot, concentrated mate -- and some of the studies looked at populations that smoke and also drink alcohol, which are known risk factors for cancer.

(Source: Wall Street Journal by: Katy Mclaughlin)
posted by infraternam meam @ 5:47 AM  
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Name: infraternam meam
Home: Chicago, United States
About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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