Guayusa vs Yerba Mate

Guayusa vs Yerba Mate Comparison: Which Should I Choose?

Regarding natural, energy-boosting beverages, two names often come up: Guayusa and Yerba Mate. Both plants originate from South America and are rich in caffeine, antioxidants, and other beneficial compounds. This article comprehensively compares Guayusa vs Yerba Mate, delving into their origins, chemical compositions, key benefits, and notable differences to help you make an informed decision between the two.

Yerba Mate's Origin and Chemical Composition

Origin Of Yerba Mate

the origin of yerba mate

Yerba Mate, scientifically called "Ilex paraguariensis A. St.-Hil.," owes its name to a combination of Spanish and Quechua, translating to "herb from the gourd." This is due to the traditional preparation process, where leaves from the Yerba Mate plant are fermented in gourd-shaped containers.

Yerba Mate is well-known in South America, particularly Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

Moreover, it's typically consumed as a tea, created by steeping air-dried or roasted Yerba Mate leaves in hot water. This drink is cherished not just for its stimulating properties but also for its unique aroma and flavor.

Chemical Composition Of Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate's Chemical Composition

Yerba Mate is noted for its diverse and potent chemical composition.
Alkaloid purines, primarily caffeine (1–2% of dry weight) and theobromine (0.3–0.9% of dry weight), with traces of theophylline, feature prominently in their make-up.

Another significant compound found in Yerba Mate is polyphenols. These natural phenolic acid compounds are represented mainly by chlorogenic acid. 

The total polyphenol content in Yerba Mate can range from 134 to 146 mg/g, with variations primarily depending on the processing method and usage of the product [5].

In addition, Yerba Mate boasts an impressive saponin triterpene composition, which is responsible for its characteristic bitter taste. Water-soluble compounds such as Guaiacin B and Nudicaucine C also resemble certain saponin triterpenes [5].

Yerba Mate is a rich source of essential minerals as well. It contains potassium (11.35 mg/g), calcium (7.69 mg/g), magnesium (6.99 mg/g), and phosphorus (1.37 mg/g), along with trace elements like iron (0.68 mg/g), manganese (0.12 mg/g), aluminum (0.64 mg/g), and silicon (0.33 mg/g) [5].

It contains vitamins, including C, B1, B2, B6, A, and E, and fatty acids like linoleic and α-linolenic acids. [5]

These compounds can be classified as essential nutritional elements [5]:

  • Carbohydrates (80.71%)
  • Protein (4.09%)
  • Fat (0.90%).

Yerba Mate's Key Benefits

key benefits of yerba mate

Yerba Mate offers extensive health benefits, primarily due to its diverse chemical constituents.

Cardiovascular Protection: The heightened activity of antioxidant enzymes within Yerba Mate helps prevent arterial plaque, thereby safeguarding cardiovascular functions [9].

Weight Loss: Its ability to prolong gastric emptying time induces a feeling of fullness, aiding in weight management [2].

Diabetes Prevention: It positively influences insulin sensitivity, regulates serum glucose levels, and aids lipid metabolism. These factors make Yerba Mate an advantageous choice for diabetes patients and a potential preventive measure [2, 14].

Stimulant Effects: As a natural stimulant, Yerba Mate can enhance alertness and concentration, reducing mental and physical fatigue. The presence of alkaloid purines, primarily caffeine, in Yerba Mate, stimulates the central nervous system [5].

Anti-inflammatory Properties: Yerba Mate's saponin composition, specifically ursolic acid, exhibits potent anti-inflammatory properties. This can contribute significantly to overall health and well-being, combating a wide range of inflammation-related ailments [15].

Anti-cancer Properties: The anti-inflammatory components found in Yerba Mate, combined with its apoptosis-inducing effects, have been observed to inhibit the growth of colorectal cancer cells. This highlights the potential of Yerba Mate as a beneficial addition to a diet aimed at cancer prevention [1, 15, 16].

Additional Benefits: Yerba Mate has also been associated with pain reduction and liver protection, further enhancing its health benefits [11].

Guayusa's Origin and Chemical Composition

Origin Of Guayusa

the origin of Guayusa

Guayusa also referred to as "Ilex Guayusa," is an evergreen plant indigenous to the southern regions of South America. It primarily thrives in the area spanning from South Columbia to North Peru, but it holds a special significance in the Amazon region of Ecuador.

For centuries, the indigenous tribes of the Amazon have held Guayusa in high regard for its symbolic significance in their ceremonies and traditions.

Typically, the leaves of the Guayusa plant are carefully processed to produce a tea known for its exquisite natural fragrance, delightful absence of bitterness, and lingering subtle sweetness that graces every sip.

Chemical Composition Of Guayusa

Guayusa is rich of flavonoid and phenolic

Like Yerba Mate, Guayusa also boasts a diverse and complex chemical composition.

Its key components are alkaloids, primarily caffeine, which is present in significant amounts, even surpassing the caffeine content found in Yerba Mate.

  • Guayusa's unique character stems from its rich flavonoid and phenolic composition [9].
  • The plant also contains tannins, reducing compounds, saponins, and triterpenes-steroids [9].
  • Quinones, fats, and alkaloids also form part of Guayusa's rich chemical composition [9].
  • Regarding amino acids, Guayusa houses several varieties, such as Gly, Asn, Ser, Asp, Gln, Thr, Ala, Glu, Pro, and Lys. These amino acids are essential for various metabolic activities in the human body [9].
  • As for vitamins and minerals, Guayusa is a valuable source of vitamins C and D, calcium, zinc, and chromium. These nutrients strengthen the immune system and maintain bone health, among other benefits [9].

The chemical composition of Guayusa not only underscores its nutritional value but also suggests potential overall health benefits.

Guayusa Key Benefits

Guayusa provides many health benefits

Guayusa provides many health benefits drawn from its rich and complex chemical composition.

Anti-inflammatory Effects: Guayusa's ability to inhibit nitric oxide production — a vasodilator — reduces the presence of inflammatory mediators [12]. This reduction can range from 10 to 30%, contributing to substantial anti-inflammatory benefits.

Diabetes Management: Guayusa helps lower blood sugar levels without disrupting glucose homeostasis [18], making it a beneficial dietary inclusion for diabetes patients.

Anti-cancer Properties: The presence of oleanolic and ursolic acid in Guayusa offers inhibitory and anti-growth effects against various cancer cells [10].

Cognitive Enhancement: Guayusa's high caffeine content inhibits adenosine activity, thus maintaining concentration and mental energy by stimulating the central nervous system. This significantly improves mental alertness, focus, mood, and productivity 60 and 120 minutes after consumption [8, 7].

Mood Enhancement: Guayusa can positively alter mood states within two hours of use, enhancing overall well-being and daily performance [8].

Female Infertility Improvement: Guayusa extracts containing estrogenic activity have been found to significantly increase estradiol levels in the serum, thereby potentially aiding in female fertility by improving ovarian and uterine weight [19].

Guayusa Vs Yerba Mate: The Similarities

yerba mate and guayusa have many similarities

Rich In Caffeine

Guayusa and Yerba Mate are renowned for their high caffeine content, surpassing many other natural sources.

According to research, incorporating a daily dose of Yerba Mate into your routine can provide benefits like coffee [5].

In comparison, Guayusa's caffeine content is even higher, representing one of the plant's primary alkaloids [6].


Both Guayusa and Yerba Mate exhibit significant antioxidant potential due to their high content of phenolic and flavonoid compounds [3].

The antioxidant properties of these two plants contribute to overall health improvement, enhancing the body's ability to fight diseases and promoting longevity.

Stimulate The Mind, Boost Energy, Enhance Concentration

Extensive experimentation and research have revealed that Guayusa and Yerba Mate can invigorate the mind, heighten energy levels, and augment concentration [8, 7, 5]. This can be primarily attributed to caffeine, which stimulates the central nervous system and bolsters mental and cognitive functions.

Guayusa Vs Yerba Mate: The Differences

While both beverages originate from the Ilex genus, there are notable differences between Guayusa vs Yerba Mate:



Yerba Mate


Leaves air-dried, only 1/4 left for export—no evidence of roasting in Guayusa processing. Standard methods include air drying (AD), counter-current drying (CO), and solar drying (SOD) [9].

Leaves dried or roasted for use [5].


Slightly bitter

Not bitter, with a natural earthy and mild sweetness



0,3 mg/mL [3]

6 đến 28 mg/g [5]


36 mg/mL [3]

0.53mg/mL [5]

The comparision table of Guayusa and Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate Vs Guayusa: Which Is Better?

choosing between yerba mate and guayuse

Yerba Mate and Guayusa belong to the Ilex genus and share similar nutritional content and health benefits. However, there are several criteria to consider for evaluation:

  • Taste: Guayusa is favored for its natural aroma and absence of bitterness, coupled with a mild sweetness, making it a preferred choice.
  • Processing: While the processing methods are somewhat similar, Yerba Mate can be roasted for consumption. This technique requires precision to prevent overheating and the formation of harmful substances.

Despite the similarities in nutritional content, caffeine concentration has a notable difference. The comparison table shows that Guayusa has a significantly higher caffeine content than Yerba Mate.

While a higher caffeine content may be desirable for some individuals, caution is advised, especially during pregnancy, due to potential adverse effects.

Guayusa vs Yerba Mate: Which Should I Choose?

The choice between Yerba Mate and Guayusa ultimately depends on your personal preferences.

If you lean towards a naturally sweet and less bitter tea, you might find Guayusa more appealing. It also stands out for its higher caffeine content, making it suitable for those seeking an energy boost.

However, if you don't mind a hint of bitterness and are looking for a beverage with a traditional roasting method, Yerba Mate could be your cup of tea.


Yerba Mate and Guayusa offer many health benefits due to their rich nutritional composition. They can stimulate the mind, boost energy, and enhance concentration. However, they differ in taste, processing, and caffeine and theobromine content, which can influence individual preferences. Whether you prefer the earthy, subtly sweet flavor of Guayusa or the traditional, slightly bitter taste of Yerba Mate, both are exceptional choices for health-conscious individuals seeking a natural and beneficial beverage.


[1] de Mejía, E. G., Song, Y. S., Heck, C. I., & Ramírez-Mares, M. (2010). Yerba mate tea (Ilex paraguariensis): Phenolics, antioxidant capacity and in vitro inhibition of colon cancer cell proliferation. Journal of Functional Foods, 2(1), 23–34.
[2] Gambero, A., & Ribeiro, M. (2015). The Positive Effects of Yerba Maté (Ilex paraguariensis) in Obesity. Nutrients, 7(2), 730–750.
[3] Gan, R.-Y., Zhang, D., Wang, M., & Corke, H. (2018). Health Benefits of Bioactive Compounds from the Genus Ilex, a Source of Traditional Caffeinated Beverages. Nutrients, 10(11), 1682.
[4] García‐Ruiz, A., Baenas, N., Benítez‐González, A. M., Stinco, C. M., Meléndez‐Martínez, A. J., Moreno, D. A., & Ruales, J. (2017). Guayusa (Ilex guayusa L.) new tea: phenolic and carotenoid composition and antioxidant capacity. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 97(12), 3929–3936.
[5] Gawron-Gzella, A., Chanaj-Kaczmarek, J., & Cielecka-Piontek, J. (2021). Yerba Mate—A Long but Current History. Nutrients, 13(11), 3706.
[6] Gonzalo Sequeda-Castañeda, L. (2016). Ilex guayusa (Aquifoliaceae): Amazon and Andean Native Plant.
[7] Kennedy, D. O., & Wightman, E. L. (2022). Mental Performance and Sport: Caffeine and Co-consumed Bioactive Ingredients. Sports Medicine, 52(S1), 69–90.
[8] La, M. B., Raub, B., Ziegenfuss, E. J., Hartshorn, S., Grdic, J., Gustat, A., Sandrock, J., & Ziegenfuss, T. N. (2023). Acute Effects of Naturally Occurring Guayusa Tea and Nordic Lion’s Mane Extracts on Cognitive Performance. Nutrients, 15(24), 5018–5018.
[9] Manzano Santana, P., Quijano-Avilés, M., Chóez-Guaranda, I., Barragán Lucas, A., Viteri Espinoza, R., Martínez, D., Camacho, C., & Miranda Martinez, M. (2018). Effect of drying methods on physical and chemical properties of Ilex guayusa leaves. Revista Facultad Nacional de Agronomía Medellín, 71(3), 8617–8622.
[10] Menini, T., Heck, C., Schulze, J., de Mejia, E., & Gugliucci, A. (2007). Protective action of Ilex paraguariensis extract against free radical inactivation of paraoxonase-1 in high-density lipoprotein. Planta Medica, 73(11), 1141–1147.
[11] Moldoveanu, S. C., & Scott, W. A. (2015). Analysis of four pentacyclic triterpenoid acids in several bioactive botanicals with gas and liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry detection. Journal of Separation Science, 39(2), 324–332.
[12] Nowacki, L. C., Stechman-Neto, J., Schiefer, E. M., Santos, A. F., Stinghen, A. E. M., Sassaki, G. L., De Souza, L. M., Cristoff, K. E., & De Souza, W. M. (2021). Ilex paraguariensis extract as an alternative to pain medications. Acta Pharmaceutica (Zagreb, Croatia), 71(3), 383–398.
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[14] Pereira, D. F., Kappel, V. D., Cazarolli, L. H., Boligon, A. A., Athayde, M. L., Guesser, S. M., Da Silva, E. L., & Silva, F. R. M. B. (2012). Influence of the traditional Brazilian drink Ilex paraguariensis tea on glucose homeostasis. Phytomedicine, 19(10), 868–877.
[15] Puangpraphant, S., Berhow, M. A., & de Mejia, E. G. (2011). Mate (Ilex paraguariensis St. Hilaire) saponins induce caspase-3-dependent apoptosis in human colon cancer cells in vitro. Food Chemistry, 125(4), 1171–1178.
[16] Puangpraphant, S., Dia, V. P., de Mejia, E. G., Garcia, G., Berhow, M. A., & Wallig, M. A. (2013). Yerba mate tea and mate saponins prevented azoxymethane-induced inflammation of rat colon through suppression of NF-κB p65ser311signaling via IκB-α and GSK-3β reduced phosphorylation. BioFactors, 39(4), 430–440.
[17] Riachi, L. G., & De Maria, C. A. B. (2017). Yerba mate: An overview of physiological effects in humans. Journal of Functional Foods, 38, 308–320.
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[19] Yoneda, M., Sugimoto, N., Katakura, M., Matsuzaki, K., Tanigami, H., Yachie, A., Ohno-Shosaku, T., & Shido, O. (2017). Theobromine up-regulates cerebral brain-derived neurotrophic factor and facilitates motor learning in mice. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 39, 110–116.
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Ralph S. Albert, with over 10 years of expertise in nutrition and research, now heads the Research division at Vinatura Supplements. His dedication and extensive knowledge ensure top-quality articles on nutrition and health, collaborating with a skilled team. He has successfully completed The VINATURA Expertise Research Training Program, underscoring his commitment to Vinatura's mission. Ralph has also published numerous articles and conducted valuable research in the field, making him a trusted resource for individuals on their wellness journey.

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