Lionel Messi Loves Yerba Mate, And For Good Reason

Lionel Messi Loves Yerba Mate, And For Good Reason

Megastar Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi loves yerba mate, the plant species of holly that has been used for centuries throughout South America for its energy boosting capability and many other benefits. 

Lionel Messi loves yerba mate so much, in fact, he recently posted a photo on Instagram drinking yerba mate in the traditional style while in bed -- with a mate gourd and straw:


The post, and discussion around Lionel Messi's yerba mate use as well as use by many footballers, has sparked many news organizations to start talking about the energy plant yerba mate, and explore its role as a ceremonial / ritualistic communal drink. 

Yerba Mate As A South American Energy Staple & Increasing Popularity 

While certainly new to some, yerba mate has been a staple in South American culture for generations. During their trip to Qatar, the Argentina football (soccer) team reportedly brought about 500 kilograms of yerba mate with them. That's a lot of yerba mate.

But when you consider that the average person in Uruguay consumes about 8 kilograms of yerba mate per year, and the average Argentinian takes in a bit less at 6.5 kilograms per year, 500 kilograms starts to become understandable. 

And for a growing number of people who enjoy yerba mate, it might be considered essential luggage. 

As writes: "in recent years, more and more footballers have begun drinking mate - a drink enjoyed by Pope Francis, no less - with the trend spreading across the Atlantic from South America to Europe."

Even in the United States, yerba mate is expanding; analysts place the yerba mate market at $1.53 billion in 2022, with an expectation of growth to $2.12 billion by 2030. 

Why Lionel Messi Probably Loves Yerba Mate - The Many Benefits of Yerba Mate 

In addition to its rich association with South American culture that symbolizes community and ceremonial bonding, which alone is certainly enough to love about the yerba mate plant, the energy-boosting properties of yerba mate are well-known and provide the most apparent effect for footballers and athletes looking for a natural source of motivation. 

As yerba mate naturally contains caffeine as well as other beneficial compounds like antioxidants (and has been found to have similar antioxidant properties as green tea), it is often considered an alternative to other caffeine-containing beverages like coffee or other energy drinks. 

Beyond its energy context, yerba mate has also been used for a large variety of other health benefits. As WebMD writes on the benefits of yerba mate:

"yerba mate is known as a natural remedy for fatigue, depression, weight management, chronic headaches..."

 Alina Petre, MS, RD for Healthline also lists the science-backed benefits of yerba mate to include its antioxidant and nutrient content, ability to boost energy and mental focus, support physical performance, and assisting in healthy sugar levels. Petre writes:

"Yerba mate contains antioxidants, caffeine, and several nutrients. Some research suggests it may enhance physical performance, boost energy levels, and support weight management."

Yerba mate may be considered a 'super plant' that is continuing to gain notoriety for its effects throughout the world. With Lionel Messi's popularization, the yerba mate craze may take on an even larger form in the United States and abroad. 

Additional Sources / Further Reading:

NY Post

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Please note that yerba mate contains caffeine and therefore not be suitable for everyone, so as always check with your healthcare provider for any questions or concerns. 

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