Many people drink coffee in the morning for that extra boost to get them through the day. Coffee gives us some temporary extra energy and enhanced mental clarity. I admit sometimes I enjoy that little pick me up. However, not everybody likes coffee and sometimes it can lead to an unpleasant caffeine crash. An average cup of drip coffee has approximately 100 milligrams of caffeine. Coffee and most other caffeinated beverages tend to increase our stress levels, also.

Mate gourd with a bombilla Yerba Mate is a healthier alternative that I very much prefer to coffee. Yerba Mate is a beverage made from the dried leaves and stems of the Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) plant, a small tree in the holly family that's native to several South American countries. Yerba Mate has been consumed in South America for centuries and is sometimes referred to by the indigenous people as the "The Drink Of The Gods" and "The Drink Of Friendship." It is traditionally prepared in a gourd and drank through a metal straw called a bombilla.

Some of the the pick me up from Yerba Mate is because of the xanine stimulants caffeine, theobromine and theophylline. Yerba Mate, however, provides a much less jittery boost than coffee or energy drinks without the crash. I don't know of any other natural beverage that has as impressive a nutritional profile as Yerba Mate; it contains 196 active compounds, 144 of which are also present in green tea. Some of the nutrients in Yerba Mate include vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, niacin, b5 B complex, carotene, biotin, choline, inositol and vitamin C complex as well as the minerals calcium, potasium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, iron and selenium. Some of the additional compounds in Yerba Mate include flavinols, polyphenols, trace minerals, antioxidants, chlorophyll and 15 amino acids.

Yerba Mate is available either loose or bagged, smoked or unsmoked and with a variety of different added herbs. I personally prefer the unsmoked variety and although I own both a mate gourd and a bombilla, I like to use the bags because they are much less messy and you don't get chunks. When preparing hot Yerba Mate at home it is is important to not use boiling water and to first put a small amount of cold water in it to protect the nutrients. Traditionally, the used Mate is brewed repeatedly until it loses its flavor, a practice that can be less healthy that brewing only fresh mate as the nutrients are leeched out into the tea which you consume.

Yerba Mate has been granted GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status in the United States. Yerba Mate, like coffee, is believed to help prevent different kinds of cancers when consumed in moderation.