Obesity is a widely recognized risk factor for several diseases, reaching an epidemic magnitude worldwide. Natural polyphenols may improve blood lipids and body weight, but their clinical relevance in the general population remains unclear. Thus, we aimed to analyze the relationship of intake of Ilex paraguariensis (I. paraguariensis) beverages to lipid profiles and body weight in a large patient population. Patients were recruited to participate in an educational program to change habits to a healthy lifestyle. Anamnesis, clinical and laboratory assessments were conducted at study enrollment and during follow‐up. I. paraguariensis beverages were defined according to preparation as obtained by repeated cold water extraction (CWE), hot water infusions, or water and sugar decoction. Heavy drinkers were defined as those persons consuming >1 L/day of one or more preparation types. Participants (N = 18,287) aged ≥18 years entered the study. Overall prevalence of I. paraguariensis consumption was 91.2%. All three forms were drunk by 35.7%, whereas CWE + hot water infusion and CWE alone by 28.4% and 14.5% participants, respectively. Heavy CWE drinkers had lower total cholesterol (191.4 ± 49.4 vs. 194.6 ± 48.3 mg/dl, p = .02) and lower low‐density lipoprotein cholesterol (118.6 ± 38.9 vs. 121.2 ± 47.1 mg/dl, p = .001), but body weight was higher (81.1 ± 16.8 vs. 77.2 ± 16.4 kg, p < .0001) compared with moderate drinkers. Fasting glucose was lower (104.5 ± 48.7 vs. 107.2 ± 49.5 mg/dl, p < .001), and consumption of carbohydrates was higher (36.3% vs. 28.7%, p < .001). A low‐lipids high‐body‐weight paradox could be observed in a population of heavy drinkers of I. paraguariensis beverages. Induced hypoglycemia and compensatory higher intake of refined carbohydrates may represent a possible cause.
Keywords: Ilex paraguariensis; lipoproteins; nutrition; obesity; polyphenols.