“What is that green stuff?”- Three words I often hear when friends notice the waiter placing my beverage of choice in front of me. Although I enjoy good coffee and Ceylon tea too, my go-to for a delicious health kick is matcha. It’s also my first beverage of the day upon waking.
There are a few specific reasons why I choose matcha. As a health-conscience person and especially so after surviving a traumatic experience, my well-being has become more paramount than ever. Through this fiery furnace experience, I was amazed at the healing effect of the foods I fed my body, as well as the exercise and the intentional rest I incorporated into my lifestyle. Avoiding stressful environments had a massive impact too. Slowly but surely, I started to heal and become more functional again. I’ll share more about my near-death experience and the miraculous recovery in a future article. For now, let’s take a deeper look at why matcha is so good for you – I had first-hand experience with some of these benefits when I started feeding my sick body this powerful superfood.
First, a bit of history
Although you’ll find matcha in almost any coffee shop these days, it has a rich history dating back to the 12th century. It’s also been a critical component of the Japanese tea culture for over 800 years.
Matcha comes from the Camellia sinensis plant (commonly known as the “tea plant” or “tea shrub”). It’s just like green tea, but it’s grown differently and has a unique nutrient profile. To avoid direct sunlight, farmers cover their tea plants 20 to 30 days before harvest. Doing this increases the plant’s chlorophyll production and boosts its amino acid content. This also gives the plant its bright green colour.
After the leaves have been harvested, the stems and veins are removed. Unlike traditional green tea where you steep the tea leaves in hot water, matcha is the fine powder made from ground-up tea leaves.
Since matcha contains the nutrients from the entire leaf, it has more antioxidants and caffeine than is typically found in green tea. Studies have revealed that matcha can promote heart health, protect the liver, and aid in weight loss. It certainly had an effect in slowing my racing heart while I was suffering from the trauma of a doctor-caused cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak.
10 Benefits of matcha tea
1. High in antioxidants and vitamins
Antioxidants are compounds found in foods and produced in the body. They help to defend your cells from damage caused by potentially harmful free radicals. Green tea contains powerful antioxidants known as catechins and polyphenols, which aid in reducing cell damage and preventing chronic disease. Matcha not only contains vitamins A, B, C, E, and K but also about 200 times more calcium and 60 times more iron than green tea. A research study undertaken on mice given matcha supplements found that it reduced the damage caused by free radicals and also enhanced the antioxidant activity.
2. Increased fibre intake
By drinking matcha powder, you are effectively consuming tea leaves in their entirety. This means more fibre, which results in constipation relief, controlled blood sugar, and lower cholesterol.
3. Energy booster
Compared to alternative types of brewed teas, matcha has approximately three times the amount of caffeine. Slightly less than a cup of coffee – given that different coffees have different levels of caffeine.
4. May aid in protecting your liver
Some studies have indicated that matcha may aid in protecting your liver. Diabetic rats were given matcha for 16 weeks – the research outcome was that the matcha helped to prevent kidney and liver damage. Since the liver is a vital organ with the essential role of flushing out toxins, processing nutrients, and metabolising drugs – it is important to include foods that nurture this organ. Drinking green tea has been associated with a decreased risk of liver disease. However, further studies are required to examine the effects of green tea extract on humans in the general population.
5. Promotes healthy skin
Because of its high vitamin content, you may like to try matcha instead of coffee for a week if you have concerns about your skin. Collagen production is stimulated by vitamin C and studies have shown that vitamin B can aid in promoting healthy skin. Since matcha is high in both these vitamins, it might boost your skin’s glow. My husband suffered from a skin rash called urticaria (also known as hives) triggered by a reaction to food, medicine or other irritants. I started making him matcha tea every morning, along with freshly squeezed “green” juice, and eventually, he remarked that his skin hasn’t been breaking out like it used to. In fact, after a few weeks of drinking matcha tea daily, the skin rash disappeared altogether. Tip: the secret ingredient when preparing the matcha is, of course, love!
6. Aids in reducing stress
L-theanine is an amino acid that has been shown to reduce stress by increasing alpha wave activity in the brain. Therefore, drinking a beverage rich in this amino acid could be effective in calming people suffering from high levels of anxiety. Unlike coffee, drinking matcha results in a more even level of alertness – possibly due to the L-theanine component. This outcome is much better than the ‘caffeine crash’ some more sensitive constitutions experience after a cup of coffee.
7. Enhances brain function
Some research studies found that a number of components in matcha could enhance cognitive performance. Improvements in attention, reaction time, and memory were reported by the sample who consumed either matcha tea or a bar containing 4 grams of matcha. A small study undertaken on elderly people found that consuming 2 grams of green tea powder daily for two months improved their brain function.
The caffeine in matcha is more concentrated than in green tea – with a tremendous 35 mg of caffeine per gram of matcha powder. Several studies have been done on the effects of caffeine consumption on the brain, the results found it increases attention, enhances memory, and improves reaction times. When suffering from a CSF leak, there are many detrimental effects on the brain. I can certainly vouch for the benefits of matcha on brain function. Drinking one to two cups daily alleviated the bouts of brain fog and horrendous brain pain I experienced at the time.
8. Aids in promoting heart health
With heart disease being one of the leading causes of death worldwide, it may be time to incorporate some green tea or matcha powder into your diet. Some researchers have found that drinking green tea or matcha may aid in protecting you against heart disease by reducing levels of bad LDL cholesterol, as well as triglycerides. It may also avert the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which is another factor that may prevent heart disease.
9. Possible cancer prevention
Being packed with health-promoting properties, some test-tube and animal studies have demonstrated that the compounds in matcha may impede the growth of cancer cells. However, further research is necessary to determine the outcome in humans.
10. “Much-a” weight loss
Many of us know that green tea enhances weight loss by speeding up metabolism, thereby increasing energy expenditure and boosting fat burning. That’s the reason several weight loss supplements contain green tea extract. In fact, researchers who undertook a small sample study found that consuming green tea extract during moderate exercise increased fat burning by 17%. It was also found that energy expenditure was boosted significantly in the study where participants took a green tea extract supplement. Since matcha comes from the same plant as green tea extract, it should have a similar effect. Since drinking matcha first-thing daily, we’ve experienced a marked increase in our energy levels.
Be creative but consume matcha in moderation
There are many creative ways in which you can consume matcha. For a quick cuppa, simply add hot water or warm milk and a teaspoon of honey to sweeten, or whip it up into a latte, add it to puddings, use it as a colourant to create funky green cupcakes, or blend it into a protein smoothie.
Remember, too much of a good thing isn’t always good for you. Yes, matcha is packed with health benefits, but more may be detrimental to your health. Some people who drank high quantities of green tea daily reported having liver problems.
Always source certified organic – otherwise drinking matcha could increase your exposure to pesticides, chemicals, and possibly even arsenic found in the soil where the tea plants are grown.
Although it is unclear as to what the maximum tolerable intake of matcha is, which can vary from person to person, ensure that you consume matcha in moderation. One to two cups daily will suffice to ensure you’re getting enough of its health benefits without risking any side effects.
Since matcha is made from the entire tea leaf, it contains a more concentrated load of antioxidants and super beneficial plant compounds. It’s become an extremely popular beverage – many health stores, coffee shops, and restaurants now offer matcha lattes, teas, shots, and even cakes.
Do take note when ordering matcha at coffee shops or restaurants as many of them use a sugar/powdered milk mix to balance matcha’s earthy flavour. This defeats the object as these added extras are not only unnecessary, but they turn the original healthy matcha into an unhealthy substitute. Rather ask the barista what type of matcha powder they use before ordering – the real thing or a pre-made mix. Choose wisely.
So, why not switch your first cup of coffee with a cup of matcha instead. To kick-start your day with an antioxidant and nutritious boost, you don’t even have to leave your home – simply order some organic matcha here.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only. No material contained herein is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment before undertaking a new health care regime, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read.
AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: When you purchase something via an advert link in this article, I may receive an affiliate commission; these are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products; my reviews are based on my own personal experience and research; I never recommend poor quality products, or create false reviews to make sales; it is my intention to explain products so you can make an informed decision on which ones suit your needs best.
Authored by Delilah Nosworthy
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