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The Health Benefits of Matcha

By EAT SMARTER
Updated on 27. Dec. 2018

Matcha has hit the mainstream. You can easily find it on the shelves of your local grocery store. Your favorite health blogger and your yoga teacher swear by it. But what exactly is matcha? And do the health benefits of matcha live up to the hype?

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Matcha is a form of green tea, coming from the Camellia sinensis plant which is native to China. Whole green tea leaves are ground into a fine powder and then added to the liquid instead of being infused with water. Because matcha powder is made up of the whole tea leaf it is a more potent source of nutrients than regular green tea. Think green tea on steroids! All of the antioxidants contained in green tea, matcha has more! 1 cup of matcha = about 3 cups of green tea in terms of nutrients.1

Matcha is distinct in its bright green color. This is due in part to its growing method. Before harvest, about 20-30 days prior, the tea plants are covered in order to protect them from the sun, increasing the amount of chlorophyll produced as well as accentuating the color. Its high level of chlorophyll makes matcha highly alkaline, which can help balance your blood’s pH levels.2

Green tea is often hailed for its high antioxidant content and matcha even more so. In general, antioxidants protect your body from free radical damage, which can lead to diseases like heart disease and cancer.3 One particular antioxidant, polyphenol, has been shown to protect against heart disease, regulate blood sugar, and reduce blood pressure.4 One polyphenol in matcha, called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), is particularly good for your cardiovascular system. Not only does it have metabolism boosting properties, it also has anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce the risk of coronary artery disease. EGCG has also been shown to decrease the levels of LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) while stimulating HDL levels (the good cholesterol).5 Matcha has at least three times the amount of EGCG that a cup of high-quality green tea has.6

Matcha contains more caffeine than brewed green tea, about 35g of caffeine per cup. However, matcha also contains catechins which bond to the caffeine molecules, slowing their release.7 This means the boost of caffeine from matcha will last longer and you will not crash when the effects of the caffeine wear off. Matcha also the contains L-theanine. L-theanine is an amino acid that counteracts the overstimulation of cortisol and adrenaline by caffeine, leaving you alert but calm. For this reason, match is often associated with meditation practices due to its role in creating mental clarity.8

Matcha has a rather strong grassy flavor, which is not for everyone. It is important to be aware of additives to mainstream matcha. Much of the matcha you can find at the grocery store has added sugar. You also should be wary of cheap imitations. You want to look for high quality, pure, organic matcha. Price is a good indicator--quality matcha is expensive. If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is. The highest quality of matcha tea is ceremonial grade. You may also want to look for an organic certification from Japan, as it has stricter certification standards for organic than either the US or China.9

It is recommended to limit your daily matcha consumption to one or two cups. Too much of a good thing can easily turn into a bad thing. Matcha, even organically grown, can contain trace amounts of lead. Thus, matcha is not recommended for children of any age.10


Check out EatSmarter’s recipe for the perfect matcha latte. Not a big tea drinker? Matcha is the perfect addition to this recipe for madeleines or these truffles.    

 

 

1. Adda Bjarnadottir, "Matcha - Even More Powerful Than Regular Green Tea?" Authority Nutrition, Authority Nutrition, 18 Aug. 2016, Web, 22 Dec. 2016.; Cynthia Sass, "7 Things You Should Know About Matcha," Health.com, Health Media Ventures, Inc., 27 Mar. 2015, Web, 22 Dec. 2016.; Helen Nichols, "16 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Matcha Tea," Well-Being Secrets, Well-Being Secrets, 21 Dec. 2016, Web, 22 Dec. 2016.; "Health Benefits of Matcha Green Tea," DrWeil.com, Healthy Lifestyle Brands, 01 Dec. 2016, Web, 22 Dec. 2016.

2. "Health Benefits of Matcha Green Tea," DrWeil.com.; Bjarnadottir, "Matcha - Even More Powerful Than Regular Green Tea?"; Jim Dillan, "The Top 3 Matcha Green Tea Benefits for Better Health," Health Ambition, Health Ambition, 10 Oct. 2016, Web, 22 Dec. 2016.

3. Ibid. 

4. Sass. "7 Things you Should know about Matcha." 

5. Sass, "7 Things You Should Know About Matcha."; Nichols, "16 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Matcha Tea."; Dillan, "The Top 3 Matcha Green Tea Benefits for Better Health."; Bjarnadottir, "Matcha - Even More Powerful Than Regular Green Tea?"

6. David J. Weiss and Christopher R. Anderton, "Determination of Catechins in Matcha Green Tea by Micellar Electrokinetic Chromatography," Journal of Chromatography A 1011.1-2 (2003): 173-80, PubMed, Web, 22 Dec. 2016.

7. Dillan, "The Top 3 Matcha Green Tea Benefits for Better Health."

8. Sass, "7 Things You Should Know About Matcha."; Nichols, "16 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Matcha Tea."; Bjarnadottir, "Matcha - Even More Powerful Than Regular Green Tea?"; Dillan, "The Top 3 Matcha Green Tea Benefits for Better Health."

9. Sass, "7 Things You Should Know About Matcha."; "Health Benefits of Matcha Green Tea," DrWeil.com.; Dillan, "The Top 3 Matcha Green Tea Benefits for Better Health."

10. Sass, "7 Things You Should Know About Matcha."; Bjarnadottir, "Matcha - Even More Powerful Than Regular Green Tea?"

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