What is Matcha?
Matcha is a type of green tea that is made from young tea leaves. These leaves are ground together to create a powder. This powder is then whisked with hot water.
It is a different preparation to green tea, where the leaves are simply soaked in water and taken off. In a regular green tea you are getting the soluble nutrients and compounds, but you are missing a big part of them, the insoluble ones. Matcha contains all of them, and offers us all the benefits of green tea leaves. Matcha green tea leaves are grown using techniques that increase their nutritional content compared to other green tea leaves, with even more benefits for our health.
What are the benefits?
Matcha is known to be one of the most powerful anti-oxidants. But what does anti-oxidant mean?
We are constantly under stress, whether it is coming from our own stress or the environment (pollution, chemical, loud noises are some of the most common sources of stress in our environment). Our body is coping with this stress through oxidation, producing free radicals that are eliminated through a natural anti-oxidation in our body. When too many free radicals are produced, they can’t be all eliminated and it creates oxidative stress, responsible for aging, cancer, alzheimer diseases, cardiovascular diseases and many other conditions. (1,2)
We are constantly exposed to various types of stress and an extra boost of anti-oxidant coming from our diet is useful. Drinking matcha regularly helps give our body this extra boost, and decreases the effects of stress on our body. (3)
Boosts brain function
Matcha improves brain function not only through its anti-oxidant properties, but through more direct effects. Matcha has been proven to increase performance and subjective alertness, specifically thanks to its content of green tea phytonutrients, caffeine and L-theanine. (2). L-theanine is a great and natural brain booster, relaxing the mind, without causing drowsiness. Caffeine is known to increase alertness, memory and concentration, but can have a “crash effect” after few hours. Its combination with L-theanine seems to decrease this crash effect, while keeping the benefits of caffeine. (4, 5)
Preventing cardiovascular diseases
Matcha has a protective effect against cardiovascular diseases in many different ways. First, it keeps the glucose blood level steady. High blood sugar, even without diabetes, increases the risk of heart diseases and strokes. Second, Matcha also decreases triglycerides, the lipoprotein lipase, LDL, which is considered the “bad cholesterol” in our blood (LDL Cholesterol) and increases HDL Cholesterol, the “good cholesterol” (6,8,9). This helps prevent atherosclerosis in the vessels, heart failure, high blood pressure and many other conditions.
Matcha’s strong anti-oxidant effect also contributes to protection against cardiovascular diseases, especially due to superoxide dismutase, an enzyme that eliminates toxic free oxygen molecules in our blood.
Available evidence shows that green tea and specifically matcha directly affect adipocytes and thermogenesis, helping to eliminate fat faster and increasing our metabolism to burn more calories. (7, 8)
Matcha seems to increase leptin, a hormone sending the message to our brain that we are full when we are eating. A lack of leptin gives people a tendency to eat more and a lower feeling of satiety. This hormone secretion tends to decrease among overweight people and around menopause, as it is indirectly related to other hormones like insulin and oestrogen. Matcha helps rebalance this secretion and increase our appetite control. (7)
Epigallocatechin gallate, one of the most abundant catechin in green tea and matcha, directly affects cancer cells. This molecule has been found to reduce and prevent many cancers directly and is now considered for inclusion in some chemotherapy protocols. Its natural form in matcha can help decrease cancer risk, helping to eliminate cancer cells at an early stage. (10,11)
Matcha has all the benefits of green tea, with the bonus that it is made from the entire leaf, which contains even more nutrients and active compounds for promoting good health. In addition, it contains caffeine but doesn’t have the negative effect of coffee, allowing us to drink it throughout the day. Drinking matcha tea during the day can really help us keep our health in the balance, and it is very easy to prepare and super tasty!
1. Sakurai K, Shen C, Ezaki Y, Inamura N, Fukushima Y, Masuoka N, Hisatsune T. Effects of Matcha Green Tea Powder on Cognitive Functions of Community-Dwelling Elderly Individuals. Nutrients. 2020 Nov 26;12(12):3639. doi: 10.3390/nu12123639. PMID: 33256220; PMCID: PMC7760932.
2. Dietz C, Dekker M. Effect of Green Tea Phytochemicals on Mood and Cognition. Curr Pharm Des. 2017;23(19):2876-2905. doi: 10.2174/1381612823666170105151800. PMID: 28056735.
3. Olson KR, Briggs A, Devireddy M, Iovino NA, Skora NC, Whelan J, Villa BP, Yuan X, Mannam V, Howard S, Gao Y, Minnion M, Feelisch M. Green tea polyphenolic antioxidants oxidize hydrogen sulfide to thiosulfate and polysulfides: A possible new mechanism underpinning their biological action. Redox Biol. 2020 Oct;37:101731. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2020.101731. Epub 2020 Sep 18. PMID: 33002760; PMCID: PMC7527747.
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5. Giesbrecht T, Rycroft JA, Rowson MJ, De Bruin EA. The combination of L-theanine and caffeine improves cognitive performance and increases subjective alertness. Nutr Neurosci. 2010 Dec;13(6):283-90. doi: 10.1179/147683010X12611460764840. PMID: 21040626.
6. Xu P, Ying L, Hong G, Wang Y. The effects of the aqueous extract and residue of Matcha on the antioxidant status and lipid and glucose levels in mice fed a high-fat diet. Food Funct. 2016 Jan;7(1):294-300. doi: 10.1039/c5fo00828j. PMID: 26448271.
7. Dinh TC, Thi Phuong TN, Minh LB, Minh Thuc VT, Bac ND, Van Tien N, Pham VH, Show PL, Tao Y, Nhu Ngoc VT, Bich Ngoc NT, Jurgoński A, Thimiri Govinda Raj DB, Van Tu P, Ha VN, Czarzasta J, Chu DT. The effects of green tea on lipid metabolism and its potential applications for obesity and related metabolic disorders - An existing update. Diabetes Metab Syndr. 2019 Mar-Apr;13(2):1667-1673. doi: 10.1016/j.dsx.2019.03.021. Epub 2019 Mar 15. PMID: 31336539.
8. Huang LH, Liu CY, Wang LY, Huang CJ, Hsu CH. Effects of green tea extract on overweight and obese women with high levels of low density-lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C): a randomised, double-blind, and cross-over placebo-controlled clinical trial. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2018 Nov 6;18(1):294. doi: 10.1186/s12906-018-2355-x. PMID: 30400924; PMCID: PMC6218972.
9. Samavat H, Newman AR, Wang R, Yuan JM, Wu AH, Kurzer MS. Effects of green tea catechin extract on serum lipids in postmenopausal women: a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Dec;104(6):1671-1682. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.116.137075. Epub 2016 Nov 2. PMID: 27806972; PMCID: PMC5118731.
10. Chen, BH., Hsieh, CH., Tsai, SY. et al. Anticancer effects of epigallocatechin-3-gallate nanoemulsion on lung cancer cells through the activation of AMP-activated protein kinase signaling pathway. Sci Rep 10, 5163 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-62136-2
11. Gan RY, Li HB, Sui ZQ, Corke H. Absorption, metabolism, anti-cancer effect and molecular targets of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG): An updated review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2018 Apr 13;58(6):924-941. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2016.1231168. Epub 2017 Jun 2. PMID: 27645804.