Matcha has became very in popular lately. It is consumed as shots, lattes, teas, and even desserts, in many types of establishment everywhere from health stores to coffee shops.
Resembling green tea, matcha comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. Matcha is grown by covering their tea plants 20–30 days before harvest to avoid direct sunlight. Farmers do this to this t increase chlorophyll production and boost the amino acid content, giving the plant a darker green hue. Once the matcha leaves are harvested, the stems and veins are removed and leaves ground up into a fine powder called matcha.
Matcha has a greater amount of caffeine and antioxidants than green tea, because it contains the nutrients from the entire tea leaf. Studies have shown that matcha and its components can help protect the liver, promote heart health, and even aid in weight loss.
Here are 7 health benefits of matcha tea:
1. High in antioxidants
Matcha is high in natural antioxidants, more specifically it is rich in catechins, a class of plant compounds in tea.
Antioxidants helps against harmful free radicals, which are compounds that can damage cells.
When you use matcha powder to make tea, the tea will garner all the nutrients from the entire leaf, which is usually more catechins and antioxidants than green tea.
One staudy says, the number of certain catechins in matcha is up to 137 times greater than in green tea (Source).
Another study showed that giving mice matcha doses reduced free radical damage and enhanced antioxidant activity (Source).
Including matcha in your diet could increase your antioxidant intake, which may help prevent cell damage and even lower your risk of several chronic diseases (Source).
2. May help protect the liver
The liver plays a central role in flushing out toxins, and metabolizing drugs, and processing nutrients, making it vital to human health.
Studies show that matcha may help protect the liver.
One scientific study gave diabetic rats matcha supplements for 16 weeks and found that it helped prevent damage to the kidneys and liver (Source).
In another study, 80 people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease were given either a placebo or 500 mg of green tea extract daily for 90 days. After 12 weeks, green tea extract significantly reduced liver enzyme levels. Elevated levels of these enzymes are a marker of liver damage (Source).
3. Boosts brain function
Research shows that components in matcha could improve brain function.
One study looked out how 23 people performed a series of tasks designed to measure brain performance. Some participants consumed matcha, while the control group consumed a placebo. Scientists found that matcha caused enhancements in attention, reaction time, and memory, compared to the placebo (Source).
Another study says that consuming 2 grams of green tea powder daily for at least 2 months helped improve brain function in elders (Source).
Matcha contains more caffeine than green tea, about 35 mg of caffeine per 1 gram of matcha powder. Matcha differs from regular caffeinated beverages because it contains a compound called L-theanine, which alters the effects of caffeine, promoting alertness and helping avoid the crash in energy levels that can follow caffeine consumption (Source). L-theanine has also been shown to increase alpha wave activity in the brain, which may help induce relaxation and decrease stress levels (13Trusted Source).
4. May help prevent cancer
Matcha is filled with health-promoting compounds that have been linked to cancer prevention in various studies.
Matcha is especially high in epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a type of catechin that has been shown to have powerful anti-cancer properties.
One test tube study found that the EGCG in matcha helped kill off prostate cancer cells (Source).
Other test tube studies have shown that EGCG is effective against skin, lung, and liver cancer.
5. May promote heart health
It is well known in many circles that studies have shown that drinking green tea, may help protect against heart disease; and green tea has a similar nutrient profile to matcha.
Green tea has shown to reduce levels “bad” LDL cholesterol, as well as triglycerides (Source). It may also help prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, another factor that may protect against heart disease (Source).
Combined with a balaced diet and healthy living, drinking matcha may help keep your heart healthy and protect against disease.
6. Helps you lose weight
Many weight loss supplements on the market have “green tea extract” in the list of ingredients. Green tea is well known to enhance weight loss and speed up metabolism.
One small study showed that taking green tea extract during moderate exercise increased fat burning by 17% (Source).
Another study of 14 people found that taking a green tea supplement significantly boosted 24-hour energy expenditure (Source).
Most of these studies focused on green tea extract, matcha comes from the same plant and might have the same benefits.
7. Matcha tea is very easy to prepare
Along with the plethora of health benefits of matcha, itt is easy to make — and the tea tastes delicious.
You can make matcha tea by sifting 1–2 teaspoons of matcha powder into your cup, adding 2 ounces of hot water, and mixing it together, adjusting the ratio of matcha powder to water based on your preferred consistency.
For a thinner tea, reduce the powder to a half teaspoon and mix with 3–4 ounces of hot water. For a more concentrated version, combine 2 teaspoons of powder with just 1 ounce of water.
You can even make matcha lattes, puddings, or smoothies to boost the nutrient content of your favorite creations.
Keep in mind, moderation is key. Despite the many health benefits, matcha is better for you on moderate amounts.