We are constantly finding ways to improve our health, performance and to avoid catching unwanted viruses/ diseases. Sometimes, the most effective ways to achieve these are in the small (or big) habits that we commit ourselves to every day!
Like we have mentioned before; we are simply what we eat, (or drink)!
Ah, Green goodness! What’s the fuss all about?
Let’s look into matcha…
Matcha originates from East-Asia, Japan; it is a finely ground green tea powder made from specially grown and refined dried green tea leaves. It is prepared differently to green tea, rather than being brewed/ steeped in water, matcha powder is whisked into hot water before being added to milk or other cooking bases (Andrei, 2021).
The green tea leaves used to make matcha are shade-grown for 3-4 weeks before harvest, this enhances biologically active compounds to synthesise and accumulate including theanine, caffeine, chlorophyll and different types of catechisms. The leaves are then reduced to fine particles making it into matcha powder (Koshman et al., 2021).
Although traditionally, Matcha is culturally valuable and consumed in Japan, it has internationally been cherished for its distinctive, aromatic taste.
Matcha has wonderful health benefits and qualities and is commonly used in teas & lattes, baked goods (cakes and pancakes mix for example) and smoothies!
So here are some of matcha’s many wonderful benefits to health:
- It supports the immune system and reduces risk of cardiovascular diseases:
Matcha is rich in powerful antioxidants such as polyphenols and has the best sources of Catechins. It contains 4 main catechins including: epicatechin (EC), epicatechin-3-gallate (ECG), epigallocatechin (EGC) and epigallocatehin-3-gallate, (EGCG). EGCG is most active and abundant. Matcha also contains caffeine, which is responsible for its distinctive taste and also adds to the antioxidant power of the matcha tea. (Kochman et al., 2021)
This makes Matcha a great antioxidant boost! Studies suggest regular consumption of matcha can reduce damage from free radicals and enhances antioxidant activity. This Means preventing cell damage and lowering risks of chronic diseases such as cancers! Its anti carcinogenic effects (mainly due to EGCG’s presence) is linked to its ability to suppress inflammatory processes. (Kochman et al., 2021; Makiuchi et al., 2016; Yang et al., 2009). What this essentially means, is that due to high levels of antioxidants, matcha has a great ability to help prevent/ reduce the activity of oxidative stress/ free radicals (harmful cells in the body that destroy healthy cells) Kochman et al., 2021. Some studies even suggest its antiviral effects can be beneficial to helping inactivate viruses such as covid-19 virus. (Ohgitani et al., 2020)
This antioxidant power can help protect against diseases such as heart disease and cholesterol by lowering lower density lipoprotein (LDL), the bad cholesterol and like other green teas can also help reduce blood pressure (Samavat et al., 2016; Zheng et al., 2011).
Some studies also suggest its antioxidant levels are greater than other teas/ green teas (Koshman et al., 2021; Liu et al., 2015; Weiss & Anderson, 2003), however, this may be due to the way it is prepared when compared with other teas.
Catechins are a type of antioxidant; they are a substance found in tea that helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that are made during normal cell metabolism (chemical changes that take place in a cell). They can build up in cells and cause damage to other molecules. Such damage may increase the risk of cancer and other diseases. Catechins are being studied in the prevention and treatment of cancer.
- Matcha is a natural detoxifier; aids digestion:
Due to its potent levels of chlorophyll, matcha is rich in fibre. Chlorophyll is naturally known to help eliminate the body of toxins and improve digestion.
- It increases metabolism, aids weight loss & improves performance:
Studies report that drinking matcha regularly can help enhance exercise-induced fat oxidation and may help the body use up energy faster than normal, also helping increase endurance of activity performance especially when consumption is combined with participation in regular moderate-intensity exercise. Studies also found increased maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max) in consumption of EGCG, present in matcha, during short-term consumption (Andrei, 2021; Richards et al., 2010; Venables, 2008; Willems et al., 2017;).
- Longevity and anti-aging properties:
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, matcha helps reduce inflammation and oxidation both of which help reduce the rate of and effects of ageing to the skin and body and aids recovery preventing post-workout aches.
The potent antioxidants levels in matcha, mentioned previously, have been found to help manage blood sugar levels, improve cardiovascular health, and protect against several different cancers and other mortality-causing diseases, therefore this has a positive impact on increasing life expectancy in the long run (Zhao, 2017).
- Enhances energy and mood:
Matcha has shown to improve mood and reduce stress. Matcha contains L-Theanine (an amino acid which has been shown to improve energy levels; particularly improve focus, mental acuity and attention). Studies also report regular consumption of matcha has helped increase levels of feel-good hormones in the brain such as serotonin and dopamine which help reduce symptoms of mild anxiety and help with stress relief.
The caffeine in matcha is high when compared to green tea and coffee:
Caffeine (mg/g) (Kochman et al., 2021; Adnan et al., 2013):
Matcha: 18.9 – 44.4
Green tea: 11.3 – 24.67
Coffee: 10.0 – 12.0
Due to its caffeine content, matcha can have a positive impact on improving strength and power performance in the gym as well as improve endurance (Richards, 2010; Willems, 2017).
Association of matcha green tea consumption and improvement in memory, cognition and tasks requiring learning was also found, without the caffeine jittery effects later on. The combination which matcha possesses of L-theanine and caffeine helps improve performance, alertness, reaction time and with attention switching tasks, this makes it great for a pre-sports drink that require agility and attention such as tennis, football, basketball, rugby etc. (Dietz & Dekker., 2017).
This also makes matcha a great pre-workout drink to help with endurance or even to replace the regular, high sugar morning lattes (Andrei, 2021 & Dietz & Dekker, 2017;).
Overall, due to its amazing qualities to prevent diseases and support cognitive attention, consuming matcha regularly may have positive effects on both our physical and mental health.
However, it is not a magic fix, our physical and mental health is determined by the regular activities we do (or do not do enough of) and what we regularly put into our bodies. By participating in a good amount of exercise/ trying be as physically active as we can, and then supporting that with a healthy, nutritious diet; making the most of good nutrients like the ones we find in matcha we can aim to be the healthiest version of ourselves.
So, regardless of your training goals, as long as you keep moving, you need to ‘matcha’ that with consuming good nutritious meals, and only that way, will be your perfect match!
Adnan et al., 2013 http://www.pakbs.org/pjbot/PDFs/45(3)/24.pdf
Čížková et al., 2008 https://www.agriculturejournals.cz/web/cjfs.htm?type=article&id=10_2008-CJFS
Dietz and Dekker., 2017 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28056735/
Kochman et al., 2021 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7796401/
Koláčková et al., 2020 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31832980/
Liu et al., 2014 https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/effects-of-tea-intake-on-blood-pressure-a-metaanalysis-of-randomised-controlled-trials/AD10B8AF38E3184FCFDDC9778F833835
Makiuchi et al., 2016 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/cas.12843
Ohgitani et al., 2020 https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.12.04.412098v1.abstract
Samavat et al., 2016 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5118731/
Richards et al., 2010 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19952844/
Venables, 2008 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18326618/
Willems et al., 2017 https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/ijsnem/28/5/article-p536.xml
Willems et al., 2020 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19390211.2020.1811443
Weiss & Anderton., 2003 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14518774/
Yang et al., 2009 https://www.nature.com/articles/nrc2641
Zhao et al., 2016 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28135196/
Zheng etal., 2011 https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/94/2/601/4597944