It seems a bit redundant to write about something I feel most people already know about. However, it surprises me more every day when I chat with friends, co-workers, or even random people waiting in line at the coffee shop who don’t know the benefits of including matcha in your diet. When I quit coffee in the late summer of 2019, I remember thinking, “How the H-E-double hockey sticks am I going to be able to do this?”. Surprisingly though matcha is wildly available more than ever in almost every coffee shop, bakery, health store, or market you stop at these days. Matcha somewhat skyrocketed in popularity. Partly because most coffee drinkers I know need something to give them a boost later in the day without having to drink more coffee. But from my research, the majority of people drinking matcha don’t drink coffee like me. We understand the benefits and tend to do a bit more research than coffee drinkers since coffee isn’t an option for us.
Like green tea, matcha comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. However, it’s grown differently and has a unique nutrient profile. Farmers grow matcha by covering their pants 20-30 days before harvest to avoid direct sunlight. This increases chlorophyll production, boosts the amino acid content, and gives the plant a darker green hue. Once the tea leaves are harvested, the stems and veins from the plant are removed and the leaves are ground up into a fine powder known as matcha.
Studies of matcha and its components have unearthed a variety of benefits, showing that it can help protect the liver, promote heart health, and even aid in weight loss.
Here are 7 health benefits of matcha tea.
High in antioxidants
Matcha is rich in caffeine and amino acids. Like green tea, matcha has a high concentration of antioxidants including catechins, a class of plant compounds in tea that acts as natural antioxidants. Antioxidants help stabilize harmful free radicals. In short, catechins help compounds in your body from damaging cells that can cause chronic disease. Catechins in green tea are known to have many beneficial health properties and cancer-fighting effects on the body overall.
One study showed that giving mice matcha supplements reduced damage caused by free radicals and enhanced antioxidant activity. 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.
The liver is vital to our health and plays a central role in flushing out toxins, metabolizing food, and processing nutrients. Some studies have found that matcha may help protect the health of your liver. Green tea and matcha show some promise in reducing the risk of liver disease and preventing liver damage.
A meta-analysis found that individuals who drank green tea had a lower risk of liver cancer. The study also found that the longer people had been drinking green tea, the lower their risk.
Boost in Brain Function
Matcha may provide a temporary boost to your brain! Some research shows that several of the components in matcha could help enhance brain function.
One study in 23 people looked at how people performed on a series of tasks designed to measure brain performance. Some participants consumed either matcha tea or a bar containing 4 grams of matcha, while the control group consumed a placebo tea or bar. The researchers found that matcha caused improvements in attention, reaction time, and memory, compared to the placebo.
Another small study showed that consuming 2 grams of green tea powder daily for 2 months helped improve brain function in older people. Additionally, matcha contains a more concentrated amount of caffeine than green tea, packing in 35 mg of caffeine per half teaspoon (about 1 gram) of matcha powder. Multiple studies have linked caffeine consumption to improvements in brain function, citing faster reaction times, increased attention, and enhanced memory.
Matcha also 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. L-theanine has also been shown to increase alpha wave activity in the brain, which may help induce relaxation and decrease stress levels.
May Help Prevent Cancer
Matcha is jam-packed with health-promoting compounds, including some that have been linked to cancer prevention in a test tube and animal studies.
In one study, green tea extract decreased tumor size and slowed the growth of breast cancer cells in rats. 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. Other test-tube studies have shown that EGCG is effective against skin, lung, and liver cancer.
Keep in mind that these were test-tube studies looking at specific compounds found in matcha. At the end of the day, further research is needed.
May Promote Heart Health
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for an estimated one-third of all deaths in people over the age of 35.
Some studies show that drinking green tea, which has a similar nutrient profile to matcha, may help protect against heart disease. The catechins in matcha and green tea may decrease oxidative stress which is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body. This also means it could prevent inflammation.
They’ve also shown multiple cardiovascular benefits, such as lowering the risk of atherosclerosis, hypertension, and congestive heart failure. Matcha can also help lower triglycerides and levels of LDL (“bad”) and total cholesterol.
When combined with a well-rounded diet and healthy lifestyle, drinking matcha may help keep your heart healthy and protect against disease.
Control or Manage Weight
Take a look at any weight loss supplement and there’s a good chance you’ll see “green tea extract” somewhere in the list of ingredients. We are not here to promote weight loss, but we are here to help add things like matcha green tea into your lifestyle to help you along your weight journey. Whatever that may look like for you.
Studies show that it may help speed up your metabolism to increase energy expenditure and boost fat burning. Another small study showed that taking green tea extra during moderate exercise increased fat burning.
Although most of these studies focused on green tea extract, matcha comes from the same plant and should have similar effects.
Easy to Prepare
We mentioned this at the beginning, but taking advantage of the many health benefits of matcha is simple and if you enjoy tea you’ll enjoy the taste of matcha.
Whether you want to enjoy traditional matcha tea by sifting the powder into a cup, adding hot wat, and whisking with a bamboo whisk or you’re feeling creative by steaming up a milk alternative to enjoy a matcha latte there are so many ways to enjoy matcha.
As always, moderation is key. Although matcha is packed with health benefits, more is not necessarily better.
The Bottom Line
Matcha comes from the same plant as green tea, but since it’s made from the entire leaf, it packs in a more concentrated amount of antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds.
Studies have revealed a variety of health benefits associated with matcha and its components, ranging from enhancing brain function to decreasing the risk of heart disease.
Best of all, the tea is simple to prepare, so you can incorporate it effortlessly into your diet and give your day a burst of extra flavor.
Take that coffee!