The Surprising Health Benefits Of Matcha

The vast majority of individuals, even if they do not consume it themselves, have heard of matcha. Matcha, of course, is a vibrant green powder made from special green tea leaves. These leaves are grown in the shade for approximately three weeks before they are harvested, at which point the stems and veins are removed before processing. When consumed as a tea, the powder is dissolved in either hot water or hot milk and then frothed, often with a whisk.

But what sets this apart from other teas and health foods? Start reading to learn about some of the top health benefits of consuming matcha on a regular basis now.

Full Of Powerful Antioxidants

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Just about everyone knows antioxidants are quite healthy for the body. Matcha, in particular, contains roughly five times as many antioxidants as any other food rich in antioxidants. Furthermore, matcha contains catechins, which are natural antioxidants. Some of the benefits these antioxidants have on the body is promoting healthy skin by blocking the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays and stabilizing free radicals, which can damage cells and increase an individual's risk of certain chronic diseases.

Since matcha contains nutrients from all parts of the green tea leaf, consuming matcha often means consuming more catechins than steeping other types of green tea. The powder, after all, does not leave the water and individuals drink it all, whereas the leaves are removed from the water in other green teas.

Increased Energy Without Jitters

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Caffeine is a popular way to boost energy quickly, which is why many individuals begin their day by consuming a cup of coffee. Unfortunately, caffeine also results in what many refer to as the 'jitters,' which means feeling shaky. Caffeine can also cause nervousness, increase blood pressure to dangerous levels, and cause withdrawal symptoms due to reliance on it to get through each day.

However, matcha can boost an individual's energy without causing these effects. Although green tea, including matcha, does contain some caffeine, it is not nearly as much compared to a cup of coffee. Furthermore, the energizing effects of matcha do not come from caffeine, but rather from the amino acid L-Theanine, which helps boost energy but also stabilizes the effects and provide the drinker with a sense of calm.

Boosted Immune System

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Beyond the immune-boosting effects antioxidants have on the body, studies indicate the catechins in matcha also have antibiotic properties which help keep the body healthy. Additionally, matcha is full of many other nutrients, such as flavonoids, iron, protein, calcium, potassium, as well as vitamins A and C, which help keep the immune system strong and ready to fight off many illnesses. For instance, the flavonoids help reduce bad breath and soothe a sore throat, and in conjunction with the antioxidants, kill bacteria responsible for many viruses and infections, such as the flu and the common cold.

Protection Against Disease

Some of the serious diseases matcha helps protect the body against are heart disease, certain cancers, and even diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and does so in many different ways. Concerning heart disease, matcha helps decrease triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, known as 'bad' cholesterol, and increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which is the good kind. It also helps prevent LDL cholesterol from oxidizing. All of these help to reduce an individual's risk of developing heart disease during their lifetime.

When it comes to cancer, antioxidants, as mentioned, help to stabilize harmful free radicals, which studies have linked to cancer. As well, preliminary research indicates the catechin epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) in matcha helps kill off prostate cancer cells and is effective in the fight against lung, liver, and skin cancer. Other general studies with green tea extract and matcha indicate minimal damage to liver and kidneys, as well as a decrease in the risk of fatty liver disease, although more studies are necessary to strengthen this link.

Promoting Healthy Weight Loss

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Losing weight is a significant struggle for many individuals around the world, which is why there are many diets and other touted methods of losing weight quickly. However, many do not realize the powers green tea, specifically, matcha has when it comes to healthy and lasting weight loss. Specifically, matcha is known to boost an individual's metabolism, which means they burn calories quicker, almost four times as fast according to some reports. Some research into green tea extract, which has the same nutrients as matcha, though in differing quantities, indicates when taken during moderate exercise, an individual burns roughly seventeen percent more fat in the same amount of time.

Promotes Relaxation

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Matcha has been used for thousands of years in the Far East as an aid to relaxation. Many meditation practices incorporate matcha into their programs to help individuals achieve a more relaxed state of mind. The primary component of matcha that promotes relaxation is L-theanine, an amino acid found in large quantities in the matcha leaves. L-theanine works in the human body by increasing alpha waves. These brain waves serve many important and beneficial functions, one of them being inducing a state of relaxation. Unlike many prescription medications like anti-anxiety drugs, though, the L-theanine found in matcha promotes relaxation but does not compromise alertness. Reducing stress is crucial for preventing disease.

Boosts Mood

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Three compounds in matcha, specifically a catechin compound called ECGC, caffeine, and L-theanine, have been proven to work together to improve mental states in those who drink the tea. The trio boosts mood by modulating brain activity to reduce stress, promote clearer thinking, and ease anxiety. Notably, matcha contains three times as much ECGC as traditional green tea, making it one of the most abundant natural sources of the polyphenol in the world. The complex of vitamins and minerals present in matcha boosts mood as well. Optimal cognitive function and depression are closely linked. Reduction of oxidative stress, another action of matcha, has been shown to alleviate symptoms of depression. Yet another mood-boosting activity of matcha is the prevention of adrenal fatigue.

Assists With Cognitive Function

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Studies have shown remarkable mental benefits related to matcha. Researchers have demonstrated matcha assists with cognitive function by improving reaction time, memory, and attention span. Matcha contains more caffeine than green tea, which assists with cognitive function by increasing alertness. Caffeine stimulates the brain via its suppressive activity on adenosine, a neurotransmitter which is one of the brain's primary natural sedation mechanisms. The beneficial polyphenol ECGC is shown to break down plaques in the brain that can impair function and ultimately lead to dementia. Furthermore, the L-theanine present in matcha balances the negative effects of caffeine like nervousness or 'crashing,' allowing a controlled longer-term cognitive boost.

Helps With Blood Sugar

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Controlling blood sugar to avoid drastic spikes and drops is a good idea for everyone, regardless of their current health status. In the long run, avoiding massive swings in blood sugar can prevent diabetes, inflammation, and other conditions. Managing blood sugar responsibly is even more critical for individuals who already have developed diabetes. The large polyphenol content in matcha helps with blood sugar control in the body. Japanese researchers have shown drinking six cups of matcha daily helps with blood sugar and regular drinkers are significantly less likely to be diagnosed with diabetes compared to those who drink only a cup per week.

Reduces Oxidative Stress

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In the modern world, oxidative stress is a major contributor to a wide array of inflammation-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson's disease. Poor diet, environmental pollution, and stress all contribute to increased oxidation in the body by free radicals. Research shows matcha significantly reduces oxidative stress markers characteristic of Alzheimer's disease, making it a possible treatment for the debilitating condition. The high antioxidant content in matcha reduces oxidative stress by removing radical oxygen species that can damage DNA, proteins, and lipids inside the body. In one study, matcha was even shown to target cancer cells by starving them of oxygen.!