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Matcha Improves Heart Health, Aids Weight Loss, Reduces Cancer Symptoms

Matcha, a powdered green tea with a rich history, offers numerous health benefits.

Shivangi Rai
After the leaves are harvested, the leaves are steamed, dried and ground into a fine powder. (Image Courtesy- Canva)
After the leaves are harvested, the leaves are steamed, dried and ground into a fine powder. (Image Courtesy- Canva)

Matcha is a type of green tea that has gained significant popularity since 2015, especially among tea enthusiasts and social media users. However, its history dates back to the 12th century when it was used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies.

Matcha is derived from the same plant as all other teas, Camellia sinensis, but what sets it apart is the unique cultivation and processing methods it undergoes.

Unlike regular green tea, matcha is grown in the shade for 20-30 days before harvesting. This shading process increases the amino acid and chlorophyll content in the tea leaves, which contributes to their vibrant green colour.

After harvesting, the leaves are steamed, dried, and finely ground into a powder, ensuring that when you consume matcha, you're ingesting the entire tea leaf, which is rich in nutrients and antioxidants.

One of the key distinctions between matcha and traditional steeped green tea is the caffeine content. Matcha contains about 70-80 mg of caffeine per cup, while an 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee typically has around 95 mg of caffeine, although this can vary depending on the type of coffee.

Despite the relatively minor difference in caffeine content, the caffeine in matcha is released more slowly into the bloodstream because it binds to catechins. This slow release prevents the abrupt spikes in adrenaline and insulin associated with coffee, leading to a steadier energy boost and avoiding the typical caffeine crash and blood sugar drop.

Matcha offers several health benefits that have contributed to its popularity:

  1. High in Antioxidants: Matcha is renowned for its exceptionally high antioxidant content, with an Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) value of 1348 units per gram. This makes it a powerhouse of antioxidants, offering 13 times more antioxidants than pomegranates and 15 times more than blueberries. These antioxidants help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.

  2. Cancer Prevention: Matcha contains a class of antioxidants known as catechins, with a particularly high concentration of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is three times more than other green teas. Several studies suggest that EGCG may help protect against various types of cancer, including prostate, breast, colon, rectal, and skin cancer. Additionally, matcha's other catechins, like EGC, ECG, and EC, have shown cancer-fighting properties.

  1. Calming Effect: Matcha contains L-theanine, an amino acid that promotes relaxation and a sense of calm. The L-theanine content in matcha is significantly higher than in other green teas due to its shading process, making it a preferred choice for those looking to reduce stress and achieve a meditative state without the jitters associated with coffee.

  2. Enhanced Focus and Concentration: The combination of L-theanine and caffeine in matcha has been shown to improve cognitive function, increase focus, and reduce distraction. Studies suggest that this combination can enhance speed and accuracy in tasks involving memory and attention.

  3. Heart Health: Green tea, including matcha, is recognized for its positive impact on heart health. Drinking green tea can reduce the risk of stroke and coronary artery disease. It can also lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels, further contributing to cardiovascular well-being.

  4. Weight Management: Matcha may aid in weight loss and weight management. Research indicates a connection between green tea, particularly the antioxidant EGCG, and weight loss. Participants who consumed catechin-rich green tea extract in one study showed a reduction in body fat mass, BMI, and body weight over 12 weeks.

  1. Improved Physical Performance: Athletes and physically active individuals may benefit from matcha due to its caffeine content. Caffeine is known to boost physical performance by making fatty acids in fat tissue available for energy, leading to an average performance increase of 11-12%. Matcha's unique caffeine release may offer a smoother and more sustained energy boost during physical activities.

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