Matcha green tea is not only the “it” drink of the moment, it’s also super healthy for you. Here are five of the most exciting health benefits of matcha.
What’s the buzz about matcha? Hailing from Japan, this bright green tea has never been more popular. You can find it gracing your Instagram feed and countless fitness magazine covers, but what’s the deal with this colorful stuff? Turns out, the health benefits of matcha are pretty impressive. Here are just five of the most well-proven health benefits of matcha green tea.
Packed with Antioxidants
Perhaps one of the most well-known health benefits of matcha is its incredibly high antioxidant content. This should come as no surprise; traditional green tea is already high in antioxidants, but matcha is created by pulverizing green tea leaves, resulting in a fine powder that is consumed in its entirety.
Therefore, rather than consuming whatever antioxidants happen to infuse hot water (as is the case with traditional green tea), matcha drinkers consume the entire tea leaf. By consuming the entire leaf, they’re likely to be getting significantly more nutritional benefit. In fact, one study found that matcha powder contained approximately 137 times the amount of antioxidants as traditionally steeped green tea (1).
Antioxidants are important for a multitude of reasons, all of which stem from the fact that they provide electrons to free-radicals in the body that otherwise cause oxidative stress. This allows antioxidants to help prevent signs of aging, protect against numerous health issues, and boost longevity.
Helps Burn Fat and Boost Metabolism
Another major health benefit of matcha: It may be a helpful addition to your diet if you’re trying to maintain a healthy weight. A 1999 study found that matcha has thermogenic properties, which means that it may help increase your rate of burning fat (2).
While matcha does contain naturally occurring caffeine, researchers went on to say that its caffeine content alone wasn’t responsible for this metabolism boost.
“Green tea has thermogenic properties and promotes fat oxidation beyond that explained by its caffeine content per se,” the researchers said.
Gives You a Major Energy Boost
Speaking of that caffeine content, there’s no denying that matcha does contain plenty of natural caffeine. Depending on its potency, matcha contains anywhere from 30 to 75 mgs of caffeine per cup, only slightly less than the amount found in black coffee (95 mg).
Increases Mental Focus
However, despite its caffeine content, matcha offers a very different type of caffeine buzz than coffee — one that matcha lovers claim is far superior. Matcha contains L-theanine, a type of amino acid that is commonly associated with alert yet calm energy and mental focus. In fact, matcha has been the central beverage of Japanese tea ceremonies for millions of years, and is frequently consumed for the focus-promoting effects it can have on spirituality and meditation.
Matcha’s brain-boosting health benefits aren’t just an ancient spiritual myth, though. The effects of L-theanine on mental well-being have been well-studied, with studies supporting the idea that “L-theanine significantly increases activity in the alpha frequency band which indicates that it relaxes the mind without inducing drowsiness (3)”.
Protects the Heart
Finally, the catechins found in matcha have shown enormous promise for protecting the heart. Catechins act as an antioxidant, but they also help to encourage a healthy inflammatory response and safeguard cardiovascular health in numerous other ways (4).
(1) Babu, Pon Anandh, and Dongmin Liu. “Green Tea Catechins and Cardiovascular Health: An Update.” Current Medicinal Chemistry, vol. 15, no. 18, Jan. 2008, pp. 1840–1850., doi:10.2174/092986708785132979.
(2) Dulloo, AG, et al. “Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition , Dec. 1999, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10584049.
(3) Nobre, AC, and O Rao. “L-Theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state.” Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18296328.
(4) Babu, Pon Anandh, and Dongmin Liu. “Green Tea Catechins and Cardiovascular Health: An Update.” Current Medicinal Chemistry, vol. 15, no. 18, Jan. 2008, pp. 1840–1850., doi:10.2174/092986708785132979.