Health Benefits of Matcha

The health benefits of Japanese green tea, especially Matcha has been well known for centuries. The Buddhist monk, Eisai, popularised the idea of drinking green in Japan in the 12th century and wrote the first Japanese book about tea, describing it as a precious medicine and promoting longevity. Japanese scientists has since continued the research into its health benefits.

However, in the last 15 years Western scientists has been looking into its health properties, specifically its effects on cancer, obesity, human metabolism, mental alertness and relaxation, heart disease, cholesterol, diabetes and viral infections.

These health benefits are a result of matcha containing 2 types of nutrients in ultra-high quantities;

  • Antioxidants: Catechins, especially EGCG (EpiGalloCatechin-3-Gallate) are potent antioxidants and antiviral agents. These particular antioxidants are ONLY found in tea. They are produced by tea leaves to protect itself from the damaging UV radiation of the sun. The same protective properties also provide  great health benefits for us! These potent antioxidants are best extracted in water at a temperature of 75-80c.
  • Amino AcidsL-Theanine is an amino acid that is predominantly found in green tea. It is particularly concentrated in matcha due to the shading method before harvest. L-Theanine has a calming, relaxing effect, reduces stress and slows the effect of tea-caffeine.

Matcha Increases Metabolism

In a 1999 study from Switzerland, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, daily consumption of matcha increased energy expenditure as a result of increased metabolism. Having a cup of matcha 3 times a day results in burning an extra 300kJ or 80 Calories a day, over 40% of which comes from the breakdown of fat. This is thought to be the result of a synergy between EGCG and tea-caffeine. The same result was not seen in drinking similar amounts of coffee. Although 300kJ or 80 Calories may not sound like a lot, it is roughly the same as 10 minutes of HIGH IMPACT aerobics! And all you are doing is just drinking tea! [1]

Matcha Burns Fat and Aids Weight Loss

As described above, consuming matcha alone without exercise increases body metabolism by an extra 300kJ a day, with 40% of that from the breakdown of fat. From a UK study done in 2008, when matcha is combined with moderate exercise, fat is broken down at an amazing rate of 17% MORE than that compared to a placebo. When combined with a healthy lifestyle and diet, matcha really helps burn more fat and induces weight loss! [1][3]

Matcha Boosts Energy

A cup of good matcha will usually give you a boost of energy and mental alertness lasting 3-6 hours, while at the same time remaining calm, without the jitteriness you get with coffee. This is a synergistic effect of tea-caffeine (theine) and L-theanine and EGCG. The energy boost is provided by the tea-caffeine but rather than having a sharp and short-lasting effect, L-theanine and EGCG somehow adds a slow-release effect hence providing a prolonged and measured action, preventing the jitteriness you get with a sudden surge of caffeine. [1][2]

Matcha is Bursting with Age-Defying Antioxidants

According to Brunswick Labs based in USA and the USDA ORAC (Antioxidant) database dated May 2010, matcha has one of the highest antioxidant concentration (approx. 1300 ORAC/gram) of any natural foods. Gram for gram, matcha has more antioxidants than regular steeped green tea (110 times), orange juice (190 times), goji berries (42 times), cranberry juice (95 times), pomegranates (30 times), raspberries (27 times), blackberries (23 times) and blackcurrants (17 times). [4] It is a well known fact that antioxidants protect us from the ageing process, the sun’s UV rays skin damage and free-radical damage from the toxins in our environment or illnesses.

Matcha Promotes Radiant, Youthful Skin

Regular consumption of matcha helps prevent the sun’s damaging UV rays, leading to beautiful, radiant and youthful skin. This is due to the effect of EGCG which is found in ultra-high concentration in matcha. The reason why tea leaves produce EGCG is to protect itself from sun damage, hence it protects us too when we consume it. Other research has even suggested that it helps against the formation of certain skin cancers. [7][8]

Matcha Fights Influenza Viruses

In recent study (2005) done in South Korea, green tea extract has been shown to fight off the common influenza viruses. The study suggested that the green tea extract (particularly EGCG) actually kills the virus through destroying the physical defenses of the virus (virus membrane). [5] An earlier study done in Japan also found the same antiviral effects of green tea on influenza virus. [6]

Matcha Sharpens Concentration

In two recent studies in the UK and US, it has been shown that L-Theanine and caffeine when combined (as in matcha) significantly improved mental alertness and concentration in volunteers through a series of tasks and questionnaires. The mental alertness is far MORE than caffeine on its own. L-Theanine on its own has no such properties. [9][10]  Although, this synergistic effect is only found in tea, matcha has naturally ultra-high concentrations of both compounds compared to any other teas.

Matcha Elevates Mood

Matcha elevates mood through the reduction of the effects of mental stress. In a 2006 Japanese study, it has been shown that L-Theanine reduces psychological and physical stress responses in volunteers. The researchers suggested the anti-stress effects were due to inhibition of nerve excitation in the brain. [11] It has also been shown that L-Theanine induces the release of alpha brain waves which results in alert-relaxation within 30-40 minutes of ingestion. Other relaxing drugs tend to cause sedation or drowsiness as a side-effect. [12][13] These effects work much quicker than that seen in other natural agents, like Valerian (1-3 hours) and St John’s Wort (4 weeks).

And Lots More …

There are also plenty of evidence of other health benefits such as reduced cholesterol, heart disease, blood pressure, diabetes, cancer prevention, oral hygiene and so on. We will add more scientific evidences of these benefits in time.

See our source references for the above summary about matcha … click here

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