Written by Emilie Berthet Clairet, HYGGEWellbeing Ambassador
What is Matcha?
Matcha is a type of green tea that is made from young tea leaves. These leaves are grinned together to create a powder. This powder is then whisked with hot water.
It is a different preparation than green tea, where the leaves are simply soaked in water and taken off. In a regular green tea you are getting the soluble nutrients and compounds, but you are missing a big part of them, the insoluble ones. Matcha contains all of them, and offers us all the benefits of green tea leaves. Matcha green tea leaves are grown using techniques that increases their nutritional content compare to other green tea leaves, with even more benefits for our health.
What are the benefits?
Matcha is known to be one of the most powerful anti-oxidant. But what does anti-oxidant means?
We are constantly under stress, whether it is coming from our own stress or the environment (pollution, chemical, loud noises are some of the most common sources of stress from our environment). Our body is coping with this stress through oxidation, producing free radicals that are eliminated through a natural anti-oxidation in our body. When too many free radicals are produced, they can’t be all eliminated and it creates an oxidative stress responsible for aging, cancer, alzheimer diseases, cardiovascular diseases and many other conditions. (1,2)
We are constantly exposed to various stress and an extra boost of anti-oxidant coming from our diet is useful. Drinking matcha regularly helps giving our body this extra boost, and decreases the effects of stress on our body. (3)
Boost brain function
Matcha improves brain function not only through its anti-oxidant properties, but through more direct effects. Matcha has been proven to increase performance and subjective alertness, specifically thanks to its content in green tea phytonutrients, caffeine and L-theanine. (2). L-theanine is a great and natural brain booster, while relaxing the mind, without feeling drowsiness. Caffeine is known to increase alertness, memory and concentration, but can have a “crash effect” after few hours. Its combination with L-theanine seems to decrease this crash effect, while keeping the benefits of caffein. (4, 5)
Preventing cardiovascular diseases
Matcha has a protective effect against cardiovascular diseases in many different ways. First it keeps the glucose blood level steady. High blood sugar, even without diabetes condition, increases the risk of heart diseases and strokes. It also decreases triglycerides, the lipoprotein lipase, LDL, that is considered as the “bad cholesterol” in our blood (LDL Cholesterol) and increases the HLD Cholesterol, the “good cholesterol” (6,8,9). This helps preventing atherosclerosis in the vessels, heart failure, high blood pressure and many other conditions.
Matcha’s strong anti-oxidant effect also contributes to protect against cardiovascular diseases, especially thanks to super oxide dismutase, an enzyme that is eliminating toxic free oxygen molecules in our blood.
Available evidence shows that green tea, and specifically matcha has a direct effect on adipocytes and thermogenesis, helping to eliminate fat faster, and increasing our metabolism to burn more calories. (7, 8)
Matcha seems to increase leptin, an hormone sending the message to our brain that we are full when we are eating. A lack of leptin gives people a tendency to eat more and a lower feeling of satiety. This hormone secretion tends to decrease among people who are overweight, but also around menopause, as it is indirectly related to other hormones like insulin and oestrogen. Matcha helps rebalance this secretion and have a better control on our appetite. (7)
Epigallocatechin gallate, one of the most abundant catechin in green tea and matcha, has a direct effect on cancer cells. This molecule has been found to have a direct effect to reduce and prevent many cancers, and is now consider to be included in some chemotherapy protocols. Its natural form in matcha can help decrease the risk of cancer, helping eliminating cancer cells at an early stage. (10,11)
Matcha has all the benefits of green tea, with this extra bonus that it is made from the entire leaf, containing even more nutrients and active compounds promoting health. It contains caffein, but doesn’t have the negative effect of coffee, allowing us to drink it thorough the day. Drinking matcha tea during the day can really help us keep our health in balance, and it is very easy to prepare and super tasty!
1. Sakurai K, Shen C, Ezaki Y, Inamura N, Fukushima Y, Masuoka N, Hisatsune T. Effects of Matcha Green Tea Powder on Cognitive Functions of Community-Dwelling Elderly Individuals. Nutrients. 2020 Nov 26;12(12):3639. doi: 10.3390/nu12123639. PMID: 33256220; PMCID: PMC7760932.
2. Dietz C, Dekker M. Effect of Green Tea Phytochemicals on Mood and Cognition. Curr Pharm Des. 2017;23(19):2876-2905. doi: 10.2174/1381612823666170105151800. PMID: 28056735.
3. Olson KR, Briggs A, Devireddy M, Iovino NA, Skora NC, Whelan J, Villa BP, Yuan X, Mannam V, Howard S, Gao Y, Minnion M, Feelisch M. Green tea polyphenolic antioxidants oxidize hydrogen sulfide to thiosulfate and polysulfides: A possible new mechanism underpinning their biological action. Redox Biol. 2020 Oct;37:101731. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2020.101731. Epub 2020 Sep 18. PMID: 33002760; PMCID: PMC7527747.
4. Owen GN, Parnell H, De Bruin EA, Rycroft JA. The combined effects of L-theanine and caffeine on cognitive performance and mood. Nutr Neurosci. 2008 Aug;11(4):193-8. doi: 10.1179/147683008X301513. PMID: 18681988.
5. Giesbrecht T, Rycroft JA, Rowson MJ, De Bruin EA. The combination of L-theanine and caffeine improves cognitive performance and increases subjective alertness. Nutr Neurosci. 2010 Dec;13(6):283-90. doi: 10.1179/147683010X12611460764840. PMID: 21040626.
6. Xu P, Ying L, Hong G, Wang Y. The effects of the aqueous extract and residue of Matcha on the antioxidant status and lipid and glucose levels in mice fed a high-fat diet. Food Funct. 2016 Jan;7(1):294-300. doi: 10.1039/c5fo00828j. PMID: 26448271.