While we enjoy quality matcha primarily for the incredible epicurean delights it gives us, it’s a truly happy coincidence that it happens to be good for you in lots of different ways.
Here are what we feel are the top eight reasons why it makes sense to incorporate matcha, in whatever form (hyperpremium, coldbrew, or culinary), into your diet, solely for health reasons. There are many more reasons to drink matcha, but these eight are pretty powerful. As always, check with your doctor first before embarking on any new diet regimen.
1) Powerful Anti-Cancer Ally
Matcha contains massive quantities of an especially beneficial catechin called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, a flavanoid that has been studied extensively in labs across the world. EGCS are effective “scavengers” of reactive oxygen species in vitro, meaning that it’s one of the most powerful antioxidants found in any food. EGCGs exhibit powerful antioxidant effects against free radicals, unstable molecules that can damage healthy cells and lead to cancerous growths as a result.
According to a 2011 paper published in Biochemical Pharmacology , EGCG has proven to inhibit tumor growth in several test-tube studies involving cancer of the stomach, lungs, liver, breast and colon. In addition, EGCGs promote apoptosis, the spontaneous death of cancer cells. The authors conclude that EGCG presents a promising cancer treatment, along with other therapies. Wikipedia lists another 30 studies on EGCG here that have been shown EGCGs in quantity can be beneficial in treating brain, prostate, cervical, and other cancers.
Matcha has vastly more EGCGs than regular green tea (some studies put the figure at 140x) for the simple simple reason that, unlike regular loose-leaf green tea or bagged green tea, which is steeped and thus only the soluble fibers are extracted, matcha is consumed whole. The soluble and insoluble fiber in matcha work in synergy, something that can’t happen in tea that is steeped. It’s this synergistic effect that is responsible for its off-the-charts EGCG count.
2) Probiotic Powerhouse: Increases Good Bacteria, Decreases Bad Bacteria
Matcha has huge quantities of polyphenols — the naturally occurring compounds found in the tea plant that are thought to be responsible for some of the health effects conferred by a diet rich in fruit and vegetables. These polyphenols get broken down by our gut bacteria into bioactive, polyphenol-derived metabolites.
Not only do polyphenols increase counts of beneficial bacteria, they also inhibit growth of potentially pathogenic bacteria. And they do something similar to the bacteria in the mouth that cause plaque, which brings us to:
3) Oral Health Aid
Matcha supports healthy teeth and gums by both inhibiting and killing the bacteria that cause dental plaque and bad breath. The catechins in matcha have antibacterial effects, and in essence they act as microscopic plaque scrubbers that can help prevent cavity formation and periodontal disease.
Ever experienced coffee breath? Matcha breath is its opposite: sweet, grassy, tingly, clean.
4) Weight Loss Accomplice
There is quite a bit of research on matcha and weight loss, much of which shows that the combination of catechins and caffeine is linked to reduced BMI and body weight. A 2005 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined green tea catechins and their effect on body mass index, body weight, and waist circumference; men in the study who consumed catechin-rich green tea lost nearly twice as much weight as men who consumed tea low in catechins.
Matcha can increase thermogenesis (the body’s own rate of burning calories) from a normal 8% to 10% of daily energy expenditure, to be between 35% and 43%.
Weight loss seekers should especially try coldbrew matcha — cold beverages require your body to work harder, burning more calories.
5) Liver Cleanser
Researchers at the University of Maryland have shown that men who drink more than 10 cups of green tea per day — that is to say, one cup of matcha, nutrition-wise — are less likely to develop liver problems. Matcha also seems to protect the liver from the damaging effects of toxic substances such as alcohol. A tall glass of coldbrew matcha after a night of alcohol consumption has been shown to reduce the effects of hangovers and rehydrate and re-energize.
Animal studies have shown that green tea helps protect against liver tumors in mice. Results from several animal and human studies suggest that catechins may help treat viral hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver. Moreover, a 2009 Journal of Medicinal Food study tested the effects of matcha on rats with type 2 diabetes. The researchers found that treating the animals with matcha led to decreased levels of cholesterol, blood sugar, and harmful blood fats. What’s more, matcha appeared to protect the rats from liver and kidney damage.
6) Blood Sugar Stabilizer
Matcha helps stabilize blood sugar levels, making it ideal for diabetics. There appears to be a direct connection between antioxidant activity and hypoglycemic activity. The natural sugars (polysaccharides) in matcha help to stabilize blood sugar levels, and to protect against insulin spikes thus stabilizing blood sugar levels. Polysaccharides from green tea in concentrated form are used in the treatment of diabetes in China.
7) Caffeine + L-Theanine: Productivity Cocktail
L-theanine is a natural amino found in matcha. As it crosses the blood-brain barrier, L-theanine interfaces with neuroreceptors and stimulate the production of certain neurotransmitters. It promotes GABA production, which blocks excessive stress messages, and generates alpha waves, electrical impulses that accompany a calm, extremely relaxed state. When L-theanine is absorbed into the bloodstream, dopamine and serotonin levels tend to rise, which often produce yet more alpha waves, which typically result in feelings of well-being, a sense of satiety, relaxation, alertness, and an overall feeling of contentedness.
And yet: when l-theanine binds with caffeine, the l-theanine acts as a “timed release” on the caffeine, so there is none of the jittery anxiety associated with coffee consumption. The two molecules actually synergize to bring you a clean, calm and lucid focus that is unparalleled by any other “energy drink.” Matcha drinkers have repeatedly reported clearer and quicker thinking, improved memory for things like names and numbers, increased alertness and awareness, elevated moods, “calm euphoria,” and improved concentrative abilities for studying, working, or driving.
8) Hydration Enabler
Drinking a lot of matcha (coldbrew matcha in particular) keeps you hydrated. Yes, the small amount of caffeine in matcha (about 25 mg, or roughly a quarter of a cup of coffee) can dehydrate, but this tiny amount pales in comparison to the actual water in the drink. We recommend two or more 16-ounce servings of coldbrew per day to keep hydrated, alert, and feeling sated.