As with most superfoods, Matcha’s popularity boomed once people learned of its biohacking benefits, but that’s not all you need to know before taking it.
What is Matcha? Matcha comes from finely ground up leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, which is also used to make green tea. It’s so nutritionally dense and full of antioxidants that it’s considered a Superfood which is why it has become extremely popular as a supplement and used in various foods and drinks.
Why should you take Matcha? Matchca helps you lose weight, helps prevent chronic disease and cell damage, including cancer, supports better brain function and helps protect against heart and liver disease.
Matcha’s unique look, taste and production all contributed to this craze. Now the dust has settled somewhat what are its benefits, its side effects and should you be drinking it daily?
The direct consumption of the Camellia sinensis leaf means Matcha contains more caffeine and antioxidants than green tea. In fact, one serving of Matcha is equivalent to 10 cups of green tea in terms of nutritional value and antioxidant content. How and why is this?
Growing Camellia sinensis and Making Matcha
The process of making Matcha is different from traditional green tea.
It’s grown differently as it is covered to avoid direct sunlight. This increases chlorophyll production, boosts amino acid content, and gives the plant its darker green colour.
When the plant is harvested the stems and veins are removed, then the leaves are ground up into a fine powder.
Eating and Drinking Matcha
As the whole leaf is used in Matcha – as opposed to only being infused with green tea – with Matcha tea, you drink 100% of water-soluble and 100% of non-water soluble substances as opposed to a part of the 30% of water-soluble substances in green tea which come from the infusion.
Due to its production process and resulting powder form, Matcha can come in many forms.
The traditional is to drink Matcha in tea or coffee, but the powder is used water, juices, added to cakes, doughs for bread and various other desserts. Matcha can also be used to make ice cream or snack bars.
What does Matcha Taste Like?
The taste is often described as rich, aromatic, and uniquely vegetal (plant tasting) with a sweet aftertaste.
What are the nutritional values of Matcha?
|Nutrients per 10 g||Matcha||Green Tea||Coffee|
|Caffeine||0.34 g||0.02 g||0.06 g|
|Proteins||2.74 g||0.2 g||0.2 g|
|Calcium||32.8 mg||3 mg||2 mg|
|Iron||1.3 mg||0.2 mg||–|
|Potassium||200 mg||27 mg||65 mg|
|Polyphenol||1 g||0.07 g||0.25 g|
|Vitamin A||3 mg||–||–|
|Vitamin E||1.83 mg||–||–|
|Vitamin C||18.5 mg||6 mg||–|
The nutritional values of Matcha compared to green tea and coffee show why there is a buzz around the product and why it can be good to have every day.
It contains more of everything and some things which traditional green tea and regular coffee don’t, so it’s an excellent biohacking supplement.
But what does this all mean?
What are the actual benefits of Matcha?
Surely it can’t all be good, what are the side effects?
In this next section, the answers to these questions will be more closely detailed and analysed.
The Benefits of Matcha
Helps to lose weight
Matcha comes from the same plant as green tea, therefore studies into the effects of green tea also apply to Matcha.
Green tea is a staple suggestion when you’re talking weight loss and diets. It is suggested by an analysis of a variety of studies that green tea can reduce body weight and maintain weight loss.
It can also increase energy expenditure as shown by a study showed where, when taking a green tea supplement, energy expenditure was boosted over a 24 hour period.
Another study showed that consuming green tea extract during exercise increased fat burning by 17%.
As Matcha is calorie free it is a stress-free addition to any diet. In boosting metabolism, aiding in fat burning and increasing energy expenditure, it is no wonder it is suggested to help with weight loss, helping with many different aspects surrounding the topic.
High antioxidant content helps to prevent chronic disease and cell damage
Simply put, the more antioxidants you have, the better equipped your body is to fight against infections or diseases and prevent ageing.
Due to the production and consumption process of Matcha (using the whole leaf, not just infusing it with water) it has a naturally much higher antioxidant and catechin (a type of plant compound in tea which acts as natural antioxidants) content than traditional green tea, as shown in the nutritional table above.
Enhance brain function
As Matcha contains a wide variety of nutritional ingredients such as caffeine and L-Theanine it helps to improve brain function and helps with concentration, relaxation and focus.
Consuming Matcha could improve general brain function as shown by a 2017 study where consumption led to improvements in attention, reaction time and memory.
With the L-Theanine content, Matcha can contest some of the negative side-effects which caffeine can have. It helps to avoid the downfall in energy levels that can come after consuming caffeine.
Protect against heart and liver disease
Consuming green tea has been shown to reduce levels of cholesterol and more specifically “bad” LDL cholesterol. It can also help to prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, something which can also protect against heart disease.
A study on diabetic rats has shown that having Matcha can help to prevent damage to the kidneys and liver.
A review of studies found that drinking green tea can be linked with a decreased risk of liver disease.
Helps fight cancerous cells
Matcha has a high content of EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) which is a type of catechin which has been shown to have anti-cancer effects.
What are the side effects of Matcha?
The side effects of Matcha are preventable with controlling how much you have, but the potential side effects include:
- Liver damage from excessive consumption
- Irregular heartbeat
- And much of the regular caffeine related side effect such as insomnia, upset stomach, constipation and irritability.
As previously stated, these side effects all relate to how much you are having Matcha. It is not to consumed like water, rather drink it once or twice a day to feel its effects without any risk of side effects.
Lots of health professionals suggest children, pregnant women as well as people who have heart problems, kidney problems, liver problems and psychological disorders should not consume any kind of green tea.
Matcha is easy to prepare or include with any meal or comes in a variety of different forms. It comes from the same plant as green tea but, due to its production process, it contains way more nutrients than other types of green tea.
These nutrients contribute to a wide range of potential benefits, ranging from weight loss to enhanced brain function.
Caution should be taken, as with any product containing caffeine, to not over-consume. If caution is taken the side effects are not likely to be experienced and the range of health benefits listed can be enjoyed without risk.