Health Benefits of Matcha

Matcha is a powder that’s made of finely ground green tea leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant. Matcha is grown differently from green tea. When growing matcha, the tea plants are shade-grown for about three to four weeks before harvest. This process causes the plants to produce more caffeine and theanine, which results in matcha’s unique nutrient composition.    

Matcha is typically stronger than regular green tea since it contains the whole tea leaf. You can use matcha in teas, lattes, smoothies, and even baked goods.

Health Benefits

Matcha is rich in caffeine and amino acids. Like green tea, matcha has a high concentration of antioxidants, including catechins, which may help prevent cell damage and lower your risk of chronic diseases. Some studies also suggest that the catechins and caffeine found in matcha may have a mild beneficial impact in weight loss and management. 

In addition, matcha can provide other health benefits like:

Heart Health

The catechins in matcha and green tea may decrease oxidative stress — an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body — and prevent inflammation. They’ve also shown  multiple cardiovascular benefits, such as lowering the risk of atherosclerosis, hypertension, and congestive heart failure.

Matcha can also help lower triglycerides and levels of LDL (“bad”) and total cholesterol. 

Improved Cognitive Performance

Matcha may provide a temporary boost to your brain. One study found that participants who either ate or drank matcha showed slightly faster speed of attention and some improvement in memory compared to the control group. 

More research is needed to understand the full impact matcha may have on cognitive functioning. However, scientists believe it’s the caffeine that could help with attention, concentration, and memory. 

Liver Health

Green tea and matcha show some promise in reducing the risk of liver disease and preventing liver damage. A meta-analysis found that individuals who drank green tea had a lower risk of liver cancer. The study also found that the longer people had been drinking green tea, the lower their risk.

However, there’s some concern over green tea extracts and supplements, which could potentially be related to liver damage. Instead of a supplement, opt for pure green teas and matcha.

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Nutrition

Matcha doesn’t contain a significant amount of vitamins and minerals. However, its antioxidants and caffeine content may enhance cognitive performance, aid in weight loss, and reduce the risk of liver and heart disease. 

Matcha also contains plant compounds like:

  • Catechins (epigallocatechin gallate)
  • Theanine   
  • Polyphenols

Nutrients per Serving

A half teaspoon (1 gram) of matcha contains:

  • Calories: 3
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams
  • Fiber: 1 gram
  • Sugar: 0 grams

Portion Sizes

Matcha is usually made into a drink or added into baked goods. While matcha on its own is low in calories and sugar, those amounts can significantly increase depending on what you’re adding to the matcha. 

How to Prepare Matcha

Matcha is available at most grocery stores, health stores, and online. Once you’ve opened a container of matcha, it typically stays fresh with optimal flavor for only about two months. You can store it in an air-tight container in the freezer or refrigerator to help maintain its freshness. 

Matcha is most commonly made into a warm tea by adding a teaspoon of the powder to a cup of hot water. Whisk the mixture until it’s frothy.  

Here are some ways to use matcha in recipes:

  • Add matcha to your iced or hot latte
  • Blend matcha into a fruit smoothie for a boost of nutrients
  • Combine matcha into a chia seed pudding
  • Add matcha to your favorite mug cake recipe
  • Make a green tea ice cream using matcha
  • Include matcha in recipes for baked goods, such as muffins
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 08, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Green tea intake lowers fasting serum total and LDL cholesterol in adults: a meta-analysis of 14 randomized controlled trials.”

Chinese Journal of Natural Medicine: “Green tea catechins: defensive role in cardiovascular disorders.”

Food Research International: “An intervention study on the effect of matcha tea, in drink and snack bar formats, on mood and cognitive performance.”

Frontiers in Psychology: “Caffeine enhances memory performance in young adults during their non-optimal time of day.”

International Journal of Biomedical Science: “Free Radicals, Antioxidants in Disease and Health.”

International Journal of Obesity: “The effects of green tea on weight loss and weight maintenance: a meta-analysis.”

Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture: “L-Theanine: properties, synthesis and isolation from tea.”

Nutrition and Cancer: “Green tea consumption and the risk of liver cancer: A meta-analysis.”

USDA: “Matcha organic green tea powder, matcha.”

World Journal of Gastroenterology: “Green tea extract: a potential cause of acute liver failure.”

 

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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