When discussing and trying to figure out health benefits of products such as Matcha Tea and tea in general, I find it best to sort out what is factual (i.e. measurable) and what is not (or at least not yet) What is factual and measurable are the components in the makeup of Matcha.
We know that scientists, nutritionists and experts in these fields are able to accurately figure that out and measure the amount of each “ingredient” in products such as Matcha tea. What is not accurately measurable, at this point in time is whether or not these ingredients are 100% beneficial to a person’s health and if so, to what degree. There have been a lot of tests and research done – from testing tea ingredients on mice to tea based placebo tests on humans and much more. There is lot of compelling evidence supporting many of the generally accepted health benefits associated with Matcha and regular teas which I cover in the section below. However, as with a lot of nutritional, natural and herbal based products most of the big authoritative organisations such as FDA (Food and Drugs Administration) and NCI (National Cancer Institute) and AJCN (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition) are hesitant to fully endorse most of these purported health benefits at present. Maybe there are other factors that come into play such as the powerful pharmaceutical companies not necessarily wanting to promote natural health remedies and natural disease preventative aids but that’s another whole subject. Needless to say as scientists and researchers continue to test, study and analyse the nutritional benefits of the different components in Matcha tea, more and more factual evidence will become available.
What is the difference between Matcha Green Tea and Regular Green Tea?
- Regular green tea is made by processing the freshly harvested tea leaves, then brewing (steeping) the leaves in hot water and drinking the brewed tea. The tea leaves are then discarded. Matcha tea is made by grinding the freshly harvested tea leaves into a fine powder, then mixing this powder in hot water. The tea leaf itself is consumed with Matcha tea. (Note: Regular tea leaves can also be ground into an edible powder and/or edible leaves and have similar nutritional properties as Matcha such – see Organic edible tea powder and tea leaves here )
- Matcha tea is made from tea plants that have been shaded from the sun for some time – usually two to three weeks, before harvesting the leaves. (Japanese Gyokoru green tea also undergoes this shading process of the plants before harvesting). The stems are also carefully removed from the tender leaves before grinding to powder
These two differences give Matcha tea some additional and/or increased nutritional properties than regular green tea.
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What are the Nutritional Components in Matcha Tea?
Here is a chart showing a laboratory analysed nutritional breakdown of a Premium (Ceremonial) grade Matcha Tea. (Note: Regular grades of Matcha tea well as blended Matchas such as lattes, Matcha shakes etc), will not contain the same degree of these components.)
ORAC Score: The ORAC score (1384 units) listed in above chart is the Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity. This is a method for testing and assessing the degree or potency of
antioxidants in food products that was developed by USDA (US Department of Agriculture) and Tufts University (A private research university in Massachusetts). Higher numbers indicate higher levels of antioxidants and antioxidant affect when consumed. As you can see in the comparison chart here Matcha tea ranks way ahead of other food products in measurable antioxidant capacities.
The quantity of key antioxidants components such as such as EGCg (epigallocatechin gallate) and L-Theanine is what makes Matcha Tea stand out as having exceptional nutritional and health properties. These are present in regular green tea as well but there is three to ten times more per gram in Matcha tea. Matcha tea also has a well balanced array of other antioxidants in the form or catechins and amino acids (see above chart) as well as vitamins, minerals, fiber and some caffeine. It also has minimal calories.
How do these Nutritional Components Benefit my Health
Matcha tea has been attributed to having a positive effect on all the following (and probably other conditions as well) Anti-bacterial, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-viral, Arthritis, Bone Density, Bowels, Brain, Cancer, Cholesterol, Circulation, Diabetes and Blood Sugar, Heart, Kidneys, Leukemia, Live Longer, Liver, Skin, Stress, Stroke, Teeth, Weight Loss. Rather than going into detail here I’ll refer you to this website has some information and references on each of these if you are interested in further study.
Some the nutritional and health properties associated with antioxidants and in particular EGCg include its ability to fight against free radicals, boost metabolism, increase the body’s immune systems enabling it to be better equipped to resist and fight against potential infections and diseases, speed up recovery after physical exertion and workouts. It has also been linked with anti-ageing and the ability to slow down and halt growth of cancer cells.
EGCg has been tied to protection against many of today’s life style diseases and chronic illnesses including obesity, heart disease, cancer, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure and more.
There has been a lot of positive clinical research studies done on EGCg regarding its therapeutic use and value for the preventing and aiding in curing these illnesses and as a result EGCg is used in many nutritional and dietary supplements on the market today. It is worth noting, however that as of 2016, there are still no approved cases by health authorities in either Europe or the United States. From time to time the US FDA has issued letters warning against sellers of products stating categorically that EGCg does have anti-disease capabilities and/or definite health benefits.
Some of the health properties associated with L-Theanine include an increased mental alertness, an increased ability to relax and not stress, enhanced mood control, ability to concentrate and a greater sense of well-being. It is also related to assisting in memory and learning ability and improving performance on cognitive tasks.
My conclusion here is to reiterate on what I have said in other articles about tea and health – I regard Matcha, and most other forms of tea as a pleasant and healthy drink to enjoy regularly with others or on your own. But it is not a “silver bullet” for someone looking to be cured of obesity or any other similar health condition. Drinking good tea regularity can however contribute in a very positive way when accompanied by other essential lifestyle changes such as a good wholesome diet, a good physical exercise regimen and a positive outlook on life. So if you are looking to start a healthy change for the better buy yourself some good Matcha tea and start making some solid lifestyle changes and you’ll be happily on your way! What do you think about Matcha tea? Write your comments below.
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