Benefits of Matcha, Much-a Hype or No?
If you google Matcha green tea benefits, the list varies from cancer-fighting to fat-burning to focus and energy boosting. But can a concentrated powder of ground up green tea leaves deliver all of these benefits? Should you swap out your daily cup o' joe for hot matcha or is it just a passing unsubstantiated trend?
What is matcha?
Japanese tea leaves are grown, picked, dried, and ground into a fine green powder. Mix ½ – 1 teaspoon of powder in warm water or milk for a super-dose of antioxidants, estimated to be 10 times as powerful as a cup of regular green tea. It contains about half the amount of caffeine of a cup of black coffee, just enough to give you a boost of energy and increase mental alertness without feeling jittery.
Does it work?
There have been a few studies, but not enough to prove without a doubt, that show improved LDL-cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) levels in people who drank one cup of matcha per day. It does contain high amounts of cancer-fighting compounds called catechins but drinking matcha won't guarantee cancer prevention. No single food or nutrient has this power.
As for weight loss and fat-burning potential, the jury is still out on whether or not drinking matcha on a regular basis will actually increase your resting metabolic rate significantly. Studies show a range of an 8-10% increase or as high as a 30-40% increase in number of calories burned but no large long-term studies have been conducted to see if these numbers hold up for the long-haul. Unlike many other "all-natural" weight loss supplements, there are no potential side effects or harm from adding to Matcha to your diet so it's always worth a try.
How can I add matcha to my day?
The most popular way to consume matcha is in beverage form. Coffee shops sometimes make matcha lattes which are easy to make at home with warm (not boiling) water and/or milk. My personal favorite is an almond milk matcha latte as the flavors complement each other well. Matcha has a grassy earthy flavor similar to green tea but you can easily adjust the flavor by using less or more matcha powder. Other ideas include:
- Add ½-1 teaspoon matcha into a vanilla protein smoothie
- Add it to oatmeal or any cooked grain or hot cereal
- Roll no-bake energy balls in matcha powder
- Make matcha muffins or pancakes
- Mix in ½ teaspoon to plain or vanilla yogurt