In the world of “superfoods,” matcha is truly a tea to take note of. Made by steaming, stemming and de-vining the young leaves of a shade-grown Camellia sinensis plant, the fine powder of matcha green tea is the cream of the crop in terms of tea. Unlike other teas, the whole leaf is utilized when consumed, packing a healthful powerhouse into your system. So where exactly does matcha come from and how can you get more of it on the daily? Read on to discover its origins, the vast health benefits regular consumption can have on your body and different ways to incorporate it into your diet.
Teas are grown and utilized for their medicinal properties throughout the world, but matcha green tea is unique to Japan, and has been a tradition of their culture for hundreds of years. Known for its variety of health benefits, this tea offers a plentiful amount of nutrients, antioxidants, fiber and chlorophyll. In fact, just one cup of matcha is equivalent to 10 cups of regular green tea in terms of the antioxidants and nutritional value it provides.
Health Benefits of Matcha:
- It helps you relax.
Matcha has been used by Chinese Daoists and Japanese Zen Buddhist monks to promote relaxation and deeper their meditative practices for centuries. Studies have now confirmed that drinking this tea can, in fact, induce relaxation. This is because of the high presence of the amino acid L-Theanine found in the leaves, which produces alpha waves in the brain that promote a state of calmness.
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- It improves mood, memory and concentration.
L-Theanine also produces the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which help to improve mood. This amino acid has also been found to improve memory and attention, even for subjects who suffer from mild cognitive impairment, which involves issues with memory, language, thinking and judgment that exceed signs of typical aging. Furthermore, L-Theanine changes the way caffeine affects the body. As opposed to coffee, which often gives you a surge of alertness that comes and goes quickly, matcha provides you with the concentration for a longer period of time with a much milder buzz.
- It improves cholesterol.
Various studies, including a 2011 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, have discovered that regular matcha consumption can lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing levels of HDL (good) cholesterol (helpful in warding off heart disease). In this study, it was discovered that consuming green tea beverages or extracts decreased serum total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol concentrations.
- It fights cancer.
Free radicals can wreak havoc on the immune system, leading to such diagnoses as cancer. One of the most efficient preventative measures to keep your system strong is incorporating more antioxidants. Matcha is extremely high in the antioxidants known as catechins, most notably EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which is thought to be a dominant anti-carcinogen. A 2003 study conducted at the University of Colorado even found that consuming just one cup of this tea provides a whopping 137 times the amount of EGCG than regular green tea.
- It aids in weight loss.
Green tea is a common ingredient in weight loss products for its ability to raise metabolism. However, a much more holistic approach is to drink tea alongside a well-balanced diet for optimum health. Many studies have found the effects the catechins in green tea can have on slimming down, including a 1999 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that discovered these powerful antioxidants can increase thermogenesis, which is the body’s rate of burning calories, from eight to 10 percent to 35 to 43 percent of energy used per day. Matcha can contain more than 100 times the EGCG than regular brewed green tea.
How To Incorporate It Into Your Diet
One of the best things about matcha green tea is that it’s not one-dimensional, serving simply as a beverage. Because it is in a powdered form, there are various ways you can consume it, helping you to get creative and inspired regularly. So, along with mixing it with water as a beverage, try and also think outside the cup! Here are some thoughts to consider:
Supplement your smoothies.
When done right, smoothies can give you that quick, all-in-one boost of energy you need to power through the day. Making the same recipe over and over again can prove stale, however, and there are so many great smoothie additions out there.
Season your dishes.
Rather than using the typical seasonings like salt or pepper, stir some matcha into your soup broths, or right in your vegetable sauté for an herbaceous palate pleaser. Need a new way to cook your salmon? This matcha-infused recipe is a great option.
Spread on your sandwich.
Sandwiches don’t have to be boring, or unhealthy, but sometimes we get stuck in the same rut, and often end up slathering on layers of unhealthy fats such as mayo. To make a unique spread, chop and steam one bunch of kale, then blend it in a food processor with ½ teaspoon of matcha and ½ cup of walnuts.
Spruce up an appetizer.
For an antioxidant powerhouse, incorporate matcha green tea into your homemade guacamole recipe. If you want to keep it healthy, switch out the chips for a side of raw veggies like red, orange and yellow bell peppers, which don’t only add a punch of color, but are packed with vitamin C, too.
Infographic made by www.matcha-tea.com
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