Is Matcha Good for You?

Q: Is matcha healthy?

Go to any coffee shop or health food store and you’ll be almost guaranteed to find this jade-colored dried green tea. It’s mixed into lattes, milkshakes, sodas, hot chocolate, and smoothies—and even into desserts like ice cream and brownies. Recommended by many superfoods that are full of antioxidants Cancer preventionAnd the Memory improvementAnd the Reduce stress and anxiety. That’s enough to convince almost anyone to drink matcha. But does it actually live up to the hype?

Matcha is a type of dried green tea that was traditionally used in tea ceremonies in Japan, and has become popular in the United States and elsewhere. It comes from the same plant (Camellia sinensis) as other caffeinated teas, and is grown in an unusual way: the tea plant is Shaded from excessive sunlight For most of its growth, it can produce more amino acids and bioactive compounds, such as chlorophyll and theanine. Once the leaves are harvested, they are ground into a fine powder.

Frank Ho, professor of nutrition and epidemiology and chair of the department of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health said.

And while the research on its health benefits isn’t definitive, experts say matcha contains large amounts of potentially beneficial compounds.

Antioxidants. “As we age or when we are exposed to things in the environment, like UV rays or carcinogens, we end up with reactive oxygen species doing harmful things like damaging our cell membranes,” said Jamie Allan, associate professor of pharmacology. and toxicology at Michigan State University.

Dr. Allan said the antioxidants, which are abundant in matcha tea, are substances that “neutralize” those harmful molecules, preventing “a whole gamut of damage that occurs downstream.” Dr. He and Dr. Allan said the tea could theoretically help protect the body’s cells from damage and reduce the risk of certain health problems such as heart disease or cancer, although this has not been proven.

L-theanine. This unique amino acid, which can be found in green tea as well as some types of mushrooms, is another component of matcha that experts highlight as beneficial for health. However, Dr. Hu said the evidence for how to do this is weak. Some small, placebo-controlled trials have suggested that L-theanine may be improve cognitive performance And the stress reduction. Both experts noted that there have only been animal studies and some small human trials.

Caffeine. Dr. Hu said that while most people might not think about the health effects of caffeine when drinking their morning cup of coffee, the evidence for its health benefits is fairly strong. Studies have found, for example, that caffeine can do just that Increase cognitive function and vigilance and Intensify metabolism. and regular consumption of coffee – the primary source of caffeine for adults in the United States – has been linked to a Reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, and age-related cognitive decline, said Dr. Hu.

Few studies have focused specifically on how matcha might benefit health, so it’s hard to say for certain. But scientists have a fairly good understanding of the benefits of green tea. “there a lot of searching on green tea, and overall evidence suggests that it is a healthy beverage.” “We don’t have similar evidence for matcha, but because matcha contains the same ingredients as green tea, only in much higher concentrations,” he continued, “it might be safe to conclude that it offers the same the benefits.

Dr. Allan also stressed that while matcha is generally safe, some people — including those who must limit their caffeine intake due to a health condition — should probably avoid it. “If you are prone to arrhythmias or if you have heart disease, matcha tea may be harmful for you,” she said. People who are sensitive to caffeine may want to move matcha as it can cause anxiety and disrupt sleep.

Overall, Dr. Hu said, matcha can be a healthy addition to your diet, as long as you’re aware of the amount of sugar and other unhealthy ingredients you’re consuming with it. Dr Hu said the amount of sugar and cream people add to their daily coffee or tea “has become so overwhelming that it counteracts the health benefits”. And if you eat a lot of junk food or smoke cigarettes regularly, don’t expect matcha to counter those unhealthy options.

“If you develop a habit of consuming matcha regularly, you may get some long-term health benefits,” said Dr. Hu. “But if I just sprinkle a little bit of matcha powder on top of the chocolate ice cream, I don’t think it will help much.”

Annie Snead is a science journalist who contributes regularly to the New York Times. She has also written for Scientific American, Wired, Public Radio International, and Fast Company.

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