by Dr. Sara Solomon P.T., DMD Bodybuilding.com
If you're not drinking matcha green tea yet, you're behind the times! Get with the program and try this metabolism-enhancing, stress-reducing, immune-boosting, cholesterol-lowering, teenage-mutant-ninja cancer fighter!
Although people drank green tea in China more than 1,000 years ago, it became an important part of the Japanese culture. They named the tea matcha1. Zen Buddhist monks drank it to remain alert and calm during long hours of meditation2.
Japanese tea leaves grow in the shade to increase chlorophyll content. These chlorophyll-rich leaves are then handpicked, steamed, dried and ground into a fine green powder3.
The history and cultivation of the tea is interesting, but what matters most to health enthusiasts is its antioxidant content. One cup of matcha green tea has as many antioxidants as 10 cups of regular tea! That's almost exactly the same ratio to the "spider strength" Peter Parker gets when he puts on his suit!
Fit To A Tea
6.2 times that of Goji Berries
7 times that of Dark Chocolate
17 times that of Wild Blueberries
60.5 times that of Spinach
The tea's power is so super because entire leaves3 are dissolved in water rather than steeped in bags. Instead of throwing away the leaves, you ingest all their antioxidant powers.
Those numbers are off the charts. Matcha green tea possesses antioxidant levels 6.2 times that of goji berries, 7 times that of dark chocolate, 17 times that of wild blueberries and 60.5 times that of spinach1! Holy St. Francis, Batman!
And that's not all! Matcha's magnificence makes a long list.
Green tea contains potent antioxidants called catechins, which scavenge for dangerous free radicals in the body. The most powerful catechin found in green tea is EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which is believed to be a powerful anti-carcinogen4.
A 2003 University of Colorado study confirmed that drinking 1 cup of matcha green tea has 137 times the amount of antioxidant EGCG compared to a conventional cup of green tea1.
One of the locales in the world where people live the longest is Okinawa, Japan. The Okinawan people's longevity has been partly attributed to regular consumption of Matcha Green Tea1.
Matcha green tea is the most popular green tea in Japan, but is rapidly gaining more popularity throughout the world because of its ability to combat inflammation, oxidation and aging.
Heart Disease Preventer:
Lowers LDL "Bad" Cholesterol
A 2011 study featured in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that administration of green tea beverages or extracts significantly lowered serum total cholesterol and LDL "Evil Emperor Zurg" cholesterol concentrations5.
A 1999 study featured in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that green tea extract rich in catechins has thermogenic properties and promotes fat oxidation beyond that explained by the tea's caffeine content.
It was found that consuming green tea increased thermogenesis (the body's rate of burning calories) from 8-10% to 35-43% of daily energy expenditure6.
Another study demonstrated that exercising immediately after drinking matcha green tea resulted in 25% more fat burning during exercise4.
Both studies suggest matcha green tea can enhance both resting metabolic rate and fat burning - can I get an Amen?!
Matcha is grown in the shade, which is why it is richer in chlorophyll than other green teas. Chlorophyll is the pigment responsible for giving leaves their green color. The Hulk would be proud!
Chlorophyll is purported to detoxify the body1, but this has yet to be scientifically proven. I wanted to mention it because of its supposed ability to clear the body of toxins, heavy metals, poisons, dioxins and hormone disrupters.
Matcha green tea contains up to 5 times more L-theanine than conventional green tea2. L-theanine is an amino acid with psychoactive properties, capable of inducing alpha wave activity in the brain.
Stress is known to induce the brain's beta wave activity, leading to a more agitated state. Alpha wave activity can relieve stress, promote relaxation and even lower blood pressure1.
Although matcha contains some caffeine, the relaxing properties of L-theanine counterbalance the "jittery" effects of caffeine. Therefore, a cup of matcha green tea promotes concentration and clarity of mind without producing any of the nervous energy typically associated with coffee2.
Matcha green tea leaves contain a high level of easily-absorbable dietary fiber. The benefits of dietary fiber include its ability to ease constipation and stabilize blood sugar levels.
Try a cup of matcha green tea as an afternoon "pick-me-up" anytime you need extra focus. matcha green tea is an ideal substitute for coffee because it provides an energy boost without the headaches1 you might get from a coffee crash.
Tips To Better Your Matcha Experience
Matcha green tea is available as a concentrated powder and can be found at health food stores. I recommend organic matcha, because it is produced without any artificial fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides.
Do not add matcha green tea powder to boiling water because it will taste "grassy."7 Boil the water and let it sit for 5 minutes before adding the tea.
It might take some time to get used to matcha's flavor. Give in to the power of the tea!
Xin-Xin Zheng, Yan-Lu Xu, et al. Green tea intake lowers fasting serum total and LDL cholesterol in adults: a meta-analysis of 14 randomized controlled trials Am J Clin Nutr August 2011.
Abdul G Dulloo, Claudette Duret, et al. Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 70, No. 6, 1040-1045, December 1999