The "Matcha Tea" Trend
Who would've thought that drinking matcha can produce positive effects on your overall health? Matcha tea is a high-quality drink made from green tea extract, typically in powder form. The taste is delicately bitter combined with a vegetal taste. In essence, it tastes just like your regular green tea but with a more grassy, richer, stronger flavor. This is in opposition to the often light and refreshing flavor of green tea. Matcha tea also has a more intense and vibrant color of green, resulting from the pulverized effect of green tea leaves. In that sense, you can say that matcha tea is basically a concentrated form of green tea.
1.1 Matcha Tea and its Background
Historically, matcha tea originated in China, however, the Japanese people were the ones who invented the machinery for its creation. While the Chinese merely used the "grinding" method of matcha green tea, the Japanese people thought of other ways to produce it: shading, steaming, and drying, among many others. For centuries, matcha tea has since dominated the country of Japan, particularly in Uji in Kyoto and Nishio in the Aichi prefecture, where matcha tea is occasionally used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies.
1.2 The Emergence of Matcha Tea in the American Community
What's more interesting, matcha tea is scientifically proven to more packed with antioxidants and other nutrients than green tea and coffee alike. One reason for this is because of the fact that when you mix in the matcha powder, you pour one whole serving of green tea powder into the hot water (or milk, if you want). On the contrary, when you make green tea, you steep the tea bag or green tea extract in the hot water only for a few minutes and discard it thereafter. Hence, you tend to consume a complete green tea leaf when you drink matcha tea than green tea.
Due to these amazing health benefits of matcha tea, the trend has traveled from Japan to more Asian borders, until it reached the premise of the United States. In fact, drinking matcha tea has become one of the fast emerging health trends among Americans. There is over a 200% growth in registered matcha-flavored drinks in the United States in recent years. Particularly, the Americans were quick to add this matcha tea ingredient in foods and beverages such as smoothies, milk tea, cakes, cupcakes, ice creams, cookies, chocolates, and even in specific food recipes such as matcha pancakes and matcha brownies.
So, should you hop into the trend immediately and add it to your morning routine? Is matcha tea all good with no hidden side effects that may potentially pose threat to your health? Well, before you hop into the trend, let us first discuss matcha some more and the various health benefits it can provide. Controversially, we will also talk about the negative side effects of matcha tea that are often not talked about.
THE DIFFERENT HEALTH BENEFITS OF MATCHA TEA
IT HELPS MAINTAIN YOUR HEART HEALTHY AND STRONG
There are a lot of micronutrients present in matcha. One that stands out the most is a plant component called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which are natural antioxidants that help with cell damage. Moreover, it has anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, it can also aid in weight loss.
Perhaps the most important health effect of this compound is its capacity to lessen the risk of heart disease. As such, it has positive effects on cardiovascular and metabolic health. In fact, it is known to have anti-atherosclerosis, anti-cardiac hypertrophy, anti-myocardial infarction, and anti-diabetes properties which can help the body maximize its healing properties.
Going further, matcha helps keep a healthy heart because it supports the healthy functioning of the cardiovascular system. For one, it is an effective drink in lessening the risk of plaque build-up. Next, it can also prevent the thickening of heart tissue. In addition to that, it can also prevent life-threatening health complications such as heart attack or cardiac arrhythmia.
IT IS OVERLOADED WITH ANTIOXIDANTS
Matcha, along with green tea, is overloaded with antioxidants. So, what do antioxidants do to our bodies? In essence, it helps eliminate bad molecules from our bodies, decreasing oxidative stress in return. It is a substance that protects our body cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules, otherwise known as free radicals.
In addition to that, matcha tea contains flavonoids which are plant-based compounds or "metabolites" that can positively intervene with the cell signaling pathways. As such, it contains many health benefits like anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activities for the body, as well as generating a series of antioxidant effects. Additionally, it can also help with dental problems such as tooth decay.
Another antioxidant present in matcha is a class of plant compounds called catechins. These natural antioxidants can help the body stabilize the very damaging free radicals. Needless to say, this function is very important because free radicals can damage cells and cause chronic diseases.
Based on a study conducted, it was concluded that matcha tea has at least over a hundred times the number of catechins than regular green tea. This is because when you drink matcha, you simply add the powder to the boiling water, which ultimately includes the entire nutrients from the leaf. On the other hand, when you drink green tea, you only steep the tea leaves in the hot water and discard them afterward.
In conclusion, drinking matcha tea can decrease the damaging effects of the so-called free radicals and boost the body's overall antioxidant activity. Hence, adding matcha tea to your diet will help you lower your risk for a number of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
IT BOOSTS ANTI-CANCER ACTIVITIES IN THE BODY
One of the most powerful components of matcha tea is its anti-cancer properties. Catechins and gallic acid, two significant phytochemicals in the said tea, are widely used in chemotherapy treatments to heal or prevent cancer. In addition, it is also being further investigated due to its potential benefits in chemotherapy drugs.
In line with that, matcha is scientifically proven to be full of health-promoting compounds, which show significant associations with cancer prevention. As a matter of fact, in a study published in the National Library of Medicine, it has been concluded that the green tea extract of matcha can decrease tumor size, as well as slow down the development of breast cancer cells in rats.
Furthermore, based on another study conducted, the EGCG inside matcha tea is an effective component in eradicating the risk of skin, lung, and liver cancer.
Fundamentally, these tests and experimentation studies conducted were based on animal studies. To date, the experts are still investigating how these results can be translated to humans.
IT AIDS WEIGHT LOSS PROCESSES
According to the National Institute for Health, matcha green tea can accelerate the processes of energy expenditure and fat oxidation. As a result, it reduces the risk of lipogenesis and fat absorption. Overall, drinking matcha tea can help aid a healthy weight loss journey.
In fact, go get that weight loss supplement you bought from the drug store. You'll be surprised to know that "green tea extract" is commonly used in dietary pills or drink supplements. As such, matcha green tea can help accelerate the process of weight loss. This is because of its ability to speed up metabolism and boost your body's fat-burning abilities.
There is one study that supported the idea that drinking green tea extract (a large component of matcha tea) can increase fat-burning processes by at least seventeen (17) percent. On the other hand, there is also another study where people who used a supplement with green tea extract show significant levels of improvement in terms of their energy expenditure. This is in contrast to the result of a placebo in their bodies.
Ever heard of a yoyo effect in diet? Well, good news. There are studies that show that drinking matcha green tea can not only reduce your body weight but can also help maintain it.
IT IS KEY TO A HEALTHY, GLOWING SKIN
Did you know that matcha tea can also produce positive effects on our skin? Well, news flash! Matcha powder and green tea extract are not only exclusively good for internal conditions, but also contain essential nutrients that can give your skin a radiant and healthy glow.
As such, the components of green tea are proven to have useful topical effects that promote skin regeneration, at the same time aiding wounds using its healing properties. Not only that, but it can also treat certain epithelial conditions such as aphthous ulcers.
Moreover, it can also help cure skin diseases such as psoriasis, rosacea, and actinic keratosis. In addition to that, the healthy components of matcha tea make it qualified to add to your skincare routine. This may include the compounds of EGCG and caffeine alike. As a matter of fact, you can even use it as a face mask from time to time to subdue redness and swelling in the face area.
Fundamentally, matcha tea is one of the keys to healthy and glowing skin!
THE POTENTIAL NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF MATCHA
There are two sides to every coin. This means that, despite the many health benefits of matcha, it can cause various side effects to our bodies, too.
IT MAY UPSET YOUR STOMACH
There is the effect of the so-called tannins that are popular in matcha. It is composed of symptoms such as nausea, especially when a tannin-containing drink or food is consumed on an empty stomach. It is also associated with disrupting the body's capacity to absorb iron from your food and drink consumption. For example, you drink coffee the first thing in the coffee and you get mild to moderate heartburn effects after.
As such, matcha green tea is also rich in the compounds of tannin. In particular, the most dominant component of tannin in matcha is a catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Fun fact, these compounds are not only rich in antioxidants, but they also help neutralize and stabilize free radicals. Additionally, these compounds are also responsible for green tea’s sardonic and dry taste.
While this may be good to some, there are other people who react to tannins in a negative way. Especially when tannin is consumed on an empty stomach, it can irritate the already acidic part of your body. As a result, it may cause stomach discomfort, sour stomach, acid reflux, nausea, and vomiting.
If your stomach is overly sensitive, before you drink your matcha, you should do so after a meal or some sort of snack. The bottom line is, don't drink it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. In fact, this is actually how they drink matcha in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies.
IT MAY PUT YOU AT RISK OF ANEMIA
As mentioned above, there are a lot of compounds called catechins in green tea and matcha powder. These compounds can combine with iron and prevent absorption. As a result, drinking matcha green tea excessively and for long periods of time may lead to iron-deficiency anemia. So, for your safety, limit yourself to at least 5-7 cups of green tea per day to avoid this health issue.
As we all know, iron is an essential component that sustains our blood cells and provides our bodies with oxygen-rich blood. So, if you become subjected to iron deficiency, you may experience several symptoms such as fatigue, body weakness, pale skin, and increased heart rate.
In essence, drinking green tea or matcha powder, in general, does not result in anemia. However, just like all good things, everything is healthy as long as it is consumed moderately. Also, it will help if you incorporate more iron-rich foods into your diet.
Still, if you insist on drinking more than eight (8) cups of green tea or matcha, you should consult with your doctor. Have your iron levels checked and monitor them from time to time.
IT MAY RESULT IN DIARRHEA
To reiterate, matcha green tea is renowned for its ability to speed up the metabolism process and enhance fat absorption. As such, these two health effects of matcha make it possible for such drinks to support healthy weight management, normalize blood sugar levels, and help your heart stay in a healthy shape. However, while this may be a good thing, it can be a bad thing, too.
In particular, impaired fat absorption can have negative effects on your body. There are instances when the fat is not completely broken down in our body cells, the body has to look for another way to get rid of it. The "unabsorbed" fat will pass through the digestive tract and combines with stool. When these fatty stools fail to bind up, they result to lose, watery and more-frequent bowel movements called diarrhea.
This is because the caffeine in matcha can exacerbate the passage of indigestible food in your systems at a more frequent rate. So, if matcha tea has this effect on you, it is advisable to at least limit yourself to one cup a day. Otherwise, you may try incorporating more fiber-rich foods into your diet to compensate.
IT MAY LEAD TO INSOMNIA
This is one of the negative effects that matcha tea may bring to your body. This is due to the caffeine content of matcha which may range from 70 to 140mg. That is why drinking matcha tea more than the recommended amount may lead to you losing sleep. You may also have a hard time sleeping at your bedtime or at least achieve one restful sleeping session. As such, when you become sleep deprived, it may result in various health complications such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart failure.
The main thing here is that sleep is an important factor in your health. It should go hand-in-hand with your diet and exercise. While matcha can stimulate physical energy, having too much of it is proven to result in insomnia. So, drink moderately to maximize its health benefits.
For safety precautions, any caffeine-containing drink should be avoided by breastfeeding and pregnant women as it may pose a number of health threats to the mother and the baby.
IT MAY EXPOSE YOU TO TOXIC CHEMICALS
There is also possible exposure to toxic chemicals when you drink matcha tea. This may include chemicals such as lead, arsenic, and fluoride. This is drawn from the soil where some of the camellia Sinensis tea plant is grown and cultivated.
Hence, it is recommended to buy and drink organic matcha so you will rest assured that your matcha powder is singled-out of toxins and other heavy metals.
To conclude, there are a lot of health benefits that you can get from drinking matcha tea. However, you should also take note of the possible side effects of matcha, so you may avoid it in the long run. At the end of the day, drinking matcha tea should be a great addition to your healthy routine, so it should not result in nor pose negative health implications for your body.
Just like all good things, everything is good as long as you do it in moderation. Limit your daily matcha intake to the recommended amount, in order for you to maximize its health benefits.