Is matcha tea healthy?
Answering all your burning questions about matcha
1. Matcha tea is rich in polyphenols, but what are polyphenols?
Polyphenols, also called phenolics, are antioxidants that fight free radicals that can alter and destroy cells in the body, even change their DNA. To understand free radicals, you need to remember a bit of high school chemistry.
Atoms are surrounded by electrons that orbit it in layers called shells. A fixed number of electrons need to be filled in every shell and when that number is met, electrons start filling up the next shell.
Free radicals are atoms with incomplete shells; so to make up for it they bond with another atom to use its electrons to complete the outer shell. They commonly occur in plants, give them color and also protect them against insects.
Polyphenols exist in over 8,000 types and they can be further classified into subcategories.
2. Okay...so polyphenols are healthy then?
Yes, they are. They aren’t the most glamorous in the dietary supplement world as they’re quite common in most fruits and vegetables but they do a good deal of keeping you healthy.
Most research point towards fighting the risk of developing aging related diseases such as Parkinson's’ disease and Alzheimer's.
3. I read matcha tea also has...catechins and tannins? Umm…?
Actually, catechins (also called flavonols) and tannins are just some of the 8,000 kinds of polyphenols. Camelia sinensis, the plant from which all teas are made of, produce the most catechins out of any other plant. EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallates) is the most abundant catechin in tea and since matcha tea utilizes the entire leaf, it also has the most EGCG concentration. About 60% of the antioxidants in matcha are catechins.
You mostly get tannins from coffee and tea which also gives them their flavor. A difference between catechins and tannins is size wherein tannins are larger.
4. Gotcha! Catechins and tannins are polyphenols, and EGCG is a type of catechin. How do they improve my health?
EGCG has been widely studied to have a spectrum of effects that are wide ranging. Research has shown that it decreases the risk of atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), it’s looks promising in early cancer studies, relieve joint pains in those suffering from arthritis, and regulates blood glucose levels.
Thinking about each one on its own it might not seem much as there are many other health foods that can offer the same health benefits, but what you realize is what it does is effectively lengthen your lifespan.
The Ohsaki National Health Insurance Cohort Study conducted one of the largest population studies ever conducted wherein 40,530 Japanese adults were followed up over the course of 11 years. Results showed that those 5 or more cups of green tea a day were 16% more likely to live longer than those who drank less than one cup a day. Heavy green tea drinkers are also 26% less likely to die from heart disease.
What this all proves that is that a humble cup of warm matcha tea is pretty amazing. If you want live long enough to see your great grandkids, maybe it’s time you start thinking of your health, but no matter what age your are, it’s never too late to start a daily matcha habit.