Food And Health – Health Benefits Of Matcha
What is Matcha?
This is a form of green tea that has been enjoyed for hundreds of years in China and Japan. The leaves are made into a powder that is much stronger than regular tea, so a little goes a long way.
How it is made
About 2 weeks before harvest, farmers build structures around the plants to shade them from the sun and keep them in almost darkness. This is believed to make the tea softer, sweeter, and brighter. After harvesting, the tea is quickly steamed, then dried and placed in a heater for about 20 minutes. Workers then remove the unwanted parts such as stems and twigs and grind the leaves into a powder.
How it tastes.
Although it’s made from the same leaf, some people say matcha is sweeter and creamier than regular green tea. You may also notice a “grassy” smell and taste, especially if you use a lot of powder.
Antioxidants are substances found in foods that help protect your cells from damage. Some studies suggest that matcha may have more of these than live leaf green tea because of the way it’s made. But researchers don’t yet know if this means that it has more health benefits.
Lower Blood Pressure
Catechins, the antioxidants in matcha, may help with this. They seem to be especially helpful if your upper number is 130 or higher, which may increase your chances of problems like heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
Catechins also seem to contribute to your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and total cholesterol numbers. This is good, because high levels of these can lead to heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.
Protection Against Cancer
The polyphenols and other antioxidants in matcha (and live leaf green tea) may help protect your cells from cancer. But doctors need to do more research to know if these compounds can help prevent or slow the onset of disease.
Better Dental Health
A cup of matcha tea every day may help keep your teeth in good shape. This may be because there is something in the leaves that helps keep healthy levels of acid in your mouth. Or it could be the fluoride that plants get from the soil. The water you use to make your brew may have fluoride in it, too.
Matcha can help you stay awake and focused when you need to. This is in part because of one of its best studied ingredients: caffeine. Just don’t overdo it. Too much caffeine can make you anxious and nervous, which can affect your sleep.
Helps relieve inflammation
The antioxidants in matcha, called polyphenols, may relieve the kind caused by conditions such as arthritis. It may also slow the breakdown of cartilage (the tissue that cushions the joints) that arthritis can cause.
Mix 2 to 4 ounces of almost boiling water with 1 to 2 teaspoons of matcha powder. When it looks frothy and thoroughly mixed, it’s ready to drink. If the flavor is too strong, add a little more water.
Any type of milk will do: cow’s milk, goat’s milk, soy milk or almond milk. You can heat it or even froth it, and if you like, it’s sweeter with a little honey. Drink it hot, or pour it over ice for a summer treat.
Add to your smoothies!
Just a teaspoon or two will do. More than that, you may over-caffeinate yourself for the day. Try different blends to find the one that tastes best with matcha.
Sprinkle it over oatmeal and granola.
Add matcha to the bowl of your favorite breakfast. If you make oatmeal at home, look for recipes that use powder, or just add a teaspoon or two to your current recipe and see what you think.
Stir into the yogurt.
Sift 2 teaspoons of matcha into half a cup of Greek yogurt and mix it up. Add some fruit, nuts, seeds and a little honey for a healthy treat.