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The Incredible Superfood That You Haven’t Heard Of

Written by S.O.

Posted on April 20, 2015 at 5:21 pm

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Known for hundreds of years as the tea consumed in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, matcha has suddenly become the superfood of choice among those in the know.

From bodybuilders to health food aficionados, matcha is making the rounds and turning heads, primarily because of its high nutrient value and fat burning capabilities. Let’s take a few minutes to investigate this little green powder that packs quite a punch.

What Is Matcha?

Those on the matcha bandwagon certainly have a lot to crow about. Matcha is incredibly rich in antioxidants and amino acids. It seems to improve fitness performance, and burns fat even while a person is at rest. Many also speak about its calming powers, saying that matcha functions as a mood enhancer and improves concentration. We’ll dive deeper into matcha’s many health benefits, but first let’s look at what’s actually in it, and how it becomes the powder we’re familiar with..

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Because matcha is made from the entire leaf, using only the finest buds of the shade-grown tea plant amellia sinensis, nothing goes to waste in the process.

After the amellia sinensis leaves are harvested, different processing methods result in different types of tea.

If the leaves are rolled out before drying, the resulting leaves become gyokuro, or jade dew tea.

If the leaves are laid flat to dry until they crumble, they become tencha, which is then de-veined, de-stemmed, and stone-ground into the fine powder known as matcha.

The result is a tea high in fiber, chlorophyll, vitamins, and antioxidants.

What’s In It?

Matcha tea is highly concentrated. One cup has the nutritional equivalent of 10 cups of standard green tea, and 137 times more antioxidants!

The chlorophyll provides powerful detoxifying properties, helping to eliminate chemicals from the body, while also helping to balance the blood’s pH levels.

The easily absorbed dietary fiber content in matcha helps with constipation and helps stabilize blood sugar levels.

The tea contains high levels of vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin B-complex, vitamin E, vitamin K, chromium, selenium, and other trace minerals. It also includes the rare amino acid, L-Theanine, helping to promote relaxation by way of encouraging alpha brain waves.

Photo by Kirinohana

Further, L-Theanine is thought to aid memory, and because it promotes the production of dopamine and serotonin, it functions a mood enhancer and helps improve concentration.

While L-Theanine is common in many types of tea, matcha contains around five times more of the substance than other black or green teas.

Matcha also contains catechins and polyphenols. Research has shown these chemicals to be beneficial in a variety of areas, including immune system improvements and antibiotic-like properties that promote cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health. Matcha may even help prevent tumor growth.

The tea’s high levels of antioxidants help reduce triglycerides, lower total cholesterol, and help lower hepatic glucose content in diabetics.

Matcha also contains the powerful EGCg, an antioxidant that has been found to fight aging and chronic diseases, contains cancer-fighting properties, and helps reduce the accumulation of lipids. Populations that consume matcha have been shown to have lower levels of LDL cholesterol (often called the “bad cholesterol”), and higher levels of HDLs, or “good cholesterol.” Studies have shown that men who drink matcha tea have an 11-percent reduced chance of developing heart disease.

Weight Loss and Performance Enhancement

While there’s no doubt that the medicinal effects of matcha are promising, the tea has some benefits for those seeking to lose weight and/or increase athletic performance.

Matcha is nearly completely devoid of calories, and is shown to boost metabolism – one study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that use burns calories up to four-times more. It does this by boosting the body’s thermogenesis – a fancy way of saying the rate at which the body burns calories – at a rate of around 35-43 percent over the normal rate of 8-10 percent. This is amazing when you consider that matcha does not stress the body by raising your blood pressure or heart rate, which is a common side effect of the amphetamine-like diet pills and shakes that dominate the weight-loss market.

Matcha also has been demonstrated to decrease some of the negative aftereffects of strenuous workouts.

Photo by ejstanz

While research is still seeking to confirm this link in humans, early results in mice have shown improved endurance, increased fat usage, and helping repair damaged cells following workouts. These findings extend well past the average performance booster, as it appears to decrease the cell damage and decline in performance many people feel as they age. It may even help in preventing muscle wasting, a concern among many older people, as well as those with debilitating diseases that attack muscle growth and repair.

While matcha certainly has multiple uses, and imparts a long list of health benefits, it should not be looked as a “magic pill” that applies in all circumstances and for all individuals. What we have found, however, is that matcha tea, combined with the right lifestyle and dietary changes, can help along the process of becoming healthier.

Adding matcha to your routine won’t cure all of your ills, but don’t be surprised if matcha helps turn the good things you already do for you body into undeniably great things.

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