Matcha Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Matcha annotated

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

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Matcha has become extremely popular lately with teas, lattes, and even desserts popping up in all of your local coffee shops, The tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, similar to green tea, but its grown differently to yield a unique nutrition profile. Matcha known for its high antioxidant content, ability to boost brain function, and prevent cancer.

Before the tea plant is harvested, farmers cover their crop for 20-30 days to avoid direct sunlight. This technique increases the amino acid production and gives the plant a darker green color. When the plant is ready to be harvested, the stems and leaves are ground up into a powder that becomes matcha, resulting in a product that is higher in caffeine and antioxidants than green tea. Traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies, matcha has grown in popularity and people from all over the world are drinking it as a healthful caffeinated beverage.

Nutrition Facts

The nutrition information for 100g of matcha green tea is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 0
  • Fat: 0
  • Sodium: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 0
  • Fiber: 0
  • Sugar: 0
  • Protein: 0

Matcha is not a significant source of carbohydrates, fat, protein, or micronutrients. All of these may be added depending how matcha is prepared—for instance, matcha lattes will often contain fat and carbohydrates from added milk and sugars.

Health Benefits

Matcha powder contains a number of health benefits including its anti-cancer properties and potential to increase heart health and enhance brain function.

Boosts Brain Function

Several studies point to matcha's potential benefits in enhancing brain function. In one study, 23 participants were asked to do a series of tasks designed to measure brain performance. The individuals were divided into a group that consumed matcha tea and a group that consumed a placebo tea.

The results yield greater attention, reaction time, and memory in the matcha group compared to the placebo group.

May Help Prevent Cancer

Matcha is rich in catechins, compounds found naturally in the tea that act as powerful antioxidants. In fact, matcha is known to have 137 times more catechins than green tea.

Matcha is especially high in a type of catechin called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which has anti-cancer properties. Several test tube studies show EGCG's effectiveness in preventing skin, liver, and lung cancers. Since these were test tube studies, more studies need to be conducted in humans to have conclusive evidence for the effects of EGCG.

Promotes Heart Health

Studies have shown that drinking matcha may be cardioprotective and prevent heart disease. One review demonstrated evidence that drinking matcha has a positive effect on cholesterol levels. Studies show it reduces total, LDL or "bad" cholesterol, and triglycerides. In combination with a healthy diet and exercise, matcha may help keep your heart healthy.

Protects Liver Function

There is evidence that matcha may play a role in maintaining the health of your liver. The liver is an essential organ responsible for flushing out toxins, metabolizing drugs, and processing nutrients. Elevated liver enzymes are a marker of liver damage.

In one study, 80 people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease were given either a placebo or 500mg of green tea extract for 90 days. The results showed that after 12 weeks, liver enzymes in the individuals who took the green tea extract were significantly reduced.

Improves Skin

You may have heard of green tea face masks for glowing skin. It turns out drinking matcha can have a beneficial effect on your skin as well. Matcha brings an anti-inflammatory effect to irritated skin and research shows that the tannins in matcha help reduce sebum production in oily skin. One study showed the effectiveness of green tea in treating acne.

Allergies

It is possible to be allergic to matcha, particularly if you have sensitive skin. Symptoms of a matcha allergy include rash, swelling, redness, and itchy skin. Severity of the allergy can vary with how much tea you drink. Be mindful of the signs your body is showing and if you are concerned you have an allergy to matcha, check with your doctor.

Adverse Effects

Caution should be taken when drinking matcha if you are on a stimulant. Since matcha contains caffeine and stimulants speed up the nervous system, combining the two may result in heart problems. Additionally, matcha taken with atorvastatin, a cholesterol-lowering drug, may decrease the effects of the atorvastatin.

Varieties

There are two main types of matcha, ceremonial grade and culinary grade matcha. They differ based on their intended use.

Ceremonial grade matcha is intended to be whisked into water and consumed on its own. Culinary grade matcha is best for lattes, smoothies, desserts, and more. Matcha tea is traditionally prepared using a whisk and sifter and dissolved into 175 degree water. Matcha tea lattes are whisked into steamed milk (dairy or plant-based) with a sweetener of your choice and usually topped with creamy foam for a sweet and delicious treat.

How To Prepare Matcha

  • You will need a whisk, scoop, sifter, and matcha bowl.
  • First, scoop 1 teaspoon of matcha and sift it into the bowl to remove any lumps.
  • Add a small amount of hot water and whisk until smooth.
  • Add 6 ounces of 175 degree water and whisk until frothy.
  • Pour into a cup and enjoy.

A Word From Verywell

There's no doubt that matcha can be tasty in tea, smoothies, matcha lattes, or when used in cooking. But because it's concentrated, it's wise to watch your consumption and not go overboard if you are concerned about excess caffeine intake.

While it's possible that drinking any form of green tea may enhance your overall health, there's a lack of clinical trials surrounding matcha intake. If you prefer the taste of regular green tea, there's no reason to switch right now. If you're considering the use of matcha for a health condition, make sure to consult a physician first.

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12 Sources
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