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6 Matcha Benefits You Should Know About, According to Dietitians

Learn how this traditional Japanese tea can bolster your health.

Odds are some sort of caffeinated beverage is part of your morning routine: Some of us just need that extra kick to get started or to power through the workday. While the go-to choice is usually coffee, others prefer tea—and if you're in the latter camp, you've likely heard of match. But even if you're familiar with the name, you might not realize what exactly this tea variety is, or how it can better your health. Thankfully, our experts are here to break it down for you, and to explain all the matcha benefits that make it a great choice.

RELATED: 8 Best Weight-Loss Teas, According to Nutritionists.

What is matcha?

matcha green tea powder
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Like green tea, matcha is made from the Camellia sinensis plant, says Nichole Dandrea-Russert, MS, RDN, author of The Fiber Effect and nutritionist at Purely Planted.

"However, it's grown and harvested differently than traditional green tea," Dandrea-Russert explains. "Matcha tea is shade grown, which increases the tea's chlorophyll content, giving it its bright green hue. The tea leaves are then harvested and ground into a fine powder. Traditionally, it's been used in Japanese tea ceremonies for centuries, but it recently became popular in the U.S. because of its health benefits."

Linna Goelz, NMD, resident and clinical supervisor at Sonoran University, tells Best Life that there are two different grades of matcha: ceremonial and culinary.

"Ceremonial grade matcha is the highest quality available and tends to have a brighter green color, while culinary grade has a more astringent flavor and tends to have a slightly duller green hew compared to ceremonial," Goelz shares.

According to Dandrea-Russert, matcha generally tastes "earthy and slightly bitter," but ceremonial-grade matcha tea will have a milder flavor.

But why drink matcha? Read on to learn all about its many benefits.

RELATED: 25 Ways to Boost Your Energy Without Coffee.

Matcha Benefits

cup of matcha green tea
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It can reduce inflammation.

While all green tea has antioxidants, Goelz says that matcha stands out from the crowd.

"All forms of green tea are high in antioxidants; however, matcha contains up to three times more antioxidants than other green teas," she says.

These antioxidants help reduce inflammation and "mitigate the harmful effects of carcinogens and other free radicals that cause damage to our cells," Goelz adds.

It can promote calm energy.

Experts point to the high levels of the L-theanine in matcha. According to Michelle Routhenstein, MS, RD, CDE, CDN, owner of Entirely Nourished, this amino acid "is known to promote relaxation and improve mental focus."

"L-theanine promotes calm and balance in the body," says Audrey Zona, health coach and founder of Zo Healthy. "It supports radiant skin, calm energy (not crashes), and a healthy metabolism!"

It can boost brain function.

woman drinking matcha tea while working
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Matcha is helpful in giving you that brain boost you need in the morning. This is largely due to its caffeine content, as matcha outshines other green teas in this category, too.

"There may also be more caffeine in matcha tea compared to other green teas. Green tea can contain between 11–25 milligrams per gram (mg/g), while matcha contains between 19–44 mg/g," Dandrea-Russert says.

When combined with the L-theanine, matcha even boosts memory, motivation, and feelings of well-being.

Dandrea-Russert continues, "While both L-theanine and caffeine may be effective on their own, research has shown that they are more effective together, making green tea the perfect tea for a mental pick-me-up."

According to Rhyan Geiger, RDN, plant-based dietitian at Phoenix Vegan Dietitian, the presence of L-theanine can also reduce chances of the dreaded "caffeine crash," giving you a "relaxing sensation instead of jitters."

RELATED: 8 Health Benefits of Drinking Cranberry Juice, According to Doctors.

It may promote heart health.

Even better, research shows that matcha is beneficial for heart health—again, thanks to good ol' L-theanine, as well as another compound called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).

"Studies suggest that the L-theanine in green tea may be heart-health promoting by lowering LDL cholesterol, heart rate, and blood pressure," Dandrea-Russert says.

EGCG, too, has been shown to lower "bad" LDL cholesterol and improve blood sugar levels.

"EGCG found in matcha tea contributes to heart health by improving insulin sensitivity, regulating blood sugar levels, and reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, all of which are key factors in cardiovascular disease prevention," Routhenstein shares.

It can support weight loss.

Man going on the scale looking at his weight

Both caffeine and ECGC (which acts like an antioxidant) are helpful in achieving weight-loss goals, as they boost metabolism and suppress appetite.

"Matcha tea may be helpful for those wanting to lose weight," says Kiran Campbell, registered dietitian and founder of Kiran Campbell Nutrition. "Studies mainly focus on green tea extract. However, matcha contains up to 10 times the amount of polyphenols than green tea. Studies show that EGCG may help reduce overall weight and waist circumference by decreasing hormones that make you feel hungry."

It may help in cancer prevention.

You might be surprised to learn that matcha can even help prevent cancer. Dandrea-Russert points to research that found EGCG may be particularly helpful in reducing your risk of certain types of cancer.

According to Campbell, one study found drinking matcha might specifically reduce your risk of colon cancer and biliary duct cancer.

RELATED: 30 Health Benefits Coming From Your Cup of Coffee.

Matcha Nutritional Breakdown

woman drinking matcha latte and reading at cafe
Tatiana Buzmakova / Shutterstock

Like other teas and coffee drinks, the calories in a cup of matcha will depend on preparation and how much you're having. According to Nio Teas, one teaspoon of matcha is roughly five calories, but you also need to consider the calories and nutritional content in any milk or sweetener you add. (For example, a grande Starbucks Matcha Tea Latte with milk will run you about 240 calories, and has about 32 grams of sugar.)

Goelz notes that matcha contains vitamins A, C, E, K, and some B vitamins, as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorous.

How to Prepare Matcha

preparing matcha with whisk
New Africa / Shutterstock

Matcha is a powdered green tea made using "the whole ground leaves," Dandrea-Russert says. (This is different from other teas, where leaves are steeped in a bag and then discarded.)

A matcha beverage can be made with water or with your milk of choice. To prepare in the traditional way, put the desired amount of matcha green tea powder into a bowl and add a splash of boiling water. You then use a matcha whisk called a chasen (or a traditional kitchen whisk if you don't have a chasen) to form a paste.

"Then you add the remaining water and whisk back and forth until the matcha is fully incorporated, and a thin frothy foam has formed on top," Goelz says. "Your tea is ready to be sipped and enjoyed!"

If you're new to matcha, Dandrea-Russert suggests mixing it with milk instead of water to form a latte.

"Personally, I love mixing matcha powder with unsweetened soy milk since soy is naturally high in protein and healthy fat, offering lots of nutrition and an extra creamy consistency compared to some of the other plant-based milks," she shares. "You could also add spices to the matcha latte, like ground ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, or a dash of nutmeg."

Beyond that, Dandrea-Russert and Goelz point out that matcha can be used in different baked goods, added to smoothies, or even used when making homemade ice cream.

RELATED: Drinking Wine and 8 Other "Rules" to Help You Live to 100, Researchers Say.

Wrapping Up

matcha latte

If you're looking for a coffee alternative or just another way to start your day, consider trying out a matcha beverage at your local cafe or at home.

However, along with all of the positives, it's important to consider caffeine consumption. As experts caution, matcha is higher in caffeine because you are consuming the whole leaf. So, keep that in mind if you're sensitive to caffeine, pregnant, or have high blood pressure, Campbell says.

Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.

Abby Reinhard
Abby Reinhard is a Senior Editor at Best Life, covering daily news and keeping readers up to date on the latest style advice, travel destinations, and Hollywood happenings. Read more
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