I often get asked about the potential health claims around green tea and matcha and if it actually works. Sadly I’m finding more and more clients are being confused by media headlines suggesting
green tea and matcha can cure illnesses and show weight loss results within weeks. Therefore this blog post aims to provide the ins and outs of green tea and matcha so you feel more confident about buying these products and consuming them how you see fit.
What is Green Tea?
Green tea is made from the same plant as black tea called Camellia Sinensis. In order to make black tea the leaves go through a process of oxidation and withering. This does not occur with green tea. You may have noticed many different types of green tea on the market and this is due to how the tea is grown and processed, as well as which type of Camellia Sinensis leaf is used.
What is Matcha?
Although matcha is made from the same leaves as the traditional green tea, the preparation involves covering the tea plants with shade for about a month before they’re harvested. This enhances the texture and flavour of the tea. Traditional matcha comes in powder form, the stem and veins are removed so the leaves can be grounded and then mixed with water or milk to become a drink.
What are the Health Benefits?
Due to matcha simply being a variety of green tea the health benefits are almost the same. However matcha is more concentrated in antioxidants and amino acids which may be good for our health. The increase in concentration results in 3 cups of green tea being the equivalent to one cup of matcha.
There’s a loads of health claims around green tea and matcha but what’s the evidence? The truth is that the evidence isn’t that strong and a lot more research needs to be done. However, here are some myths and facts about green tea and matcha
- Green tea helps reduce heart disease
Studies have consistently shown people who frequently drink unsweetened green tea or matcha, as an alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages, are less likely to develop cardiovascular disease later in life and have a reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol level. The key message here is that results were seen with a reduced consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages for example cola. A further reduced risk of developing other chronic diseases could be witnessed overtime.
- Drinking green tea helps me burn belly fat/ helps me lose weight
Sadly this isn’t true, anytime you change your diet in which you burn more energy than you consume you’ll likely burn off additional fat. No one food or drink can be used to target a certain area of fat. Overall weight loss claims are so small that they are not of clinical important. Matcha contains more iron, potassium and vitamin C than green tea as well as containing fibre. However matcha isn’t high in these nutrients compared to other food sources. Therefore we shouldn’t be restricting food intake and increasing matcha consumption to lose weight. In fact this could cause health complications as you are not receiving the correct amount of nutrients in your diet.
- Green tea is anti-ageing
A lot more research needs to be carried out in this area, however green tea is packed with antioxidants, which scavenging your body for free-radicals. This in turn helps protect and prevent damage to your tissues-like skin. That being said no single food or beverage can stop ageing. There are certain health claims that state the components of green tea can help protect our skin from UV damage, but more research needs to be done with longer studies to show the benefits.
- Green tea reduces stress
Green tea and matcha contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which research has linked with mental relaxation, mood-enhancement and reduced anxiety. All of these factors could help improve your focus and concentration. However green tea contains caffeine so if you know you’re easily ruffled by caffeine, you may want to avoid the caffeinated varieties of all tea and coffee beverages in the afternoon through bedtime.
Take Home Message
- Matcha is more concentrated than green tea so you need to drink less to see them same health benefits are the traditional green tea. However this can come at a cost£. The price of matcha can fluctuate and I would recommend buying the organic variety.
- If your only drinking green tea or matcha to lose weight then STOP. The evidence does not back the claim that green tea helps burn fat and speed up metabolism
- There is consistent evidence behind claims of green tea having a calming effect in the way of reducing anxiety and mood-enhancing- more research still needs to be carried out however the results are positive so far.
- Drink green tea or matcha if you like it and not to follow a health trend!