By: Trice Sweet
My favorite aspect of nutrition and the research behind it, is that’s it’s always changing. Our society has gone from loving eggs, to demonizing their cholesterol, to now understanding more about why we actually should be eating this protein-filled nuggets. We’ve spent time trying to understand grains versus whole grains, making them the foundation of the food pyramid, and then realizing that wait, maybe this shouldn’t be our starting point. Soda is finally transitioning from a family-favorite to a health hazard, and with the overwhelming sugary evidence we’ve come across, there’s not much to argue with.
The list could go on and on about what organizations like the FDA and (mainly) the USDA has deemed safe and healthy for consumption, how they’ve taken back claims of earlier scientific research, or how many times I’ve gotten excited about a new peer-reviewed journal about the effect of sugar on mice and their weight.
But that’s what’s so fascinating – we latch onto trends that trickle down from our government regulations, from a blog post that went viral, or something we heard someone say that one time – and we have been for years. But there is no clear cut answer, and the human race will probably always be searching for the secret combination of foods to make us live the longest, feel the best, and most importantly, take barely any effort.
So when I heard about this matcha tea craze, the new trend among my Facebook peers for quick weight loss, I thought about how funny people are. How we think we’ve found the secret, how this tea, that has already been around for centuries, has randomly found its way onto my news feed, because you guessed it, it’s super trendy.
What is matcha tea?
Matcha tea is a special powdered green tea used in Japanese tea ceremonies. Yep, that’s it. Just green tea.
How is matcha tea any different?
Catechins, are found in green tea, and are a group of polyphenol compounds found in the leaves of green tea. Of the many polyphenol compounds found, tea catechins—particularly those found in green tea—have been found to possess antitoxigenic and antimutagenic properties and may exert disease-preventing effects against hypertension. There has also been evidence linking the antioxidants in green tea against certain (and numerous) cancers.
Additionally, there is something called L-Theanine in matcha tea which is linked to a “calming” effect, which works harmoniously with the caffeine. The caffeine in matcha is also different from the caffeine in coffee. It has a slower release than the caffeine in coffee, which provide steadier energy levels.
In fact, in a recent study (2009) the highest amount of methylxanthines were found in the powdered green tea (matcha).
What are methylxanthines?
You may have heard it referred to as Xanthine if you’ve ever known anyone with COPD or related issues. It’s one of the doc’s first go-to medicines to increase lung strength and relax airways for patients. The best part? These methylxanthines are found in green tea.
Why the craze?
Matcha tea has been around for centuries, but it’s popularity has significantly increased over the past two years. It’s easy to consume, is now being introduced at popular coffee shops like Starbucks, has had a huge surge on social media and in sales, and is becoming a topic of conversation among health enthusiasts.
The craze behind matcha is a simple, cyclical trend that will probably fade out, just like the other fads have in the past. Why? Because eventually people figure out that the quick fix was never really a fix in the first place, and attempt to find yet another solution. That’s not to say that matcha isn’t good for you (because look at all of those benefits!) but without good sleep, adequate exercise, and real, whole foods, you’re never going to achieve the health and fitness goals you’re looking for.