There’s been a lot of discussion around antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables. Similarly there’s been a lot of hype around Matcha and how it compares to green tea and other “super foods”. But what’s the science behind it?
The primary antioxidant (more technically referred to as a catechin) in Matcha is EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate). One study found that Matcha contains three times the amount of EGCG compared to green tea. This is why there is a large nutritional difference between Matcha and green tea and why Matcha has been called a super green tea. This difference occurs because of the different ways that Matcha vs green tea leaves are harvested. Whereas green tea is picked when it is grown and steamed to preserve the leaf for later steeping, Matcha is picked when the leaves are young and then ground, so when it’s being served, one is drinking the entire leaf and the nutrients contained within it.
EGCG provides over 50% of the total catechin content in Matcha. Next in terms of potency is EGC (Epigallocatechin), which is approximately 25%, EG (epicatechin gallate) comprising 10%, epicatechin (~5%), gallocatechin gallate (~1%), catechin gallate (~1%), and catechin (~1%). Epigallocatechin gallate, the most significant active catechin, has several benefits:
- One of the main benefits of EGCG is weight loss. There are two different theories for how EGCG effects weight:
- Reduces appetite by desensitizing leptin receptors (hormone that regulates hunger) or other appetite control pathways.
- In a study conducted with rats by The University of Chicago’s Tang Center for Herbal Medicine Research, EGCG from green tea caused the rats to consume 60% less food after 7 days of daily EGCG injections and, in turn, lose up to 21% of their body weight. The reasoning may be attributed to EGCG’s role in desensitizing leptin receptors or effect on hormonal system that controls body weight.
- Prevents digestion of certain carbohydrates by slowing the release of glucose from carbohydrates after consumption.
In the Molecular Nutrition & Food Research journal, Penn State food scientists concluded that EGCG helps reduce blood sugar spikes in mice. Following a period of fasting, the mice were fed maltose, sucrose or corn starch, and half the mice were fed EGCG (equivalent dosage of 1.5 cups of green tea). The group who were fed EGCG had ~50% lower blood glucose level as the control group.
Another benefit of EGCG is the its disease fighting properties against the likes of diabetes and cancer. Positive effects of diabetes prevention can be attributed to the blood glucose effects described above. The above mentioned blood glucose effects helps prevent diabetes. EGCG prevents cancer cells from growing in a few very specific ways:
- EGCG lowers cellular levels of D1, a protein that is necessary for cancer cells to grow properly.
- EGCG blocks enzymes, which help maintain cancer cells in their necessary ‘cell cycles.’
- EGCG increases the levels of other important cellular proteins that impede the growth of cancer cells.
Studies have also found that the antioxidants in green tea can help lessen the effects of drinking alcohol on a cellular level! When your body ingests alcohol, free radicals (atoms that are formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules) are generated. While a certain number of free radicals are necessary for your body, too many can damage the integrity of the cells. Antioxidants help prevent these – and other – effects that occur when alcohol is ingested.
Another benefit of antioxidants is in regards to oxidative stress. There are certain reactive oxygen species that can cause a lot of damage to cells. Antioxidants are a natural defense against this, however, when the species outnumber the antioxidants, this causes oxidative stress. Given that the effects of aging and age – related diseases are a product of an imbalance between oxidative stress and a strong antioxidant defense, introducing antioxidants can help prevent the effects and diseases that come along with age.
While we live in a time of processed food, high sugar and fat consumption and carbo-loading, antioxidants help us move in the direction of flushing out our systems, digesting food properly, and metabolizing it efficiently. Antioxidants help keep one’s body running smoothly, by preventing diseases like diabetes that can arise from unhealthy lifestyles. Matcha is chock full of these amazing antioxidants and is a tasty way to consume antioxidant on a daily basis.
Drinking Matcha daily will help you fulfill your daily dose of antioxidants, keeping you healthy. Don’t be surprised if you also get some added functionality and mental clarity while staying healthy with Matcha!
 “Green Tea Shown to Block Carbohydrate Breakdown to Prevent Blood Glucose Spikes.” NaturalNews. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2016. <http://www.naturalnews.com/038107_green_tea_blood_glucose_metabolism.html>.
 “Green Tea as a potent antioxidant in alcohol intoxication.” National Institute of Health. US National Library of Medicine., 7 July 2000. Web. 21 July. 2017. < https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12126490>
 “Beneficial Effects of Green Tea: A Literature Review.” National Institute of Health. US National Library of Medicine., 6 April 2010. Web. 21 July. 2017. < https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2855614/>
 Hoffman, By Dr. “EGCG: Potent Extract of Green Tea.” DR RONALD HOFFMAN EGCG Potent Extract of Green Tea Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2016.
 Kao, Yung-hsi, and Richard Hiipakka A. “Yung-hsi Kao.” Modulation of Obesity by a Green Tea Catechin. N.p., 01 Nov. 2000. Web. 09 Sept. 2016.