What is matcha?
Matcha is Japanese green tea that’s been finely ground into a powder. It tastes a little bitter and colored a beautiful, vibrant green due to the high chlorophyll content in its leaves. Matcha tea has a lot of benefits and is packed full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It’s often made into a tea but can be incorporated into delicious recipes such as matcha smoothies, bliss balls, chia puddings, muffins, and smoothie bowls. Taste-wise, it’s earthy, slightly bitter, and a tiny bit nutty.
What’s the difference between matcha and coffee, don’t they both have caffeine?
Coffee provides an energy hit due to its high caffeine content however its effects are short-term and often followed by an energy crash. The caffeine in coffee is incredibly stimulating and causes our body to produce stress hormones like cortisol which can worsen PMS symptoms and leave us feeling run down in the long term.
Whilst matcha still contains caffeine, its caffeine content is lower and less stimulating. Matcha contains L-theanine which has a relaxing effect to counteract the stimulating effects of caffeine and allows for a slower release of caffeine resulting in more sustained energy. To describe how matcha makes me feel is ‘alert but relaxed’.
Can you tell me more about the hormonal benefits of matcha?
- Matcha tea has mood-boosting benefits
Matcha increases the brain chemicals (“neurotransmitters”) GABA, serotonin, and dopamine (“happy” hormones) which are often low in the week leading up to our periods. Several studies have linked low serotonin levels to worsen PMS symptoms including fatigue, insomnia, and low moods. Additionally, matcha has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and can reduce inflammation which is one of the major drivers of depression.
- Matcha tea reduces anxiety
L-theanine in matcha reduces anxiety and increases feelings of relaxation by increasing alpha brain wave levels. Alpha brain waves are linked with a relaxed state of being and are often present when we’re practicing meditation or other mindfulness activities. Other beneficial effects of L-theanine are its ability to improve cognition and focus which allows us to feel alert.
- Matcha tea eases period cramps
Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that cause the uterus muscles to contract and constrict resulting in painful period cramps. Matcha contains anti-inflammatory catechins which have shown to inhibit prostaglandin production and reduce painful periods. In contrast, coffee can often worsen our period cramps as it causes vasoconstriction and reduces blood flow to our uterus. Less blood flow to our uterus equates to more painful period cramps.
- Matcha tea improves PCOS symptoms
PCOS is a hormonal condition and often women with PCOS present with elevated free testosterone levels and fasting insulin levels. A 2017 study found consuming 500mg of green tea extract twice daily for 12 weeks resulted in reduced weight, fasting insulin levels, and free testosterone in overweight and obese women with PCOS. By reducing fasting insulin levels and elevated free testosterone levels in women, matcha can improve PCOS symptoms such as excess body hair, acne, and irregular periods.
- Matcha tea reduces risk of endometriosis
Matcha contains EGCG, a type of antioxidant, which has shown to prevent the formation of endometrial lesions. Endometrial lesions (or nodules) refer to the tissues that grow outside the uterus and are responsible for causing crippling period pain and infertility. Thus, matcha shows promise in assisting in the treatment and management of endometriosis and its related symptoms. Furthermore, a high intake of antioxidants may prevent cell proliferation and has been associated with a reduced risk for developing endometriosis.
- Matche tea improves skin complexion
The antioxidant content in matcha has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory effects which can help prevent any hormonal breakouts. A 2016 study found adult women who took green tea extract daily for 4 weeks had significantly less acne on their nose, chin, and around their mouth.
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