Most of us try to lead a healthy lifestyle but sometimes we are looking for that quick energy boost to kick start our morning or to keep us going later in the day. In these times, coffee is probably your go-to for the caffeine ‘hit’. While it does provide the body with a number of benefits and for many, is just a pleasurable drink, today we want to explore an alternative – matcha – and whether it may be better for you than coffee…
THE PROS AND CONS OF DRINKING COFFEE
Coffee has antioxidants (polyphenols and hydroxycinnamic acids) which fight against free radicals (pollution, UV rays and toxins). By doing so, it aids our body in the fight against infections and disease. Some studies have shown that drinking coffee can help to reduce heart attacks and strokes, type 2 diabetes, liver disease/cancer, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. It can also improve blood flow for brighter, healthier skin although it can be unhealthy for someone who is experiencing inflammation or looking to reduce inflammation in their body.
At the time of drinking coffee, its caffeine content helps to boost our mood and energy levels but unfortunately, this is short-lived. Caffeine increases activity in our central nervous system as it is absorbed into our bloodstream very quickly. As a result, our insulin and blood sugar (glucose) levels increase, and the release of adrenaline is triggered, leading to our heart pumping faster and our body preparing us for ‘fight or flight’. Because of this, caffeine can cause jitters, leaving us irritable or anxious, or give us a high feeling which can lead to a crash later on – the problem being that once you hit that energy spike you have to come back down from it. The good news is that there are alternatives to coffee which can provide longer-lasting energy without so many crashes, bringing us nicely onto matcha…
WHAT IS MATCHA?
Matcha is a green tea but is considered to be more beneficial to us and our body than regular green teas due to having a more potent source of nutrients. As with other green teas, matcha comes from the Camellia Sinensis plant but it differs in that prior to harvest, the tea bushes are shaded from sunlight for 20-30 days in order for the leaves to turn a darker shade of green but more importantly, increased production of amino acids. Once harvested the leaves are then laid out flat to dry in the air, stripped of their stems and veins and then stone-ground into a bright green, fine powder. You then whisk the powder with hot water or milk to make a drink.
THE BENEFITS OF MATCHA
Just like coffee, matcha is rich in antioxidants which counteracts free radicals in our body, protecting cells and tissues from damage. However, it also contains catechin – Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) – which is a particularly powerful antioxidant of tremendous benefit to our body and our skin. It fights inflammation, helps maintain healthy arteries, promotes cell repair, boosts bone strength, reduces high blood pressure, lowers cholesterol and has cancer-fighting properties. By drinking matcha you ingest all the nutrients of the leaf and by doing so, it is believed that you are providing your body with 137 times more antioxidants than even other green teas, let alone coffee!
Packed full of nutrients, it provides vitamins A and C (for healthy skin and immune system), iron and potassium (healthy blood) plus protein and calcium (bone health). It also provides the body with selenium, chromium, zinc and magnesium as well as being a rich source of fibre. The chlorophyll content effectively and naturally detoxifies the body by eliminating toxins/impurities/heavy metals. Matcha also increases our metabolism, making it easier to lose weight, and keeps us hydrated which means happier, healthier skin and more energy too. Matcha can increasingly be found in skincare products or can be used to create your own, such as a superfood face mask for the ultimate nutrient boost.
Matcha contains L-Theanine, an amino acid, which has a calming effect and increases alertness. This unique amino acid creates alpha waves in the brain which fights stress signals, leading to a calm mind and relaxed body. It helps our body to produce dopamine which improves our mood and boosts our memory and concentration.
Image by Zen Green Tea
Like regular green tea, the phytonutrients in matcha (natural compounds found in plants) have been linked to improved concentration and clearer thinking – mostly thanks to the effects of caffeine. Although matcha does contain caffeine – known as theophylline – it is a different form of caffeine to that found in coffee. A cup of matcha contains less caffeine than a cup of coffee but provides more of an impact. Energy levels are sustained for a longer period (4-6 hours as opposed to 1-3 hours with coffee), due to its slow release of caffeine. However, it is the natural properties of matcha that boost your metabolism and energy levels that we all need from time to time. So if you are someone who gets jittery on coffee or finds you need stimulus throughout the day to stay energised, then matcha is a good alternative because you still get an energy boost but a slow burn one without the crashes later in the day.
After a glass of warm water first thing in the morning to counteract the body’s dehydration from the night’s sleep, we prefer to start our day with a drink of matcha as we know it helps us to have a calm, level-headed day.
Our founder’s favourite is the vegan-friendly, 100% natural and pesticide-free Purechimp Natural Green Tea which comes in compostable pouches or recyclable glass jars.
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HAVE YOU TRIED MATCHA? WHICH DO YOU PREFER – MATCHA OR COFFEE?
We’d love for you to tell us what you think of it in a comment below!
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