Healthy diets don’t change over time—but food and ingredient trends are continually changing. As health professionals, your clients expect you to have all the answers when it comes to the latest food trends. To keep you in the know, we are offering updates on "ingredients in the news." This issue’s featured ingredient: matcha.
Matcha is everywhere these days, from tea to ice cream, and its popularity is only rising. But what is it?
Matcha is a form of green tea that’s uniquely grown. In the final weeks before harvest, tea plants destined to become matcha are grown under shade. This treatment makes the flavor less astringent than other green teas and increases the chlorophyll content of the leaves, contributing to its characteristic bright green color.
Is It Healthy?
A major driver of the matcha trend is its healthy reputation. Unlike tea meant for steeping, matcha tea is prepared by directly adding the powdered leaves to hot water. This preparation increases the concentration of natural green tea antioxidants (called catechins). While research on the healthfulness of matcha is limited, green tea intake is generally associated with beneficial effects on blood pressure and cholesterol, though research is far from conclusive.
Energy Boost: Like green tea, matcha also contains caffeine. The amount varies based on the source and amount prepared, but a typical cup of matcha can range from 25-40 mg of caffeine (or less than 1/3 the amount in a 12 oz. coffee).*
It is often claimed that l-theanine, an amino acid naturally present in tea, allows for matcha to provide a better wakeful effect without the “jittery” caffeine high. While there are some interesting human trials showing modest cognitive benefits of combining l-theanine and caffeine when provided at supplemental doses higher than those found in tea, claims of a “smoother” energy boost with matcha compared to coffee could also be due matcha’s lower caffeine content.†
Matcha adds a burst of color and a pleasant earthy flavor to food and drinks. Matcha is traditionally prepared as a beverage, but has gained popularity as part of lattes and as a unique way to flavor baked goods and desserts.
*Note: Always advise clients to check the food label for the most accurate information.
†Effect of Green Tea Phytochemicals on Mood and Cognition, 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28056735
Disclaimer: Conagra Nutrition does not provide medical advice. Information is intended for educational purposes only. For specific nutrition guidance, please consult your regular healthcare provider or a registered dietitian.