We all know about the health benefits of green tea. It is commonly used by people who are trying to lose belly fat. It is full of antioxidants and is therefore good for health. But have you heard about catechins? Did you know that catechins have cancer-fighting properties?
Green tea is obtained from the leaves of the tea plant Camellia sinensis. This plant is full of plant chemicals called polyphenols which is the active component present in many types of green teas. Catechins are the polyphenols found in green tea and are very efficient antioxidants that are thought to be responsible for all the health benefits of green tea. There have been a lot of studies conducted that show that catechins have chemopreventive abilities.
What is matcha?
Before we talk about catechins and their benefits, let us say something about matcha. You must have heard about green tea but may be unfamiliar with matcha. We all know how great green tea is for health. But matcha is even better. It is like green tea version two. Matcha is a finely powdered green tea made from dried leaves of green tea plants. Matcha is of Japanese origin and is often used in ceremonial rites in Japan. It is slightly bitter in taste and is vibrant green in colour due to its high level of chlorophyll.
Matcha is better than green tea because you discard the leaves after brewing the green tea. But in the case of matcha, the green powder is added to water or milk and hence you end up intaking whole green tea leaves. The antioxidants present in it help you with lowering high blood pressure and boost your metabolism.
Catechins and cancer
Matcha has tons of health benefits. We have already mentioned that catechins, a subgroup of polyphenols, are responsible for their wonderful properties. Now, we will get more specific about this polyphenol. Epigallocatechin gallate(EGCG) is the major group of catechins that are the key to modulating the immune system and attributing cancer-fighting properties to matcha. As per National Cancer Institute(NCI), EGCG has a protective effect on the cells against DNA damage, promotes detoxification of enzymes that result in stopping the tumour from growing, and hence promotes the death of cancer cells.
It is also said that catechins may also skin from UV radiation. Hence, it is also effective in protecting against skin cancer. Researchers say that matcha may decrease the risk of cell carcinoma and other severe forms of skin cancer like malignant melanoma.
Matcha: a chemo preventive agent
There is exciting news regarding matcha as per very recent research conducted at the University of Salford, UK. The research analysed the effect of matcha on human breast cancer cells. The study promises amazing properties of matcha. One of the active ingredients of matcha can block the signalling pathways between cancer cells. It suggests that catechins present in matcha can suppress metabolism linked to mitochondria. Hence, the cancer cells are unable to derive any nutrients and are rendered inactive or even die eventually.
These chemopreventive properties of matcha can be extended to other types of cancer. Some studies conducted on animals show promising results. In these studies, matcha is shown to suppress tumours in various organs like the liver, stomach, and colon. Research further extended to humans shows that catechins can be used in chemopreventive treatment. Regular intake of green tea leaves can lower the risk of many types of cancer like lung and prostate cancer.
Other health benefits of matcha
Apart from being an excellent chemopreventive, matcha can protect your liver and also boosts brain functioning. It can help to promote heart health and help you to lose body fat.
How to add matcha into your life?
You might be wondering about including matcha in daily life by now. Before you choose to do so, there are a few things to consider. There are two types of matcha available: one is ceremonial grade and another one is culinary grade. Ceremonial grade matcha is costlier and is made from juvenile green tea leaves and hence has a mellow flavour. On the other hand, culinary matcha is cheaper and is bitter in taste.
Preparation of matcha is different from green tea in which you brew the green tea leaves in hot water. But for making matcha, you might need a whisk. You will first have to put a small amount of matcha in a bowl. Then whisk the matcha powder after pouring some hot water. Remember to whisk in a zigzag pattern, not in a circular pattern. Add more hot water if you have to. You can even add some steamed milk or sugar syrup if you like. Simply whisk again until you get a foamy liquid. Now you can enjoy your freshly prepared matcha.
Side effects of matcha
Matcha is mostly safe to consume. But drinking too much matcha in a day can be harmful. Always check with your doctor before starting to take matcha regularly. Possible side effects if matcha is taken in high amounts are headaches, diarrhea, insomnia, and irritability. Pregnant women should use caution.
Matcha is commonly used as a health supplement. It has several health benefits apart from anticancer and chemopreventive abilities. It can become a healthy and flavourful addition to your morning drink. If you are a fan of green tea then you will surely like this drink which is even healthier than green tea itself. Simply take a sip of this amazing tea from Japan to draw all the benefits of green tea leaves.