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How To Improve Your Health With Matcha Green Tea

How To Improve Your Health With Matcha Green Tea

If you are a green tea fan but have not tried matcha green tea, you really don’t know what you’re missing out on! Matcha is a very concentrated form of green tea which adds the leaves, in powdered form, directly to your drink so that you get the full benefit of its many nutrients and active compounds. Below is your guided tour of one of the healthiest beverages on the planet.

What is Matcha?

Matcha is a form of green tea that originated in China in the 9th century, but became extremely popular among the monks of Japan in the 1300’s and has played an integral role in the Japanese tea ceremony for more than 900 years, valued as a part of meditation practice.

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There are major differences in the way this tea is produced, harvested and even brewed. The plants used to make matcha are called tencha plants, and they are grown in the shade, harvested by hand, then steamed, stored and at last ground into a lovely emerald green powder that is used to make the matcha tea drink. This varies from the traditional methods of green tea making, where leaves are infused in water and then discarded before drinking. In other words, when you drink matcha, you are actually drinking down the pulverized leaf!

What are the Health Benefits of Matcha?

One of the reasons why matcha is becoming so popular is that it offers a wide variety of health benefits for people who drink it regularly. For one thing, it provides a wide variety of nutrients, including an impressive selection of vitamins (A, B, C, E and K), important trace minerals, active phytochemicals like catechins and chlorophyll and amino acids like L-theanine.

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Many of these active compounds have powerful antioxidant properties. Because of its unique blend of these antioxidants, green tea has been linked to positive outcomes for a number of serious chronic illnesses, including heart disease and diabetes. In several clinical studies, it has also proven to have anti-cancer properties, particularly against cancer of the breast, but also against colon and bladder cancer.

The combination of caffeine and catechins (which are also antioxidant compounds) has made it popular among those who wish to use it to help boost weight loss. Both active ingredients are known to help boost the metabolism and in several studies, green tea has been linked to the faster breakdown of fat, especially the visceral fat that can build up around organs like the liver and cause serious health problems later on.

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How Do You Use Matcha?

Matcha is available in the United States in the form of a bright green powder or as already-prepared drinks. You can drink it in a hot, cold or frozen drink. You can also use the powder in a variety of both sweet and savory recipes, including dishes like matcha puddings, muffins and ice cream as well as matcha soups, sauces and stir-fries.The possibilities are virtually endless — and once you get comfortable with its flavors, you can learn to experiment and make dishes up that are all your own.

If you are brewing matcha on your own, the techniques is slightly different than if you are making regular green tea. Bring water to a boil in a kettle, but let the water cool for about ten minutes. Add the matcha powder to your teacup, pour the water in, stir and let it steep for a minute before enjoying.

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Are There Any Drawbacks to Matcha?

As great as matcha is, there are a few drawbacks that you should be aware of before you indulge yourself:

Matcha does have a strong flavor (stronger than regular green tea) and usually needs to be sweetened. You can use honey as a more natural alternative to sugar, but this will still add calories to the drink, which can be a drawback if you are wanting to drink it to help with weight loss.

Even high-quality, organic green matcha tea can be contaminated with lead: this happens because the tea plant draws it up naturally from the soil. Most of the lead then moves into the leaves and since matcha tea uses the leaves directly in the drink instead of infusing them, it is believed that it can contain up to 30 times the amount of lead as regular green tea. For this reason, matcha should only be enjoyed once a day and not given to children.

So if you are already a fan of green tea and would like to take it to the next level, try some today. It can be purchased at health food stores as well as some regular supermarkets and is a great, tasty beverage to add to  your overall healthy lifestyle.

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Brian Wu

Health Writer, Author

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

More About Boosting Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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