Longevity: there are so many factors that contribute to a longer lifespan.
Aside from good genetics, there are three factors that generally top them all: exercise, a healthy diet, and better lifestyle choices.
Although many of us rely on supplements and vitamins to improve our health, nature has proved time and time again that it has many of the protective ingredients we need to live longer, healthier, and happier lives.
As matcha continues to take the world by storm, studies delve even further into its composition, showing us that its properties may have the ability to starve cancer cells, boost energy, reduce the risk of heart disease, and lower cholesterol.
What Is Matcha?
Matcha, which roughly translates to ‘powdered green tea’ (“ma” translates to rubbed or ground, while “cha” means tea) - is just that!
This unique, finely ground powder is grown and processed from green tea leaves.
Once matcha is processed into powder form, it’s usually infused with hot water, whisked to create a froth, and drunk.
Although matcha has been traditionally consumed in East Asia, it has become increasingly popular in the west. Not only can matcha be drunk, but it can also be added to food to give you an extra daily boost of vitamins and brilliant flavour.
Matcha is made from the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) which is grown primarily in two regions of Japan: Uji in Kyoto and Nishio in Aichi.
Although green tea and matcha come from the same plant, they have different flavours and are consumed and cultivated in different ways.
For example, while green tea is cultivated in sunlight, high-quality matcha is exclusively shade-grown at least three weeks before harvesting.
This is why ceremonial matcha has a brighter colour than green tea because its shady conditions increase the amount of chlorophyll in the leaves.
Matcha And Cholesterol: Can It Really Help Lower Cholesterol?
High cholesterol can be notoriously dangerous.
Without treatment and prevention, high cholesterol can build fat deposits in the blood vessels. These deposits grow and can reduce the blood's ability to flow through the arteries.
If these deposits break down suddenly or become dislodged, they can cause strokes and heart attacks. The risk of vascular dementia is also increased in patients with high cholesterol.
Although there are plenty of high-cholesterol-busting products on the market, a healthy diet is said to be one of the best ways to combat the rise, and drinking matcha may be one healthy change you can make to your daily diet.
Green teas, including matcha, are believed to help reduce levels of ‘bad cholesterol’ in the body.
For example, one review of 31 studies showed that green tea was able to significantly lower the total amount of cholesterol in most of the 3321 subjects in the trials.
The review goes on to say that although green tea did not affect high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), it reduced the number of triglycerides compared to the control group.
But what is it about matcha that makes it able to generate such profound improvements in cholesterol levels?
Compared to other tea varieties, matcha contains significantly more antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds and catechins. Antioxidants, specifically those found in natural foods, are thought to prevent cholesterol from turning into plaque in the arterial walls.
Additional studies have explored the link between the catechins found in green tea and found that they may be able to reduce total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL cholesterol).
HDL Cholesterol Vs. LDL Cholesterol: What’s The Difference?
Research has shown that although matcha may not affect HDL cholesterol levels, it could reduce LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol.
So, what exactly do these terms mean, and what does this mean for your cholesterol levels?
High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (also called HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol) can transport fats throughout the body and the blood.
HDL cholesterol can remove bad cholesterol from the body - so having high HDL levels means you may have a reduced risk of heart disease.
However, low levels of HDL suggest you’re at a higher risk of developing heart disease, high cholesterol, and more.
Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) is known as the ‘bad’ cholesterol.
Unfortunately, LDL makes up most of the body’s cholesterol, and it contributes to fatty build-ups in our arteries, also called atherosclerosis.
Genetics, an unhealthy diet and poor lifestyle choices can all cause a rise in LDL. High LDL levels can increase the risk of strokes, heart disease, and heart attacks.
Your total cholesterol is the overall amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream. This includes both HDL and LDL cholesterol.
Research suggests that matcha doesn’t interfere with HDL cholesterol levels in the body - which is good!
Instead, matcha may be able to reduce LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol, which may translate to a reduced risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
How Much Matcha Do You Need To Reduce Cholesterol?
If you want to lower your cholesterol, know that results are rarely instantaneous, no matter what methods you use.
The same applies to drinking matcha. So, how much matcha do you need to drink to reduce your cholesterol?
Although there are no specific guidelines or advice to answer this question, we can look at the studies and research to help us make an informed decision.
For example, one study discovered that regular matcha drinkers had a lower risk of all-cause mortality.
They were also less likely to die of the three leading causes of death in Japan, which are cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Heart disease and strokes are most commonly related to high cholesterol levels.
After 18.7 years of study, the results showed that those who drank less than one cup of matcha a day were more likely to die of all-cause mortality. However, those who drank anywhere between one and five cups a day were at less risk.
So, what can we take from this study? Clearly, drinking any amount of green tea or matcha is better than no green tea or matcha!
However, matcha has a relatively high amount of caffeine, so to be safe, it's best to stick to drinking no more than two or three cups a day.
This will reduce the risk of unwanted side effects, and the research suggests that this is still an effective amount to drink!
Matcha is one of the most popular health drinks in the world with a range of clinically backed benefits - such as helping to lower bad cholesterol.
With an incredible taste, meditative calming effect and studies indicating a reduction in all-cause mortality - matcha is something that everyone should try!