What are antioxidants and why do I need them?
There are numerous compounds found within matcha that may inhibit oxidation in the body. Oxidation is the process by which oxygen damages the cells in our body that leads to aging, cancer and illnesses such as heart disease. The compounds that combat and reverse oxidation are known as antioxidants. The term covers a range of compounds that act in this way in the human body. Antioxidants can be found in foods such as nuts, green vegetables and fruit but when it comes to matcha it is miles ahead.The main antioxidants present in matcha are a group of compounds known as catechins. Of particular interest is the catechin epigallocatechin gallate 3 (EGCG) which is present in abundance in matcha and is the cause celebre of matcha due to its apparent cancer fighting and anti-aging properties. Read more about EGCG here.
ORAC stands for oxygen radical absorbance capacity and is the standard by which antioxidants are measured. The higher the ORAC value the healthier the food. Matcha has an ORAC value of 1384 per gram. Its closest competitor is the goji berry at 253 per gram whilst broccoli weighs in at 31 per gram.
EGCG otherwise known as epigallocatechin gallate is a catechin found in abundance in Matcha. In recent years evidence has been emerging of the gamut of positive effects of polyphenols such as EGCG. In particular EGCG has been shown to have a powerful effect on cancerous cells and free radicals. In addition further studies have shown that consuming 5-6 cups of green tea per day may have a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system due to EGCG.
It is obvious that the potential benefits of the consumption of EGCG would suit everybody not only the athlete or fitness enthusiast.
In 2003 Weiss & Anderton examined the make up of matcha using miscellar electrokinetic chromatography after learning of the claims made in Japan that matcha contained far higher levels of beneficial compounds when compared to normal steeped green tea bags. They came to the conclusion that matcha contained 137x more EGCG than normal green tea bags.
The pigment that gives certain foods their colour and supposedly makes people see in the dark. Matcha contains 10x more beta-carotene than spinach. Although not essential on its own when consumed the body converts it to vitamin A which is essential for human health and eye health in particular.
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