8 AMAZING BENEFITS OF MATCHA

matcha-2042569_1920.jpg

Matcha is a finely ground, bright green powder made from tea leaves. However, in contrast to traditional green teas, matcha undergoes specialized processing that produces a 100-fold higher concentration of one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants, EGCG. Matcha also contains the mood-boosting compound, theanine; between this one-two power punch, I am convinced that matcha is the real deal to be routinely recommended for my patients as part of an overall prescription for vibrant health. Below are some of the impressive research findings to date.

  1. IMPROVES MOOD. Matcha provides a dazzling dose of the chemical L-theanine that, coupled with a modest amount of caffeine, facilitates focus, concentration and memory. The calming effect of theanine also helps to take the edge off, ensuring an immediate upswing in mood. It is rare to find a natural product that possesses such diverse mind-enriching properties.
  2. SLOWS SIGNS OF AGINGPromising animal research has found that the potent       antioxidants contained in matcha not only slow the aging process, but may protect the brain from the progressive deterioration accompanying dementia. Human studies are evaluating EGCG as potential therapy for early Alzheimer’s Disease, so stay tuned!
  3. BOOSTS ENERGY + ENDURANCEStudies involving moderate-intensity exercise have found that the compounds contained in matcha boost energy metabolism, leading to improved exercise endurance and stamina while reducing belly fat.
  4. HELPS US DETOX.  A study just published in March found that EGCG not only lowered blood sugar but also delayed the buildup of toxins that cause the eye, kidney and heart damage that all too commonly complicate diabetes.
  5. IMPROVES SLEEP QUALITYNot only does L-theanine produce a calming effect during wakefulness, but recent studies suggest that this compound can also influence the sleep cycle and promote more restful sleep cycles.
  6. HEART HEALTH BFF. The primary antioxidant compound in matcha, EGCG dilates blood vessels and lowers blood pressure, cholesterol, inflammation and development of blood clots. Taken together, matcha possesses inherent properties that protect against heart disease and keep our blood vessels young and healthy.
  7. FIGHTS THE BIG C? Matcha’s powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties inhibit the activity of tumor cells in lung, breast and prostate with a host of other cancers under active investigation. Clearly, we have only begun to scratch the surface in realizing matcha’s potential for preventing – and preventing the spreading of – invading cancers.
  8. REDUCES INFLAMMATIONA recent review found EGCG to reduce inflammation and impairment of brain function associated with MS. Two studies evaluating EGCG treatment for MS were recently completed and results should be available soon.

This blog was originally posted on The Chalkboard (May 22, 2017).

Dr. Miller is a Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Maryland School            of Medicine and Author of Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription          to Reduce and Prevent Heart Disease (Rodale Press).

Eggs: Do They Deserve A Beating?

The Doctors 2

Recently, The DOCTORS Show invited my colleague Andrew Freeman, MD and me to participate in “The Great Food Debate”. In this segment, our debate focuses on eggs. I don’t know about you, but I love eggs. Growing up, my grandmother would cook up my favorite breakfast: eggs over easy, with lots (and lots) of pepper…absolutely delicious!

However, over the years, eggs have been beaten up (in more ways than one); some of my colleagues, including Dr. Freeman, believe that eggs are unhealthy because they contain too much cholesterol and choline. Some studies even report that too many eggs cause diabetes!

As it turns out, the amount of cholesterol in egg yolks (150-160 mg) is about 50% lower than it was back in the 70s (due in part to changes in hen’s feed and accuracy of cholesterol measurements). Choline is an important nutrient that is not only necessary for brain function, but also improves mood and suppresses anxiety. In addition, choline reduces levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that can be toxic to our heart and blood vessels.

With regard to the concern that eggs “cause” diabetes, let me paraphrase a recent paper the nicely summarizes the evidence from multiple studies. That is, consuming 6-12 eggs weekly along with following heart-healthy eating patterns has NO effect on cholesterol, fasting glucose or C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation).

What egg critics fail to point out are that egg whites contain a healthy content of protein and minerals (magnesium, selenium) whereas the yolk is enriched in vitamins (A, B12, D, E, Folate, K), minerals (calcium, iron, selenium, zinc) and carotenoid pigments (lutein, zeaxanthin) that reduce risk of eye diseases such as cataracts.

Overall, I place no restriction on egg whites, and the only time I recommend egg yolk restriction is for my patients with very high cholesterol levels (LDL levels above 160 mg/dL).  Otherwise, go enjoy your favorite omelet (mine is spinach, onions, mushroom and tomato)!

Dr. Miller is a Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine and Author of Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Reduce and Prevent Heart Disease “ (Rodale Press).