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Could Matcha Help Your Anxiety?

Wow, it’s been a minute since I’ve been here. Just in case we need to be reacquainted, my name is Diana, I geek out over nutrition, I love dogs (particularly my dog), and I’m not one to share dessert.

 

When I started this blog, two things that were really important to me were honesty, and presenting an accurate representation of my life. I am very guilty of logging onto social media and instantly comparing my life with everyone else’s “picture perfect” unreality. It’s hard to be vulnerable and share the not-so-glamorous moments of life. But here we go…

I have and probably always will have anxiety. Sometimes it’s as simple as a little flutter in my stomach (lets not call it “butterflies,” because it’s more like murderous moths) for no discernable reason; sometimes it’s as crippling as crying on the bed not being able to breathe, feeling like my whole world is imploding. It’s something I’ve really worked through over the years and it’s also one of the reasons I was drawn to yoga and meditation. I have in no way “cured” myself of anxiety, but I know how to handle it and I know what aggravates it. Not getting enough sleep, not practicing yoga and not exercising are huge triggers. Unfortunately, another is coffee.

 

Now I love coffee. I drink it most mornings… usually topped with whipped cream and cinnamon. But if I’m having a hard morning or a hard week, it’s something I have to forgo. Which is REALLY hard for me. As I write this, I know how silly it sounds. It’s just a cup of coffee. Why is that worth the panic attack that could follow later, right? But my morning cup is a lot more than just a cup of coffee. It’s the ritual of waking up, drinking something warm out of a pretty mug, and knowing that I can sit for ten minutes, cuddling my dog before starting my day. Coffee to me has become synonymous with comfort and warm memories. One of my favorite things to do is drink a cup of coffee with someone I love, extra points if it’s outside while sitting in the morning sun. But I also think its really healthy to take coffee breaks now and then- and not the kind where you leave work to go drink some.

 

So often I hear from clients that are having sleeping problems. When I ask about their caffeine consumption, they tell me coffee doesn’t really affect them and they have their last cup around 4:00 pm (insert face palm emoji). There are lots of reasons to take a break from coffee: maybe it makes you jittery, or your consumption started as 1 cup a day and is now at 6 cups. But it’s hard and I get it. Expect headaches, expect irritability, and please try to be nice to your loved ones while doing this. One thing that helps me when I take a coffee break, or I’m cutting it out due to anxiety, is to drink matcha instead. I still get the ritual of a making myself a hot drink in a pretty cup with a little bump of caffeine, but without the side effects.

 

Matcha has become kind of a buzzword lately. Matcha lattes have popped up everywhere, as well as matcha ice cream, cookies, cakes. You name it, it’s probably out there. If you disagree, go search matcha on Pinterest of Instagram. It’s everywhere. But how many of you have actually tried high quality matcha the authentic way? Sans 4 cups of sugar. Matcha has been around a looooong time. Zen monks drank it to stay alert during long periods of meditation and samurai warriors would drink matcha before battle. Seeing as how I usually have to channel my inner zen monk and my inner samurai warrior in the same week, matcha has become my new best friend.

 

matcha 2

 

Quick Facts:

 

  • Each cup of matcha contains about 40 mg of caffeine (a cup of coffee has about 100 mg).
  • Matcha contains L-theanine, an amino acid known to be a mood enhancer. L-theanine has been shown to create a relaxed state without the side effect of drowsiness. L-theanine has been proven to improve concentration and decrease anxiety and stress. It provides calm alertness. Umm yes, please.
  • One cup of matcha is equivalent to 10 cups of green tea in terms of nutritional value and antioxidant content.
  • Matcha is packed with beneficial compounds, such as EGCG– an antioxidant known to promote cardiovascular and metabolic health, as well as to protect against cancer.
  • Matcha is rich in fiber, chlorophyll, and vitamins.
  • Mathca helps promote weight loss by boosting metabolism.
  • Matcha may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

 

Because matcha has become such a heavy hitter, there is a lot of misinformation about it. When buying it, you will usually see different grades, the highest quality being a ceremonial grade. Only the crème de la crème could be used for the tea ceremony in Japan. The best indicators of quality are color, smell, and obviously taste. Cheap matcha will be a dull green, or yellow- or gray-green. High quality matcha will be a bright emerald green. Matcha should have a pleasing vegetal smell. Some people think it smells earthy others say it’s like grass or peas. High quality matcha will not be bitter, but rather have a complex taste with a balance of sweet and bitter. There should, obviously, be no added preservatives. You can also tell a lot about the grade of matcha from packaging. The highest quality matcha usually comes in a vacuum-sealed bag inside a tin or aluminum can, which helps to preserve color, taste, and nutritional value. At health food stores you will often see matcha in a large plastic bag. This usually means it was shipped to the United States and then packaged, and has probably lost its vibrancy. If you are using matcha to cook, use a lower, less expensive grade, but spring for the good stuff if you’re drinking it. Click here for some great high quality matcha products and information.

 

There are lots of fun ways to use matcha when cooking. I’ve been playing with a few lately and I’ll be sharing those recipes soon. In the meantime keep your eyes peeled for a matcha-how-to video coming soon. As in once I clean my kitchen and convince my boyfriend to film it.

 

As always leave any questions or comments below! I would love to hear your experience with matcha, coffee, anxiety, or just life in general.

2 thoughts on “Could Matcha Help Your Anxiety?

  1. After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, I have been suspicious about the safety of matcha tea from Japan. Then I read that the Japanese government is fudging data on reports of green tea farms affected by radiation. So now I try to look for tea companies that do 3rd party testing. Sometimes they are cost prohibitive, such as Eden Organics. What to do???

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  2. I drink a cup every afternoon. I make a soy latte with it. I also add a touch of raw honey. It is a nice treat to break up a typically hectic day. It’s also filling so I don’t get too hungry before dinner. I highly recommend it.

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