Have you gotten on board with the matcha trend yet? Matcha has gained a ton of popularity in the past few years, earning its own loyal following that rivals that of coffee. But, one thing many are wondering is, which is actually better for you, coffee or matcha? Don’t worry, we’ve got all the information you need to properly compare these two popular beverages!
Are You A Matcha or Coffee Drinker?
Whether you are a die-hard fan of coffee or a matcha loyalist, both drinks provide that morning boost in energy you need to get your day started. From a nutrition standpoint, both drinks provide few calories, carbs, protein, or fat when made without additives. But, most of us tend to add cream, sugar, or milk to our morning beverages.
Regardless of what you add to your favorite drink, both beverages have many shared benefits. Improvement in mood, memory, and attention comes from the disease-fighting antioxidants and contain compounds found in coffee and matcha. However, in order to properly compare these two antioxidant powerhouses, let’s take a look at the specific benefits of each.
Benefits of Coffee
Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages around the world. In fact, the CDC found that coffee accounted for 14.9% of the total beverage consumption for Americans on a given day, second only to water. Coffee has gotten both a good and bad reputation over the years, which can leave many wondering if the beverage actually has any real health benefits. Spoiler alert- it does!
Though people believed coffee had a negative impact on heart health for years, there is research to prove the opposite! For healthy people, drinking anywhere from 3-5 cups of coffee per day can reduce the prevalence of heart disease and the risk of stroke. However, it is important to note that caffeine does raise blood pressure, so anyone with existing unmanaged blood pressure conditions should moderate their caffeine intake.
Reduced Risk of Depression
Did you know coffee can affect your brain, too? Researchers have actually found a link between drinking coffee and a reduced risk for depression. Interestingly, they noticed a stronger decrease in the risk for depression when a person drank four cups of coffee versus one.
May Protect Your Liver
Drinking both decaf and regular coffee appears to have a protective effect on the liver. Liver enzymes being in the normal range and lowered risk of death from all types of liver disease are all linked to frequent coffee consumption. Similar to the research on depression and coffee consumption, the risk of death from liver disease decreased with each additional cup of coffee.
May Improve Longevity
Coffee, whether decaf or regular, contains antioxidants that fight against damage from free radicals in our body. Free radical damage is one of the biggest contributors to diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, and so many others. It seems that moderate coffee consumption (about 2.5 cups per day) is associated with lesser risk or disease and a longer life span compared with no coffee consumption.
May Boost Energy and Athletic Performance
Coffee boosts energy? Just kidding, this is a well-known reason many people consume coffee. Caffeine is a stimulant that blocks the receptors of a neurotransmitter called adenosine, which increases other neurotransmitter levels associated with energy. Coffee is an ergogenic aid (aka performance enhancer), and there is research to back up the claim that coffee can enhance endurance during exercise.
Benefits of Matcha
Matcha has been around for centuries, and its original use can be traced back to Chinese monks over 900 years ago. Shared with the Japanese later on, matcha tea has been popular in East Asia for hundreds of years. It wasn’t until more recent years that matcha started to gain popularity among other countries, such as the US. But why the sudden hype? Check out these potential benefits of drinking matcha.
May Promote Longevity
Similar to coffee, matcha is full of free-radical fighting antioxidants. Matcha contains catechin's, a natural antioxidant, in an amount much higher than other types of green tea. Coffee, on the other hand, does not contain catechin's, and has a total antioxidant count much lower than matcha.
Matcha, like coffee, may protect against liver and heart disease due to its antioxidant content. Researchers have found that frequent matcha consumption was associated with less kidney and liver damage, and better liver enzyme levels.
Similarly, matcha consumption can improve the cholesterol profile by helping to reduce LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and protect against heart disease. However, most research has been conducted on green tea in general rather than specifically looking at matcha.
Boosts Brain Function
Good news for matcha lovers! Researchers have found that matcha may help improve attention, memory, and critical thinking. Matcha contains L-theanine, which can help balance the effects of caffeine and improve alertness.
May Provide a Steady Boost of Energy
Have you ever experienced that burst of energy shortly after drinking coffee, or on the flip side, a huge crash in energy a couple hours after your cup of coffee? This is because the caffeine from coffee is rapidly absorbed. In fact, scientists believe that up to 99% of the caffeine from coffee is absorbed within 15-45 minutes.
On the flip side, because matcha contains L-Theanine, the caffeine in the drink is absorbed more slowly than coffee. This also allows the effects of caffeine in matcha to last longer. If you are a coffee drinker, but experience the “jitters” that can come with this drink, it might be time to switch to matcha and its jitter-free caffeination.
What Are The Downsides To Drinking Either?
Thankfully, neither of these popular beverages have significant negative health effects. But, there are a few things to mention that may affect which drink you choose to reach for.
- May cause teeth staining. If you have ever gotten a bad report at the dentist about the teeth staining behind your front teeth, you know what I am talking about. Matcha, on the other hand, may actually promote oral health.
- May have some unwanted side effects. Yes, the caffeine “jitters” are a real thing. Some people also experience anxiety, headaches, or an increased heart rate in response to the rapid absorption of caffeine from coffee.
- Can be very expensive. Honestly, the biggest downside to drinking matcha is the price tag. Good quality matcha is significantly more expensive than coffee, especially if you are consuming this beverage every morning.
- May contain contaminants. Matcha is produced from the pulverization of green tea leaves. Because of this, there is a risk that your matcha may contain trace amounts of heavy metals, such as lead or aluminum.
So, Which Should You Choose?
At the end of the day, which beverage you choose to drink for your morning energy comes down to personal preference. If you notice you feel more anxious after drinking coffee, try drinking matcha instead. If you are on a budget and trying to save money, coffee might be your best bet. The good news is that regardless of which drink you choose, you will gain numerous health benefits! Or, if you are anything like me, you may just go back and forth between the two drinks, choosing whichever one sounds great to you that specific day. Has this blog changed your mind about your favorite beverage, or are you staying loyal to your daily coffee or matcha? Let us know in the comments!
Sydney McAvoy See all the author’s articles