Matcha and Vitamin C: The Sum is Much Greater Than the Parts

Matcha and Vitamin C: The Sum is Much Greater Than the Parts

I often drink a small glass of water with the juice of a whole lemon squeezed into it as I sip my matcha. Or, if I'm feeling lazy, I'll just pop a 1g vitamin C pill. 

Why?

I've done this since reading about a study that found that citrus juices enhanced matcha's considerable quantity of catechins, making them become more bioavailable for the body to absorb (as opposed to being pee-ed out).

The Purdue University study, published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, found that catechins are unstable in non-acidic environments (i.e. our intestines) and, after digestion, less than 20 percent of the total catechins remain. An 80% haircut in catechins! But adding vitamin C increased recovered levels of the the most abundant catechin (EGCG) by four-fold.  A very large difference.

Connie Weaver, head of the Botanical Research Center for Age-Related Diseases National Institutes of Health at Purdue, which funded the research, put it this way:

"There is a lot of interest in bioactive materials to protect people from disease and promote better health," Weaver said. "What's been totally ignored is the way these materials are found in foods in combination with other ingredients. How they're involved in the food matrix can affect how you absorb these health promoters."

But why are catechins desirable in the first place? Because they've been shown to demonstrate a variety of antimicrobial properties in organisms affected. Consumption of green tea, and matcha in particular, has been shown to distribute these compounds throughout the body. While the enhanced matcha/catechin/C combo can't treat infections per se, there's good evidence to suggest that they can help prevent them, along with a generally robust immune system.

So: lemon juice with matcha is a good thing. But not together in one beverage! Something unpleasant happens when quality matcha interacts with citrus juice, even though it sounds like the most natural combo in the world (and IS the most natural combo in the world for black teas). The preferred way -- for us, at least -- is to enjoy the matcha on its own, followed by a chaser of lemon water. 

Seems like a huge return for such a small action. And a pleasurable one at that. Highly recommended!

 

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