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The health food and supplement industry is growing faster than it has in years. Consumers have shown an interest in functional foods that actively boost health for a few years now, but 2020 has ramped up the demand for healthy options with IFT reporting that 29% of consumers say they enjoy more functional foods and beverages in 2020 than they did in the past.1 If well-being is your brand’s area of specialty, you’re no doubt exploring ways to incorporate adaptogens and functional foods into your product line.
As you develop formulations, bulk matcha is an essential ingredient to consider. Matcha is a specially cultivated, powdered green tea. When you enjoy matcha, you’re consuming the entire tea leaf and all of its nutrients including powerful antioxidants called EGCG catechins, calming L-theanine, detoxing chlorophyl, energy boosting caffeine, and more. Matcha’s mild, pleasant taste, its vivid green color, potential health benefits and versatility make it an ideal choice for beverages, supplements, and food. But how does matcha match up to today’s newest food trends and wellness product requirements? Is matcha an adaptogen? How about a functional food? What is nutraceutical matcha? Let’s take a closer look:
Yes, matcha can be considered a superfood. While the term “superfood” has no legal definition, it is generally understood as a food providing nutritional benefit or a boost to overall well-being. Matcha contains a variety of nutrients that fit this description, the most noteworthy being free-radical fighting antioxidants and calming L-Theanine.
The antioxidants found in bulk matcha include vitamins A, C, and E, and strong EGCG catechins linked to cell damage prevention. EGCG is a powerhouse because it may protect cells from DNA damage, inhibit tumor growth, and promote cancer cell destruction.2 Other potential benefits include combating inflammatory conditions, heart disease, strokes, and arthritis.3
L-Theanine is a unique amino acid found in matcha that may provide a pleasant boost to mental wellbeing. L-Theanine increases dopamine and serotonin production, which leads to a feeling of calm and well-being.4 Although matcha contains caffeine, people usually don’t feel the “jitters” associated with coffee because of the calming effect of L-Theanine.
Yes, matcha can be called a functional food. “Functional Food” is a marketing term without a legal definition, typically referring to foods that may have a positive impact on health beyond the immediate calories and nutrition they provide. What does this mean? In matcha’s case, think L-Theanine that can reduce stress or chlorophyll which may act as a natural detox and lead to healthier skin.5
Our green tea leaves are shaded before harvest, helping them maintain a more delicate texture, pleasant flavor, and develop a greater concentration of detoxing chlorophyll. This actually makes bulk matcha an ideal functional ingredient in beauty dietary mixes, supplements and topical creams because of its anti-inflammatory antioxidants and skin detoxing chlorophyll.
Yes, matcha green tea can be a nutraceutical. Some people use “functional food” and “nutraceutical” interchangeably as foods that provide a positive impact on physical or mental health. A nutraceutical can also be a food-based product sold in powder or pill form.6 Matcha meets all of these qualifications. However, depending on your specific product and marketing claims, the FDA might consider your nutraceutical matcha product a food, dietary supplement, or drug. If your product is categorized as a supplement, you may need to implement additional safety measures to ensure compliance with applicable laws. For example, your factory may have to comply with Good Manufacturing Practices.7
At Ikeda our matcha undergoes strict quality control testing by the world’s leading food safety regulators. We work with nutraceutical brands to ensure you have the correct reports and tests to produce safe products.
All grades of bulk matcha contain antioxidants, amino acids, and the other nutrients that make matcha famous worldwide. Industrial grade matcha is a favorite of many nutraceutical brands because it contains a higher concentration of antioxidants, and it’s an affordable and fantastic choice when taste is less important and nutritional content is extremely valuable. Ceremonial grade matcha which is higher in amino acids and has a mild and umami taste, is also a great pairing for supplements.
Matcha is not an adaptogen, but the calming effect of matcha’s L-Theanine and its energy boosting caffeine give it some adaptogenic properties. So what IS an adaptogen? Traditionally, they are Chinese and Ayurvedic herbs that regulate the body’s response to physical, biological or mental stress. They are said to return the body to a neutral state where it can better function and perform as it should despite the existence of stress in the outside world.8
Each adaptogen provides a different benefit to the body from reducing anxiety to boosting mood and memory.9 Adaptogens are still fairly new to the US market and much is unknown about their health effects and interactions with other ingredients. Currently, companies are combining the unfamiliar flavors of adaptogens with tasty, more familiar ingredients like matcha to create nutritious and delicious lattes and mixes.
If your functional food brand would like a sample of our bulk matcha, please get in touch and let us know how we can help you.
1 Brewster, Elizabeth. "Flavors of Change: Taste Trends Evolve in Pandemic's Wake." IFT, 1 Oct 2020, https://www.ift.org/news-and-publications/food-technology-magazine/issues/2020/october/columns/ingredients-flavors-of-change-taste-trends-evolve-in-pandemics-wake
2 "Tea and Cancer Prevention." Originally published by the National Cancer Institute, 17 Nov 2010, https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/tea-fact-sheet
3 Chacko et al. "Beneficial effects of green tea: A literature review." US National Library of Medicine, 6 Apr 2010, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2855614/
4 Breus, Michael J. "What You Need to Know About L-theanine." Psychology Today, 29 Aug 2017, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sleep-newzzz/201708/what-you-need-know-about-l-theanine?eml
5 Shannon-Karasik, Caroline. "What Is Chlorophyll — and Can It Help Fight Acne?" InStyle, 30 Oct 2019, https://www.instyle.com/beauty/skin/chlorophyll-skincare-benefits
6 "What is a Nutraceutical?" The Pharmaceutical Journal, 8 Jul 2000, https://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/1-what-is-a-nutraceutical/20002095.article
7 "How the FDA Regulates Nutraceuticals." FDA Reader, 4 Mar 2019, https://www.fdareader.com/blog/how-the-fda-regulates-nutraceuticals
8 Ducharme, Jamie. "What Are Adaptogens and Why Are People Taking Them?" TIME, 28 Feb 2018, https://time.com/5025278/adaptogens-herbs-stress-anxiety/
9 McClain, Stephanie. "What are Adaptogens? Herbs and Plants That Help Reduce Stress and Anxiety" The Beet, 1 Apr 2020, https://thebeet.com/what-are-adaptogens-herbs-and-plants-that-can-help-reduce-stress-and-anxiety/