The Mental Superfood One Dietitian Won't Start Her Day Without

mbg Contributor By Leah Vanderveldt
mbg Contributor
Leah Vanderveldt is an author living in Brooklyn, New York. She received her bachelor’s in communications and media from Fordham University, and is certified in culinary nutrition from the Natural Gourmet Institute. She is the author of two cookbooks: The New Nourishing and The New Porridge.

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Stress, lack of sleep, and poor diet can all contribute to that foggy brain feeling, but what can we do to counteract it in a pinch? We talked to New York City-based dietitian Brigitte Zeitlin to get her take on the morning drink that has loads of nutritional benefits, not least of which benefit brain health in a major way. Here's what she shared with us.

What type of tea is best for coping with brain fog?

We are busier and more stressed than ever these days and everyone can certainly use some help getting it all done. Matcha is a powerful tool to help us do just that! Made from whole green tea leaves that are finely ground into powder form, matcha has 10 times more brainpower super strength than regular green tea (where you only steep the leaves rather than consuming them). Matcha has a unique way of boosting our energy levels while keeping us calm yet focused at the same time. It helps us to stay focused and more productive throughout the day. It's a total mental superfood.

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Doesn't matcha have caffeine?

While matcha does have caffeine, this is not the primary source of its energy-boosting abilities. Matcha contains an amino acid known as l-theanine, which studies have shown helps improve alertness and boost your mood while also lowering stress. This powerful one-two punch is the source of matcha’s brain-boosting abilities. By combining l-theanine with caffeine, matcha has a leg up on all other caffeinated beverages out there (we’re looking at you, coffee).

Drinking matcha keeps us cool, calm, and collected as well as feeling more energized and alert—the healthiest recipe to get you to the end of your to-do lists.

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What are the other health benefits?

If you are not already sold, matcha is also high in free-radical-fighting antioxidants. Most importantly, matcha contains a high level of the polyphenol antioxidant EGCG. The polyphenols in matcha are antioxidants that help fight inflammation and improve blood pressure. Preventing inflammation can help improve mental focus and concentration while keeping your blood pressure under control, helping you remain calm and better manage your stress levels. But these are just the day-to-day benefits of matcha.

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What about long-term brain health?

When it comes to long-term brain health, matcha can also help prevent Alzheimer’s and early onset dementia. These cognitive diseases can be accelerated by free radicals, cells that float around your body that cause chronic illnesses, diseases, and premature signs of aging. The antioxidants in matcha find and fight these free radicals, helping to stop the damage they might cause and instead working to keep your brain healthy.

Matcha Overnight Oats

Photo by Ksenia Avdulova

How much matcha should you be drinking?

I tell all my clients to aim for two cups of matcha a day (I love Matchaful), either as a latte or straight up, iced or hot—it's your call! You can add matcha to your diet in other ways, too. Try adding some matcha to your Greek yogurt or oatmeal for breakfast, sprinkling it on your popcorn for a snack, and adding it to your smoothies. No matter why you choose to consume your matcha, you can’t go wrong.

Ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.

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