Rookie year. The new kid on the block. Our antioxidant-rich freshman lineup.
Country of Origin: Japan
Description: Tea leaves stone ground into a fine, jade-green powder. Veins are removed from leaves after a three-week period of shade-growing. Smooth, earthy, and slightly sweet.
Antioxidant Profile: Catechins
Matcha boasts a profile rife with catechins, which are natural antioxidants that reduce formation of free radicals in the body and prevent oxidative damage on the cellular level. The specific catechin relevant to matcha is called Epigallocatechin gallate.
Epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, has been shown to have the highest dose-dependent anti-proliferative effect on human cancer cells. English translation: EGCG has cancer-fighting properties, and ECGC levels in matcha are 137 times greater than those in standard green tea. Read more >
Additional Benefits: L-theanine + Caffeine
You’re probably familiar with caffeine, but let’s review. Your brain contains adenosine, a central nervous system neuromodulator that slows down brain activity when bound to its receptors. Caffeine binds to these adenosine receptors and prevents adenosine from binding.
Now take a deep breath.
L-theanine is an enantiomeric version of theanine, and theanine is a primary amino acid analogue of the amino acid glutamic acid and its primary amide L-glutamine. Phew. Okay so why do we care? L-theanine can cross the blood-brain barrier and has been shown to reduce mental and physical stress. And when you put L-theanine and caffeine together, they have been shown to exhibit a synergistic effect, further boosting mood and cognitive performance. The caffeine in matcha is metabolized slower because of its interaction with L-theanine, providing a longer-lasting, more stable focus. Read more >
Country of Origin: China
Description: Blue-green filamentous cyanobacterium that grows in microscopic spirals and is harvested and turned into a fine dark green powder. Mild in flavor.
Antioxidant Profile: Phycocyanin
Spirulina gets its blue-green color from a protein-bound pigment called phycocyanin. Phycocyanin allows spirulina to absorb light at wavelengths different from those absorbed by chlorophyll, which is cool because spirulina can be more proficient at completing light-dependent interactions necessary for photosynthesis. Phycocyanin has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties because it binds free radicals that result from oxidative processes at the cellular level, effectively making them nonreactive and reducing their risk to cellular activity. Read more >
Vitamin and Mineral Profile: B12, Iron
In addition to B12 and iron, spirulina boasts a significant protein to mass ratio. Being 70% protein makes spirulina the Arnold Schwarzenegger of the plant and cyanobacteria world. In addition, spirulina does not have cell walls, making it easier for us to digest. Read more >
Country of Origin: Ecuador
Description: Fine, free-flowing, dark brown powder from raw cacao beans that are pressed and ground. Bitter and savory.
Antioxidant profile: Flavonoids
Cacao is a raw, unprocessed, sugar-less version of the cocoa we associate with chocolate. It contains phenolic antioxidants called flavonoids which are beneficial to cellular health. See the trend here?
In addition to catechins, which we mentioned earlier, cacao also contains other flavonoids like epicatechin and procyanidin. These flavonoids work together to promote normal endothelial function, which is a fancy way of saying they help patrol interactions at the surface of blood and lymphatic vessels. In addition, they regulate and block expression of unwanted cellular adhesion molecules. These molecules cause cells to stick to each other and other surfaces they aren’t supposed to, and play a role in cancer progression.
Cacao has also been linked to insulin resistance and therefore may have future applications to diabetes. Read more >
Vitamin and Mineral Profile: Magnesium, Potassium, Oleic Acid
Cacao is 11% protein (definitely shouldn’t challenge spirulina to a bench press contest), fiber rich, and has been associated with weight loss and improvement in digestive health. Cacao’s secret weapon is oleic acid, which has been shown to reduce blood pressure and risk of heart disease. It was also famously highlighted in the movie “Lorenzo’s Oil,” which is based on a true story involving Adrenoleukodystrophy and the search for a possible cure.