Dallas County Living Well Magazine March/April 2018 - Page 24

The 3 M’s Superfood Powders: Matcha, Moringa, and Maca By Julie Alvira, MD, MBA I n recent years, we’ve had interest- ing trends like kale and turmeric, which are still in for this year. But, food companies are embracing and developing new clients. I’m talking about matcha, moringa, and maca. You may have heard about all of them before but this year; however, they are becoming more popular be- cause of their potent nutritional pow- ers as part of the healthy mind body conscious movement. Are you a part of this movement? The idea is to be aware of your health and that mind and body are in fact interconnected. Matcha is derived from the same plant as the regular green tea camel- lia sinensis (native from China), but is grown differently. Japanese matcha is 100% green tea and the most potent. Leaves are covered with bamboo mats or tarp to reduce exposure to sunlight. This key aspect is very important be- cause it increases the chlorophyll con- tent, which turns the leaves a special green color. Following several other steps, the leaves become tencha, which is a pre- 22 cursor to matcha. It is the tencha that is ground with special grinding wheels to produce a fine powder. There are dis- tinct grades. So, if purchasing some, make sure to look for a bright green, sweet smelling, high quality powder from Japan (Note: The Chinese ver- sion is less expensive and doesn’t uti- lize the same quality process). I don’t drink coffee, so matcha is a good alternative because it has caf- feine (less than a cup of coffee). In- stead of making you have a jitter energy mood, it produces mindful alertness. It keeps you calm because of the phytonutrient l- threonine, while at the same time alert. Besides the chlorophyll, other components are: catechins (epigallocatechin- EGCG) and amino acids. Drinking matcha is a whole other experience. Salut! Moringa is native from India and nearby countries and comes from the moringa oleifera tree. Sometimes it is called different names, such as drum- stick or miracle tree. It is caffeine free and its round leaves have many nutri- ents such as vitamins, minerals, anti- oxidants, calcium, potassium, iron, fiber, and the list goes on. It makes for DALLAS COUNTY Living Well Magazine | MARCH/APRIL 2018 a great source of protein (more than spinach), which is great if you follow a vegan plan. Basically, it is a complete plant. You can find it in powder form, capsules, and leaves. Moringa drumstick can also be cooked, but make sure to steam it because it is not easy to di- gest. As with most superfoods, there is still more research to do, but so far we know it may lower blood glucose and cholesterol, has anti inflammatory effects, and helps with sleeping. If you are pregnant, consult your doctor, as moringa had been linked to miscar- riage. Maca originates in the high altitude parts of Peru (Andes) and has been named Peruvian ginseng because of its stimulating energy effects. Like mat- cha, maca can be a substitute for caf- feine. It’s part of the radish family and commercially the most common form is powder, which comes in red, yellow, and black. As with Moringa, maca has a lot of vitamins but also a lot of amino acids and numerous antioxidants. It has be- come popular for men because it in-