With the ever growing popularity of new health foods it can be hard to navigate what you should and shouldn’t eat these days – especially while pregnant. Matcha is one of those food trends on the rise, expecting an 8% increase in market size by 2027. Providing many benefits and a lower caffeine content, matcha tea can be a great alternative to your morning cup of coffee. However, you may be wondering is matcha safe during pregnancy?
Read on to learn more about the benefits of matcha during pregnancy, risks of matcha during pregnancy to be aware of and how you can decrease those risks. Plus we share a simple matcha tea recipe for pregnancy with you too!
Now, for those of you who may not keep up with the latest food trends, you might be wondering, what is matcha?
What Is Matcha?
Matcha is a type of Japanese green tea that comes in a powdered form. Matcha tea differs from traditional green tea through its cultivation and preparation processes.
Shading the plants during growth periods helps enhance biologically active compounds such as chlorophyll and antioxidants theanine and catechins. Additionally, matcha leaves are directly added to hot water (rather than steeped like traditional green tea) which enhances the concentration of these disease-fighting nutrients.
Is Matcha Good for Pregnancy?
Few studies have assessed the effects of tea consumption during pregnancy and lactation, with even fewer looking at matcha specifically. However, recent literature looks at the effects of commonly found compounds in green tea during pregnancy.
Due to its high amounts of chlorophyll, theanine, and catechins, matcha tea provides a host of health benefits throughout pregnancy and beyond. Matcha is high in polyphenols which are powerful antioxidants that aid in reducing inflammation, and overall physical and mental health.
The overall consensus is that it is okay to consume matcha in moderate quantities throughout pregnancy, and can even provide beneficial properties for both you and your baby. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of matcha during pregnancy!
Benefits of Matcha During Pregnancy
Matcha green tea contains phytochemicals that provide a host of benefits throughout pregnancy. These beneficial compounds include rutin, theanine, quercetin, Vitamin C, and catechins.
Some benefits of these phytochemicals found in matcha tea include:
- cardiovascular support
- strengthening of the blood vessels
- regulates blood pressure
- blood sugar regulation
- immunity-boosting effects
- anti-inflammatory effects
All of these benefits can aid you during pregnancy and provides support to your baby too.
Is Matcha Safe During Pregnancy?
The general consensus is that consuming green tea in moderation (less than 2 cups per day) while pregnant poses no significant risk to you or your baby. However, when consumed in excess, it can pose some risks. Additionally the timing of consumption of green tea can affect absorption of nutrients necessary for a healthy pregnancy posing some risks.
What are these potential risks of drinking matcha during pregnancy you ask?
Risks of Matcha During Pregnancy
While matcha does contain many health boosting compounds, can any of these compounds pose a risk to you and your baby? Knowing how matcha and other green teas impact the absorption of essential nutrients for pregnancy can help you determine whether you feel safe drinking matcha during pregnancy. Let’s take a closer look:
It is well known that caffeine crosses the placenta to your baby during pregnancy. Caffeine can be found in coffee, teas, and even some foods (including chocolate). Current recommendations are to limit caffeine intake to 200 to 300 milligrams of caffeine per day. With newer research suggesting no amount of caffeine may be safe during pregnancy.
Due to it’s more concentrated nature, matcha tea generally has a higher caffeine content compared to other green teas, providing 18 – 44 mg caffeine/gram. On average, one cup of matcha tea consists of 2-4 grams, which would then contain 36 – 176 mg of caffeine per cup.
Limit your matcha tea intake to less than 2 cups per day to stay in line with current caffeine intake recommendations during pregnancy.
Inhibits absorption of folate
Folate is an important nutrient throughout pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. Folic acid intake has been known to reduce the risk of certain birth defects such as spina bifida and neural tube defects. This nutrient is essential for helping your baby develop fully before birth without complication(s).
Studies have demonstrated that catechin, a powerful antioxidant found in green tea, can reduce the bioavailability of folate. One study found that women who consumed greater than or equal to 4 cups of green tea per day were more likely to have lower serum folate levels which put their babies at higher risk for being born with birth defects.
Take a prenatal vitamin with adequate levels of folate to help decrease the risk of folate deficiency and neural tube defects. Additionally, take your prenatal vitamin separate from drinking your matcha tea to decrease your risk of inhibiting folate absorption.
Decreases iron absorption
When consumed in large quantities, green tea, including matcha tea, can decrease iron absorption leading to iron-deficiency anemia.
It used to be believed that polyphenolic compounds found in tea varieties only impacted non-heme (found predominantly in plant foods) iron absorption. However, recent studies have found that these polyphenolic compounds can affect both non-heme and heme (provided primarily by animal food sources) iron absorption.
If you are at risk for iron-deficiency anemia, discuss with your healthcare provider about taking an additional iron supplement and drink matcha tea between meals and away from supplements.
Matcha Tea Recipe for Pregnancy
This matcha recipe is simple and can be enjoyed on a daily basis throughout your pregnancy. It will give you an energizing boost that provides a more stable source of energy, less caffeine, and provides compounds that help reduce inflammation, boost your immune system, and can help regulate your blood sugar levels. The best part about this recipe is that it is customizable and provides a good matcha base for your own personalized enjoyment.
Are you looking to enjoy matcha in a different way during pregnancy? Try adding it to your morning smoothie too! Want to add an additional boost to your matcha tea for pregnancy? Add a scoop of ethically sourced collagen for added protein!
In Summary, Drinking Matcha While Pregnant: All You Need to Know
By now I hope we’ve answered your question: is matcha safe during pregnancy? In summary, matcha contains many health promoting properties when consumed in moderation, and when done right can help supplement your pregnancy journey.
Here are four things to keep in mind when drinking matcha during pregnancy:
- Supplement with a good prenatal vitamin that contains adequate folate and other essential nutrients for pregnancy.
- Discuss with your healthcare provider about adding an additional iron supplementation if you are at risk for iron-deficiency anemia.
- Drink matcha tea separate from your prenatal vitamin, and while eating folate and iron rich foods.
- Limit matcha tea intake to 1 to 2 cups per day.
Ready to give it a try? Try out one of our recipes above and let us know what you think!
PS Before running to the store to grab some matcha, as always, consult with your healthcare provider before adding anything new into your diet!
Are you looking for more guidance on healthy eating during pregnancy? Check out my Nourish Your Mamaste eBook for nutrition tips and recipes to enjoy throughout every trimester of your pregnancy! Take out the guesswork of what you should or shouldn’t eat throughout pregnancy with over 80 recipes, meal planning tips, and more. Now available!
“Is Matcha Safe During Pregnancy? All You Need to Know.” is written by Samantha Sycalik and reviewed/edited by Jamie Adams, MS RD LDN. Sam is a current Senior undergraduate student at the University of Maryland studying Dietetics and exhibits a special interest in infant and maternal health.