food

Think matcha and turmeric lattes are loaded with health benefits? You'll want to read this.

Head into any café these days and you’ll be spoilt for choice, it’s now pretty standard to face a long list of exotic ‘lattes’ that boast superfood ingredients and health healing properties.

Turmeric, matcha, beetroot and even charcoal lattes are now all reasonably common and despite their ‘latte’ name, none of these new-age drinks contain coffee or are made with an espresso machine. But do these drinks deserve the health halo they’ve recently been granted?

Turmeric lattes.

Known as the ‘golden latte,’ these drinks are most commonly made from a blend of turmeric, cinnamon, ginger and pepper. You might think that sounds a bit like a starter pack of spice for a curry, but they’re popping up more and more on café menus as a popular choice for pregnant women, those avoiding caffeine or hoping for a morning health kick.

Turmeric has risen to popularity as it contains the active compound curcumin, a natural antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties and proposed benefits for those suffering from arthritis, Alzheimer’s and heart disease. But to access these benefits of curcumin, you need to be consuming at least 5g of turmeric daily and in reality, most ‘golden lattes’ contain less than 2g of turmeric, so you’d need to be downing two to three of these drinks a day for any therapeutic benefit.

Nonetheless, to get the most from your drink, request that it isn’t heated above 75°C to preserve the curcumin and choose a variety which contains black pepper, as this will help to increase the bioavailability of the active ingredient.

 

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Matcha lattes.

Matcha, a powder of finely ground green tea leaves, had been used traditionally in Japan and China for many years before making its way over to western culture. Unlike green tea which is steeped and brewed in water, you consume the whole leaves with matcha, offering the potential for a much more potent dose.

Matcha is rich in antioxidants and catechins, particularly the powerful antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which has reportedly been linked to protective benefits against heart disease and some forms of cancer. Matcha is said to have EGCG in much stronger concentration than green tea (over 140 times!). However, the antioxidant properties may not be as effective because some are not as well absorbed by the body. It’s also unknown if the latte contains a significant amount of EGCG, as many powders are diluted with added sugars and milk solids to help neutralise the naturally bitter taste of matcha.

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Given the uncertainty surrounding matcha and the need for further study to verify the claims, it’s best not to solely rely on it to help boost your metabolism and general health.

 

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Beetroot lattes.

Beetroot lattes are popping up all over Instagram and are a new recruit to the superfood powder phase.

Beetroot is known to have benefits for heart health as it is rich in natural chemicals called nitrates. Our bodies process nitrates into nitric oxide which then helps to increase blood flow around the body and stabilise blood pressure. Beetroots are also high in vitamin C and antioxidants.

But to get these health benefits of the vegetable, you’re looking at 500mL (two cups) of the juice alone. A beetroot latte contains roughly the equivalent of 50g of fresh beetroot, so unfortunately, you’d need to be having more than 10 lattes to get any real benefit.

 

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Charcoal lattes.

Charcoal lattes are the newest kids to the block in this superfood drink craze, blending activated charcoal with milk. It’s claimed the drink can help to lower cholesterol, reduce bloating and remove toxins.

In extreme situations, charcoal may be used as a chemical absorber for cases of poisoning to remove potent toxins from the body, this has then led to claims that it may help cleanse the body of a healthy adult.

Unfortunately, there’s little scientific evidence to support this. Charcoal isn’t selective about what it binds to in our bodies, so it can actually strip the body of nutrients, binding to nutrients and medication in the digestive tract and then blocking their absorption.

 

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The verdict.

At the end of the day, these superfood drinks are not going to have any significant impact on your health. It’s difficult to get the same vitamin and mineral potency in these popular powders as you would when compared to consuming wholefoods. There’s also no reason to deprive yourself of coffee, if you’re forcing these lattes down, but would rather a coffee, don’t feel like you aren’t ‘allowed’ one. Coffee and caffeine do hold some health benefits when consumed in moderation.

Despite the hype, these trendy new lattes are no miracle elixir. I recommend you give the charcoal latte the flick, but if you love the taste of turmeric, matcha or beetroot lattes, there’s no reason to stop them, just don’t hold out for a health miracle.

Are you a fan of these rainbow lattes? Tell us in a comment below!

PSA: The healthy chocolate spread recipe that’s absolutely delicious.

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