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?
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, 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.