Maca is a Peruvian plant grown at high altitudes in the Andes mountains. It is a cruciferous vegetable, meaning that it is related to broccoli, cabbage, and kale, that looks similar to a turnip or radish. It only grows well in the cold, arid climates of high mountain plateaus, and in soil that is inhospitable to most other crops. The main edible part of the plant is the root, which grows underground. It exists in several colors, ranging from white to black.
Maca root is generally dried and consumed in powder form, but it’s also available in capsules and as a liquid extract. The taste of maca root powder, which some people dislike, has been described as earthy and nutty. Many people add it to their smoothies, oatmeal and sweet treats.
Maca root powder is very nutritious, and is a great source of several important vitamins and minerals.
One ounce of maca root powder contains:
- Calories: 91
- Carbs: 20 grams
- Protein: 4 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Fat: 1 gram
- Vitamin C: 133% of the RDI
- Copper: 85% of the RDI
- Iron: 23% of the RDI
- Potassium: 16% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 15% of the RDI
- Manganese: 10% of the RDI
Maca root is a good source of carbs, is low in fat and contains a fair amount of fiber. It’s also high in some essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, copper and iron. It contains various plant compounds, including glucosinolates and polyphenols. Maca powder is a good source of B-complex vitamins and minerals like calcium, zinc and iron. The high fiber content in maca supports a healthy digestive system and helps stabilize blood sugar levels. With seven essential amino acids, maca powder is a nearly complete source of protein.
Maca powder works by nourishing the adrenal glands, which regulate the hormones involved in energy production. It has none of the negative side effects associated with caffeine!
The most well-known benefit of maca root is its potential to increase libido. There is some evidence that maca root increases men’s fertility. A recent review summarized the findings of five small studies. It showed that maca improved semen quality in both infertile and healthy men.
One review of four studies in menopausal women found that maca helped alleviate menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and interrupted sleep. Some proponents of maca root believe it may help balance levels of the hormone estrogen.
Animal studies suggest that maca can help protect bone health. Women have a higher risk of osteoporosis after menopause.
As an adaptogenic root, maca powder strengthens our ability to deal with stress and manage anxiety. Adding a few teaspoons of maca powder to your diet can help balance stress hormones when they’re out of whack. It’s been associated with reduced anxiety and symptoms of depression, particularly in menopausal women.
The endocrine system secretes hormones that affect mood and behavior, and sometimes those levels can become imbalanced. Maca powder naturally stimulates hormone levels that are too low, and regulates those that are overactive. Maca contains plant compounds called flavonoids, which have been suggested to be at least partly responsible for these psychological benefits.
Maca root powder is a popular supplement among bodybuilders and athletes. It might help you gain muscle, increase strength, boost energy and improve exercise performance. Some animal studies indicate that it enhances endurance performance.
There is some evidence that applying maca extract, a concentrated form of the plant, to your skin may help protect it from UV radiation. An animal study conducted in 2011 found that extracts from maca leaves might help prevent the formation of sunburn cells. Keep in mind that maca extract cannot replace a conventional sunscreen. Also, it only protects the skin when applied to the skin, not when eaten.
Maca may improve brain function. Maca has traditionally been used by natives in Peru to improve children’s performance in school. In this regard, black maca appears to be more effective than other varieties. A 2014 review of the literature suggested that maca may have benefits for learning and memory performance. Research suggests that it could be helpful in treating conditions that affect these processes, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Peruvian natives believe that consuming fresh maca root may have adverse health effects and recommend boiling it first.
Additionally, if you have thyroid problems, you may want to be careful with maca because it contains goitrogens, substances that may interfere with the normal function of the thyroid gland. These compounds are more likely to affect you if you already have impaired thyroid function.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult with their doctors before taking maca.
How to Buy
You can buy organic maca at your local coop or grocery store. Maca root powder is the traditional form of maca root. It’s mainly flour produced from the maca root. This is the pure, organic form of the plant. The standard dosage is between 1500 mg to 3000 mg per day.
Maca root powder is usually loaded in gelatin capsules or pressed into tablets for ease in dosage. There is no mixing or cooking needed. Just take the capsule together with your favorite beverage. This form of the root must also be 100% pure, organic powder. Examine the list of elements on the bottle to see if any preservatives or different chemicals have been added. Make sure to check the dimensions of the capsule when you’re calculating dosage. Capsules come in quite a lot of sizes from 240 mg as much as 800 mg.
How to Store
Maca powder can be stored at room temperature for up to one year. It can also be stored in the refrigerator, although this isn’t necessary. Maca powder can be stored in the freezer for up to 2.5 years.
How to Cook
The easiest way to use maca is to add a teaspoon to a tablespoon to individual smoothies or protein shakes.The malty flavor works particularly well with chocolatey flavors.
Maca powder is also a good addition to energy balls or no-bake sweets.