Why You Want Maca In Your Kitchen
In the harsh environs of the Andes Mountains of Peru, the hearty maca plant grows serving as the staple food for an equally robust people. At elevations of 11,000-14,000 feet, the severe climate is marked by high winds, bright sun and huge temperature swings. It’s a wonder that maca thrives there.
Maca root, a cruciferous vegetable, has provided sustenance and healing for the high altitude inhabitants of the Andes Mountains for thousands of years. In its own right, this vegetable, with its high protein, carbohydrate and nutrient count, earns the status of a superfood.
Maca root grows like a beet or radish, producing a small, plump tuber. It has a light, nutty flavor and comes in a variety of colors: black, red and yellow, each with special nutritional properties. Natives of this area have eaten it raw, cooked or boiled leading to its implementation as an everyday staple. What qualifies maca as a superfood is its wealth of minerals, vitamins, enzymes and all of the essential amino acids.
Maca root is also classified as an adaptogen, meaning that its nutritional makeup helps us combat stress and normalizes our physiological functions. Interestingly, maca—able to grow under such extreme conditions—also helps us cope well in the stresses of life. Maca is often recommended to those with adrenal fatigue as it nourishes them and reduces stress hormones.
Maca Root Nutritional Value
Maca root boasts:
- 8 essential and more than 12 other amino acids
- 20 free-form fatty acids
- Vitamins B1, B2, C and E
- Rich source of phytonutrients
5 Health Benefits of Maca Root
The claimed health benefits of maca root are many, but 5 of the most common ones include:
- Improves sexual function, fertility and libido. Maca root has earned the names “Peruvian Ginseng” and “Nature’s Viagra” for its qualities as an aphrodisiac. A double-blind, randomized study of maca root in 2008 provided clinical evidence for these claims. Maca root also has the ability to increase the quality and quantity of sperm in men who produce lower than normal levels. As a result, maca is used as a fertility enhancer and known for improving libido and sexual function, especially in men.
- Balances hormones by supporting the endocrine system. This is due to maca root’s properties as an adaptogen. Many women in menopause have found relief by supplementing with maca root. As such, maca root improves mood and decreases symptoms of PMS and menopause. Maca root has been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes and raise energy levels. People also report relief from hormonal induced acne and other skin problems.
- Increases energy and stamina. Athletes have begun supplementing with maca root to give them a natural edge without stressing their adrenals.,  Over the years, maca root has been given to people with “tired blood” (anemia) and to those suffering with chronic fatigue syndrome. As a food source rich in minerals, maca root offers a great way to replenish exercise-induced mineral depletion. Improve your energy naturally and say goodbye to caffeine jitters and crashes with a daily dose of maca!
- Enhances mental clarity and boosts memory. In particular, black maca showed improved memory and learning results in experiments with mice. Researchers believe the presence of polyphenolic compounds in black maca root lend it these memory-enhancing properties.
- Improves the immune system. Maca root increases blood circulation, oxygenation of the blood, and works as a natural antioxidant. Maca root improves glucose tolerance, helps maintain proper cholesterol levels, and therefore reduces inflammation.
Available Maca Root Forms and Doses
Maca root is readily available in powdered form, which has been a common mode of preparation by the indigenous peoples of the Peruvian Andes. Maca root also comes in capsules as a supplement. Although maca root is also available in gelled form, this is not recommended due to the heating process that kills its enzymes.
Always shop for maca that has been certified by an accredited organic certification body. This will have been prepared from maca that’s cultivated using only natural fertilizers, such as maca leaves (from the previous year’s crop), sheep and alpaca manure, and without the use of banned pesticides.
In powdered form, maca can be added to many of your favorite recipes. Some ideas include adding maca powder to:
- Hot chocolate (1 tsp)
- Hot or cold cereal (1-2 tsp)
- A smoothie (1 tsp)
- No-bake recipes (See No-bake vegan macaroons)
As a food, the recommended dosage is one tablespoon per day. There are no known side effects or dangers associated with maca root. However, some people report upset stomach from eating maca root, so you may want to start out with ½ teaspoon per day. The dosage for maca root capsules is typically 500mg, twice daily. Not enough is known about any impact on women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, so it’s advised for them to avoid maca root.
Maca is an extraordinary tonic for overall health and wellness. Whether you want to increase your potency, improve your fertility, stabilize your hormones, or enhance your athletic performance, maca is a safe and effective addition to your daily diet. Purchase some maca root powder and work it into your diet or supplement plan and let us know how it works for you!
Maca Powder Smoothie Recipe
This green smoothie with maca powder gets high marks!
- 2 cups chopped frozen pineapple
- 1 cup fresh spinach
- 1 frozen chopped banana
- ½ avocado
- 2 Tbsp almond butter
- 1 tsp maca powder
- 3 cups water
In a blender, layer the pineapple, banana, spinach, avocado, almond butter, and maca powder, then pour in water and blend until smooth. Enjoy!
Maca Snack Bliss
This delightfully healthy snacks look and taste wonderful!
- 1 ½ cup rolled oats
- 1 ½ cup pitted medjool dates
- 1 Tbsp organic maca powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp cinnamon mixed with shredded coconut for coating
- Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until the mixture sticks together.
- With wet hands, roll the mixture into balls about 1 ½ inches in diameter.
- Roll the balls in the shredded coconut and cinnamon mix to coat.
- Store in the fridge or freezer.
Have you ever taken maca? Did you notice a difference? Share below!
Maca has gained a reputation for helping balance hormones and reverse hypothyroidism. It is an endocrine adaptogen, meaning that it does not contain any hormones, but rather it contains the nutrients necessary to support normal hormone production.
Craving more superfoods? Check out these stellar recipe collections starring turmeric, sprouts, and—surprise!—chocolate.