This adaptogenic root has exploded in popularity recently--this is no surprise! As you'll soon learn, Maca has unique characteristics that aid both men and women. Research has uncovered Maca Benefits that range from sexual health and endurance to improved cognitive function and memory.
What is Maca Root?
The Maca plant is native to Peru, it mainly grows in the Andes mountains at altitudes above 13000 feet. The leafy part of this plant is actually a vegetable and similar in biological makeup to cauliflower and broccoli.
However, it differs from those plants in that the edible part is actually the root. It's been harvested for thousands of years dating all the way back to the Mayans. Maca is a part of Peruvian culture and it is used in both culinary and medicinal applications.
The color of the Maca Root varies from black to white, with the end result after processing--a golden powder. This powder is either encapsulated or sold as is. Lately, a few companies have even isolated the Black Maca Root as it has shown to be more effective for men than the golden mixture.
The taste of the powder itself is a mix of earth and cinnamon, with nutty undertones. When mixed into smoothies or juice, the flavor is definitely overpowering, so plan your recipes accordingly.
This magical golden powder, sometimes referred to as Peruvian Ginseng, has so many benefits, it should be in every adult multi-vitamin. Let's start with fundamentals and work our way up.
1. Packed with nutrients
Essential to any superfood is nutrient content, and Maca is no exception. This root is packed with protein, fiber, carbs, vitamins and minerals. See for yourself--one ounce of Maca Powder contains 4 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, 91 calories, 1 gram of monounsaturated fat, 133% Vitamin C, 23% Iron, 16% Potassium, 10% Manganese, 15% B6 and 85% Copper of the Recommended Daily Value (RDV).
In addition, Maca Root also contains phytonutrients, plant compounds, polyphenols and antioxidants. It's a staple in my breakfast smoothie.
2. Supports Reproductive Health
Probably the most well known Maca benefit is sexual performance. Studies have shown Maca Root has the potential to increase sexual desire in both men and women.
In addition, a recent study produced evidence supporting an increase in performance and stamina in men who were suffering from erectile dysfunction (ED).
3. May Increase fertility in men and women
This Maca benefit has been utilized for over a century. Multiple studies have shown an increase in semen quality of men consuming Maca consistently. After 3-4 months, there was an increase in volume, count and motility of sperm.
In women, Maca's hormone regulating effects have been known to make conditions ideal for egg fertilization.
4. Promotes Healthy Prostate function in men
As men get older, the prostate tends to naturally increase in size, this can lead to frequent urination and in some cases, even prostate cancer.
Maca is loaded with glucosinolates, research has shown this compound to help decrease prostate size in men and support healthy urine function.
5. May help to improve mood
Research has shown Maca to enhance mood, help anxiety and aid symptoms of depression. It is filled with plant compounds called flavonoids that possess these psychoactive characteristics.
6. Help to ease symptoms associated with menopause
During menopause, a woman's estrogen level decreases, this leads to hot flashes, mood swings, insomnia, and irritability.
Studies have shown Maca to reduce hot flashes and insomnia. In addition, its mood enhancement benefits help to reduce irritability.
7. Helps to Increase energy and endurance
Among athletes, Maca is a staple, its endurance benefits have been touted by coaches for years. Some body builders would go as far as saying Maca helps to build muscle and increase strength. While we don't have substantial evidence to support these claims, studies have verified Maca's endurance benefits.
8. Promotes Healthy blood pressure
A few recent studies have shown that Maca may have the potential to lower blood pressure. This is a new discovery and requires more in-depth research and study.
9. Help to increase cognitive function
There is evidence that Maca benefits the brain. Research is even being conducted into it as a possible Alzheimer's treatment.
Many studies have already suggested that it can improve both memory and learning. Peruvian natives have been giving it to children for years to help them with their studies.
10. Packed with Anti-oxidants
Maca is loaded with antioxidant compounds that help our body rid and neutralize harmful free radical cells.
How to use Maca
Maca can be taken either in capsule or powder form. In capsule form, it is most popular in 500mg doses. There isn't an established medical dose for Maca yet, however most studies are conducted with ranges of 1000 - 5000 mg's daily.
In powder form, it can be added to smoothies, baked goods, oatmeal or sprinkled over food. My favorite Maca Breakfast smoothie recipe is below
Maca Smoothie Recipe
- 1/2 cup of ice
- 1/2 glass of almond milk
- 1 teaspoon of Maca Powder
- 1 banana
- 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of honey
Blend till smooth and enjoy :)
Possible Side Effects of Maca
- If you have thyroid issues, be sure to consult a physician before use as it contains goitrogens (compounds that can impair thyroid function if taken in excess)
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult their physician before consuming Maca.
- Maca powder or pills generally have no side effects, however, fresh, harvested Maca should be boiled before consumption.