If you’ve never heard of the magical Peruvian plant called maca, you’re not alone. A little-known plant from the Brassicacea family, maca is primarily known for increasing libido and fertility, but offers so much more.
Sometimes called the “Peruvian ginseng,” maca’s root is a superfood offering a myriad of health benefits beyond the known aphrodisiac effects.
Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a staple in diets of people in the mountains of Peru. A root vegetable similar to turnips, this bulb vegetable is ground into a powder. There are yellow, red and black varieties of maca. Most maca is sold as a combination of the red, black and yellow type, but single-color varieties are also available.
Maca grows best in a very high altitude that’s unfriendly to other types of agriculture. This plant also can be grown in a home garden with plenty of water and enough space to grow on its own. After drying the roots, you can harvest the seeds and plant it yourself, ensuring your own supply. Maca can survive dry conditions, flooding, bad soil and very cold temperatures.
Why should you grow maca? Some of maca’s documented benefits include:
- Improved menstrual issues, including pain, cycle regulation and flow.
- Decreased hot flashes and other symptoms in menopausal women.
- A boost in iodine for proper thyroid function.
- Corrected hormone balance for both men and women.
- Reduced depression and anxiety.
- Controlling stress.
- Improved immunity.
- Improved sleep.
- Better skin health.
- Helping hair grow.
- A boost in iron for red blood cells.
- Increased energy, stamina, focus and mental clarity without caffeine.
- More lean muscle.
- Antioxidants, including glutathione and superoxide dismutase (SOD).
Maca has been cultivated for more than 3,000 years in the Andes. It’s rich in most of the amino acids, free fatty acids, carbohydrates, plant protein, fiber, sugars, minerals and other important nutrients that improve health and well-being beyond the standard multivitamin.
It’s important to note that maca is a food, not a supplement. Maca is available in bulk as a powder, or in capsules. Taste can vary by brand and variety; some will have a mild taste, but others may have a “dirt” taste. Maca is best taken in capsules, although some fans like the taste. Devotees of this root plant don’t care what it tastes like once they’ve experienced the incredible benefits. Mixing maca into smoothies, coffee, tea, chai or other drinks makes it easier to take and kills the “dirt” taste, if there is one.
Gelatinized maca is available for those with sensitive stomachs or digestive issues. The harvested maca root is heated above 160 degrees Fahrenheit, dissolving the starch molecules and making digestion easier. The downside is that maca’s enzymes and glucosinolates are dissolved, but its remaining nutrients become concentrated. The result is called a “4:1 product,” meaning that it takes 4 kilograms of raw maca to create 1 kilogram of powdered gelatinized maca. While raw maca is considered best, gelatinized maca is a better choice for some who may experience side effects from the raw form.
Start with a low dose to find out how your body reacts to maca, and increase slowly to get your body used to taking it.
Maca just may be the health boost you’ve been wanting.
Have you ever tried maca or grown it? Share your tips in the section below:
What is Maca? TheMacaTeam.com
Maca May Help Improve Your Reproductive Health, Mercola.com
Top 5 Maca Root Benefits & Nutrition, DrAxe.com
Maca Root Buttocks, TheMacaTeam.com