Commonly sold in the market in its powder form, maca is a native crop cultivated from the Andes mountains of Peru which belongs to the same family of radish. It is a food ingredient and supplement otherwise known as “Peruvian ginseng” used by the inhabitants of Peru as a medicinal herb. Presently, the taproot is respected for its vast nutritional values and invigorating properties.
All though no serious side effects have been reported, maca should be initially consumed in moderation just like what you normally do when you’re trying out a health supplement for the first time. The average regular dose is a tablespoon full whereas only half a teaspoon is recommended for starters. Every other day intake is also encouraged.
It is believed that the ancient people who built Peru’s ‘city in the sky’, Macchu Picchu, managed to lift heavy stones up the summit of the mountain due to the unnatural amount of energy generated by their body from continuous maca consumption. Phenomenal indeed, 60% of its nutrients are comprised of carbohydrates such as sugar and starch. Protein is found somewhere around 10% that helps in developing muscles. Due to it’s stimulating effect on the endocrine system, maca is used as a safe and natural alternative to anabolic steroids by active athletes, as it won’t have an unbalancing effect on hormones.
Improves skin condition
Some people prefer to consume this herb for its property to clear pimples and blemishes. The skin also develops higher resistance to harsh conditions as the sensitivity is diminished. Maca also helps in maintaining the skin’s moisture during extreme temperatures.
Beneficial to couples having a hard time conceiving, this supplement aids in boosting the libido and endurance while it balances the hormones to induce fertility. It is best known as an aphrodisiac according to a 2008 study published in CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics where 16 women who experienced sexual issues for undergoing antidepressant drugs began to feel improvements after regular consumption of maca root. Erectile dysfunction and sperm production were both corrected in men due to its high glucosinolate contents.
Decreases cholesterol levels
Resembling cholesterol, plant sterols are naturally occurring substances that tend to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in the blood. These include campesterol, ergostadienol, ergosterol, sitosterol and brassicasterol which restrict the cholesterol absorption in the digestive tract. Atherosclerosis and various cardiovascular diseases are also kept at bay as the LDL levels are reduced.
Lifts up the mood
Even not strongly proven scientifically, maca is believed to be helpful in overcoming anxiety, stress, depression and other emotional disorders. Increased mental energy and enhanced focus were noted in some individuals as the supplement relieves the primary symptoms. This evidence was only considered subjective by some experts.
Iodine, a thyroid-regulating mineral, should be consumed 150 micrograms daily to be able to take advantage of its optimum benefits, according to nutritionists. It is a little rare for land-based plants to hold such high iodine content compared to sea vegetables like kelp for example. Maca is abundant in this mineral as 52 micrograms of iodine could be extracted from 10 grams of the root.
Fortified with vitamins and minerals
Maca, fortified with essential vitamins like vitamins B, C and E, helps in improving your overall health condition. It is also abundant in amino acids, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous which work altogether to maintain strong bones and teeth. Its iron and zinc content aid in restoring damaged red blood cells to prevent anemia and other forms of heart diseases. Muscle wear and tear could be easily repaired due to these valuable nutrients, body builders will love this super food.
On the other hand, individuals with liver, testicular and ovarian cancers should consult their attending physicians first before consuming maca supplements. Same thing applies to those who are suffering from high blood pressure and liver problems.
If you’re having trouble with your bowel movements, maca could help improve your digestive tract’s regularity by treating constipation. The taproot has a 9% dietary fiber content which also acts as a natural appetite suppressant to absorb more fluid in the colon that would make you feel full for a longer time.
Both the maca crop and powder could be used in cuisines to add diversity to the food. Some of the yummy and healthy recipes include no-bake vegan cocoa macaroons for desserts; and strawberry-vanilla and mocha banana maca smoothies for refreshments. It is important to avoid adding extremely hot ingredients as the temperature could reduce the taproot’s nutritional value. Most people found maca’s flavour a little bit unusual or similar to that of toasted oats.
Though the benefits sound promising to you, all these are based on the subjective experiences of people who have been consuming maca for a long time. Again, no formal and more solid evidences or research have been conducted yet to back up these hypothetical health benefits. Although the thousands of years of use by the peruvian indians may attest for something…