Maca. How popular it’s become in recent years. I get it. It’s better than a cup of coffee because it picks you up without the crash. It’s an excellent source of protein, amino acids, fatty acids, plant sterols, and antioxidants. Some say that it’s one of the best superfoods to increase strength and endurance as well as libido. Wouldn’t you prefer to take a superfood that’s actually good for you vs a Steroid or Viagra? I know I would! I haven’t take a medication or OTC drug in years and I’d like to keep it that way.
What is Maca?
Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a root plant commonly know as the Peruvian ginseng even though it’s not part of the ginseng family; It is part of the radish family. It is cultivated in the mountain regions of Peru and has been used by natives for centuries for energy, stamina, fertility, and libido in both men and women.
According to WebMD, Maca is used for:
- Anemia aka “tired blood”
- Chronic fatigue
- Enhancing energy, stamina, athletic performance, memory, and fertility
- Female hormone imbalance, menstrual problems, and symptoms of menopause
- Weak bones (osteoporosis)
- Sexual desire and function
- Immune system boost
General Nutrition and Nutritional Facts of Maca
Maca is an adaptogenic food, believed to help all of the body’s systems — neither stimulating nor depressing them. Unlike caffeine, which can potentially stimulate too much, many people find that maca will wake them up if they’re feeling tired, but calm them down if they’re wired.
More on Maca
- Is an adaptogen (similar to Ginseng) that naturally supports the body’s adaptation to stress
- Approximately 70% carbohydrates, 12% protein, 8.5% dietary fiber, and 2.2% fats
- Contains unique alkaloids believed to stimulate adaptogenic and aphrodisiac affects
- Contains 19 amino acids
- Provides B vitamins, and Vitamins C and D
- Provides calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium; traces of iron, iodine, copper, manganese, selenium and zinc, and provides fatty acids, including linolenic acid, palmitic acid, and oleic acids
- Contains beta-sitosterol, which may help lower cholesterol absorption from food
Types of Maca
There are different types of maca, like yellow, black, and red. All three are natural antidepressants but have their unique benefits. A “BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine” study showed an improvement in memory and latent learning in mice given the three varieties, with black maca having the greatest effect on learning and memory.
Yellow Maca – It can help rebalance hormones in women, increasing fertility and relieving menopause symptoms. It also helps boost the mood in both men and women. It has a moderate effect on sperm count and sex drive compared to the black maca.
Black Maca – It’s known as the natural Viagra. It seems to have the most effect on sperm count and sex drive. It is also said to help with stress, fatigue, mood, increase memory, learning, and depression. It can help strengthen the immune system so would come in handy during cold and flu season. It also helps with bone health and structure but less so than the red variety.
Red Maca – It provides the most antioxidants and amino acids out of the three varieties. Studies have shown red maca to be effective against prostate cancer and bone density loss. Red maca is the most beneficial for balancing hormones, increasing stamina and strength, reducing stress, and relieving the symptoms of depression as well as with bone structure. Red maca does not effect sperm count or sex drive.
Ladies, a 2008 study published in the medical journal Menopause should that women who took maca powder for six weeks had a significant reduction in depression, anxiety, and sexual dysfunction. How cool is that? A natural solution to such common problems.
How to Incorporate Maca into Your Diet
Maca can be consumed in capsules or pills, powders, and in extracts. Some people bake with it, use it in cooking, or make a fermented drink called maca chicha. I like the powder from because you can just add it to a juice or smoothie. I have never been a fan of capsules and even when I do take them, I usually open them up and put them in my daily juice or smoothie.
A Special Maca Powder
I use the Maca powder from Essential Living Foods because:
- It’s organic
- It contains all three varieties
- It’s made fresh from harvest for increased nutritional benefits
- It comes in eco-friendly packaging
I can’t say that I love the taste but my hubby does.
I have also heard that it helps with hypothyroidism which I was diagnosed with AGAIN! It runs in my family and I used to take a pill every day for years. I was first diagnosed with it in my early twenties when I couldn’t stay awake in school, commuting home… I had a smart doctor take me off the pills a few years later and I’ve been fine until last year. I am trying different things from Chinese herbs to Maca to see if I can treat it naturally. I’ll keep you posted. I’m due for a blood test next week. 🙂
Try Maca today and experience for yourself this sought-after superfood. I’d love to know what you think about it.
Vitamin Retailer November 2012 pg 54