One of the only crops that can survive the harsh conditions and high altitude in the Andes Mountains is the Maca root.The root has been an essential part of diets in the mountainous regions of Peru. Maca has amazing health benefits and is non-toxic, meaning that it can be consumed safely in small amounts.
Maca is one of the up-and-coming superfoods that is starting to gain traction by health and wellness enthusiasts. It is sometimes called “Peruvian Ginseng”, not because of taste, but for its qualities that are similar to the better-known ginseng. The taste of Maca can be a little overwhelming, especially for people who are introducing their body to the nutritious powder. Some have described the taste as earthy, malt-like, nutty, and even a little bitter; however, the best advice is to start with a small amount to determine your body’s reaction to the powder. You can then build up to 1-3 teaspoons (depending on your body mass) to receive the full benefits.
The superfood status associated with this root is due to its functions as an adaptogen, meaning that it helps bring balance to the body by helping manage stress, hormones, and energy levels. Even though the studies are limited, users of Maca report that it can be beneficial for some of the following situations:
- PMS: Maca has shown promising benefits to manage the menopausal symptoms in women. There have been anecdotal evidence that support the claim that the active ingredients in Maca help lessen the severity and frequency of hot flashes.
- Hormone Balance: A natural method to balance hormones, maca itself does not contain any hormones, but the nutrients contained in the root supports normal hormone production through nourishing the hypothalamus and pituitary glands.
- Energy: Maca has been as an energy boost that is almost instantaneous and has been used in Peru to kick-start the day for many locals.
- Fertility: Maca has been used for thousands of years by Incas and Peruvians for increasing fertility in men and women.
- Stress: The powder can reduce the effects of cortisol on the adrenal glands and other organs that are common in stressful situations.
Maca can also help control high blood pressure and help with metabolism.
- Skincare: It has been reported that Maca has some beneficial effects in treating acne.
- Sex Drive: The powdered root has been reported as having positive effects on libido in both men and women. In fact, many rely on Maca for its role in increasing sperm count, shrinking enlarged
prostates, and even to combat erectile disfunction all without raising hormone levels.
These are only some of the valuable effects of Maca and more benefits are being discovered as the demand for the root increases. Possible side effects of Maca include digestive upset (if you have a sensitive stomach, you may want to consult a professional), excess energy (if you consume too much Maca), or increased heart rate. Historically, Maca was consumed as food, not as a supplement, so the harm compared to some other herbs is of a lower risk. However, it is important to note that Maca affects different people differently. As an adaptogen, its effect on an individual will vary, which is why it is important to gradually introduce the root to your body.
How Do You Consume Maca?
Maca is commonly sold as a powder, or encapsulated in a supplement form. Powders are the perfect addition to smoothies or cereals, and some have even sprinkled Maca over baked goods. Supplements can be taken with or without food, depending on the sensitivity of your stomach. It is important to note that adding Maca to something very hot will destroy the nutrients in the powder and diminish its beneficial effects. Maca added into hot coffee or into baked goods help mask the taste, but defeats the purpose of consuming this superfood. Another common tactic is to add Maca to juice, which may upset people with a sensitive digestive system.
With the long list of potential benefits, Maca’s advantages far outweigh the potential harm of this superfood. Why not give Maca a go?