Maca root (lepidium meyenii) has gained popularity around the globe a superfood. Grown in the mountains of Peru, South America, this root vegetable is used locally as a food source. However, Maca was a remedy much beloved to the Incans, who reportedly used it to for it’s energy enhancing properties, including stimulating the libido.
Today, the superfood has a reputation for enhancing energy, stimulating libido, and balancing hormones. This superfood is useful to both men and women.
The concentration of nutrients alone is a good reason to consider adding some maca to your diet. Maca is a good source of protein, fiber, magnesium, and calcium. It also contains b vitamins, iron, zinc, copper, iodine and lignins.
How Can Maca Help Me?
Men and women alike find that maca root helps increase energy. For that reason, it is better to eat maca first thing in the morning or before exercise, and avoiding taking it before bed to reduce the risk of insomnia.
Maca is an adaptogenic food, which means it can help the body adapt to physical and emotional stress. It also helps the body to balance hormones. It does not actually contain hormones, but provides nutrients needed by the body to make hormones. Those with hypothyroid problems and adrenal fatigue find it helpful in many cases. Those with hormone related health issues have also benefited from the use of maca, including the following:
- mood swings
- hot flashes
- night sweats
- polycystic ovary syndrome
- ovarian cysts
Men and women have both found maca root to help with infertility and low libido.
Maca root is not for everyone. Because of its strong effect on hormones, it is not recommended for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Maca root does cause side effects in some people.
Possible Side Effects of Maca
- weight gain
- increased menstrual bleeding
- racing heart
- increased arthritis pain
- hot flashes
What Kind of Maca Should I Buy?
There are different ways of processing maca root. Gelatinized maca has been boiled and pressurized to extract the starch. The heat and removal of the starch will removed some of the nutritional value. But the benefit of gelatinized maca is that it is less likely to cause digestive distress and the remaining nutrients are more concentrated. Raw maca is, of course, less processed.
Does the Color of Maca Root Matter?
Maca is a root vegetable. It looks like a turnip. Just as turnips can come in different colors, there is variety among maca roots as well. The skin of the root comes in red (purple), yellow and black varieties. Each of these varieties of maca root are considered superfoods. For most conditions, any of the varieties may be used. Because the yellow root is the most commonly grown, it tends to be the least expensive.
While “maca root” sounds exotic and mysterious to many people around the globe, it is a vegetable that is consumed as a matter of course in Peru. In other countries, depending on climate, other root vegetables are regularly grown and consumed, like beets, turmeric, ginger, garlic, carrots and yams. Many root vegetables are concentrated with nutrition and are excellent for your health. In Peru, maca is usually cooked before it is consumed, just as in other cultures, root vegetables, like yams and beets are usually cooked before consumed. Some people, especially those with digestive problems, find that the cooked root is easier to digest and the nutrients are more easily assimilated. If you have trouble consuming raw maca, consider using gelatinized maca, or use your maca root powder in baked goods, or add it to porridge before cooking it, so the maca will cook as well.
You may need to experiment around to find the maca root and preparation method that best suits your own health.
Organic maca root can be bought in bulk and added to smoothies, yogurt, baked goods etc. It can be purchased in capsule form as well.
Maca Root Recipes
Cocoa Maca Truffles
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
- 1/2 cup maca root powder
- 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
- 1/2 cup peanut butter (or almond butter)
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- dash of sea salt
- dash of cinnamon
- coconut flakes
- Melt or soften coconut oil. Stir in vanilla and honey. Mix in peanut butter. Mix in maca root powder and cacao powder. Mix in chia seeds, sea salt and cinnamon if desired. Roll into balls. Roll in coconut flakes if desired. If you make a total of 24 balls, you will have about 1 teaspoon of maca root powder in each ball.
- Place on parchment or waxed paper on a cookie sheet. Refrigerate until hard. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Use within two weeks.
Maca Fruit Smoothie
- 1 frozen banana or 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup milk, almond milk, plain yogurt or plain milk kefir
- 1 tablespoon honey or blackstrap molasses
- pinch of sea salt
- pinch of cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon of raw cacoa powder
- 1 – 3 teaspoons maca root
- Blend all ingredients in a blender.
Have you tried maca root for your health? We would love to hear how it works for you, including side effects!