Maca is a root vegetable that is high in antioxidants and nutrients including vitamin C, copper and iron. It has been used medicinally for thousands of years with a reputation for enhancing sexual health
and female libido
. Other health benefits are said to include improving your energy, your mood and your memory while balancing hormone levels.
What does maca root look like?
It has a similar appearance and size as a radish or a small turnip - with green tops. The roots themselves can range in color from yellow to purple and even black.
Old as the hills but new on the horizon
Researchers have only recently given maca root a superfood status and are constantly telling us about new health benefits they have discovered as follows:
- It is an excellent source of protein, fiber and several vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, copper and iron.
- Maca root contains over twenty amino acids (including all of the eight essential amino acids) together with the very healthy phytonutrients.
- Supports skin health. When you apply the root topically, you can protect from UV radiation to avoid premature aging and skin damage.
- Restores red blood cells with its high levels of iron, helping to prevent anemia and other cardiovascular diseases.
- It is rich in antioxidants.
- It enhances our energy, our mood and our memory.
- Maca root improves female sexual health and libido. One research study looked at the effects of maca root on post-menopausal women with sexual dysfunction caused by the use of antidepressants. The use of maca root was said to significantly improve sexual function. Other studies have found improved psychological symptoms and sexual function in post-menopausal women, reducing menopause-associated depression and anxiety after six weeks of treatment.
Boosting male fertility as well as estrogen levels.
An additional benefit is that maca root is an adaptogen, helping the body to naturally adapt to the stresses
of every day life.
How can you consume maca root?
- One way is root powder. This comes as regular maca powder as well as gelatinized maca powder. The gelatinized version is processed to achieve a more effective and concentrated powder from the root and is suitable for adding to smoothies, juices and baked goods.
Maca capsules are popular because of convenience, easily taken with a drink of water.
Maca tincture is the liquid extract of the maca root and usually consumed with water or added to food recipes.
There are some who believe that maca root should not be eaten raw, pointing out that Peruvians cook their maca root to make it more digestible - and to get rid of those enzymes that prevent the digestive tract from digesting it. They liken it to eating raw potatoes, saying that some food is meant to be cooked. Whatever source you choose, the product should be organic.
What is the recommended dosage?
It is suggested that, if you are taking the powder, you start with 1 tablespoon per day, gradually working up to 2 to 3 tablespoons daily.
A few words of warning
It is suggested that caution should be exercised when first using the root because the slight risk of side effects. These can include:
The development of acne, usually caused by the maca’s ability to change the body’s hormone levels. Any acne outbreak will usually clear within a few weeks.
Digestive issues such as diarrhea, bloating and other intestinal issues because of the high amount of starch found in its root. Those with sensitive digestive systems are recommended to use the gelatinized maca powder which has a low or zero starch content, helping the body to absorb and digest the root more efficiently.
While maca provides an energy boost, it can also make you feel jittery. Best to minimize the dosage until the body grows more used to it.
- Maca root is considered to be part of the cruciferous family. If you are on a low fodmap diet or react badly to brassicas, it might not be suitable for you.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid taking maca root because it may cause adverse effects. As always when starting a new regimen, we recommend you discuss it with your health professional. As well as being a natural source of healing nutrition, maca root has a long history of being a safe superfood that has been consumed for its health benefits for thousands of years in regions of the Andes Mountains in South America.