What is Maca?
Maca is a plant with a similar appearance to a turnip or a radish. It is in the same family with cabbage, mustard, broccoli, and cauliflower. These vegetable belong to the cruciferous family. Maca has its roots in Peru; traditionally grown in the Andes highlands. It was used as food or as a medicinal herb. Peruvians used maca to make soups, pies, drinks, pastries and they could also eat it roasted or baked.
Maca has also been referred to as the Peruvian ginseng and was used by the indigenous communities to help them fight the hostile conditions in the Andes Highlands. It is considered a superfood due to the numerous nutrients contained in the plant. In recent years the use of maca products has grown in popularity as more and more people become conscious of what they eat.
Maca has about 13 strains that are differentiated by their color. The different colors/ strains have varying biological effects. The most common colors are black, yellow and red.
Maca has between
- 10-16% proteins
- 10% water
- 59% carbohydrates
- 8.5% fiber, and 2.2% fat
Maca has enormous contents of
- iodine, and iron
it also contains
- Vitamin C
- and riboflavin.
It has 20 fatty acids and 19 amino acids. The black and red maca contain high amounts of chlorine. Red maca has a high content of GABA.
The key active molecule in maca is Macaridine, and it has not been found in any other plant.
The plant also contains Macamides; these are fatty acids only found in maca. It also contains glucosinolates that are responsible for its bitter taste. Maca contains ten times more glucosinolates than other cruciferous vegetables. Red and black maca has the highest level of glucosinolates. Maca also has polyphenols.
Benefits of using Maca
As the popularity of maca grew, many scientific studies were done to establish the benefits of this plant. Studies were also done to confirm the already known benefits of using maca. Below are some proven befits of maca.
1. Increasing libido
Peruvians have used maca for years to boost libido. It is believed that its ability to stimulate sexual desire is owing to long chained fatty acids in maca that are not found in any other plant these are; Macamides and the Macaenes. The exact way in which maca boosts libido is unknown.
Its ability to boost sexual activity led to its named “natural Viagra.” Several studies have shown an increased sexual desire for people suing maca. The long-chained fatty acids in maca are believed to stimulate hedonistic hotspots that are found in the brain, leading to increased pleasure.
2. Boosting energy
Maca has the potential to boost your energy levels and stamina. In Peru, the Incas used it to gain strength and boost stamina before they went for war. This gave it the name “Peruvian ginseng.” Taking maca before a workout will prove useful. If your work requires a lot of stamina, maca will save the situation. A study that was done on male cyclists showed a marked increase in their speed after taking maca supplements for two weeks.
3. Makes you full for long
Maca is rich in fiber like lignin and cellulose; fiber is essential for a healthy gut. Fiber allows you to keep off your cravings by making you remain full for long. Maca also has high quantities of proteins. A meal that has sufficient proteins will allow you to stay full and minimize hunger between meals.
4. Hormonal balance in peri-menopause and menopause
Maca increases the body’s ability to produce estrogen, unlike phytoestrogens and herbs that mimic estrogen in the body; maca works differently to increase levels of estrogen if your levels are low.
In peri and menopausal women, maca has been associated with increased hormone levels; the hormones increase luteinizing hormone and progesterone.
Maca has also been found to stimulate an increase in the production of estradiol and lower the production of cortisol and stress hormone. In studies involving menopausal women, a reduction of symptoms associated with menopause was recorded. The women testified of a reduction in night sweats, anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, and hot flashes.
5. Boosts liver function and enzymes
Maca has glucosinolates that act as natural pesticides that protect plants, when ingested in the body they have the potential of protecting the body against cancer. Maca has sulfur that helps in enzyme function. Sulfur is also essential in the production of glutathione an antioxidant produced by the body that assists in liver functions.
Gluthionine assists in detoxifying the liver. People suffering from thyroid conditions may still take maca without the said side effects, but they must make sure they take pre-gelatinized maca. This form of maca has glucosinolates destroyed therefore they cannot hinder the absorption of iodine.
6. A rich source of nutrients
Maca is regarded as a superfood due to numerous nutrients contained in the plant. Maca is rich in
- minerals and vitamins like zinc, iodine, and iron, copper. Potassium, magnesium, calcium, Niacin, vitamins, B6, B2, vitamin A, and C.
- Maca, has about 10 -16% proteins, a high level of carbohydrates and fatty acids. In short, maca is a nutrient dense tuber.
- Maca has sterols that are similar to hormones like testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone.
- It also has fatty acids that are important for the heart, help regulate blood glucose levels and immunize inflammation.
7. Relief from menstrual period problems
Mace works as an herbal adaptogen. During the menstrual cycle, the levels of estrogen increase sharply. At the start, the levels are very low, followed by a sharp increase as at mid-cycle then a sharp decline. These variations in hormonal level lead to undesirable effects that leave you to feel unwell.
Maca will help your body to adapt to these hormonal changes. It will offer relief from
- breast tenderness
- mood swings
- and fluid retention.
Women with estrogen-sensitive conditions such as endometriosis, uterine and ovarian cancers, and estrogen receptor-positive breast should take maca with caution since it increases the level of estrogen in the body. Maca is effective in women suffering from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and can help boost fertility in women. Studies in men have shown that intake of maca can help in increasing sperm motility and production.
8. Strong bones and teeth
Maca has phosphorous and calcium that is required for healthy bones and teeth. The red and black varieties have higher levels of these two nutrients.
Common ways to use Maca
Maca is loaded with benefits, but it can lead to stomach upsets. This is the reason why it is taken alongside different foods and drinks. Let us examine different ways of taking Maca.
One of the easiest ways to take maca is incorporating it into your smoothies. Maca boosts the nutty flavor in smoothies. Remember to stick to the recommended dosage.
Add maca to your cup of coffee and enjoy the benefits linked to this superfood.
You can make your granola without grains and pack it with seeds, nuts, and butter. A scoop of maca will complete the pack to keep you energized day long.
• Banana ice cream:
amaze your family and friends with a banana ice cream with a scoop of maca sprinkled with chocolate chips.
• Energy balls:
as you prepare your energy balls to remember to tap the adaptogenic power of maca into the balls.
• Pureed soups:
Some of the nutrients in maca can be damaged by cooking, therefore, add maca powder to the pureed vegetable soups as you come to the end of the cooking process.
• Sauces and gravies:
add mace to your gravies and sauces. It will have a very little effect on the flavor.
• Homemade pasta:
A great way of using maca is by adding it to your homemade pasta.
• Salad dressings:
Add some maca powder to your salad dressings
10 Best Maca Powder products
• NOW MACA
Now is an international company known for its quality and affordable products . NOW Maca is in their list. It has 250 capsules in each bottle. Each capsule contains 500mg of pure premium maca extract. The product is ideal for increased sexual drive, libido and muscular growth. The appropriate dosage is 4 capsules per day.
• HealthWorks Maca Root Powder
This product has organic yellow maca powder. It is ideal for beginners and individuals who view red and black maca to have a strong taste. The product is made from maca that is grown organically. It is processed by HelthWorks a Company based in Arizona and well known for top quality dietary supplements.
• SoraRay Organically Grown Maca
This product is manufactured for both men and women to assist them to increase stamina and libido. SoraRay maca is organically grown and affordable. Been organic it has no known side effects. You will notice an increase in energy and stamina after using the product for a while.
• Gaia Herbs Maca root capsules
These root capsules are a mix of black, yellow and red maca roots. The powder in these capsules is gelatinized making it more concentrated, easy to digest and absorb in the gut. The product has been tested for potency and purity. It is marketed as a vegetarian product. Each capsule has 500mg of gelatinized maca. It is affordable and free of gluten.
• Halison Health maca marvel
The product is 100% Peruvian. The capsules contain gelatinized maca for easy digestion and absorption. Each capsule has 750mg maca root. It is a perfect product for vegetarians. It is made by Halison health and has been tested for potency and safety. It is rich in nutrients and affordable.
• Navitas Natural Organic Raw Maca
Navitas organic maca is a product that has been certified to be organic. It is non-GMO and gelatinized for easy digestion and absorption in the body. The product is made from selected quality maca roots. The product is manufactured by Navitas, a leading manufacturer of premium dietary supplement. The product has also been certified as vegan.
• Prolab Horny Goat Weed
This is a combination of goat weed, maca roots, Tribulus, Yohimbe, and ginkgo. The product is made to boost stamina, libido and blood circulation. This is the perfect formula for persons with low libido. It will increase blood flow to the genitals and increase sexual drive. This is a natural product with no known side effects.
• Arnold Iron Cuts
Arnold iron cuts are made from 100% Peruvian maca roots. The product is made ideal for enhanced fertility, stamina, libido and increased blood circulation. The product is affordable and organically grown.
• Pure Encapsulations Maca-3
This is a mix of maca extracts that offers a high content of the active ingredients in maca. It is 100% vegan and gluten-free. Each capsule has 550mg of maca extract. It is manufactured by Pure Encapsulations a Massachusetts based manufacturer of premium dietary supplements. It is non-GMO.
• The Maca Team Organic Maca root powder
Rec maca root powder is known to be the most nutrient-rich variety of maca. It has a pleasant taste and can be used with many foods and drinks. The Red maca used in this product is grown and processed in Junín in Peru. It is certified to be organic, vegan and gluten-free. It is sun-dried and packaged in Peru.
Maca Powder Dosage
Maca is available as capsules, powder, pills, liquor, extract, and flour. Most vendors stock either powder or capsules.
There is no established dosage for maca, but most sources recommend 10-40 gm. for raw or powdered maca and 1,500-3,000mg /day for the maca extracts.
In regards to dosage, it is necessary to note that one teaspoon is equivalent to 3gm.
These are recommended dose for maca powder
- Raw maca (it includes all colors): 3-9 gm. (1-3 teaspoons) or 2-8 capsules
- Gelatinized Maca: 3-9gm or 2-8 capsules
- Raw premium maca: 3-6 gm. (1-2 teaspoons) or 2-8 capsules
- Maca extracts: 2-4 dropperfuls (equivalent to 1/ 4-1/2 teaspoon)
Is maca safe?
When it comes to dietary supplements, it is important for a consumer to know the safety of the product. As for maca, there are no recorded side effects from overdosage, though it is essential to stick to the recommended daily intake for the various forms of the product. It is also essential to note that you will get the best form maca products if you buy the product form a reliable vendor and maca that is organically.
Dr. Solomon Lawrence
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