What is Maca?
The use of maca can be traced back over 3,000 years. Historically, this root vegetable was used by ancient Incas as a form of currency for trade and was also treasured for its medicinal properties. It was used to treat an array of ailments, including stress, fatigue, anemia, cancer, menopause, menstrual problems. Inca warriors would consume large quantities of the root before heading into battle to boost their stamina and strength. After the Spanish invaded the Andes region, large quantities of maca were imported back to Spain and reserved exclusively for Spanish royalty to supply extranutrients and enhance energy.
Today, maca is readily available in capsule and powder extract form and is used to enhance sexual health and libido; improve energy, mood and memory; and balance hormone levels. It is a relative newcomer to the western health and fitness world.
Yes – it is a cruciferous vegetable
Along with more mainstream vegetables such as kale, broccoli, arugula, and Brussel sprouts, maca is part of the cruciferous vegetable family. Scientifically known as Lepidium meyenii, maca has a similar appearance and size as radishes or turnips with green tops and roots that range in color from yellow to purple and black. It is very nutrient dense – specifically with amino acids and phytonutrients that improve sexual health, boost mood and memory, and well as balance hormone levels. Maca is also vegan friendly, and has been found to reduce inflammation, triglycerides, cholesterol, and blood sugar.
Replace your caffeine/coffee with maca
Maca makes your feel more energized, driven, and awake relatively quickly after consumption. After taking two weeks off from caffeine, I relied exclusively on maca in my green smoothie as a replacement for my morning coffee. It worked beautifully. I did not crave caffeine or need my morning coffee.
Even though the research is not clear exactly how maca increases energy levels, it is believed to help prevent spikes and crashes in blood sugar and maintain adrenal health, which regulates mood and energy throughout the day. Keeping energy levels up may also help prevent weight gain as well.
Improves both male and female sexual health
Maca root, according to several studies, boosts sex drive in women. This is particularly true in post-menopausal women with sexual dysfunction caused by the use of antidepressants. It was also improved sex drive in women compared to a placebo group. Maca also has been shown to alleviate symptoms of menopause by balancing hormone levels and reducing symptoms like infertility, weight gain and bloating.
Balancing hormone levels is crucial to many aspects of reproductive health and can help reduce symptoms like infertility, weight gain and bloating.
Gelatinized Maca vs Raw Maca
The reason some people have a hard time digesting raw maca is because of the quantity and type of starches in the tuber. By weight, raw maca root is approximately 70 percent carbohydrate, and half of that is starch, specifically amylose and amylopectin. Some people find that these difficult-to-digest starches cause gas, bloating, and discomfort. After gelatinization, very little starch remains.
Personally, I have had better experience with gelatinized maca. I add it to my green smoothies every other day. There is no question, that I feel more energized after taking it. It is a sort of “even-balanced” energy, not like coffee or other caffeinated beverages. There is no “crash” after whatsoever. I would caution anyone with thyroid issues to consult with their physician prior to consumption. It can alter hormone production in the thyroid gland in those who have an underlying condition. Also, I would highly encourage to buy organic maca, since many farmers in Peru use a high amount of pesticide.
I have personally used and can recommend the following brands (both capsule and powder):