Lepidium meyenii, also known as Peruvian ginseng or simply 'maca,' is an ancient crop with amazing nutritional and medicinal properties. Are you aware of what those properties are? Have you ever tried maca?
A wide range of health-promoting effects are connected with the regular consumption of maca root. Maca acts as a powerful energiser, boosts sexual function and reproductive health, prevents osteoporosis, reduces the incidence of depression and diminishes symptoms of menopause. These are just a handful of the benefits that you'll learn about in our guide on this one-of-a-kind plant.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Summary
- 3 The Best Maca: Our Picks
- 4 Buyer's Guide: Everything You Should Know About Maca Supplements
- 4.1 What exactly is maca?
- 4.2 Which nutrients does maca contain?
- 4.3 How can maca affect my health?
- 4.4 How does maca taste?
- 4.5 How should I consume maca?
- 4.6 How many varieties of maca exist?
- 4.7 Can maca really increase fertility?
- 4.8 Will maca help me lose weight?
- 4.9 Is maca a natural energiser?
- 4.10 Can maca increase sexual desire?
- 4.11 Why is maca recommended for menopause?
- 4.12 Are there risks from using maca root?
- 4.13 Is maca beneficial for athletes?
- 4.14 Which type of maca is right for me?
- 4.15 Types of Maca
- 4.16 Types of Maca Supplements
- 5 Shopping Criteria
- 6 Summary
- Maca, which originates in the Peruvian Andes, grows naturally at altitudes up to 14,400 feet above sea level. Archaeological research has shown that the maca root has been consumed by humans for nutritional and medicinal purposes since pre-Incan times.
- This superfood has been used to improve mood, increase energy levels, enhance physical endurance, reduce anxiety, relieve menopausal symptoms and much more. According to its nutritional profile, maca contains proteins, carbohydrates, fiber, calcium, potassium, iron and vitamin B3.
- The root of the maca plant was initially consumed fresh or dried. Today, most users add it to their diet as a supplement in the form of capsules, powder or tablets.
The Best Maca: Our Picks
The market is filled with various maca brands, concentrations and forms, which means that picking the right supplement isn't always a piece of cake. In this section, we've selected the very best maca supplements available right now, to help you make the ideal choice for your lifestyle.
Buyer's Guide: Everything You Should Know About Maca Supplements
In this section, we answer the most common questions about maca root from buyers like you. You'll discover even more about the properties, benefits, uses and risks of this supplement.
What exactly is maca?
Several varieties of maca exist, with each identified according to the colour of its root. Yellow, red and black maca are the variations that provide the most health benefits. In addition to its incredible nutritional composition, maca is taken as a supplement because it helps support your general well-being and prevent or treat a range of health conditions.
Which nutrients does maca contain?
- Carbohydrates: 54-60 grams. Black maca has a higher carbohydrate content (about 70%).
- Dietary fiber: 8 grams
- Lipids: 1 gram
- Proteins: 10 grams
- Minerals: iron (14.7 milligrams), potassium (2050 milligrams), calcium (250 milligrams), copper (5.9 milligrams) and zinc (3.8 milligrams)
- Vitamins: Vitamin B3 (niacin): 43 milligrams
How can maca affect my health?
Here are some of maca's scientifically proven benefits that we know of today:
- It boosts energy levels and results in a general feeling of revitalisation
- It enhances both female and male fertility
- It lowers the risk of developing osteoporosis
- It relieves menopausal symptoms
- It has a powerful antioxidant and anti-aging property.
- It protects skin from sun damage
- It acts as an adaptogen, supporting restoration of the body's natural balance in stressful situations
- It heightens our physical capacity and increases athletes' performance
- It raises insulin sensitivity and normalises blood glucose levels (the levels of sugar in our blood)
How does maca taste?
Red maca is the sweetest and softest tasting, while black maca is slightly bitter.
How should I consume maca?
You can mix your maca powder into liquids—like your favourite drinks, yoghurt or soups—or you can add it to cereals, granola or dough for baked goods like breads, cookies, pancakes or waffles.
Supplements in capsule form should be taken with meals—breakfast or lunch—and a sip of water. Taking maca at nighttime isn't advised, as it can contribute to difficulties sleeping.
How many varieties of maca exist?
Can maca really increase fertility?
As for men, the regular consumption of maca root is associated with positive effects on spermatogenesis, increasing the quantity of sperm and their mobility.
Will maca help me lose weight?
The reality, however, is that maca won't help you lose weight.
Is maca a natural energiser?
Can maca increase sexual desire?
Dry maca extract can have a positive effect on mild erectile dysfunction. Two clinical trials suggested that maca may also boost libido in healthy women of menopausal age. With that said, don't be tricked by misleading ads that claim maca is a "natural viagra".
Why is maca recommended for menopause?
Maca also contributes to fighting hormonal imbalances that occur during menopause, and it relieves hot flushes, fatigue and vaginal dryness.
Are there risks from using maca root?
- Individuals suffering from a serious illness and/or taking chronic medication. Always check with your doctor before beginning a new supplement.
- Pregnant and lactating women should avoid maca. Studies have not guaranteed the safety of maca during these stages.
- Individuals with renal or hepatic insufficiency should avoid maca, as well as people suffering from insomnia.
- People with thyroid disorders. Consult your endocrinologist prior to trying maca, as it may result in hormonal imbalances.
- People with a sensitive stomach may benefit from taking maca in gelatin form. Its digestion is faster and easier.
Note that some individuals have experienced mild side effects during the first few days of maca use. These effects include stomach pain, insomnia, nausea, nervousness, dizziness, rashes, flatulence and abdominal swelling. See a doctor if any of these discomforts persists over time.
Is maca beneficial for athletes?
Studies done on mice have shown that black maca can increase physical performance by 500%.
Which type of maca is right for me?
Types of Maca
|Type of maca||Benefits|
|Yellow/Golden||More energy, less fatigue, improved mood, fertility support and increase in libido. It relieves menopausal discomfort.|
|Red||It contributes to treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia, delays aging with its antioxidant properties, fights osteoporosis and bone fractures.|
|Black||It supports the production of spermatozoa (spermatogenesis), boosts physical endurance, enhances learning and memory. It also helps to normalise blood glucose in diabetic individuals and heightens insulin sensitivity.|
Note that these three maca ecotypes grow in very similar environmental conditions, despite their differences in biological properties. Although the external color of the root is what determines the name of the maca (yellow, red or black), the powder obtained after grinding is always a beige colour, lighter or darker depending on the maca type.
Types of Maca Supplements
- Powder (also called maca flour): Once harvested, the root is dried in the sun for 10 to 15 days. It is then split into smaller pieces, and each piece is dehydrated through exposure to temperatures no higher than 113˚F. The dehydrated maca is ground into an ultra-fine powder.
- Capsules or tablets: This form also contains maca powder. They're coated with vegetable cellulose. Capsules usually have a mild, practically neutral taste and should be taken with water. Some manufacturers integrate other nutrients into these capsules, such as vitamin B12 or L-arginine. These can enhance the effects of maca.
There are many maca supplements available right now, so you're bound to find the right one for you. In this section, we've outlined some of the key aspects to consider when you're trying to decide which product to buy:
The results you are seeking will ultimately determine which maca type you want to buy. If you're looking for an energy boost, to alleviate menopausal discomforts or to boost your sex drive, any variety will be fine: yellow, red or black. Yellow maca is the most affordable, however, and is therefore the most budget-friendly option.
On the other hand, men looking to enhance their fertility should try black maca, because this variety supports the production of spermatozoa. This kind of maca is also especially useful for individuals hoping to improve their physical endurance, such as marathon runners or cyclists.
The best maca for women of menopausal or postmenopausal age is red maca, since it helps alleviate menopausal symptoms, while also preventing osteoporosis. People suffering from diabetes and/or insulin resistance should look for black maca. Students looking to improve their intellectual performance can also benefit from this option.
Maca capsules are basically tasteless, so they're ideal for people who want to try maca but don't like its taste. The flavour of maca will depend on the variety. Try combining maca with coffee, chocolate, banana, almond milk, cow milk or cinnamon.
The cost effectiveness of maca powder makes it a cheaper option than capsules. As we mentioned, yellow maca is the affordable variety, while red maca and black maca are usually found at similar prices.
Ease of Consumption
Maca capsules are easy to take with a glass of water. You can also slip them in your bag and have them with you anywhere you go.
Maca powder, on the other hand, needs to be dissolved into a liquid. You can also sprinkle it on cereal or integrate it into various recipes (pancakes, bread or waffles). Note that this will require a bit more time and planning.
Allergens and Certifications
We recommend organically produced maca powder supplements, since that means no agrochemicals or artificial additives have been involved in its cultivation or processing. Otherwise, the supplement could be contaminated with toxic residues.
Gluten-intolerant individuals can consume maca, but they should still seek out products that have a seal indicating that it's gluten-free. Otherwise, some products may have been contaminated with trace amounts of gluten.
|Shopping criterion||Maca powder||Maca capsules|
|Ease of consumption||It needs to be mixed with drinks, cereals or other foods.||You can take it with water.|
|Flavor||Interesting. You may have to combine it with coffee, chocolate, banana, cinnamon or dates to improve the taste.||Neutral|
|Allergens/certifications||Look for the seal of organic production (or organic food) and gluten-free||Check the gluten-free and organic production certifications|
|Price||More affordable||More expensive|
Maca is a millennia-old food that has exhibited positive effects on various aspects of our health, while also providing a general energising and revitalising feeling. Science and tradition have joined together to develop a supplement that can truly improve your health and wellness.
As we mentioned earlier, you should be careful to pick the right variety of maca if you want to enjoy all the benefits of this amazing root. Work your way up to taking maca daily, and don't disregard dosage recommendations. Remember that excesses rarely serve your health in the long run.
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(Source of featured image: Uliasz: 28099410/ 123rf.com)