Let's find out what maca is, its many benefits, how and when to take it, but also any side effects.
In recent years, interest in the maca plant, also known as “Peruvian ginseng”, has grown rapidly and is currently available in powder form or as a supplement. Let's find out what maca is, its many benefits, how and when to take it, but also any side effects.
What is maca
Maca is a perennial plant with a strong temperament: it grows, in fact, under the ice cap of the Andes, exposed to gusts of very cold winds, temperatures below zero and strong sunlight being at very high altitudes, after 4000 meters. Scientifically known as Lepidium meyenii, it is used by the Andean populations for its nutritional properties ed energy since ancient times.
It is a vegetable of the cruciferous family - the same as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower - and has a long history of culunary and medicinal use in Peru, traditionally used to improve fertility and sexual desire, but also energy and stamina. .
The main edible part of the plant is the root - very similar to the turnip - which grows underground in various colors ranging from white to black. Not everyone likes the flavor of maca root powder, described as earthy and "woody". Others remember walnuts and many people prefer to add it to their smoothies, oatmeal and desserts.
Calories and nutritional values of Maca
Maca root can be considered a "complete food" because it contains practically all the most important nutritional principles to cover our body's needs. The dried powder that we find on the market becomes a concentrate of nutrients.
Nutritional values, 100 gr of maca root powder contain:
- Calories: 325 kJ (16% of the average daily requirement)
- Carbohydrates: 72 gr (24% of the average daily requirement)
- Protein: 14,3 g (29% of the average daily requirement)
- Fat: 3,6 gr (5% of the average daily requirement)
Maca root is a good source of carbohydrates, is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, contains a fair amount of fiber and is a good source of: vitamin B6, potassium and magnesium, but above all of iron and vitamin C.
Properties and benefits of Maca
It should be noted that scientific research on maca is still embryonic with small studies, conducted on animals and / or sponsored by companies that sell or produce this ancient "superfood". Having made this necessary premise, let's discover together the advantages of taking maca and how to do it correctly.
It does not have exciting substances such as caffeine, but it still has properties that can provide benefits to the nervous system and increase the ability to concentrate and memory.
Increases libido in men and women
Maca has been widely marketed as effective in enhancing sexual desire, a property confirmed by a 2002 research conducted particularly in men. A 2010 review that included four randomized clinical trials with a total of 131 participants found evidence that maca improves sexual desire after at least six weeks of taking;
Maca in men can increase sperm production and improve sperm quality in both infertile and healthy men, as a 2016 study also showed.After consuming maca for four months, researchers found an increase in volume , sperm count and motility.
The presence of the same sterols and alkaloids give an important balancing action on the whole hormonal system, promoting male and female fertility.
Also known as "peruvian viagra“, Maca is also the main ingredient in aphrodisiac diets, while in women it stimulates the maturation of Graff's follicles and enlargement in the endometrium. In men, on the other hand, it facilitates an increase in seminal volume, the quantity of sperm per ejaculation and improves sperm motility.
Relieves premenstrual and menopausal symptoms
A review of four studies in postmenopausal women found that maca helps relieve menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and interrupted sleep. Maca also reduces PMS symptoms, fights menstrual pain, and regularizes the cycle.
Fatigue and Stress: Natural Anabolic Maca
Rich in fundamental amino acids essential (10,2%), mineral salts, vitamins, carbohydrates, fatty acids and fibers, the Maca plant has invigorating and energizing properties and improves the response to fatigue and stress and resistance to maximal efforts. Furthermore, its content of sterols makes the Maca root represent anatural alternative to anabolics for bodybuilders or for those who regularly attend a gym, increasing strength and muscle mass. (READ also: - Natural energizers: 10 foods against fatigue).
A small study of eight male cyclists found that they improved the time it took to complete a nearly 25-mile (40km) bike ride after 14 days of supplementing with maca extract. However, there is currently no scientific evidence to confirm any benefit for muscle mass or strength.
Maca improves mood
Maca can improve your mental wellbeing and mood by reducing depression and anxiety, especially in menopausal women. Maca contains plant compounds called flavonoids, which are believed to be at least partly responsible for these psychological benefits.
Bones and flu symptoms
The calcium and mineral salts contained in the Maca root are able to increase the density of the bones, which is why its intake is recommended during the period of growth, pregnancy and lactation, but also in the treatment of osteoporosis, anemia (for the ability to raise the level of hemoglobin) and to strengthen the immune system in fighting all flu symptoms such as fever, cough and cold.
Maca improves learning and memory
Some evidence indicates that maca, especially the black variety, can improve learning and memory. In fact, it has traditionally been used by natives in Peru to improve children's performance in school.
In animal studies, maca has improved learning and memory in rodents that have memory problems
How to use Maca
Maca root is usually dried and consumed in powder form, but it is also available in capsules and as a liquid extract. Easy to incorporate into your daily diet, maca can be taken as a supplement or added in powder form to smoothies, fruit juices, chocolate, yogurt, oatmeal, baked goods, energy bars, and more.
La optimal dose for medicinal use has not been established. However, the dosage of the maca root powder used in the studies generally ranges from 1,5 to 5 grams per day.
Where to find maca
Maca can be bought in herbal medicine shops, in homeopathic pharmacies or online in the form of liquid extract or in 500 mg capsules. While yellow maca is the most readily available type, darker types such as red and black may possess different biological properties.
Le capsules in Maca you can buy them too directly here:
Possible side effects of maca
Maca is generally considered safe although native Peruvians believe that consuming fresh maca root can have adverse health effects and therefore recommend boiling it first.
It is also not recommended in case of thyroid problems as it contains goitrogens, substances that can interfere with the normal function of the thyroid gland. These compounds are more likely to interfere with impaired thyroid function.
Finally, pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult their doctor before taking maca.
On maca, you may also be interested in:
- Maca: the plant of desire and fertility
- 10 supplements to increase fertility
- Superfood: 6 superfoods made in Peru
- 10 alternative drinks to coffee