During the past few years, maca has become very popular among people who prefer a healthier lifestyle. Although maca has been used for various medical and culinary things in its native Peru, more interest in this plant appears in the West countries. So, today’s topic is going to discuss the health benefits of maca powder more thoroughly, and hopefully help you decide whether you would like to try it and incorporate it in your daily meal preparation.
Where does maca powder come from?
The maca plant, also known as Lepidium meyenii comes from Peru and is often referred to as Peruvian ginseng. It mostly grows in the Andes area.
Maca thrives in very harsh conditions, at very high altitudes, above 13.000 feet (4.000 meters). It is a cruciferous type of vegetable, so it’s related to broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale. Maca has a long history in the culinary and medical world of Peru.
How is maca powder made?
The culinary part of the maca plant is the root, and it grows below the ground. It can have diverse colors, from white to black shades. Maca root is often dried and used in powder form, but you can also find it in pill and liquid extract forms.
What does maca powder taste like?
As it comes to maca root powder taste, if you like the earthy, kind of nutty taste of food, you would probably find maca pretty tasty.
Even if you don’t find maca’s taste much appealing, you can easily mask its flavor with some other ingredients you like.
Maca powder nutrition facts
Maca powder is considered very nutritious and offers a great amount of some important vitamins and minerals, which benefits your health.
Check out how much nutrients one ounce or 28 grams of maca root powder contains:
Maca represents a good source of carbs, it is low in fat and contains a decent amount of fiber. As you can see, it is also high in some very important vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, copper, and iron.
This nutty-flavored root also contains different plant compounds like glucosinolates and polyphenols.
Maca powder dosage
It is very easy to add maca to your diet. Whether you decide to take it as a supplement or make some healthy smoothie recipe, you won’t go wrong. However, the optimal dose for medical use of maca root has not been established yet.
In some studies, the dosage of maca powder commonly ranges from 1.5 – 5 grams per day.
Where to buy maca powder?
You can find maca in health food stores, and you can also buy it on Amazon. Maca is available in powder form, in 500-mg capsules, or as a liquid extract.
The most generally used maca is yellow. Some studies say that the other types such as red and black may contain different biological features.
Benefits of Maca powder for libido
In the adult world, reduced sexual desire sometimes occurs as a problem. As a result, more people become interested in herbs and plants that can naturally boost their libido. Marketing for maca has been really strong when it comes to this issue.
It is believed that maca root can increase sexual desire, and that is even backed by research.
A review from 2010, found some evidence that maca improves sexual desire after at least six weeks of consumption.
Maca powder for fertility
It is believed maca affects male fertility, some studies provide evidence that maca root can increase men’s fertility.
It is also showed that maca can improve semen quality in both infertile and healthy men.
In one study that included nine healthy men, researchers detected some increase in the volume, count, and motility of sperm. They used maca powder for four months.
Can maca reduce the prostate size?
The enlarged prostate can cause different problems with passing urine, as this gland surrounds the urinal tube. There are a few studies in rodents that suggest that red maca may reduce prostate size.
It is believed that the red maca effect on the prostate is due to its high amount of glucosinolates. These compounds are also linked with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
Can maca regulate hormones during menopause?
As the menstrual period stops permanently, menopause can strike really hard, and become a temporarily unpleasant experience for many women. Due to the natural decline in estrogen that occurs during menopause, women can have a range of unpleasant symptoms.
Some of them may include hot flashes, mood swings, sleep problems, and irritability.
One review that included four studies in menopausal women, found that maca root helped in alleviating symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes and interrupted sleep.
Some additional animal studies suggest that maca may help in bone protection, and it is well-known that the risk of osteoporosis is higher after menopause.
Can maca powder elevate your mood?
Many people sometimes struggle with mood swings, so it’s good to know that some studies show that maca can be associated with reducing anxiety and depression symptoms, especially in menopausal women.
Maca root contains compounds called flavonoids, which are believed to at least partly have these psychological benefits.
Can maca powder improve memory?
Wouldn’t it be great to have something natural to easily improve your brain functioning? Luckily, there is some study that suggests that maca root may be able to do that.
For a long time, maca has been traditionally used by natives in Peru to improve their children’s performance in school.
When it comes to animal studies, maca showed signs of improved learning and memory in rodents that have memory impairment. It’s interesting to know that black maca seems to be more effective than other types of this root.
Is maca powder an energy booster?
If you love exercising, and workout is a part of your daily routine, you’ve probably heard that maca is very popular among bodybuilders and athletes.
It is believed that maca root can help you gain muscle, increase strength, boost energy levels, therefore improve your exercise performance. Some animal studies indicate that maca enhances endurance performance.
One small study consisted of eight male cyclists found that they were able to improve the time it took them to complete a nearly 25 mile (40 km) bike ride after taking maca for 14 days.
Still, there is no scientific evidence to confirm benefits of maca powder or root for muscle mass and strength.
Maca powder with protein shake
However, if you love working out and enriching your diet with nutritious ingredients, you can always try to add some maca powder to your favorite healthy smoothie recipe or protein shake and see how it works for you.
Maca and UV protection
As we all know so far, UV or ultraviolet rays from the sun may be very dangerous and can burn and damage unprotected skin. The long, everyday exposure to UV radiation can cause wrinkles and increase the risk of skin cancer.
Some studies say applying maca extract to the skin may protect skin from UV rays. One study that tested maca extract on rats’ skin over three weeks, found that the skin of five rats was prevented from UV exposure.
This protective effect was attributed to the polyphenol antioxidants and glucosinolates that can be found in maca.
Bear in mind that maca extract cannot replace a conventional sunscreen, and it also protects the skin when applied directly, not through consumption.
Are there any maca powder side effects?
Maca root is generally considered safe. But, Peruvian people believe that consuming fresh maca root may harm the body, so they recommend boiling it first.
If you’re dealing with some thyroid problems, you will need to be careful with maca and it’s mandatory to consult your doctor before using it. This is because maca contains goitrogens that may interfere with the function of the thyroid gland.
You may be affected by these compounds if you already have impaired thyroid function.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult with their doctors before considering taking maca root.
Although maca root seems like some magical plant that can ease many everyday life health issues, it needs to be studied in more detail. Most of the studies of the health benefits of maca powder are small and done on animals only.
This plant definitely shows some promising health perks, but it can’t be a substitute for your rich and diverse diet.
So, you can try some maca products, and see if they suit you, but be aware of potential side effects, don’t go over recommended daily dosage, and consult your doctor if you have any health issues and dilemmas.
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