Have you ever wondered what is in maca, the Peruvian answer to the ginger root? In the following article you will learn all its benefits, the content of nutrients, effects, usages, side effects and much more. Are you ready? Great, then let’s dive straight in.
The maca plant, or the Peru Ginseng, comes originally from Peru and belongs to the cruciferous vegetables. It is used both, as a food and as a medicinal plant, and grown in the Peruvian Andes for exactly these reasons since the past 2,000 years.
The small tuber can defy extreme weather conditions and is very robust. Even at almost 10.000 feet, it can still grow. All necessary nutrients can be extracted from volcanic soils in the Andes. That is why it is still cultivated in this area. Meanwhile, the cultivation also takes place on a large scale in China, as well.
Maca has experienced a veritable hype for several years. Maca is often used as an ingredient in certain foods, such as granola bars. Even its plain powder can be found in countless supermarkets and health food stores. This tastes sweetish to spicy and is ground from the dried tubers.
Many people appreciate the root because of its many effects. The consumption of maca products has increased rapidly in recent years. In the Chinese region of Lijiang alone, Maca products worth more than 680 million dollars were produced in 2014.
There are four different varieties of maca, whose effects are different. The individual diversities can be recognized by the different colors of the tubers. They can be yellow, red, purple or black. Often different types are mixed together. If you want to achieve a certain effect, you should first inform yourself about the exact mode of action of the individual multifariousness.
Effects of Maca
The variating Maca categories each have disparate biochemical compositions. The effect of each sort is, therefore, not the same. For commercial cultivation, however, usually the yellow and red tubers are used.
The dried maca root contains many nutrients. 100 grams of the dried tuber contain about 60 to 70 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of fiber, 10 grams of protein and 2 grams of fat.
In addition, it contains potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, and iodine in relatively large amounts, too. Thus, effective tuber can contribute to a balanced diet that provides you with many nutrients.
Iron plays an important role in many processes in the body. Iron is vital for, both, blood production and body performance. While too high of an iron content inhibits the absorption of minerals such as zinc and copper, vitamin C ensures that iron can be better absorbed. A balanced diet is, therefore, essential for a healthy body.
Zinc is also important for many body functions. It’s in charge of the formation of hormones and has major duties within your immune system, as well.
Zinc is also essential for healthy skin, hair and nails. Since it is commonly found in animal products, maca can be a good source of zinc for vegetarians.
Iodine is another important mineral for your body. People who live in cities and far from the coast can quickly develop an iodine deficiency since the soil is very low in iodine.
Note: Not every salt that you buy does supply iodine. You need to double check if it’s listed as an ingredient. Iodine is found mainly in fish and other marine animals. Maca can be a good, vegetarian alternative and provide the body with iodine.
Maca to Increase Libido
One notorious effect of the tuber is the increase in libido. For some years, the tuber has been marketed as an aphrodisiac food. A 2008 US study found that a 3-gram daily dose significantly improves sexual dysfunction. An effect on the libido was also confirmed.
Maca contains all the essential amino acids that the body needs for its natural functioning. These are also important for sexuality. Amino acids help in the formation of neurotransmitters that play an important role in increasing libido. An increase in erotic desire was seen in, both, men 21 to 56 years of age and menopausal women.
Maca and Menopause
Maca may also be effective for menopausal symptoms. It can be a natural alternative to hormone therapy. However, this should be discussed with a doctor beforehand. The small root is said to remedy numerous ailments that may occur during menopause.
It should act on the hormones as well as on the emotional state and physical complaints, thus, achieve a positive effect. Improvements include, but are not limited to, hormonal and mood changes, hot flushes, sweats, sleep disturbances, and difficulty concentrating. This effect is, however, not yet scientifically confirmed.
Maca To Increase Fertility
In addition, maca can also improve the quality of sperm and, thus, the fertility of the man. It can increase sperm count and, both, semen volume and sperm motility. This is confirmed by a Peruvian study. Men between the ages of 24 and 44 were given up to 3 grams of maca a day over a period of four months.
The dose played a smaller role than the duration of ingestion. Improvements in sperm quality were achieved by subjects taking 1.5 grams of maca daily and subjects consuming 3 grams of maca a day. To achieve this effect, maca should be consumed over a period of several months.
For more Efficiency
What is in maca, not only is suitable as a sexual enhancer but also for the needs of athletes. This is partly due to the nutrient content of the root. It contains proteins and important trace elements along with vitamins. Special effects are attributed to the two substances, Macamide and Macaene.
These two organic materials are said to increase athletic performances. One study examined the effects of macamides in mice. The endurance of the animals was measured while swimming.
The mice receiving a high dose of Macamides were more efficient than the animals with the lower dose. Similar results were achieved by a test with cyclists. After consuming maca for 14 days, a significant increase in performance was seen.
Maca for Acne
Even with skin problems, maca can be helpful. Especially the course of acne can be positively influenced by the root. This skin inflammation often has hormonal causes. When the hormones become unbalanced, this often manifests itself with one or two blemishes.
Maca roots can affect and influence the hormones within the body. This allows Maca to work against acne from the inside out. Important nutrients such as zinc can also support the healing process. This creates a smooth and firm skin.
Maca Powder for Losing Weight
Maca has many properties that can help you lose weight fast. The small tuber is not a miracle cure, though. Just because you mix a few grams of maca powder into your smoothie or cereal in the morning does not mean that you will automatically lose weight. Maca, however, increases metabolism.
This, again, can improve one’s stamina during exercise sessions and lead to enhanced overall activity. The fiber content in maca provides a long-lasting feeling of satiety and stimulates the digestion. All this can be beneficial in a diet.
Maca for Depressive Moods
Maca can also provide an improvement in mood swings and depression. Maca has an ability to influence the hormones; stress hormones are not excluded. It can counteract stress and anxiety in a natural way.
In mood swings and depressive moods, hormones also often play a crucial role. Again, maca can have a positive effect on the hormones and possibly relieve the symptoms.
The Different Maca Varieties
This sort is often used for commercial cultivation. It has an effect on the libido of women and aids during menopause. Even with mood swings and depressive moods, it can be effective, because yellow Maca is mood-enhancing.
Red maca products are also commonly available on the market. This variety can also affect the libido of the woman and provide relief in the case of PMS. With exhaustion, stress and circulatory problems, red maca can help to relieve the symptoms. The use of red maca is also recommended for acne.
This Maca version helps, especially during menopause and post-menopause. The price is a bit higher than that of the red and yellow maca.
Black Maca affects, both, the libido of the man and the woman. It can improve sperm quality and increase potency. It also has a positive effect on mental abilities and muscle building. This variety is the most expensive of the four that are available.
Risks of Maca
Maca can have some highly beneficial effects and greatly improve the quality of life. The intake can, however, also be associated with some risks. Many arise from the strong demand for the effective root. This can have different consequences.
Low Quality of the Root
Because maca is highly in demand, more and more roots have to be produced within a very short time. This has a huge impact on the quality of the maca plant. The plants are manipulated to grow to full size in a short time. In addition, many farmers plant the root too early in the year, so they can reap more harvest. As a result, many nutrients can be lost. There is no uniform quality control. Even roots from the higher price segment can be of poor quality.
Many farmers use, furthermore, chemicals and pesticides that additionally affect the quality of the plant. You should, therefore, pay more attention to organic quality.
A good indicator is the USDA organic label. Products marked with this seal, for example, do without chemical crop protection and fertilizers and genetic engineering.
Maca Side Effects
No side effects have been reported with maca products yet, but there are a few factors that should be considered when consuming the products. People who belong to any of the following categories should be careful and consult their physician before taking maca.
• Take estrogen as a drug, as maca can act on estrogen levels.
• Suffer from thyroid problems as maca may affect thyroid activity.
• Struggle with sleep disorders, as maca may interfere with sleep in the context of caffeine-containing foods.
• Have problems with the heart.
• Are pregnant.
At all these above-mentioned points, interactions or risks may arise. The consumption of maca should, therefore, be previously discussed with a doctor.
Maca can be bought in different variants. The price depends mainly on the Maca assortment and the quality of the product. The darker and larger the root, the higher the price.
Often maca is offered as a powder, which is blended together from a couple of types. The powder is versatile and can be quickly integrated into numerous dishes. If you want to profit from the versatile effects of maca, but cannot get used to the taste of powder, you can fall back on the capsules.
You can find a wide selection of capsules that contain the powder of one individual Maca variety or also combined blends on the Internet. You should ensure that they do without preservatives and chemicals. To avoid pollutants, one should resort to organic quality.
Maca can be found in many foods. There are raw food bars, spreads, and pastries with maca. The maca powder can be integrated into many recipes. So you can make your own Maca products. The cosmetics industry also uses maca, for example, in face creams.
Maca Powder – The right Dosage
The dosage recommendation of maca powder differs from product to product. Since there is little scientific knowledge about the mode of action of the product, no general specification can be made.
It is best to start with a relatively small amount and increase it slowly. The recommended intake of the product should always be observed and better not exceeded.
Well, now you know what is in maca, and we’ve covered yet another superfood with all its pros and cons, I truly hope you enjoyed the article and that it is helpful for you. Do leave your comments, please, with your experiences, questions and even requests for topics you’d like to read more about.
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