Maca root (Lepidium meyenii) is a high-altitude radish native to the central Peruvian Andes. It grows in harsh climates at 3500-4000 meters above sea level and has adapted to thrive in such extreme conditions. The locals of the region where it grows believe that Maca is sacred and super-powered to survive where it does and that it can provide the body with the same strength and resilience it holds when respected and consumed regularly. Traditionally the roots are naturally sun-dried after harvest, then boiled into porridge, teas, broths, or elixirs. In New Zealand Maca can be purchased in a powdered form (Maca powder) or in crunchy fragments known as Maca nibs.

 

What are the health benefits of taking maca?

There are many small-scale studies showing some benefits of Maca powder including improvements in energy, mood, and mental health. Hormone balancing to assist with symptoms of menopause and PMS, improved fertility, metabolic function, sexual function, libido, and reducing levels of inflammation. Furthermore, the different colours of Maca have also been shown to be unique in how they work. Red Maca, for example, is most effective for improving bone density, female fertility for women, and male prostate function for men, it is also considered more internal and harmonising. In contrast, Black Maca is considered more uplifting and was shown to be the most effective for assisting memory function, learning ability, brain clarity[, and athletic performance. For men, black Maca provided the best increase in sperm production and function compared to the other colours and also in increasing libido. Yellow Maca is the most common form of Maca and is traditionally used for general balance, well-being, and resilience to stress. There are also blends of the different colours available called Maca for men and Maca for women that contain the colour ratios taken traditionally by men or women in Peru. These blends provide the best of all three colours for those who are looking for more benefits. 

 

What is the best way to eat Maca?

Maca powder or Maca nibs are very versatile and can be used in a range of beverages and baking, it has a sweet and malt caramel flavor that combines well with spices, fruits, and bitter foods like cacao. It makes a great addition to your morning breakfast cereals, granola, or porridge. Maca is a fantastic way to add a nutritional hit to your smoothie, fruit juices, or a fresh fruit salad. You can also have Maca the traditional way by using it as a tea, infused with cinnamon, cloves, and dried fruit. Maca always needs to be cooked before consumption so ensure your Maca is ‘activated’ or ‘gelatinised’ if you want to eat it straight without cooking, as this type is already pre-cooked. Ideally, you want to consume a teaspoon per day for a minimum of 6-12 weeks to get the full health benefits. Check out this delicious recipe using Maca by the team at Seleno Health.

 

-Article by Seleno Health