What is Maca and Where Does it Grow?
Maca is a cruciferous vegetable related to broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and cabbage. But actually is a brassica, part of the mustard family. The roots of Maca are a medicinal herb used for centuries. This Adaptogen plant thrives high up in the Andes mountains of Peru in harsh conditions. Maca is a tuber, meaning the plant stores its rich nutrients in a bulb shaped like a radish or a turnip. The scientific name of Maca is Lepidium meyenii. You also may know Maca as Peruvian ginseng since it has many adaptogenic benefits like other ginsengs. Many people in Peru eat Maca as a vegetable like we do broccoli and cauliflower in the United States. Unlike broccoli and cauliflower, the roots of Maca are also consumed for very high amounts of nutrients.
1. Nutrient Rich Super Food
You should consider adding Maca root powder to your normal diet for its high nutritional content. Maca is high in both proteins, healthy fatty acids, and carbs. As well as rich in a number of other nutrients , including vitamins A, B2, B6 and C, and Minerals such as iron, zinc, iodine, calcium, copper, potassium, and manganese. You would get a lot of additional benefits from Maca and its other bioactive plant compounds. Moreover, the types of fatty acids Maca contains are not trivial. You will get 20 different fatty acids (including linolenic, palmitic, and oleic acids), and 19 amino acids. The most sought-after active compound in maca is the alkaloid macaridine. Most importantly alkaloid macaridine has not been found in any other plant . Additionally, macamides, which are fatty acids are also unique to Maca as well. Glucosinolates are active components of maca and contribute to a bitter flavor. Lastly, Maca also has glucosinolates, polyphenols, and compounds [MTCA] [3, 4, 5, 6].
2. Control Stress and Anxiety
As a powerful adaptogen, Maca assists your body’s immune system in protecting itself from both the physical and emotional damage of stress. As well as support your adrenal or pituitary glands from becoming exhausted. Additionally, many people feel an improvement in their mood and mental well-being by reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety [7, 8, 9]. Many of these studies were conducted on postmenopausal women, but there are also many benefits for men and young women to take Maca as well [7, 8]. You and your significant other may want to take Maca for its libido-boosting properties we will discuss later. If you need a ruse to take Maca then take it for its mood-improving properties. Who is to tell that the libido-boosting properties are what makes you happier though?
3. Increases Libido in Men and Women
If you know anything about Maca you likely associate it with the Libido boosting properties and the benefits to women going through menopause. Your association is well justified since there are more human studies on these benefits than anything else. But men you should not be worried that taking Maca could make you more feminine. Surprisingly, Maca has Libido boosting benefits for both women and men. Additionally, men will enjoy the testosterone-boosting benefits of Maca root.
4. Natural Aphrodisiac, Plus Sexual and Fertility Boost For Men
This natural aphrodisiac has been used for centuries to boost sexual arousal. It was so valued for this benefit it was used as currency. Now there are studies that show Maca can improve erectile dysfunction and other forms of sexual dysfunction . Additionally, for you men, Maca can increase sperm production and increase erectile function [12, 13, 14, 15, 16]. Despite Maca being marketed mostly to women, there are many studies that back the increased sexual desire and fulfillment in men as well [17, 18]. Consequently, if you are a couple struggling with infertility, you may want to consider taking some Maca root to improve both sexual desire and mood [11, 19].
5. Mood and Sexual Enhancer for Women
Women struggle with infertility for many reasons and many cannot be overcome through herbal remedies. But you may be fortunate and be able to improve your sexual desire and function [11, 7]. As we discussed earlier the ability to relieve symptoms of menopause seems to be the most widely researched benefit of Maca. In reality, that may just be the most marketed benefit. Nevertheless, there is good evidence that Maca can relieve your symptoms of menopause including hot flashes and interrupted sleep . These benefits may come from the increased production of the hormones of estrogen and progesterone women who took Maca root benefited from. .
Watch This Short Video For Women Specific Benefits
6. Has Anti-inflammatory Properties
Black maca decreased markers of oxidative stress in mice .
In a study of 50 people, those who regularly consumed maca had lower levels of inflammation than those who did not .
7. Has Antioxidant Properties
Just like Eleuthero [Siberian Ginseng], Maca root also promotes natural antioxidants in your body. Specifically, antioxidants such as glutathione and superoxide dismutase are found in Maca. You are likely aware that antioxidants fight off free radicals that damage cells in the body. Many people also believe that antioxidants can help prevent other health conditions, including heart disease, and fight cancer.
8. Improves Brain Function and Memory
You may find Maca root in some neutropenic supplements as well since it can improve your brain function . Similar to Ginko Biloba in the United States, Peruvians give Maca to their children to improve academic performance [25, 26]. Specifically, Maca Root can improve learning capability and memory [27, 28, 22,]. Additionally, you could see benefits to your brain such as protection against memory impairment. [28, 22, 29].
9. Promotes Heart and Cardiovascular Health
Since Maca is an Adaptogen its benefits include the reduction of stress. One of the leading causes of high blood pressure is also stress. So you shouldn’t be surprised that you could reduce high blood pressure by taking Maca root. People have been shown to reduce their blood pressure through the consumption of Maca . High blood pressure can also be a symptom of menopause which can also be reduced .
10. Manage the Effects of Diabetes
If you are managing diabetes you are likely consumed with your blood glucose level. You likely can’t use Maca root alone to control your blood sugar level, but it may be able to help you manage it better. For instance, Maca has been studied for its ability to lower blood glucose levels . Though not the primary reason most people take Maca. For those of you on a diet that restricts your sugar and carbohydrate intake, you may be able to help stabilize your diet on those cheat days with Maca.
11. Energy Booster
This herb is becoming more and more popular for both athletes and bodybuilders for its ability to boost energy. When you are trying to maximize your workout on those sluggish days, Maca may give you the kick you need. Many people have made it a routine part of their nutritional intake for the energy and stamina-boosting benefits alone. The energy boost you get from Maca is not like the jolt that you get from a stimulant like caffeine. Instead of feeling like you have so much energy that you are bouncing off the walls, you will likely feel even keel. Such as if someone were to ask you if you were tired you would likely say “no” and that you feel alert. The perception of your energy level would be that it is high .
Want a Delicious Treat to Boost Energy with Maca, Check this Video Out
12. Increases Physical Endurance and Performance
The use of Maca root to improve physical performance is not new, it is actually ancient history. Incan warriors are documented as consuming maca before going into battle to increase their strength and endurance. Unlike energy-boosting potential which is hard to measure, increases in physical endurance and performance are easy to measure. Consequently taking Maca root has proven to benefit both endurance and performance of physical activities [30, 31, 32]. Endurance athletes will enjoy the benefits of improved endurance that cyclists found after taking Maca root extracts for as little as 14 days .
13. Reduce or Prevent High Altitude Sickness
Those Incan warriors may have also been consuming Maca Root for its ability to help them overcome the harsh climate and altitudes of the Andes mountains. We now know that you can relieve symptoms of chronic mountain sickness (high altitude sickness) with Maca [33, 34]. The Incans probably utilized this benefit knowingly, but it was likely just part of the culture. This natural part of their diet allowed them to thrive in the Puna region of the Andes above 10,500ft (3,000m) and build cities like Machu Picchu at 7,900ft (2,400m).