There are lots of superfoods (My Superfoods Guide), some of which you’ll already know about such as blueberries, natural yogurt, kiwi fruit, and dark chocolate. However, there are lots you probably have never heard of – mainly because you won’t find them in your supermarket!
One such unusual and exotic superfood is maca root but most people just call it maca for short.
Maca comes from the high mountains of Peru where is has been used as a medicinal food for thousands of years. The Peruvians are known for their longevity and good health and maca root, which they dry and consume in powder form, is thought to be one of the reasons why.
Maca, proper name lepidium meyenii, is a cruciferous plant which makes it part of the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage but, to look at it, you wouldn’t think they were related. Maca looks more like a turnip than broccoli but it is definitely a very super superfood. It’s very low in calories but don’t let that concern you – maca is still very rich in nutrients and contains:
- Over 20 amino acids, including the 8 essential amino acids
- 20 free-form fatty acids
- Vitamins B1, B2, C and E
As well as being a nutritional powerhouse, maca is classed as an adaptogen. Adaptogens help your body deal with stress. Stress is caused by a variety of situations such as work stress, emotional stress, illness, financial worries, familial or relationship stress, lack of sleep and many other things.
Stress really does a number on our minds and bodies. A little stress is normal but too much stress can make you unwell.
Adaptogens like maca help prevent many of the problems caused by stress so that you are much better able to cope with ongoing stressful situations. This is why maca is included in almost all superfood powders – modern life is stressful and most of us could do with a helping hand dealing with stress.
Other benefits of maca include:
1. Improved hormone balance in men and women – hormones are chemical messengers that tell your body’s organs and systems how to work. Proper hormone balance means you will feel and look much healthier.
2. Improved sex drive and fertility – both men and women can benefit from improved sex drive and fertility, especially if you want to have children.
3. Increased testosterone – the main male sex hormone, too little testosterone in men can lead to weight gain, loss of strength, poor concentration and lack of vitality. Maca can help men feel more masculine.
4. Improved mood and energy – maca is not a stimulant and yet it can lift your energy and mood just like caffeine. However, it won’t interfere with getting a good night’s sleep.
5. Antioxidant booster – maca helps your body make more of its natural antioxidants which are important for slowing the aging process, fighting disease, and generally keeping you looking and feeling your best.
Maca is considered a safe and effective superfood for most people but a few users may experience certain side-effects. The most common side effects are gas, bloating and upset stomach but I’ll address that problem in the next section. Women who are pregnant or breast feeding should only use maca after speaking to their doctor first.
Because maca effects hormone levels, people who are using hormone medications such as hormone replacement therapy, birth control medication, and certain cancer drugs should also contact their doctor before using maca to avoid any possible unwanted interactions.
Other than that, maca is deemed to be safe.
Raw versus gelatinized maca
With most superfoods, raw is usually considered the best way to go. Raw superfoods are undamaged by heat and unprocessed or processed minimally to preserve their nutritional content. However, raw maca can sometimes be a little indigestible and some people find that raw maca powder upsets their stomachs. People with very sensitive stomachs are most at risk of suffering from digestive upsets with maca use.
While this side-effect is mild and not especially serious, it could be enough to stop some people using this amazing superfood. However, you don’t have to miss out on the benefits of maca powder is you use gelatinized maca.
Gelatinization separates the fibrous parts of the maca plant from the part that contains most of the beneficial nutrients and that makes it easier to digest. This process does not reduce the healthful benefits of maca; it simple makes it easier on the stomach.
Where can I buy Maca ?
You can find certified organic raw high quality powder Maca at Amazon.com.
While you won’t find maca in your grocery store (unless you live in Peru!) it is worth seeking out this powerful superfood if you feel like you would benefit from its use. Maca is very safe and offers a wide range of benefits and could be the very thing you need to look and feel healthier.