Maca, also known as Lepidium meyenii, is an herbaceous plant from the Peruvian Andes and has been used by indigenous cultures since time immemorial. In fact, archeological evidence suggests that it was one of the first crops cultivated by man in the region. Here are ten interesting facts about maca to get you acquainted with this useful root vegetable and its numerous benefits…
What is Maca?
Maca is a root vegetable that grows in the Andes Mountain region of Peru. It’s been used for thousands of years as a food source, but has gained recent popularity for its medicinal qualities. It’s believed to increase energy levels, alleviate stress, regulate hormones and boost fertility.
The maca plant can grow up to three meters in height, but it only has one large tuberous root at the bottom which is what we consume. The tuber is boiled or baked before it’s eaten and tastes slightly sweet with a nutty flavor.
The maca plant can be grown in most soil types as long as the soil drains well to avoid rot.
Where does Maca come from?
Maca comes from Peru, where it has been used as a medicinal food for over 2000 years. It was even considered the food of the Incas because they believed it to have powerful healing properties.
Maca is a root vegetable that looks like a radish or turnip. It can grow anywhere from one to two feet in height, but it generally grows to be about 12 inches tall. The roots are collected in late autumn before the first frost and then dried for eight to twelve hours in order to make them into maca powder or maca flour. The leaves, flowers, and stems are also collected during this time.
When you cook with Maca Root Powder or Flour: You might notice your dish tastes more bitter than usual. That’s because of the flavor compounds called alkaloids found in this superfood! Alkaloids provide a natural bitterness to certain foods, which is why many people enjoy using them in their cooking. You can also use your favorite seasonings to help cut down on any unwanted bitterness.
Maca is high in antioxidants, making it a powerful food for fighting free radicals. Free radicals are atoms or molecules with an unpaired electron that can cause cellular damage leading to chronic diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
These unsaturated fats form in the body after consuming too many foods high in saturated fat. Antioxidants are also present in fresh fruits and vegetables, but maca contains more antioxidants than most other foods on earth.
In fact, maca contains nine different types of antioxidant compounds. The eight key ones are polyphenols, carotenoids, anthocyanins, flavonoids, terpenes and alkaloids. The ninth type is chlorophyll.
Maca is often used to help with hormonal imbalances, as well as for general vitality.
- Maca has been used for centuries in Peru as a traditional medicine to help with fertility, sexual performance, mood, energy levels and more.
- It’s also been shown that maca may be able to help with conditions like diabetes, osteoporosis and arthritis.
- Studies have shown that maca can increase libido in both men and women by improving hormone balance in the body.
- It can also improve mood by boosting serotonin levels in the brain.
- In cases of depression, it can also increase dopamine levels which are responsible for feelings of pleasure or joy. It can also help alleviate anxiety by promoting healthy production of cortisol, which is an important stress hormone. -This root has long been regarded as an aphrodisiac because it contains chemicals called ‘alkaloids’ which promote arousal, along with nutrients that can aid physical stamina and endurance.
- The plant was once called ‘The Mother Root’ because it was believed to promote fertility among women and livestock alike. The tradition continues today as many cultures still consume maca during their wedding ceremony because they believe the herb will bring them good luck and harmony in their marriage.
- And finally, Maca helps increase athletic performance!
Maca has been used by the indigenous people of Peru to clear up acne since before the Spanish invasion. The anti-inflammatory properties in maca root can help fight a variety of skin conditions, including acne.
In this way, maca root is effective because it helps reduce the redness and swelling that occurs when there is an inflammatory response in the body. Acne sufferers have also found relief with topical treatments that include maca extracts or roots.
Maca root has been shown to reduce inflammation, decrease oil production, and regulate hormones which can all lead to more clear skin. Additionally, as a powerful antioxidant, it can help protect your skin from environmental stresses like UV rays which cause premature aging.
And lastly, if you want to save money on expensive skin care products, maca extract works wonders as an all-in-one face mask and makeup remover. Just mix the ground powder with water until you create a paste then let it sit for 20 minutes while you do something else (like watch TV). Once the time is up, use warm water to wash off any remaining residue. Your skin will feel silky smooth!
Energy Boost of Maca
Maca is a root vegetable that has been shown to increase energy levels. It also can be used as an anti-depressant and is a natural mood enhancer. The plant grows at high altitude in the Andes Mountains of Peru and it is known for its health benefits, including increased energy.
The maca root has been used for centuries by the indigenous people of Peru as food, medicine, or both. This plant was first documented by the Spanish conquistadores who noted that the locals would use maca as a staple crop to grow and eat during times of famine or illness.
A study published in 2008 found that maca’s hormonal balancing properties are due to glucosinolates which are converted from glucobrassicin after maca is cooked. In this way, glucosinolates are metabolized into phytochemicals such as indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and 3,3′-diindolylmethane (DIM).
I3C supports healthy estrogen metabolism while DIM helps support a healthy gut microbiome. In other words, consuming this root boosts female hormone production while helping maintain a healthy intestinal tract.
Maca and Fertility
Maca is renowned for its fertility-boosting properties. It’s been used for centuries by women in the Andes to help increase their chances of conception, increase their fertility window, and strengthen their uterine walls. In fact, it was considered so important that priests would bless maca crops before they were harvested to ensure a good yield the following year.
Maca can also help with reproductive health issues like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) by balancing hormones and helping promote ovulation. But that’s not all! This sweet root has loads of other benefits as well. For example, maca has been shown to be an effective mood stabilizer.
So if you’re feeling down or depressed because of your period, this may be just what you need to lift your spirits. If you’re experiencing menopause symptoms such as hot flashes or night sweats, some research indicates that maca may be able to reduce those symptoms too.
What else? Studies have also found that maca can be beneficial for people who are recovering from cancer treatment because it helps restore energy levels and sexual function.
Maca Powder Varieties
There are three types of maca: black maca (the highest in natural plant sterols), red maca (highest in anthocyanins) and yellowish-brown maca (highest in carotenoids). The color comes from the soil it grows in.
Black maca is the most energizing, whereas red maca is more for hormones. Yellowish brown maca is calming.
Maca has also been said to be an aphrodisiac, because it balances the hormones involved in libido, including testosterone, estrogen and progesterone. It can help with PMS symptoms and menopause as well.
Maca is a root that grows in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and other countries. It’s sometimes called the Peruvian ginseng because it has been used for centuries to increase energy levels and stamina. Farmers in Peru (where most of the world’s maca is grown) use it as an animal feed additive.
In addition to improving energy levels, maca is also being studied for its potential to help with diabetes, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, infertility, depression, Alzheimer’s disease and chronic fatigue syndrome.
You can add maca to your diet by eating foods like fresh or dried raw organic maca powder mixed into smoothies or water; brewing into tea; making cookies or muffins; adding maca flour to baked goods; or blending it into vegan protein shakes.
Ashwagandha vs Maca
What is the difference between Ashwagandha and maca? One of the main differences is that maca has a more significant effect on libido. Ashwagandha can also be used to treat sexual disorders, but it doesn’t have as dramatic an effect as maca. Another difference between these two herbs is that maca does not increase levels of prolactin or thyroid hormones in the body, whereas ashwagandha does.
Ashwagandha is recommended for stress relief, whereas maca may be more helpful for anxiety. For example, there is research showing that ashwagandha helps with insomnia, while maca has been shown to reduce sleep latency. Another use for each herb is lowering cholesterol.
Although both herbs are good at this task, they are used in different ways: Ashwagandha reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL), while maca lowers triglycerides and increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
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