Known as lepidium meyenii in the science world, maca had been grown in the Andes region in Peru for many years. In its native region, maca was not only used as a vegetable, but an herb that was considered to help with healing. It wasn’t until the 19th century that western culture came to find maca, and there has even recently been a new species of this plant found, which have been used in food ever since.
If you’re not sure what maca looks like, the plants are very similar to that of a turnip (or a radish). While you can eat maca like you would a turnip, most people tend to use the root. The root can be ground into a powder. For several different health reasons, maca is used in a variety of ways for its nutrition, and sometimes, taste. Let’s take a look at the nutritional value of maca, and the wide arrange of health benefits that you can get from the root powder.
Nutrition of Maca
One ounce of maca root powder (which comes out to 28 grams) typically contains around 90 calories. Some of that comes from protein with four grams (or eight percent recommended value), and you also get eight percent of your recommended intake of dietary fiber. There aren’t too many different vitamins in maca, but you’re getting some good ones. Each serving has more than 130 percent of your daily recommendation for vitamin C, while you’re also getting significant amounts of riboflavin, niacin and vitamin B6, all around the 15 percent daily recommended value.
As for the minerals, maca brings nearly an entire day’s worth of copper in each serving at 85 percent. You’ll get a quarter of your needed iron intake, and more than 15 percent of recommended potassium. Maca is also a good source of calcium and manganese at around 10 percent. There’s very little fat in maca (including zero saturated fats), and no cholesterol.
Great For Females
Maca is a great source of a lot of different health benefits for women. Maca has been shown to improve the overall mood for women, as well as libido, by producing several different hormones that include serotonin. Not only that, but women that are planning to get pregnant should be using maca to increase fertility. Studies showed that maca helped produce more egg follicles to increase the likelihood of becoming pregnant.
Women also get a boost from thyroid health with each serving of maca. Other specifically female issues such as menopause, PMS and PCOS can all have symptoms reduced with more maca. The reason for that is maca has properties that act like estrogen would in the body. This is especially helpful for those that have been diagnosed with PCOS, as the disease can cause a large lack of estrogen in the body.
And Men Alike
It’s not just the ladies that get a huge boost from getting more maca in their diet, as men can also see a huge range of benefits. Fertility in men sees a boost in the same way that it does for women, as men will be able to produce more sperm according to studies, and other factors that play into fertility. Fertility is a common benefit for both men and women, and so is the libido factor from maca.
Just like maca can increase estrogen, it can also help males to produce more testosterone. While the effect for men wasn’t quite as noticeable, there were still some signs that men could produce this testosterone. It depends on the type of maca, though, as the black variety was shown to give males a boost than the yellow or red counterparts. Testosterone is linked to libido; so long story short, maca is perfect for couples that want to have children.
We mentioned how maca can help your body produce more beneficial hormones such as serotonin, and that goes a long way in helping your overall mood. People who get more maca powder on a regular basis are shown to have more natural energy and be in a better state of mind. Many of these studies found that symptoms of depression and anxiety were drastically reduced for those that took maca on a regular basis.
A big reason for this is because of the flavonoids found in each serving. While an increase in energy and a better mood are certainly nice, there’s another added benefit here with maca. Some studies have shown that black maca powder has helped people to improve their brain’s overall performance in the categories of memory retention and learning new information. While fish is considered more of a brain food, don’t count maca out at all.
There are some massively beneficial vitamins found in maca that can help you feel better, while also making you look better. With more than 100 percent of your daily recommendation for vitamin C, your skin gets a huge boost as it produces more collagen naturally. This gives your skin more elasticity, making it appear much younger and more vibrant.
On top of that, antioxidants found within maca can help to prevent signs of aging that are caused by free radicals (more on that in a moment). You’ll even notice a boost in your skin’s ability to recover from sun damage as UV rays don’t have as much of an effect. This will even help you prevent skin cancer down the road if you’re in the sun more often than not.
Speaking of preventing cancer, maca is great in that department thanks to the antioxidants. The free radicals that we mentioned are the cause of cancer as the DNA in your cells go under attack by these free radicals hiding in your body. Not only do you get an immediate boost to your immune system, but you’re preventing a wide range of chronic diseases. Going back to the men and women, prostate cancer and ovarian cancer are two that are battled nicely by getting more maca.
Summing it Up
With all of the great health benefits that we listed above, is there really anything bad about maca that can be said? Doctors suggest that if you’re pregnant or nursing, you should consult with a professional before ingesting maca. Not that it’s found to be dangerous, but because they aren’t quite sure yet how it interacts. You’ll also want to check the full ingredients of maca powder, as some of them could use extracts that perform the same way estrogen would in the body.
This means that if you have certain forms of cancer (especially if you’re female), you’ll want to talk to a doctor before taking maca root. Other side effects in maca have been found to be extremely rare, with most of them only making minor changes. With that said, most can enjoy using maca root and its powder regularly to get the full range of health benefits that we talked about.