The benefits of maca root have been clearly demonstrated by numerous scientific studies. Some claims on maca are not backed up by thorough research though, so what I present here is those studies which show credible and un-biased data.
History of Maca
For over 2,000 years maca root has been cultivated in the high mountains of the Andes (1). This amazing superfood was, and still is, a staple nutritional and medicinal source for villagers who live in the Andean regions (2). For a time the knowledge of the benefits of maca were spreading throughout Europe after the Spaniards had conquered the Incas and brought this food back to Spain. Over time though, the knowledge and use of it was lost to history, except for remote villagers who continued to grow it in the Andean mountains.
Thankfully, in the 1960’s a group of scientists researching healing plants in Peru came across this ancient superfood and began to study it’s nutritional and health benefits. After completing their findings they were so impressed that they wrote a book and reintroduced this healing root to the world (3).
Today it is sold throughout the world as a superfood of the Andes, and there are numerous peer reviewed clinical studies that have been done to confirm and shed light on the profound properties of this plant. We should feel so fortunate that the wisdom of the ages is finally returning to modern consciousness and that we now have the most powerful superfoods the world over at our fingertips.
Consuming maca has been made extremely easy through modern processes of drying and grinding to form maca powder. This method also preserves the constituents of the plant in their maximal form. Another major benefit of the modern distribution of this plant, is that many companies buy from traditional indigenous peoples of Peru. Through buying from these companies we are supporting the livelihood and rich history of this amazing culture.
Maca powder has a very interesting malty flavor that mixes well in various dishes such as smoothies, soups, dressings, and desserts. One tablespoon a day can bring enormous benefits to your diet and health. In stores you can find it as maca powder, maca tea, and maca extract.
As with all other superfoods covered on this site, I highly recommend that you organic maca for the health of the Earth, your body, and the health of farmers.
Nutritional Benefits of Maca Root
- 20 amino acids (4)
- 7 essential amino acids (5)
- 5 times more protein than potatoes (6)
2. Vitamins (rich in the following):
- B1, B2 (7)
- C (8)
- E (9)
- Rich in the major minerals (those required for the body at 100 mg or more per day) calcium, magnesium, sulfur, phosphorous, sodium, and potassium (10)(11).
- Good source for the trace minerals (those required at less than 100 mg per day) iron, zinc, iodine, copper, selenium, bismuth, manganese, tin, silicon, boron (12)(13).
Health Benefits of Maca Root
1. Holistic catalyst:
- The scientifically verified health benefits of maca root are quite extensive. It is hard to fathom how just one food could be so potent. Rather than list them all, I will cover some of the most interesting studies and history in relation to this plant. I encourage you to do your own research to find out more about this amazing root!
2. Increasing libido (sexual desire):
- Numerous studies have been done proving that one of the benefits of maca root is that it increases libido in both men and women (14)(15)(16). In one study of 9 men it was shown that consumption of the root increased sexual desire by 180% and increased the number and mobility of sperm (17). These studies and maca root testimonials have given it the nickname “nature’s viagra.”
3. Adaptogenic qualities
- An adaptogen can be defined as a natural substance that is non-toxic, produces an adaptive response to stress, and improves homeostasis in the body (18).
- There are numerous compounds in this plant that give it adaptogenic qualities such as its unique alkaloids and high density of minerals and vitamins (19).
4. Energy and endurance
- Traditionally this superfood was used by the ancient Peruvians to increase energy and endurance (20). This tradition is making a resurgence in Peru and throughout the world as people realize it’s powerful energizing qualities.
Maca Powder Safety
Some things to be aware of when deciding whether to add maca powder to your diet is that some people have claimed that is causes indigestion and/or imbalanced hormone levels. It is true that as a tough root maca can be a bit hard to digest for some people, that is why I recommend the maca powder that has been slightly heated to break down some of the tough to digest components.
In terms of imbalanced hormone levels, maca powder is certainly very powerful in the stimulation of hormones in the body. In order to make sure we don’t exceed balanced levels of hormones, simply take the recommended maca dosage given on each product. This simple technique should provide powerful benefits without taking it too far. As with any food, it can become harmful if too much is taken.
As a member of a global community, it is a unique honor an opportunity to learn and experience the wisdom of other cultures. We owe a debt of gratitude to the ancient Peruvians and modern researchers who have brought this food into the consciousness (and mouths!) of modern humans.
Maca is certainly worthy of the title as a superfood. The nutritional and health benefits of maca root have been clearly demonstrated by researchers and indigenous wisdom. The levels of health that can be achieved by consuming foods such as this are within our reach. Yet, it is up to each one of us to make that next step and actually eat it. I sincerely hope you take that step and feel better than you have ever felt before.
1. http://www.macaroot.com/history/index.html Retrieved July 20th, 2009
4. Wolfe, David. Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future. pg. 71
7. http://www.macaroot.com/history/index.html Retrieved July 20th, 2009
9. Wolfe, David. Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future. pg. 71
11. http://www.macaroot.com/history/index.html Retrieved July 20th, 2009
13. Wolfe, David. Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future. pg. 71
14. Ibid. pg. 288
15. http://www.wholeworldbotanicals.com/scientificstudies.htm Retrieved July 20th, 2009
16. http://www.macaroot.com/science/hormone.html#peru Retrieved July 20th, 2009
17. Wolfe, David. Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future. pg. 288
18. Ibid. pg. 70
19. http://www.macaroot.com/benefits/index.html Retrieved July 20th, 2009
20. http://www.macaroot.com/history/index.html Retrieved July 20th, 2009