Why You Should Add Maca to Your Diet

Why You Should Add Maca to Your Diet

In recent years, many people have started raving about maca. But what exactly is it, and why do people care? Learn more with our guide.

Disclaimer: The information in this article and site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Maca root may not be suitable for children, interact with other medications or cause other health risks. Please consult a medical professional before taking it.

What It Is:

The Maca plant grows in the Andes of central Peru. A relative of turnips and radishes, it’s been cultivated as a vegetable crop in Peru for 3,000 years. The root is used in food and also for traditional medicinal purposes.

Nutritional Properties:

Maca is one of the only food plants that can survive at the high altitudes of the Andes – and that may be why it’s packed with so much nutrition it’s known as a “superfood.” Maca root is high in fatty acids, proteins and minerals like potassium and iron. It’s also full of natural sugars, antioxidants and sterols. Maca is an adaptogen, which means that it helps us cope with stress and balance our endocrine functions.

Uses:

Maca is thought to have several medicinal effects, including but not limited to:

  • Helping hormonal imbalances: Consuming maca may relieve menopausal symptoms like hot flashes in women, in addition to alleviating symptoms of PMS.
  • Increasing fertility: Maca may increase fertility in both men and women.
  • Enhancing energy: Many athletes use maca to up their energy levels, and some use it as an alternative to caffeine.
  • Stabilizing mood: Maca may increase serotonin levels and relieve depression and anxiety.
  • Increasing sexual appetite: Maca has been used for thousands of years to increase libido and improve sexual function.

Drawbacks:

You should consult your doctor before taking any supplement, including maca. Since maca is a food, there are no known drawbacks to consuming the vegetable itself – although pregnant women may wish to avoid it. You should also have plenty of water when taking maca because the root can dehydrate you.

Effectiveness:

So, the big question: does maca actually work? Sad to say, the jury’s still out on this one. Maca was first marketed to as the “natural alternative to Viagra.” The studies that “proved,” this claim were unreliably funded by the same marketing companies that billed the drug a Viagra alternative in the first place. Another study proved that maca doesn’t increase testosterone or other sex hormones.

Other studies have had much more promising results – specifically those pertaining to maca’s effects on menopausal symptoms and depression. But as one Wall Street Journal article notes, there needs to be much more research done to prove maca’s effects.

What we do know is that maca is definitively packed with tons of nutrients, making it a “superfood.” And it’s entirely possible that some of its benefits (like the increased sex drive) come from being properly nourished and not any particular property of the maca plant.

How to Eat:

Traditionally, maca root is eaten roasted, baked, or boiled into soup. The raw root can be tough on the digestive system, so we don’t recommend it.

You can also blend boiled maca root with milk or water and add some honey to create a smoothie.

However, most Westerners take maca as a powder, tablet, capsule or liquid extract. It can be easily sprinkled in both food and drinks – we recommend it in your morning smoothie. Just make sure you’re buying from a reputable source and read the instructions so you don’t overdo it. Not sure what is? Show the label to a licensed medical professional so he/she can warn you of any questionable ingredients.

Verdict: Maca might not be the medical miracle some people claim it to be, but it can’t hurt to add this nutritional powerhouse to your diet. So if you’re interested, go for it!

Liked this? Check out 10 Ways to Help Kids in the Kitchen!

Written by Sasha Graffagna

In recent years, many people have started raving about maca. But what exactly is it, and why do people care? Learn more with our guide.

Disclaimer: The information in this article and site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Maca root may not be suitable for children, interact with other medications or cause other health risks. Please consult a medical professional before taking it.

What It Is:

The Maca plant grows in the Andes of central Peru. A relative of turnips and radishes, it’s been cultivated as a vegetable crop in Peru for 3,000 years. The root is used in food and also for traditional medicinal purposes.

Nutritional Properties:

Maca is one of the only food plants that can survive at the high altitudes of the Andes – and that may be why it’s packed with so much nutrition it’s known as a “superfood.” Maca root is high in fatty acids, proteins and minerals like potassium and iron. It’s also full of natural sugars, antioxidants and sterols. Maca is an adaptogen, which means that it helps us cope with stress and balance our endocrine functions.

Uses:

Maca is thought to have several medicinal effects, including but not limited to:

  • Helping hormonal imbalances: Consuming maca may relieve menopausal symptoms like hot flashes in women, in addition to alleviating symptoms of PMS.
  • Increasing fertility: Maca may increase fertility in both men and women.
  • Enhancing energy: Many athletes use maca to up their energy levels, and some use it as an alternative to caffeine.
  • Stabilizing mood: Maca may increase serotonin levels and relieve depression and anxiety.
  • Increasing sexual appetite: Maca has been used for thousands of years to increase libido and improve sexual function.

Drawbacks:

You should consult your doctor before taking any supplement, including maca. Since maca is a food, there are no known drawbacks to consuming the vegetable itself – although pregnant women may wish to avoid it. You should also have plenty of water when taking maca because the root can dehydrate you.

Effectiveness:

So, the big question: does maca actually work? Sad to say, the jury’s still out on this one. Maca was first marketed to as the “natural alternative to Viagra.” The studies that “proved,” this claim were unreliably funded by the same marketing companies that billed the drug a Viagra alternative in the first place. Another study proved that maca doesn’t increase testosterone or other sex hormones.

Other studies have had much more promising results – specifically those pertaining to maca’s effects on menopausal symptoms and depression. But as one Wall Street Journal article notes, there needs to be much more research done to prove maca’s effects.

What we do know is that maca is definitively packed with tons of nutrients, making it a “superfood.” And it’s entirely possible that some of its benefits (like the increased sex drive) come from being properly nourished and not any particular property of the maca plant.

How to Eat:

Traditionally, maca root is eaten roasted, baked, or boiled into soup. The raw root can be tough on the digestive system, so we don’t recommend it.

You can also blend boiled maca root with milk or water and add some honey to create a smoothie.

However, most Westerners take maca as a powder, tablet, capsule or liquid extract. It can be easily sprinkled in both food and drinks – we recommend it in your morning smoothie. Just make sure you’re buying from a reputable source and read the instructions so you don’t overdo it. Not sure what is? Show the label to a licensed medical professional so he/she can warn you of any questionable ingredients.

Verdict: Maca might not be the medical miracle some people claim it to be, but it can’t hurt to add this nutritional powerhouse to your diet. So if you’re interested, go for it!

Liked this? Check out 10 Ways to Help Kids in the Kitchen!

Written by Sasha Graffagna

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