Maca peruana, scientifically known as Lepidium meyenii, is a cruciferous vegetable native to the Andes mountains in Peru. It is closely related to broccoli, cabbage, and kale. The plant has been cultivated for centuries by the local people and is now gaining popularity worldwide due to its potential health benefits.
What is Maca Peruana? Maca peruana primarily grows in the central region of Peru, at altitudes above 13,000 feet (4,000 meters), in harsh conditions. The edible part of the plant is the root, which grows underground and comes in various colors, ranging from white to black. The root is typically dried and consumed in powder form, but it is also available in capsules and liquid extract.
Nutritional Value of Maca Peruana Maca peruana is highly nutritious and packed with essential vitamins and minerals. A 28-gram serving of maca root powder contains approximately:
- Calories: 91
- Carbohydrates: 20 grams
- Protein: 4 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Fat: 1 gram
- Vitamin C: 133% of the daily recommended intake
- Copper: 85% of the daily recommended intake
- Iron: 23% of the daily recommended intake
- Potassium: 16% of the daily recommended intake
- Vitamin B6: 15% of the daily recommended intake
- Manganese: 10% of the daily recommended intake
In addition to these nutrients, maca root also contains various plant compounds, including glucosinolates and polyphenols.
Health Benefits of Maca Peruana Maca peruana has been traditionally used for its potential health benefits, including:
Increased Libido: Maca root is well-known for its potential to enhance libido. Several studies have shown that maca supplementation can increase sexual desire in both men and women .
Nutritional Boost: Maca root powder is a great source of carbohydrates, low in fat, and high in fiber. It also contains significant amounts of essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, copper, and iron.
Enhanced Energy and Endurance: Some athletes and bodybuilders use maca root as a pre-workout supplement to boost energy and improve performance. A study conducted on male cyclists found that maca extract improved their performance in a 40-kilometer time trial.
Improved Male Fertility: Maca root has been shown to enhance male fertility by improving sperm quality and quantity. Several studies have demonstrated that maca supplementation can increase sperm volume, count, and motility.
Mood Enhancement: Maca peruana has been associated with reduced anxiety and symptoms of depression, particularly in women going through menopause. The plant contains flavonoids, which are believed to contribute to these psychological benefits.
Blood Pressure Regulation: Preliminary research suggests that maca peruana may help regulate blood pressure. A study conducted on postmenopausal Chinese women found that maca supplementation for 12 weeks resulted in lower blood pressure levels.
Sun Protection and Antioxidant Properties: Animal studies have shown that maca peruana can protect the skin from ultraviolet rays and prevent sunburned cells from forming. Additionally, maca root promotes the production of natural antioxidants in the body, which can help combat free radicals and potentially reduce the risk of certain health conditions.
Improved Cognitive Function: Maca peruana has traditionally been used by native Peruvians to enhance cognitive function, particularly in children. Animal studies have shown that maca supplementation can improve learning and memory in rodents with memory impairment.
How to Incorporate Maca Peruana into Your Diet Maca peruana can be consumed as a supplement or added to various foods and beverages, such as smoothies, oatmeal, baked goods, and energy bars. The ideal dosage for medicinal use has not been established, but studies typically use a range of 1.5 to 5 grams of maca root powder per day.
Precautions and Considerations While maca peruana is generally considered safe, there are a few precautions to keep in mind. Native Peruvians believe that consuming fresh maca root may have adverse health effects and recommend boiling it before consumption. Individuals with thyroid problems should exercise caution when consuming maca peruana, as it contains goitrogens that can interfere with thyroid function. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult their healthcare providers before taking maca supplements.
In conclusion, maca peruana is a nutritious plant with a range of potential health benefits. It is known for its ability to enhance libido, provide a nutritional boost, increase energy and endurance, improve male fertility, enhance mood, regulate blood pressure, offer sun protection, and potentially improve cognitive function. Incorporating maca peruana into your diet can be as simple as adding it to your favorite recipes or taking it as a supplement. However, it is important to exercise caution and consult a healthcare professional if you have any underlying health conditions.
[BONUS] Here are two practical recipes to enjoy maca peruana in a delicious way:
1. Chocolate Maca Smoothie Ingredients:
- 2/3 cup almond milk or skim cow's milk
- 1 banana
- 1 tablespoon vanilla protein powder
- 1 tablespoon maca root powder
- 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 5 ice cubes
- Place all the ingredients in a blender.
- Blend until smooth and creamy.
2. Maca and Coconut Flour Pancakes Ingredients:
- 2 tablespoons coconut flour (18g)
- 2 tablespoons tapioca flour (16g)
- 1 tablespoon maca root powder
- 1 teaspoon coconut sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons almond milk (or your choice of milk)
- In a small bowl, mix together coconut flour, tapioca flour, maca root powder, coconut sugar, baking powder, and salt. Ensure there are no lumps.
- Add the eggs and almond milk to the dry mixture. Stir until a smooth and thick batter forms. Adjust the consistency by adding more almond milk if needed.
- Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and add half a teaspoon of coconut oil.
- Pour two tablespoons of batter onto the pan to form a small pancake, approximately 10 cm in diameter.
- Cook the pancake for 2-3 minutes on the first side, until bubbles start to form and the edges appear cooked.
- Flip the pancake gently and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes on the other side.
- Repeat with the remaining batter.
- Serve the pancakes with your favorite toppings.
Frequently Asked Questions
When does Maca Peruana start to take effect? The effects of maca peruana can vary depending on the desired outcome. Protection against sun damage and relief from menstrual and menopausal symptoms may take up to 7 days to be noticeable. Effects on libido, fertility, blood pressure, and prostate reduction may take longer, with a minimum of six weeks for libido enhancement .
Are there any side effects of Maca Peruana? Maca peruana is generally considered safe. However, caution should be exercised when consuming fresh maca root, as it may have adverse effects. Individuals with thyroid problems should be mindful of maca peruana's goitrogenic properties. It is always advisable to consult a healthcare professional before taking maca supplements, especially for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Incorporating maca peruana into your daily routine can provide you with a range of potential health benefits. Whether you choose to enjoy it in smoothies or pancakes, maca peruana offers a nutritious addition to your diet. Remember to start with small doses and monitor your body's response.