In recent years, maca has grown in popularity. It is actually a plant native to Peru and is commonly available in powder or supplement form.
Maca root has traditionally been used to increase fertility and libido, but this remains debatable among researchers. It is also claimed to improve energy and stamina.
Maca – What is it?
Maca, scientifically known as Lepidium meyenii, is sometimes called Peruvian ginseng. It grows mainly in the Andes of central Peru, in harsh conditions and at very high altitudes (above 4000 m altitude).
Maca is a cruciferous vegetable related to broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale. It has a long history of culinary and medicinal use in Peru.
The main edible part of the plant is the root. It is available in several colors, ranging from white to black.
Maca root is usually dried and consumed in powder form, but is also available in capsules and as a liquid extract.
The powdered maca root flavor that some dislike has been described as earthy and nutty. Many people add it to their smoothies, oatmeal, and sweet treats.
1. Maca root is very nutritious
Maca root powder is nutrient dense and is a rich source of several important vitamins and minerals.
28 grams of maca root powder contains:
– 91 calories – 20 g of carbohydrates – 4 g of protein – 2 g of fibre, – 1 g of fat – Vitamin C: 133% of the recommended daily intake, – Copper: 85% of the recommended daily allowances – Iron: 23% of the recommended daily allowances, – Potassium: 16% of the recommended daily allowances, – Vitamin B6: 15% of the recommended daily allowances, – Manganese: 10% of the Recommended Daily Allowances.
Maca root is a good source of carbohydrates, low in fat and high in fiber. It is also rich in essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, copper and iron.
In addition, it contains various plant compounds, including glucosinolates and polyphenols.
2. Maca root can increase libido in both men and women
Decreased sexual desire is a common problem in adults.
Therefore, interest in herbs and plants that naturally increase libido is high.
Maca is widely touted as effective in enhancing sexual desire, and this claim is backed up by research.
A 2010 review that included four clinical trials with a total of 131 participants found that maca improved sexual desire after at least 6 weeks of consumption. It should be noted, however, that since this study was small, further studies are needed to draw conclusions [Source: https://bmccomplementmedtherapies.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6882-10-44 ].
3. Maca Root May Improve Male Fertility
When it comes to male fertility, sperm quality and quantity are very important.
Maca root is proven to increase male fertility.
A recent review summarized the results of five small studies. Maca has been shown to improve sperm quality in both infertile and healthy men [Source: https://www.maturitas.org/article/S0378-5122(16)30175-X/fulltext].
Another study tested 69 men who had been diagnosed with mild asthenozoospermia and/or mild oligozoospermia. After consuming maca for 12 weeks, scientists saw an improvement in sperm concentration, but sperm size, shape, volume, count and motility did not change significantly
4. Maca Root May Relieve Menopausal Symptoms
Menopause is defined as the time in a woman's life when her periods have stopped.
The natural drop in estrogen that occurs during this time can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms.
These include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, trouble sleeping, and irritability.
Some studies in postmenopausal women have shown that maca helps relieve menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and intermittent sleep. However, it should be remembered that studies have used additional supplements in addition to maca, so more research is needed before determining whether maca improves menopausal symptoms.
Additionally, animal studies suggest that maca may help protect bone health. Women have a higher risk of postmenopausal osteoporosis [Source: https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/315214].
5. Maca root can shrink the prostate
The prostate is a gland found only in men.
Enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, is common in aging men.
A larger prostate can cause various problems with urination as it surrounds the system through which urine is excreted from the body.
Interestingly, several rodent studies suggest that red maca reduces prostate size.
It has been suggested that the effect of red maca on the prostate is associated with a high content of glucosinolates. These substances are also associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
6. Maca root can improve performance and energy
Maca root powder is a popular supplement among bodybuilders and athletes.
They use maca to gain muscle, increase strength, increase energy and improve physical performance.
Additionally, some animal studies show that maca improves endurance.
A small study of eight male cyclists showed that after 14 days of maca extract supplementation, the time it took to cycle nearly 40 km improved [ Source: https://www.karger.com/Article /Abstract/315214].
There is currently no scientific evidence that maca provides benefits for muscle mass or strength.
7. Maca can improve your mood
Several studies have shown that maca can improve mood.
It is associated with reduced anxiety and symptoms of depression, especially in postmenopausal women.
Maca contains plant compounds called flavonoids that have been suggested to be at least partly responsible for these psychological benefits.
8.Maca can protect from the sun
The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays can burn and damage exposed, unprotected skin.
Over time, UV rays can cause wrinkles and increase the risk of skin cancer.
There is some evidence that applying maca extract, the concentrated form of this herb, to your skin can help protect your skin from UV rays.
One study found that maca extract applied to the skin of five rats for 3 weeks prevented skin damage from UV exposure.
The protective effect has been attributed to the polyphenols and glucosinolates present in maca.
Remember that maca extract cannot replace conventional sunscreen. Additionally, it only protects the skin when applied to the skin, not when ingested.
9.Maca root can help learning and memory
Maca can improve brain function.
In fact, it is traditionally used by the indigenous peoples of Peru to improve the academic performance of their children.
In animal studies, maca improved learning and memory in rodents with memory impairment.
In this regard, black maca seems to be more effective than the other varieties.
How to use Maca root?
Maca is easy to include in your diet.
It can be used as a supplement or added to smoothies, oatmeal, baked goods, energy bars and more.
The optimal dose for therapeutic use has not been established. However, the dose of maca powder used in studies typically ranges from 1.5 to 5 grams per day.
You can find maca in some supermarkets, health food stores, and various online stores. There's also a really good selection on Amazon with hundreds of reviews.
Maca root is available as a powder, 500mg capsules or liquid extract.
While yellow maca is the most readily available type, darker varieties such as red and black may have different biological properties.
Maca root: precautions and side effects
Maca is generally considered safe.
However, Peruvian natives believe that eating fresh maca root can have adverse health effects and recommend cooking it first.
Also, if you have thyroid problems, you can be careful about using maca root. Indeed, it contains goitrogens, substances that can interfere with the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. These compounds are more likely if you already have impaired thyroid function.
Finally, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult your doctor before taking maca root.