Not that we’re looking for yet another “superfood”, but we might as well have found it! And you’ll fall in love with it just as fast as you can say maca root!
Rich in minerals, vitamins and nutrients that your body needs, an energy booster and great at balancing hormones, maca root is all that and more. Browse through the benefits of maca root for your health, read about how to use it and maybe start your day with a delicious maca smoothie.
It tastes nutty and rich, much like cacao. It grows at 10,000 feet above sea level in the Andes, and alongside with some almond or coconut milk and raw honey, agave or maple syrup, it makes quite the breakfast smoothie. Maca root, a cruciferous vegetable related to broccoli, kale and cauliflower is the go-to-superfood!
What is maca root and how to use it
First things first, what is maca root? This radish-like root is from Peru and is packed with an array of vitamins and minerals. Maca is a complete protein and provides the body with amino acids that it can’t produce on its own.
Maca powder (which is one way of buying maca, along with liquid, capsules, extracts) is an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamin C, E, B1 (thiamine) and B2 (riboflavin), copper, iron, phytonutrients and polyphenols, about 20 amino acids, calcium, magnesium, sodium, sulfur, potassium and phosphorus. One ounce of maca powder is known to contain the nutrients below:
- 91 calories
- 4 grams protein
- 1 gram fat
- 2 grams dietary fiber
- 20 grams carbohydrates
- 79.8 milligrams vitamin C (133 percent DV)
- 0.3 milligram vitamin B6 (16 percent DV)
- 0.2 milligram manganese (11 percent DV)
- 1.6 milligrams niacin (8 percent DV)
- 70 milligrams calcium (7 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligram riboflavin (6 percent DV)
- 1.7 milligrams copper (84 percent DV)
- 4.1 milligrams iron (23 percent DV)
- 560 milligrams potassium (16 percent DV)
The traditional way to cook and eat maca is boiling or roasting it. The locals in Peru eat this “superfood” root three times a day. They use maca powder in a porridge like dish and consume a maca fermented drink called “maca chichi”. You can add maca to your smoothies, snacks, desserts, to muffins, cereal bars, pancakes, hot cocoa, in granola mixes, in homemade bread and cookies.
12 maca root benefits
It has been called the Peruvian ginseng and it’s becoming more and more popular. A study revealed that maca root reduces blood pressure and depression and has neuroprotective benefits. You might want to buy a copious amount of maca root powder right about now, but it’s important you start using maca root in smaller amounts and never go over a tablespoon a day, since it exceeds some nutrients your body needs. Even more so, if you suffer from a thyroid problem, check with your doctor on whether you should use maca root. Just like any other cruciferous veggie that contains goitrogens, it may interfere with normal thyroid functions.
So, is maca root healthy? Although it may be too much of a “superfood” for its own good, still maca is a herbal adaptogen, just like licorice and ginseng, normalizing the body and keeping it in homeostasis. It helps the body respond better to internal and external environmental factors, it can balance anxiety and it can boost your endocrine system, helping the hypothalamus and pituitary to balance the hormones in your body.
And it can do so much more:
- Maca root contains vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, antioxidants and nutrients that promote sexual function, libido and fertility in both men and women.
- You’ll be getting quite the boost of physical and mental energy. It can help you concentrate, expand your memory and help you exercise for longer periods by increasing your stamina.
- Being a tonic and an adaptogen, maca supplies the nutrients your body needs in a number of ways. Iron restores red blood cells, eliminates anemia and promotes a healthy cardiovascular system. Maca is also known for skin, bone and teeth health benefits.
- Maca roots benefits for stress induced pathology are well-known. If you’re struggling with anxiety, stress, depression or mood swings, maca can help alleviate the symptoms. Maca root is known for reducing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenalin that cause fatigue and burnout, and reduce the alertness specific to anxiety disorders.
- Antioxidants in maca root fight against free radical damage.
- Maca root can decrease the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the liver. It also helps reduce blood sugar, according to some studies.
- There are also studies that credit maca root with benefits in preventing conditions such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, by preventing oxidative stress and cell damage. It also enhances the immune system. However, it is vital that you talk to your doctor if you have or had a form of hormone induced type of cancer.
- That brings us to the next benefit – balancing the estrogen level – for which maca is very well known for. Regulating the hormone levels also means alleviating symptoms ranging from bloating to irregular menstrual periods and mood swings. Also, maca root can help women ovulate and become pregnant. At the other side of the spectrum, maca helps with the symptoms of menopause, including bone density. Maca can be used in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome as well. By balancing estrogen and progesterone levels, maca reduces migraines and headaches.
- Some studies showed that maca root can boost testosterone levels in men, leading to sexual health and fertility.
- Maca contains glucosinolates and sulfurs – just like onion and garlic – that help your liver functions and support the natural processes of detoxification.
- Maca is high in fibers, which improve gut health and are effective in fighting cravings. It reduces hunger between meals having a high protein percentage (up to 18%). Being a good source of vegetable protein, maca is a beneficial attribute to vegetarians and vegans.
- Because it’s rich in potassium, maca root can help decrease blood pressure. It also improves blood flow.
In conclusion, maca is a loaded “superfood”. It provides many health benefits to the mind and body as well, and is quite tasty. And who needs an extra reason to have another delicious and healthy smoothie?