Nourish - What’s the Scoop on Maca
What is Maca?
Maca is a root vegetable that grows in the Peruvian Andes at very high altitudes. Maca belongs to the cruciferous family of plants which includes other such powerhouse foods including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, turnips, and radishes.
This powerful root vegetable from South America is most commonly used to help with stamina, energy, mood, vitality, sexual function, hormone balancing and fertility.
Maca is incredibly mineral rich, boasting high levels of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous and potassium. It also contains trace minerals including zinc, iodine, copper, selenium, manganese, and silica. And it doesn’t stop there; maca is also high in vitamins B1, B2, C, and E, plus it contains 19 amino acids (including 7 of the 8 essential amino acids) and is a rich source of sterols.
Benefits of Maca
Maca is a powerful adaptogen meaning it helps to promote balance in the body. Adaptogens are herbs or botanical substances that help to balance the body’s physiological systems (such as the adrenals and nervous system) to better adapt to internal and external stressors.
These can include environmental toxins and pollution, stress, poor sleeping habits, insomnia, anxiety, extreme nervousness or depression to name a few.
These adaptogens calm and nourish the adrenal glands and support all the processes that are controlled by the adrenals — from blood sugar and immune system regulation to hormones and blood pressure.
The beauty of adaptogens is that they know what you need.
They energize without being a stimulant. They calm without being a sedative. They bring the body gently back into the state of homeostasis necessary for well-being.
Maca is often recommended to those with adrenal fatigue as it nourishes them and reduces stress hormones.
High in Antioxidants
Maca is a powerful source of antioxidants and these work to fight off free radicals in the body that can damage cells in the body and cause disease.
Maca’s great antioxidant activity also stimulates glutathione and SOD production which provides excellent support for a healthy immune system, promoting overall health and longevity.
Thanks to its antioxidant activity, maca may be beneficial in helping to prevent oxidative stress and cell damage in the body and may help the body to protect itself from conditions such as heart disease and neurological damage.
As we know, Maca is part of the cruciferous family, and this family is renowned for its hormone-balancing qualities.
Research has shown that maca does not contain plant hormones, unlike soy and black cohosh. Instead, it is an adaptogen. It is an endocrine adaptogen to be exact, meaning that it does not contain any hormones, but rather it contains the nutrients necessary to support normal hormone production and regulation.
Maca also contains unique alkaloids and hormone precursors which help to regulate hormonal processes throughout the entire body and balance sexual, thyroid and adrenal function.
Menopause: Maca may help alleviate menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, fatigue, moodiness, weight gain, vaginal dryness, forgetfulness and mood swings by balancing estrogen levels.
PMS: An imbalance of estrogen in the body can cause irregular menstrual periods, mood swings and bloating. Maca helps to balance estrogen and progesterone in the body which may help to encourage a healthy menstrual cycle and reduce symptoms of a hormone imbalance and PMS symptoms.
PCOS: Maca may also be beneficial as part of a lifestyle and diet routine to help decrease symptoms related to polycystic ovarian syndrome, such as excess hair growth, acne and weight gain.
Improved Fertility: There’s a good reason why maca is also known as nature’s Viagra – it’s because of maca’s ability to improve libido, sexual function and fertility in both men and women.
Studies have found that maca may help to increase sexual desire, improve sperm production, quality and motility in men. Research has also shown that maca may benefit those suffering from sexual dysfunction.
Maca is also known as a powerful aphrodisiac for both men and women.
Maca may even be helpful for post-menopausal women who are suffering from low libido and/or vaginal dryness, or those experiencing sexual dysfunction caused by antidepressants.Thanks to maca’s ability to improve libido and sexual function, you lovely ladies are also taken care of.
Increased Stamina and Endurance
If you ever read up about Maca, one of the first things you’ll read is how in ancient times, warriors consumed the maca root to boost stamina and strength before going into battle. And there’s a good reason for it – many studies have also found that maca strengthens the body and helps maintain stamina and endurance.
So next time you’re hitting the gym, try adding maca to your pre-workout smoothie or shake for extra strength, stamina and endurance.
If you’re struggling to reach your fitness goals, or you’re simply finding it hard to get through the 11 am energy dip or 3 pm crash, try adding Maca into your diet. Maca is a natural, caffeine-free and sugar-free energiser, helping you to feel great and energised, without the negative side effects like the jitters or a crash later on that you’d get from consuming coffee and other stimulants. It’s called ‘Peruvian ginseng’ for a reason 🙂
How to Take Maca
The taste of Maca powder has an earthy, malty, nutty flavour similar to butterscotch and can be slightly spicy.
The powder works well blended into smoothies, coffee, milky drinks from nut/seed/cow milks (like turmeric lattes, hot chocolate, matcha lattes etc.); as well as being added to porridge, muesli yoghurt, raw desserts, energy balls… the list goes on!
Maca is available both in raw form and gelatinized.
Raw Maca is maca in its purest form. It’s maca that has been powdered from the dried, uncooked root and has never been heated above 47c. This preserves its full nutrient spectrum.
Gelatinized Maca is heated and pressurized to remove the starch content.
Some people find the starches in raw maca hard to digest; therefore the gelatinizing process makes it easier for some to digest.
Some of the enzymes are lost in this process, however, it is still a very powerful and bioavailable herb.
Feel free to try both and see which one works better for you.
To start with, I’d recommend taking ¼- ½ teaspoon the first week and then increase this amount to one teaspoon per day as your body becomes accustomed to the supplement. You can go up to a tablespoon a day after some time, if that’s what you need.
As with all supplements or dietary changes, it may take some time to find the right amount right for you.
Many people report great improvements from using maca, but then naturally, as we are all unique beings, there are some who feel worse (fatigue, digestive issues, worse PMS).
If you notice any side effects like breast tenderness or aggression, feel free to reduce your dosage back a bit. It is always best to tune in to your body to determine if it is the right supplement or food for you, and how much you need. More is not always better. Always start with a low dose of ¼ – 1/2 teaspoon.
*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention
Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication
*** Those who should avoid maca or seek doctor’s consent before use include:
Women on HRT.
Anyone suffering or at risk of breast cancer
Anyone on thyroid medication
Check out Iswari recipe page for inspiring ways to use Maca