In the world of superfoods, maca has gained prominence for its unique health benefits.
This humble superfood, hailing from the Andes mountains in Peru, is packed with an impressive array of nutrients and compounds that can support your overall well-being.
Maca, known scientifically as Lepidium meyenii, is a plant native to Peru. It grows in incredibly harsh conditions over 13,000 feet above sea level, earning it the name "Peruvian ginseng".
It is usually eaten baked or roasted, prepared as a soup, but is also commonly consumed in powder form as part of a health routine, hint hint!
The benefits of maca can largely be found in its outstanding nutrient profile.
It's rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, copper, and iron.
Moreover, it contains bioactive plant compounds like polyphenols and glucosinolates.
Two fancy scientific compounds with incredible effects: polyphenols are great antioxidants and glucosinolates may have anti-cancer benefits!
Top 5 Health Benefits of Maca
The unique nutritional composition of maca translates into a range of incredible health benefits.
Here are the top five benefits you can expect from incorporating maca into your diet:
1. Energy and Stamina Support
One of the most lauded benefits of maca is its capacity to support energy and stamina.
Unlike the jittery rush caffeine might provide, maca is known to sustain natural, balanced energy levels.
The exact mechanism of how maca does this isn't fully understood yet, but it's believed that the rich array of B-vitamins, involved in our body's energy production process, play a significant role.
Maca's energy-supporting benefits are not anecdotal cases of the placebo effect.
Several studies support this claim, with a notable study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology demonstrating that cyclists improved their time-trial performance after consuming maca extract for just 14 days.
Therefore, if you're seeking a natural way to support your energy levels – whether it's for your daily routine or just to overcome that afternoon slump – maca could be a great addition to your diet.
That’s one of the reasons we included it in our fantastic vegan protein blend, allowing for the incredible combination of healthy protein and B-vitamins to both sustain you through the day and give you that much needed energy support.
2. Mood and Mental Health Support
Another fascinating benefit of maca lies in its potential to support mood and mental health.
Maca is abundant in flavonoids, a class of antioxidants linked to reduced anxiety and depression symptoms. Flavonoids are known to have neuroprotective effects, promoting brain health and function.
A study in the journal Menopause found that postmenopausal women who consumed maca experienced reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The current evidence suggests that maca may be beneficial for those looking to support their mood and support overall mental well-being.
3. Immune System Support
In times where health is of paramount concern, supporting your immune system is a smart move, and maca can help.
Maca is rich in vitamin C, a potent antioxidant known for its immune-supporting properties. Vitamin C aids in the production of white blood cells which fight off infections and diseases.
Moreover, maca has a high content of protein, fibre, and zinc, all essential nutrients for a robust immune system.
So, by incorporating maca into your diet, you might be giving your immunity the support it needs.
Which is exactly why we packed maca into our FS greens powder, to further enhance the antioxidant & immune support properties of our delicious supergreen greens powder.
4. Helping Women with PCOS
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), is a hormonal disorder that affects 1 in 10 women in the United Kingdom.
The condition can cause irregular periods, hair loss on the head, hair growth on the body and other symptoms.
Maca is one of the few plants that are known to support symptoms and provide relief by helping to balance out hormones and improving insulin resistance.
Maca can be turned into a powder that provides all the same benefits in a more easily digestible package.
That’s why we added it to our popular PCOS supplement, to support women to lead happier, healthier lives.
You can read more in our blog on the benefits of maca for women.
5. Balancing Hormones
Maca doesn't contain hormones, but as previously mentioned, it can absolutely help balance them in the body.
Maca seems to have a regulatory effect on the body’s hormone production by nourishing and stimulating the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, the primary "master glands" of the body.
This adaptogenic property of maca can help mitigate the effects of stress, one of the common causes of hormonal imbalance.
While more research is needed, maca shows promise as a natural remedy for hormonal irregularities.
HOW MUCH MACA SHOULD I TAKE?
There is not currently any concrete scientific research that confirms the exact amount of maca to take.
Usually adults are recommended to use maca in doses of 1.5 to 3.5 grams each day for between 6 and 16 weeks. The amount of maca you take may also vary depending on the form e.g. capsules or powder.
Always speak to a healthcare professional to ensure both the supplement and dosage are correct for your personal needs.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I TAKE TOO MUCH MACA?
If you take too much maca there is a chance you may experience side effects such as moodiness, cramping, stomach distress and insomnia.
Always ensure you do not exceed the recommended amount for your chosen maca source. If you start to experience side effects, stop taking maca and contact your doctor.
HOW TO STORE MACA
How you store maca will depend on the type of maca you are taking e.g. powder.
Be sure to check the manufacturer's instructions and store your maca accordingly. This also goes for how you dispose of your maca too.
SOURCES OF MACA
Whilst you can add maca to your diet through supplements and powders, you can also buy maca itself and add it to soups, smoothies and baked goods.
Maca is also often found as an ingredient in things such as coffee, chocolate and oils or added to pre-prepared smoothies and juices.
Incorporating Maca in Your Diet
Now that we've highlighted the impressive benefits of maca, you may wonder how to incorporate it into your diet. The most common way is in its powdered form, which can be easily mixed into a variety of dishes.
Maca powder has a sweet, nutty taste with a hint of butterscotch, which makes it a versatile addition to your meals. Here are a few ideas:
- Smoothies: Blend maca powder into your morning smoothie for an energising start to your day. It pairs well with fruits like bananas, berries, and peaches.
- Oatmeal or Cereal: Stir a spoonful of maca powder into your oatmeal or cereal. It adds a nice, subtle sweetness and a nutrient boost.
- Baked Goods: You can add maca powder to muffins, cookies, or pancakes. It lends a unique flavour and ups the health quotient of your baked treats.
Remember, it's best to start with a small amount (like half a teaspoon) and gradually increase as your body gets used to it.
You should always consult your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.
Maca, the humble superfood from Peru, boasts an array of health benefits, from supporting energy and stamina, supporting mood and mental health, supporting the immune system, supporting sexual health and fertility, to balancing hormones.
Given its rich nutrient profile and versatile usage, maca can be a valuable addition to your diet. While further research is underway to fully understand its health benefits, current studies and traditional uses strongly vouch for its potential.
More maca benefits are being discovered constantly, and it's likely to provide numerous health benefits that we’re not yet aware of.
By integrating maca into your daily routine, you could be well on your way to enjoying the numerous benefits this powerful plant has to offer.