You might not have heard of this Peruvian plant but it’s a common cooking ingredient and once you hear about it’s health benefits, I’m sure you’ll be adding it to your shopping list!
As a cruciferous vegetable, it’s related to cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage, although as a root there’s a range of ways you can cook with and enjoy Maca. It’s often referred to as Peruvian Ginseng, another popular herbal remedy.
From cooking it to add to soups, curries and stews or taking it as a supplement or adding Maca powder to your morning smoothie, read on to find out how to incorporate the plant into your diet.
The Low Down
Where – Peru, grown in the Andes mountains
What – Root vegetable from the cruciferous family, similar in appearance to a radish
How – Consume boiled, baked, roasted or as a supplement or powder
Why – this superfood has a multitude of benefits, from increasing libido to improving energy and mood
This is likely the most well known benefit of the Maca root. Oysters can step aside, with plenty of studies to back up the effect of Maca on libido. A study that saw men take 1.5g – 3g of Maca each day, experienced increased libido, when compared to participants taking a placebo. The root could also prove beneficial as a natural aid to erectile dysfunction in men and sexual well-being in men and postmenopausal women. Maca’s benefits in the bedroom don’t stop there, with studies finding some evidence that the root can help increase fertility, particularly in men.
No one enjoys that sluggish feeling where you struggle to motivate yourself to do the simplest of tasks. Maca extract is often used by bodybuilders and athletes as a natural supplement to help increase energy levels and stamina, it’s high in B vitamins, magnesium and iodine, which is good to metabolic rate. The adaptogenic properties of the root help to increase vitality and endurance, with a high iron content helping aid blood circulation.
As mentioned above, Maca is an adaptogen. This refers to the plant’s ability to help the body to adapt, rejuvenate and resist stress. Plants with these properties help to regulate the hormone levels in the body, meaning Maca is a menopause must have. Over four studies it was concluded that maca helped to alleviate hot flushes and poor sleep. It can also help alleviate PMS symptoms. During menopause, women experience reduced bone density, meaning calcium supplements could be needed. As well as 7 essential amino acids, Maca is high in calcium, making it particularly useful as a natural aid during menopause.
The nutrient rich root is incredibly high in mood boosting Vitamin C, with just 28g of Maca providing 133% of your recommended daily intake. Flavonoids, found in many fruits, vegetables, roots and grains, are usually responsible for the vivid colouring in the foods. These plant compounds have been found to have psychological benefits and contribute to improved mood, reduced anxiety. This is particularly highlighted in studies of menopausal women with depression, who saw mood improvements after taking Maca.
That’s just some of the benefits of the wonder root. It’s also been studied for its use in controlling diabetes and glucose in the blood, alongside reducing cholesterol. So, will you be cooking with or using the root? It’s nutty and earthy taste make it a versatile ingredient, suitable for adding to smoothies or your morning porridge.
Available as a plant, powder, supplement or liquid, it’s easy to incorporate into your diet. Let us know if you’ve experienced any of the above benefits, we’d love to hear from you!
Image credit to; Healthranks