The superfood market never rests and give us the opportunity to try foods we've never heard of before. Every time you go online it seems like there is a new magic ingredient out there.
There are certainly some you should stay away from, but also some, like maca, you should give a try.
What is maca?
Maca is a turnip like root and a member of the cruciferous family, like broccoli and cabbage. It grows in the highest altitudes of the Andes mountains in Peru. The maca plant produces leaves as well as a small root, about the size of a radish.
Traditionally it was used in South America to treat infertility, imbalances in female hormones and to increase energy. Today maca is usually available in powdered form after being harvested and grounded down.
Why maca is one of the healthiest foods
The maca root has so many nutritional benefits. In fact, it is rich in carbohydrates, fiber, protein, magnesium, potassium, sulfur, iron, vitamin B1 and B2, vitamin C, vitamin E, sterols and it contains more calcium than milk. It also contains trace elements, such as zinc and selenium.
You might not have heard much about maca by now and more of other popular superfoods, such as hempseed, goji berries, spirulina and flaxseed. This is because maca isn't really as easy to produce as other superfoods, because it doesn't grow in most environments.
So, what does it do?
Since it has the capability to regulate, support and balance the hormonal system of both men and women, it is a promising anti-acne herb. It may also help with fertility, digestion, energy levels and a lot of other sex related processes.
However, maca is also an adaptogen. Adaptogens are substances that raise the body's resistance to diseases through physiological and emotional health improvements. Suffering from chronic fatigue? Maca may help you!
Why should I use maca?
Traditionally, maca is used to treat PMS and menopause.
Nowadays, it's been used recently as a natural alternative to anabolic steroids for athletes, who are trying to achieve muscle hypertrophy.
Furthermore, men and women have used it to increase their libido, fertility and stamina.
As it gets more and more explored, it also becomes more popular in the skin care and toiletry industry. It has been shown, that maca root nourishes and softens the skin and also increases collagen synthesis, which improves the integrity of the skin's structural matrix. Maca infused products can also help maintaining hair thickness and fight hair loss.
Maca for men
One of the top reasons men choose to take maca is to restore their libido. Not just because it's high nutrient content revitalises the body, but also because maca supports healthy testosterone levels, more and more men use it to support a healthy sex drive. No, it does not contain testosterone or any other hormone. Instead it stimulates the male body to produce and regulate hormones in order to achieve a good hormonal balance.
Maca for women
For women maca can be such a substantial superfood.
Studies have shown that women, taking a maca supplement, experienced a reduction in many of the most common menopause symptoms. Bye, bye annoying belly cramps.
Not surprisingly, it has been used for centuries as a powerful aphrodisiac, because it may balance sex hormones and improve mood.
It's no wonder why so many people are turning to natural alternatives for improving fertility, after several studies shown that Maca increases serum luteinising hormone, which is associated with fertility.
It's such an all-rounder, isn't it?
How to use it?
For many, maca root is a food used in their daily smoothies, soups and baked goods.
Consuming it as a powder can be as easy as mixing it into your favourite smoothie. But it's also available as an easy to consume supplement in capsule form.
For those of you who already use maca on a daily basis, you might want to increase your intake, since it's almost impossible to take too much of it. However, the recommended dosage is about 500mg, twice a day for optimal health.
Who should not use maca?
If you suffer from thyroid disease this is probably not the best for you, because maca is high in iodine and glucosinolate.
Diagnosed with breast cancer or PCOS? Please check with your herbalist before using maca.
Otherwise, you should be good to go. Just try it out. You might be surprised by the benefits, once you incorporating it into your diet.