Maca is a Peruvian root vegetable native to the Andes mountains. It pre-dates the Incans being used as a food and a traditional medicine. Many people don't realise that it is part of the cruciferous family, meaning that it is related to broccoli, cabbage, and kale. This may be due to the fact that it is predominantly consumed as a dried powder in the west, however maca is a common ingredient in Peruvian cooking and imparts an earthy flavour similarly to other root vegetables. Aside from it's culinary uses, the humble maca root also has several health benefits.
Maca has been seen to have the following benefits;
1. Increasing libido
2. Reducing erectile dysfunction
3. Lower stress levels
4. Boosting energy and endurance
5. Improving mood and memory
6. Reducing blood pressure
7. Protect against UV radiation
8. Fighting free radicals
9. Restores red blood cells
10. Help balance hormones
11. Help regulate menstrual cycles & ease symptoms
11. Reducing menopause symptoms
12. Improving learning and memory
13. Treat osteoporosis
14. Relieve mild depression
This extensive list of benefits may come from the several phytonutrients in maca. It boasts more than 20 amino acids as well as minerals, vitamins, fibre and 20 fatty acids, such as oleic and linolenic. There are large amounts of vitamins B1, B2, C and E, plus calcium and copper. This nutrient profile compliments it's status as an adaptogen - which is a natural substance that can help your body deal with different stressors.
Because of the many health benefits of maca, its popularity has increased demand and is why it is sold as a dried powder.
Maca powder can be added to smoothies, juices and baked goods, but it is also available in capsules and occasionaly found as a tincture in which it can be added to recipes. Although you may want to start adding maca to every meal, be aware of the proper guidelines when taking maca products so you can reap its benefits without the side effects.
Maca should be taken gradually at first, e.g., taking a small amount for a few days and determine how your body reacts before increasing your dosages. Because of its effects on hormone levels, physicians say people who rely on hormone-altering medications for diseases like breast or prostate cancer, high blood pressure or other serious conditions should avoid eating or taking maca; the same is advised for pregnant or nursing women.
Also, if you consume maca too frequently, over time it will cease giving your body the healing boost you expect. It is therefore often recommended to take it for short bursts and have breaks in-between. In summary, it is always best to consume any food in moderation and as part of a varied diet, and then maca can be a wonderful health promoting addition to your pantry. With love and maca, Rose x
Enjoy maca in our Berry Summer Bowl recipe!