Benefits of Maca
Maca-- our team likes to think of it as a tiny adaptogen vegetable. With mighty benefits.
For those of you who are already familiar with maca, you know the amazing benefits this Peruvian superfood can have. In Peru, Maca is grown in the mountains. The higher the elevation, typically the better the maca is.
It is considered one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Maca itself is similar in appearance to the common potato. Yet it is far from the tuber that so many Americans eat with every meal! It is considered a cruciferous vegetable, which puts it in the same family as broccoli, radishes, and watercress. However, it tastes NOTHING like broccoli or radishes. It has an earthy, nutty flavor that is almost sweet with a hint of caramel or butterscotch. Almost malty. Red, yellow, and black maca all have slightly different flavor profiles, though all have amazing health benefits. Our maca is a combination of all three!
With Maca becoming more mainstream (which is awesome) it’s so important to know what to look for in a Maca product and also understand what the benefits are so you can track effectively how it works for you.
Let’s get into the details!
Benefits of Maca
Maca and Hormones
One of the main reasons people are drawn to Maca is that it may potentially help support hormones. A 2005 study showed that 42% of post menopausal women supplementing with maca experienced a reduction in menopause symptoms. More research is needed but multiple studies are popping up around Maca and hormones.
Those same researchers took the study a step further after seeing such promising results in their 2005 study. They found that not only did maca consumption help ease some of the psychological and physical symptoms of menopause, but it had the potential to possibly improve bone density as well as lower levels of cortisol (stress hormone).
Maca and the Thyroid
Maca has also been able to help with certain thyroid hormones, although much more scientific evidence is needed to be conclusive.
Ways that it can support the thyroid is through helping to kindle the fire of the body’s endocrine system via the pituitary gland and hypothalamus. This understanding comes from the study of post-menopausal women mentioned earlier. Maca, although not conclusive, may also impact the hypothalamus-pituitary axis that would in turn support the thyroid gland. Maca has also been shown to help with vitality and energy, an area where many people with thyroid conditions suffer.
Maca and sexual function
Taking Maca daily has been shown to potentially help improve sexual function (although more studies on women are needed)
As we age, a common concern is diminished interest in sex. For people who take antidepressant medications, a notable side-effect of the medication is a decrease in libido. A 2015 double-blind clinical study set out to determine if maca could help restore sexual function in women taking anti-depressant medication. The study had remarkable results warranting additional follow-up studies. It was found that maca root alleviates antidepressant induced sexual dysfunction as women age.
It isn’t just women who experience an increase in sexual desire, either. In 2002, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study was performed to determine if maca can, in fact, increase sexual desire in men between the ages of 21 and 56. The study showed an increase in sexual desire in men across the board without altering testosterone serum levels. Again, more tests additional tests are warranted.
Maca and The Immune System
This Peruvian superfood is a well-known immune booster for its ability to increase glutathione production (this study done on rats), which is known to improve immune function. It’s one of our body’s most important antioxidants.
We should also look at adaptogens in general and their potential role in immune system strength. Adaptogens are meant to help our body deal with stress.
This analysis defines adaptogens as “herbal preparations that increase attention and endurance in fatigue, and reduced stress-induced impairments and disorders related to the endocrine and immune systems.”
A very well-researched and well-documented 2010 study shows the way adaptogens work in our bodies. They have been shown to have a therapeutic impact on our bodies on a cellular level. They regulate the stress response in our bodies as well, which can be beneficial to overall health and wellness. Stress can very much impact the immune system.
Maca is one of these herbal preparations that acts as an adaptogen in our bodies.
Increases Male Sperm Fertility
It is a shame studies on fertility are aimed at men with Maca, because the results have been positive in that it possibly can impact sperm health in a great way, so perhaps it can do the same with women.
But here’s what it says about men:
There have been some studies that say that it is possible that Maca improves the quality of sperm. A more recent scientific analysis stated that the findings of five smaller studies showed that Maca can possibly improve semen quality not just in healthy men, but in infertile men as well.
A recent review summarized the findings of five small studies. It showed that maca improved semen quality in both infertile and healthy men
Maca and Free Radicals
Did you know that Maca is not only known as an adaptogen, but as an antioxidant rich food as well? Antioxidants help combat free radicals floating around in our body.
A March 2018 study shows the protective, antioxidant properties maca has. In the study, stallion semen is treated with maca root to reduce the damage of oxidative stress during cooling and transport. The results showed the integrity of the semen to decline more slowly in those treated with maca.
Maca has also been shown to improve cognitive function. The 2016 study involving middle-aged mice showed that aging mice experienced less loss of cognitive abilities as they aged when they were administered maca on a daily basis. Of course, human studies are needed on the subject.
Maca and Mood
Since Maca can help potentially help with cognitive function, it is no surprise that Maca can also improve mood. Maca’s mood-boosting properties are worthy of discussion. A 2014 study showed that maca reduced cortisol levels and showed mood-boosting qualities of the root when taken for six weeks.
Blood cholesterol levels are frequently used as markers for chronic low mood and maca showed the ability to reduce levels of cholesterol in the blood in a 2013 study of people living in the Peruvian central Andes.
Lastly, people often report back feeling more energized after taking maca. Surely, that can help one's mood!
Maca and Its Nutrients
If anything else, one of the biggest benefits of Maca is that one single serving is so nutrient dense. It is worth it for that alone!
Maca has protein, fiber, and a little bit of fat. It also has a ton of Vitamin C, copper, iron and potassium! Maca is considered a really clean source of carbs.
How Long Does It Take For Maca To Work?
The main thing to know is that consistency is key. Maca is something you would want to put into your daily routine. A good test is to check thyroid levels and then again test after 3 months of consumption. In this time be mindful of your environmental estrogens and stress. Give Maca some time to really work.
Another thing to note about Maca is that it can give you some energy throughout the day if your body is needing it so be aware of that.
How to make sure you have a high quality Maca
Quality matters with Maca. You cannot receive all the incredible benefits with poor quality Maca. And unfortunately, there is a lot of poor quality Maca on the market. It took our founder a long time to find a Maca that she deemed as the highest quality out there.
1. Look for Maca that is grown in Peru. Maca’s native origin.
- Make sure it is grown at 14,000 feet. This is tougher to find as industry standards are typically 12,500-13,000 feet, but any experiments done with Maca grown at a lower level has shown that it does not have the same hormone balancing effects. So consider the altitude!
- You want to look for Maca in gelatinized form. This can be in capsule or powder form but it is important it is gelatinized and now raw. Gelatinized makes it so the maca is more bioavailable and easy on the digestive system.
How Can I incorporate Maca?
There are so many ways to incorporate Maca, which really makes it an easy habit to bring into your routine. First, we offer capsules, which many people prefer. We also offer our superfood powder, which has multiple uses. You can use your maca powder in:
-Coffee -Smoothies -Baking -Oatmeal and yogurt bowls -As a seasoning-In dressings-In soups