Another superstar of Peruvian superfoods is Maca, with history dating back to around 3800 BC, it has been used by native Indians for its medicinal and nutritional benefits. Legend says that they used Maca before battles, as it made them extraordinarily strong. Similar to cacao in Mexico, Maca was also used as a currency and bartering item. Today, Maca is the highest altitude growing plant in the world; it grows in breathtaking altitudes from 9843 ft = 3000m to as high as 14108 ft = 4300m. The highest quality maca is grown in mineral rich soil in altitudes of 4,100 meters = 13,500 feet or higher above sea level. It is a hardy plant as it is native to the Peruvian Andes with harsh environment, strong sunlight and drastic temperature range fluctuations. The part of the Maca plant used for the mentioned purposes is the root which grows to about 5cm in length. The color ranges from creamy yellow, light pink to dark purple, even black. From Maca’s rich and glorified identity in native history, Maca is still considered one of the most precious commodities for indigenous people of Peru.
Traditionally Maca has been used to enhance fertility in humans and animals and is also referred to as “Peruvian ginseng” for its adaptogenic and stamina enhancing properties. One of the primary functions of Maca in the body is to enhance and balance the endocrine (hormonal) system function; as a tonic superfood, i.e. it can be used for a continuous period of time. To add to this, Maca’s adaptogenic qualities assists the body to adapt to different stressors, whether they are environmental, biological, chemical or physical. As an overall medicinal plant, Maca can increase endurance, physical strength, oxygenate the blood, help to produce important neurotransmitters and can increase libido and fertility.
Often seen in the sclera is a blue ring around the iris, which represents a lack of iron and oxygen in the blood, Maca can improve this and after while you can see the blue ring begin to disappear
- supports adrenal and pituitary health
- by regulating hormones, maca allows different sensations to be vibrant and alive as well as providing a state of emotional well being
- helps the body to produce its own hormones to achieve balance
- relieves symptoms of PMS and menopause (effective for night sweats and hot flushes)
- improves fertility and sexual drive
- increases energy levels
- provides a general feeling of wellness
- muscle boosting (as it provides decent amount of protein)
- improves glucose tolerance (great for pre-diabetes and diabetics
- helps achieve mental clarity
- strengthens the bones (very helpful in prevention of osteoporosis and may increase bone density)
Maca is rich in some trace and major minerals; containing relatively high amounts of magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, sulfur, iron and sodium as well as some zinc, selenium, manganese, iodine and copper. Maca is also rich in vitamins E, C, B1 and B2. It has also high amino acid profile and essential fatty acids.
Maca is generally not recommended for pregnant or lactating women and for people suffering hormone-related cancers (breast cancer or prostate cancer) and liver illnesses. In these cases I would recommend to seek advice from health practitioner who uses and is familiar with Maca.
DOSAGE of Maca or how to use Maca
You can take Maca in many different ways, I like to take it in the form of a powder and add about ½ to 1 tsp to my smoothies. If smoothies are not your thing you can mix it in your yogurt, sprinkle it over your cereals or if powder does not appeal to you there are also capsules available, the brand that I like to use is “Maca Power”, it is certified organic and their Maca comes from Peruvian Andes at altitude over 4000 meters = 13123.4 ft. Some health care practitioners recommend to take Maca for 4 weeks and then have a one week break, or take it for three months and have 4 weeks break. Their reasoning behind this is to keep our body responsive to nutrients that Maca provides. A daily dose of a maximum of three teaspoons should not be exceeded. The benefits that Maca offers are great and even without any health issues you can certainly benefit from this Superfood as it strengthens your endocrine system and improves your energy levels.