Maca root — and its respective powder, capsules, and tea variants — is the nutritional supplement of the hour. This Peruvian cruciferous vegetable, also known as Peruvian Ginseng and native to the Central Andes, has super foodies all excited and touting its health benefits. But what is maca powder and what are its health benefits exactly?
Before we launch into the ins and outs of maca, it’s worth noting that unless stated otherwise, when referring to maca in this article, we’re talking about maca powder.
What is maca powder?
As touched on earlier, maca belongs to the cruciferous family, which means this trendy root vegetable is closely related to broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, and turnips — a pretty nutritious family to belong to, wouldn’t you agree? The root is where all its potent properties lie and where maca supplements and powders are derived from. The flavor is a combination of both nutty and sweet with a slightly bitter aftertaste.
If you’re in-the-know about all the latest health and fitness trends, then you’ve probably heard about maca powder, with wellness bloggers promoting maca’s ‘magical’ powers and sprinkling it into smoothies or adding a spoonful to energy balls for increased athletic performance and stamina. However, if you’re still new to maca and getting the lowdown on this latest natural supplement, here are some benefits you can enjoy to your meals. As always, supplements are just that, supplements and can be added temporarily to an existing balanced and nutritious diet.
Maca powder benefits
Now that we know what maca is, let’s move onto the array of benefits you can expect to reap by occasionally adding it to your nutritional routine.
Many bodybuilders and athletes supplement their nutrition with maca root powder in a bid to boost energy and stamina which, in turn, helps them get the most out of their workouts — be it gaining muscle mass or improving strength and workout performance.
The chemical composition of maca root has shown to support endocrine system functions, and as such has been shown to be helpful in hormonal regulation, especially in the case of menopausal women or improving libido and fertility in men.
Defends against symptoms of stress
As an adaptogen, Maca may assist the body’s immune system in defending itself from the physical and emotional damage of stress as well as support exhausted adrenal or pituitary glands.
A natural aphrodisiac
Need a little boost to your love life? Then maca may be right up your alley. Maca root is known for its fertility-enhancing qualities, often used by ancient Peruvians as far back as 3800 B.C. to help both cattle and people alike for reproduction purposes — thanks to its libido-boosting traits.
Maca may also help if you are managing light to moderate symptoms of anxiety, depression and low energy as a result of its flavonoid compounds. A study in Australia showed a notable reduction in symptoms of anxiety, depression and low motivation over a 12-week period among a group of women.
Improves brain function
Traditionally, native Peruvians have used maca in an attempt to improve cognitive ability in children. New research now links maca with improved cognitive function, useful in staving off age-related brain dysfunction and support conditions such as Parkinsons and Alzheimers. This is a result of the promotion of mitochondrial activity, even enhancing memory in rodents with cognitive impairment.
Potential side effects of maca powder
Though indications for the side effects of maca powder are relatively low, just like any supplement — even herbal or natural– it’s worth being aware of any potential medicinal side effects.
As maca has energy boosting properties, it’s best to avoid ingesting it in the evening to ensure you maintain a healthy sleep cycle. Adding it to smoothies, oatmeal, energy bars/balls, etc., in the morning or before a workout should serve you well.
Maca-fy these 8fit recipes
Interested in incorporating maca into a meal, drink or snack and looking for a little recipe inspiration? We’ve got just the ticket. Why not boost your energy levels and blend a teaspoon of maca root powder into your morning cup of coffee or add it to the following 8fit recipes for that extra malty hit of flavor and boost of energy.
Turmeric latte with pistachios
Chocolate cinnamon overnight oats
Almond, banana & avocado breakfast blend
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