Maca is a tuberous vegetable grown in the mountains of Peru, Bolivia and Brazil. It is a member of the cruciferous family, and resembles the appearance of a radish. The root is generally dried and ground up into a fine powder, and sold at most health food stores. The health benefits of maca basically affect the whole body as it is able to increase the blood flow, balance the hormones and increase strength and endurance levels.
An Adaptogen That’s Good for the Overall Health of the Body
Although very similar, there are three types of maca, which are obtained from different colored maca roots. Yellow maca is said to be more beneficial during menopause, and red and black maca help to increase the functions of the mind. Red maca is also beneficial for the prostate in men.
Gelatinized maca has a higher concentration of nutrients and contains less starch. It is easier to digest than regular maca and enables the body to absorb more nutrition.
Maca goes great in smoothies along with chocolate, vanilla and other superfood powders. It is also great for adding into cereal, oatmeal, or into dehydrated raw food treats.
Nutrients in Maca
Maca contains a broad spectrum of nutrients that help to support the overall health of the mind and body. It also contains a significant amount of protein, which is important for muscle building and balancing sugar levels.
Vitamins. Some of the vitamins found in maca are B1, B2, C and E. Some sources state that it also contains small amounts of B12.
Minerals. Maca is super rich with minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and sulfur. Some of the trace minerals are copper, iodine, manganese, selenium, silica, tin and zinc.
Protein. Although maca is not a complete protein, it nevertheless does contain a significant amount of it. It contains 7 of the nine essential amino acids, and 19 amino acids altogether.
Health Benefits of Maca
One of the main benefits of maca is that it has an adaptogenic effect on the body. This basically means that it helps the body to cope and maintain its strength in stressful situations. Adaptogens help to support the immune system and the adrenal glands, both of which have an impact on the overall health of the body.
Strength and Endurance. Athletes can benefit from taking maca before a sports activity because it helps to strengthen the muscles and increases endurance. It is so effective that some athletes have used it as an alternative to steroids.
Another benefit is that it also reduces aches and pains from overworked muscles.
Brain Health. Maca is said to be very good for the brain. It helps to increase memory, concentration and learning ability. It reduces stress, which allows the mind to focus on what is really important.
Another benefit is that it helps to increase the functions of the neurotransmitters. It reduces depression and provides the mind with a feeling of wellness.
Hormonal Health. Another excellent benefit of maca is that it helps to balance hormone levels. It basically supports the endocrine system, the thyroid and the adrenal glands, all of which work together to bring about a healthy hormone balance.
The adaptogenic effect is very powerful for the adrenal glands because it reduces the production of cortisol, thus allowing the glands to rest and heal faster.
Chronic Fatigue. Chronic fatigue is very common in today’s society. Not only are people burned out from their jobs and social activities, but the foods they eat can leave them fatigued as well. Fatigue can also be caused by stress or sleepless nights. Maca is very relaxing and prepares the mind and body for a deeper sleep. When combined with a healthy diet it can help to overcome both physical and mental fatigue.
Bones and Teeth. Maca contains calcium, silica and other bone-building minerals. As a result, it can help to build strong bones and teeth, and thus, reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Increased Healing. Maca increases the blood flow, which is responsible for eliminating toxins and delivering nutrients to all cells. A greater blood flow in return helps to speed up the healing process on both internal and external wounds.
Women’s Health. Women who take maca have fewer symptoms of PMS. It helps to balance the mood, and reduces hot flashes and night sweats.
Maca can also be used as a natural remedy instead of hormone replacement therapy.
Sexual Health. The aphrodisiac effect is probably one of the most talked about benefits of maca. It is said to increase sexual functions in both men and women. It increases fertility in women and the sperm count in men.
Slow Down Aging. No one wants to age, especially not prematurely. All the above mentioned health benefits of maca work together to help keep the body and mind young, not only at heart, but in appearance as well. It helps all internal organs and the skin to remain youthful into an old age.
In order to obtain the most benefits from maca, it is advised to take a one week break for every four weeks of taking it.