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The maca, Andean maca or Peruvian maca, is a herbaceous plant that is cultivated at heights of 4000 meters above the sea level, in the Andean area of Peru.
It is a particularly robust and resistant plant due to the weather conditions in which it is cultivated, at high heights and with extreme temperatures fluctuations.
It has been traditionally used due to its energizing and aphrodisiac properties, and to improve fertility and sex drive. The maca is rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Some of its benefits include an increase in energy and in the state of mind, improving sexual performance, increasing libido and testosterone, and improving the immune system.
Due to the high nutritious power of its roots, two specific methods of consumption have become popular: as powder(to be dissolved in liquids) or as capsules. This plant is very similar to a radish in appearance, although it is slightly bigger and with a thin root of approximately 5 cm of length.
For two thousand years it has become an essential part of the local gastronomy of Peru and Bolivia. The maca is boiled and used for the preparation of several culinary dishes.
Nowadays, practically all the parts of the plant are used. The Maca root is boiled, which produces a sweet liquid or a fermented porridge, while its leaves are usually eaten raw.
The Andean Maca is formed by a main root and a tuber. It is a rather inconspicuous plant, with an approximately 20 cm of length. The part that protrudes from the ground is usually consumed as a vegetable.
The Andean Maca roots contain an incredible amount of micronutrients, proteins, and carbohydrates. This part is dried and preserved, and it is available in the form of powder or tablets.
The young root of the plant has a lot of natural ingredients. The Maca also has essential fatty acids for the organism, such as linoleic and oleic acid.
It has substances such as phytosterols, alkaloids (macaenes 1, 2, 3 and 4), flavonoids, saponins, glucosinolates, macamides, alkamides, and more.
The maca helps to restore the physical balance and compensates any potential deficiencies in the organism.
Its ingredients promote physical performance and mental endurance.
The maca is used to treat sexual dysfunctions, which is the reason it is considered a natural Viagra.
Nutritional Profile of Maca
The root of this plant has a high nutritional profile, similar to that of cereal grains, such as corn, rice, and wheat: a 60% of carbohydrates, 10% of proteins, 8.5% of fibre, and 2.2% of fats.
On the other hand, its lipid concentration is around a 2.2 per cent, including linolenic acid, palmitic acid, and oleic acid. The maca powder has around a 10% of protein that has seven of the eight essential amino acids. Although it is not a complete protein, it is an excellent source of amino acids, specially for vegan sportspeople.
Additionally, the Andean maca contains multiple mineralsin small quantities (calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sulfur, sodium, zinc, copper, selenium, iodine, bismuth, manganese, silicon, and tin) which will help with the production of antibodies. It is also a good source of sterols, which are an essential component to stimulate the immune system. It also has group B vitamins, which are the energy vitamins, such as vitamins B1 and B2, Vitamin C and Vitamin E.
The maca root can be consumed as a food or as a nutritional supplement. Normally, the dry root is consumed as a powder because in this way it is easier to add it to soups, purees, stews and porridge, sweet or salty, or it can even be drunk in a glass of water.
The maca powder can be added to fruit shakes, home-made drinks, and vegetable milks. You can even make maca flour for baking, and add it to bread or bakery recipes, and more things.
It is highly advisable to consume maca in the morning, since it increases the energy levels and has a great invigorating effect.
Maca supplements, whether in capsules or tablets, are without any doubt the most practical and comfortable way of including this powerful nutrient to complete your daily diet.
The recommended intake of Maca
There is no set daily dose for the consumption of Maca, however we recommend to use approximately between 1.5g and 3g of maca root powder daily.
If it is consumed as a supplement in the form of capsules or tablets, the dose that is advised is 450mg daily along with food. Maca supplements work in small quantities that are highly concentrated.
If maca is consumed regularly, it is recommended to rest for periods of 30 days, thus, for every 120 days of consuming Maca, 30 days of rest should be carried out.
The dose of Andean maca will depend on the reason of its consumption, and it can be increased in periods of more mental and physical stress, according to the specific intake recommendations.
Contraindications of Maca
The studies carried out to date on animals and in vitro prove that the maca root possesses a very low toxicity, which means that it is a very safe plant.
Maca should always begin to be consumed in very small dosess and increase the amount progressively, just in case there is an intolerance to the plant and an allergy is triggered. The symptoms of an allergic reaction are very varied, but they generally develop as an urticaria or rash, and reddened skin.
Some people have reported a mild stomach discomfort, gases, or even diarrhea after consuming maca, for this reason we should always start consuming small doses.
This plant may interact in those who suffer from hypothyroidism and are under a treatment for this disorder, therefore, its use should be avoided or consulted before with a doctor.
As a result of the consumption of the maca, there may be an increase in the hormone activity, which could cause acne outbreaks. Some people who are regular consumers of Maca inform that it may produce stomach acidity and heartburn.
It should also not be consumed during pregnancy and lactation.
Maca is recommended for the following cases:
In cases of vitamins deficiency.
In cases of minerals deficiency.
When experiencing a lack of physical performance.
When experiencing a lack of intellectual performance.
For treating infertility and reproductive dysfunctions.
What deficiencies do the active ingredients in Maca fight?
Lack of trace elements.
Loss of energy.
Lack of sex drive.
Who can particularly benefit from Maca?
People with vitamin deficiencies and who wish to increase their vitality.
Those who have a lack of minerals.
Anyone subjected to psychological stress.
Sportspeople or people who need to carry out any especial physical activity that entails physical or mental stress.
People with a weak immune system.
Those who suffer from mood disorders and chronic fatigue, that feel down or weak frequently.
Men and women with low libido.
Men with sexual dysfunction.
Men with slow spermatozoa.
Men with few spermatozoa.
The experts' opinion on Maca:
The Maca root is a substance that, whether it is consumed in the form of food or as a dietary supplement, is valued for all the properties it has, since it provides essential micronutrients to our daily diet, which has been scientifically proven by various studies and research.
Several clinical studies have also shown that the intake Andean Maca for several weeks improves the quality of the spermatozoa, as well as their speed and number, with consequently improves fertility.
This implies that consuming maca for several weeks has considerable benefits, at least among men from 20 to 40 years of age, such as a significant increase in sexual activity and fertility, due to the stimulation of the formation of more male hormones.
Some Recipes with Maca
Maca, blueberries and strawberry shake
200g of blueberries
200g of strawberries
1 teaspoon of maca
4 spoonfuls of honey
1 litre of water
Blend all of the ingredients and drink immediately.
1 litre of water
1 spoonful of grated ginger
5 cardamom seeds
2 cinnamon sticks
1 spoonful of honey
1 teaspoon of maca
2 cups of red tea
1 chopped orange peel
In a small pot, boil the water and add the ginger along with the cardamom seeds. Add the cinnamon and boil for 5 more minutes. Sieve. Add the maca, honey, and serve.
Blueberries and banana blend
1 and ½ cups of blueberries
1 diced banana
1 teaspoon of maca
2 spoonfuls of cane organic sugar
3 cups of soy or almond milk
Place the blueberries, diced banana, maca, sugar, and milk in the blender. Blend for 10 seconds and drink straight away.
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