Maca (botanically known as Lepidium meyenii) is a superfood that has a long, complicated history. While many studies have been done on this Peruvian food, the conclusions are often hard to decipher, which has created a bit of contention around its benefits.
History Of Maca
Native to the Andes of Peru, maca is mainly grown for consumption. Related to turnips and radishes, the maca root (which is what most people eat) can come in a few different colors (“gold or cream, red, purple, blue, black, or green”), with the cream variety being the most popular in Peru.
Folklore has attributed maca root to the “legendary” strength and virility of Incan warriors – although it’s been hard for historians to find any evidence to back that up.
How Maca Tastes
Powdered maca root has an earthy taste with a hint of sweetness, but many people find the flavor quite potent, and therefore hard to stomach. Starting with a teaspoon or two in a green smoothie is the perfect way to get the benefits of this superfood without worrying about its flavor.
Health Benefits Of Maca
Two of the biggest health claims surrounding maca are its hormone balancing and menopausal symptom-reducing benefits. Like most superfoods, there haven’t been many scientific studies done to quantify these benefits, but two studies in particular (one from the journal Menopause and the other from a 2005 issues of the International Journal of Biomedical Science) do show promising results.
While the International Journal of Biomedical Science study found that it was “reasonable” to describe maca as having beneficial effects and allowing for a “substantial reduction of menopausal discomfort” on a small sample of early-postmenopausal women, the study also stated there was a definite placebo effect, so “further, more complex” research was needed.
The study featured in Menopause was another small one (only 14 postmenopausal women were involved), but it did find that regular maca consumption reduced ”psychological symptoms, including anxiety and depression, and lower[ed] measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women.”
Even though researchers are admittedly stumped as to why this might be the case, another benefit of maca seems to be increased libido and energy. Richard Brown, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, has been quoted as saying that when it comes to natural treatments, maca “is the only thing I know that works reliably on libido.”
Best Maca Powder To Use
As with any superfood powder, it’s best to use an organic, minimally-processed brand. Because maca is mainly grown in Brazil, buying from a company that sources directly from there is preferable.
A brand we trust is Terrasoul Superfoods Organic Gelatinized Maca Powder.
Smoothies With Maca
We’re big fans of the natural energy boost, so we’ve included maca in a bunch of our smoothie recipes. Here are a few of our favorites.
Chocolate and Bananas
Even though most people don’t associate strawberries with immunity, one serving of this sweet summer fruit has about half of your daily requirement of Vitamin C. Strawberries also help reduce inflammation and heart attacks. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “Women who eat three or more servings” of strawberries every week “may lower their risk of having a heart attack.” More good news for the ladies, Maca has been shown to ease menopausal symptoms, boost mood, and heighten energy. Because it tastes so great, cacao can also boost your mood, but it also lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. So basically, you could call this smoothie a smile in a glass!
You will dance all day long after this morning maca mélange. Maca balances hormones, increases libido and energizes the entire body. Brazil nuts are a good source of monounsaturated fat that will stick with you until lunch. If your blender has trouble with nuts, try soaking them overnight to help create a creamy drink. This smoothie will give you a jolt of energy that you may just have to get up and dance! Heyyy, Macarena. Ay!
Chocolate Malt Chip
This “milkshake” is the kind that actually does your body good! Thanks to the antioxidants, magnesium and blood-sugar lowering agents in cacao, the libido and mood-boosting benefits of maca, the Omega-3s from coconut cream, and the natural energy from bananas, this treat will make you feel awake and alive (instead of zapping your energy) and keep you trucking along until lunch. Pro tip: To get a chocolate chip effect, add the cacao nibs after everything is blended. Blend for an additional 5-10 seconds, enjoy.
Maca root is found high in the Peruvian Andes in southern Peru. It is cultivated under (and prefers) the harshest of circumstances: rocky landscapes, intense winds and drastic temperature fluctuations. It’s a tough little root. Before it is ground up, maca looks like a cross between a head of garlic and a golden beet. It is known for having a healthy dose of Vitamin B1 and B2 and may even increase your libido.
Chocolate Maca Malt
Maca, a root grown in the mountains of Peru, gives this smoothie a superfood boost that is matched only by its deliciousness. Rich in vitamins C and E, as well as B vitamins, calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and amino acids, Maca really brings it all to the table.
Chocolate Maca Maple
Rich, creamy, and packed with chocolate, this smoothie is the ultimate indulgence. Aside from containing banana and maca powder (two known aphrodisiacs), this smoothie also contains Drink Maple maple water. Drink Maple provides a hint of sweetness and an abundance manganese, which is great for bones, controlling blood sugar, and helping your body absorb vitamins. Give your body some tender, loving care with this smoothie!
Cinnamon Chocolate Maca Madness
Foods like avocado and cacao have revitalizing properties that will smooth and strengthen the skin. Cacao contains more than 300 antioxidant varieties. The antioxidants in the South American beans can boost collagen levels and protect the skin against infection. Avocado has plenty of omega fatty acids help de-stress and plump the skin cells. Maca is excellent for skin; it can decrease sensitivity to extreme temperatures and help calm blemishes!
A member of the cruciferous family (like broccoli and cabbage), maca root is most notably grown in Peru. In addition to having eight essential amino acids, calcium, magnesium and iron, maca is also known as an “adaptogen,” which is a category of certain herbs and plants that help our bodies adapt during stressful situations. Sunflower seed butter is a great alternative for those who are sensitive to nuts, and when you combine it with antioxidant-rich cacao and tropical coconut cream cream, you get a decadent, mineral-rich milkshake. Just the sort of thing you’d be sipping on vacation!