Grown widely in the mountain regions of Peru, Maca (lepidium meyenii) is a highly nutritious root that belongs to the radish family. Also known as Peruvian ginseng, this peruvian maca root is valued for its health benefits. It is mostly available in the powder form or as a supplement. As a food ingredient, Maca root can be added to salads, smoothies, puddings, drinks, juices and cooked foods. Maca has culinary uses in baked and roasted foods. Maca flour and maca porridge is used in Peru. It is also used to make soup and fermented drink called maca chicha. It has a unique taste, something similar to toasted oats. Make sure not to add maca root powder to hot food as it will lose all its nutrient goodness. Although the most common variety of maca root is cream in color, it also comes in red and black colors. This root has been long used by the indigenous people of Peru, to whom it is a very valuable commodity.
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Nutritional value of Maca root
Maca root is extremely high in nutrition, offering you excellent quality vitamins and minerals. It is considered to be higher in fiber and protein content when compared to other root vegetables. After the root is harvested, it is usually dried and powdered. Maca powder comprises of carbohydrates (60%), protein (10% or more) and fiber (9%). It also contains fatty acids such as linoleic acid, oleic acid and palmitic acid. Maca root is a rich source of sterols and vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin E and B group vitamins. It can provide you with high amounts of minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, phosphorous, and iron. Trace minerals such as copper, iodine, selenium, silica, manganese and zinc can also be found in this root. Maca root also provides almost 20 amino acids, out of which seven are essential amino acids.
Maca root benefits for health
Maca root is often referred to as a super food owing to the many nutrients and benefits that it provides. Read to know more about the health benefits of maca root and why you should consider including it in your daily diet.
Benefits of Maca root for overall health
The regular consumption of maca root is helpful in improving your overall health in many ways. It helps in keeping your bones and teeth healthy and also in promoting increased muscle mass. It is a rich source of iron, which helps in increasing the production of red blood cells, which in turn keeps your body cells well oxygenated. The nutrients in this root not only help in keeping you healthy but also in protecting your body against several ailments.
Maca root for healthy skin
Maca root helps in providing healthy and beautiful looking skin. It has been used by many people to eliminate skin issues such as acne and blemishes. Maca root has been found to be effective in decreasing the sensitivity of your skin to external conditions. Research has shown that maca root powder has the ability to promote radiant complexion and improve the firmness or elasticity of the skin. In vitro studies have shown that maca root increases the production of fibroblasts that keeps your skin looking radiant and young. Research also reveals that maca extract stimulates the production of keratinocyte, which in turn increases the synthesis of collagen, thus making your skin smooth, supple and free from aging signs such as fine lines and wrinkles. The skin benefits of maca roots have been noticed by the skin care industry and hence several cosmetic products are available today in the market that has maca root as the key active ingredient.
Maca root for healthy hair
The extract of maca root when applied to the hair is believed to increase the volume and luster of the hair. There are several shampoos and conditioners that incorporate this root as an ingredient. In some places a paste of maca root is applied on the scalp to induce hair growth. It helps in maintaining the thickness of the hair and in preventing hair loss.
Maca root for energy
If you are struggling with tiredness and fatigue, maca root can be of great help to you. Maca root is a wonderful source of energy and just a small amount can provide you with the energy boost you need. Using this root regularly has been found to increase the energy level significantly. Maca root powder is often taken by athletes as a supplement to increase their stamina and improve their athletic performance. It is great healthy and natural substitute for anabolic steroids, which helps in gaining more muscles.
Maca root as a libido enhancer
Maca root is known improve your libido and increase endurance. It has been widely used to improve sexual function in both men and women. It is also found to be effective in promoting hormone balance and in increasing fertility. Maca benefits for men includes its ability to enhance the levels of testosterone and also improve sperm fertility. It is often referred to as a natural and healthy replacement for Viagra.
Maca for women
Maca root is found to be good for women having menstrual problems. It works as a hormonal regulator, thereby providing relief from hormonal imbalance problems, especially premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It helps in alleviating issues related to menstruation and menopause such as body pain, cramps, hot flashes, mood swings, anxiety, and depression. However, it is advised that pregnant or lactating women should avoid taking maca root or its products.
Maca root for hormone balance
When it comes to maintaining hormone balancing, maca root can do wonders. It stimulates the master glands of the body – the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. These glands regulate the functioning of the other glands, and hence by providing balance, maca root helps in balancing the adrenal, pancreas, thyroid, and other glands. It acts as an adaptogen, which means that it helps the body to adapt to different situations. If there is excess production of a particular hormone, maca root will help in lowering its production. Similarly if there is a deficiency of a particular hormone, maca root will up its production. Thus by providing hormone balance, maca root helps in the better functioning of your body.
Maca root as a mood enhancer
Maca root may be of great help in alleviating problems such as anxiety, depression, stress, and mood swings. It may also help in increasing mental energy and concentration.
Maca root for relieving arthritis
People who suffer immensely from joint pain may find maca root to be extremely helpful. According to a study published in the journal “BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine” (October 2007 issue), an herbal supplement that contains a combination of maca root and the cat’s claw helps in improving the pain associated with osteoarthritis. In the study, people with mild to moderate osteoarthritis were given 1.8 grams of the supplement in two doses daily for about eight weeks. The results showed that the supplement not only decreased the symptoms of arthritis but also reduced stomach disorders often caused by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. This shows that the supplement may be helpful in treating arthritis.
Maca benefits of diabetes
Studies involving the effects of maca root on diabetes show that certain active compounds found in the root may be effective in regulating blood sugar levels in some people suffering from diabetes. As such it has been used widely in alternative medicine as a remedy for controlling diabetes. Research indicates maca root helps the cells to become more sensitive to the effects of insulin, which in turn leads to better regulation of blood glucose levels. It has been found that maca root helps in increasing glucose tolerance and reducing blood sugar levels.
Maca root prevents osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a bone disorder that is characterized by weak and fragile bones due to loss of bone mass and bone tissue. This condition, which is commonly seen in older people, may lead to the easy breakage and fracture of bones. Some of the factors that may cause osteoporosis include calcium deficiency and hormonal imbalance. Maca root is considered to be an effective remedy for osteoporosis. The compounds found in this root promote balance of hormones by normalizing the functioning of the endocrine system. It also increases the production estrogen, a hormone that plays an important role in promoting bone health. Moreover, the high amount of calcium found in maca root also improves the bone health. Both estrogen and calcium together helps in maintaining strong and healthy bones, thereby preventing osteoporosis.
Maca root side effects
Maca root has been used for centuries for its health and nutritional benefits. Although there are no known side effects of this food, it is recommended to take it in moderation. One tablespoon of maca root powder is considered to be the average daily dose. Too much of it may cause hormone imbalance. Maca side effects also include headache, insomnia, mood swings, high blood pressure, indigestion and heart burn. Maca root powder is associated with weight gain. It is used as supplement by women who want curvy and bulky booty. It has estrogenic effect which affects fat metabolism in body. Person with thyroid disorder should avoid taking maca root. In concentrated form as gelatinized maca or maca capsules or maca extract, side effects of maca root may be amplified.
Maca root is a number one super food that is a nutritional powerhouse and a natural solution to obtain increased energy, endurance, stamina, virility, mental clarity, hormonal balance, and muscle gain. It is an adaptogen, which helps you to adapt to stress and new situations, improve your body’s ability to heal, and improve your overall physical and mental well being.