One of the most nutritious yet lesser-known superfoods is an ancient root vegetable called maca.
The maca plant, known scientifically as Lepidium meyenii, is sometimes referred to as Peruvian ginseng. It is primarily grown in harsh conditions at extremely high altitudes above 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) in the Andes Mountains of central Peru.
Maca has a long, colorful history of culinary and nutritional use. Its first documented use involved the Incas in the Peruvian Andes, where it was reportedly used by warriors as a potential energizer.
In fact, due to its nutritional value as a food, some evidence suggests maca may have been used even earlier than the Incas.
As a cruciferous vegetable belonging to the Brassicaceae family, the maca plant is botanically related to broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale. However, interestingly enough, maca is most closely associated with mustard, turnip, cabbage, garden cress and watercress.
Maca leaves have a slightly spicy flavor, and the root is a turnip-like tuber that tastes creamy with hints of butterscotch, faintly nutty and to some, a touch bitter.
Andean natives have been growing, preparing and eating maca for thousands of years. And as a common ingredient in Peruvian cooking today, maca is said to give dishes a delightful earthy flavor.
A Nutrient-Dense Root Superfood
It might not be an overstatement to say that maca’s nutritional density and potential energy-enhancing properties have helped to make life more endurable in the extreme elevations and challenging weather of the Andes Mountains.
However, it’s important to know that even though all parts of the maca plant are edible, it’s the root that is the most nutritious superfood.…
Maca root powder is comprised on average of 60-75% carbohydrates, 10-14% protein, 8.5% dietary fiber, 2.2% lipids and an impressive array of phytonutrients and minerals:
- Over 20 amino acids, including 8 essential amino acids
- 20 “quality” fatty acids
- Calcium and Potassium
- Sulphur, Sodium and Iron
Maca’s protein content exists mainly in the form of polypeptides and amino acids, including significant amounts of arginine, serine, histidine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, glycine, valine, phenylalanine, tyrosine and threonine. With these plentiful attributes, it’s easy to see why this root’s nutritional value is considered on the superfood level.
The Beneficial Antioxidant and Adaptogenic Properties of Maca
Maca root promotes natural antioxidants within your body, such as glutathione and superoxide dismutase.* Antioxidants are molecules that help protect your cells against harmful free radicals, which, in excess, have been linked to potential adverse health conditions.
Maca is considered an adaptogen, a natural substance that helps your body address different types of mental and physical stressors. Maca has been shown to promote homeostasis by normalizing the production of stress hormones – helping you during challenging situations.*
Several studies have suggested that maca can help to enhance your healthy mood, particularly in postmenopausal women.* Maca contains plant compounds called flavonoids, suggested to be partly responsible for these positive mood benefits.*
Moreover, human and animal research shows that maca exhibits a normal hormone-balancing effect in women and may help ease bothersome menstruation-related symptoms.*
The natural decline in a woman’s estrogen during menopause can cause a range of unpleasant symptoms. A review of four studies with menopausal women discovered that maca showed promise in helping to ease menopausal symptoms.*
Other potential benefits of maca root reported from both human and animal studies include:
- Support for blood pressure already in the normal range.*
- Help in maintaining normal bone health.*
- Positive effects on energy levels.*
- Support for normal thyroid health.*
Even though maca has extraordinary potential benefit, it’s important to know that not all maca powders are created equal…
The Maca Processing Approach That Helps Ease Digestion
You may experience a hard time digesting raw maca due to the large quantity and type of starches in the tuber, or edible root. By weight, raw maca root can be made up of as much as 75% carbohydrates. About half of that 75% is starch, specifically amylose and amylopectin.
These difficult-to-digest starches from raw maca powder can cause digestive discomforts such as gas and bloating. That’s why selecting the right processing method is important.
Maca roots are processed for consumption in three main ways:
- Traditional Process: Traditionally, maca roots are harvested from May through July and then left in the sun to dry for 10 to 40 days. The dried roots are then boiled in water or milk until they are soft before being mashed into a porridge called mazamorra.
- Raw Maca Powder Process: Since the 1960s, raw maca powder has been made for the export market. In this process, maca roots are harvested and dried in the sun, or more recently, in dehydrators. Then, they are cleaned and ground into a very fine powder.
- Gelatinized Maca Powder Process: Gelatinized maca powder has been produced since the 1990s. The dried roots are first boiled and then pressurized in order to reduce the starch content. The removal of starch helps make the powder easier to digest. It’s important to note that nothing is added to maca during the process of gelatinization.
So what is the preferred processing approach for maca root powder? As it ensures very little starch remains in helping to ease digestive challenges, gelatinization is the preferred process. In addition, gelatinized maca root powder is:
- Highly concentrated – The lack of starch means that gram for gram, gelatinized maca is more concentrated than raw maca powders.
- More pleasing in taste – Gelatinized maca powder tends to have a smoother and sweeter taste with less bitterness than raw maca powder.
5 Key Questions to Ask When Considering a Maca Powder
Maca powder formulas can vary greatly in overall quality, plant sources and production processes. That’s why we’ve put together a list of five key questions to help guide you when searching for a top-quality formula.
Is the maca powder…
- Certified Organic?
By making sure the maca powder is Certified Organic, you can be confident you have a clean product without traces of synthetic pesticides and herbicides or genetically engineered (GE) ingredients that could potentially harm you.
- Made from maca root and not from other parts of the plant?
While all parts of the maca plant are edible, it’s the root that is considered a nutritious superfood.
- Made exclusively from Peruvian maca?
The increasing popularity of maca has led other countries, China in particular, to mass-produce their own. The issue with mass scale production is that often-times, the quality of the maca is inconsistent at best. Maca grown in the rich soils of the Peruvian Andes is by far the preferred choice.
You already should have a good understanding why this type of maca processing is preferred over raw maca powder. Gelatinization may also be avoided by some producers because raw maca roots can be easily ground into a powder quickly and less expensively.
- Produced by a trusted manufacturer with high-quality processing of the maca?
Ensuring the formula comes from a reliable source with experience in growing, harvesting and gelatinizing raw maca is essential to produce nutritious, highly concentrated and delicious powder.
Chocolate, Banana and Maca Smoothie Recipe
- 2 cups (480 ml) raw milk
- 1 cup (30 g) chard
- 1/4 cup (18 g) raw cacao powder
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
- 1 teaspoon organic gelatinized maca root powder supplement
- 1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
- 2 pitted dates
- A pinch of Himalayan salt (optional)
- 2 medium-sized frozen sliced bananas
- 1 cup (125 g) ice cubes
Combine all the ingredients into a blender, and run on “high” for 30 to 60 seconds until smooth and creamy.
Serve immediately – makes about two 16-oz. glasses.
Discover the Benefits of Organic Maca Powder Today
To help you optimize the nutrients and potential benefits of maca, as well as enjoy its great taste, we’re excited to offer you an extraordinary Organic Maca Powder supplement that is:
- USDA Certified Organic for the highest quality without synthetic ingredients.
- Made exclusively from Peruvian maca roots.
- Gelatinized for easier digestion and a delicious flavor.
- Delivered in a convenient powder that’s easy to add to your favorite smoothies.
- Produced by a trusted Peruvian partner experienced in processing high-quality gelatinized maca powder.
Containing healthful nutrients, including essential amino acids, quality fatty acids and minerals, Organic Maca Powder may help promote a healthy mood and support a woman’s normal hormonal balance, as well as provide support for normal blood pressure and bone health.*
Why settle for anything but the best when you can take advantage of Organic Maca Powder, exclusively gelatinized from raw maca root grown and harvested in the Peruvian Andes Mountains?
Enjoy Organic Maca Powder in your favorite smoothies and other beverages, and order your supply today.