I do believe that one of the food and wellness trends for 2017 will be focusing more on local foods and produce and trying to cut down on food consumed with heavy air miles i.e. they have travelled a long way before they get to you. A great example of this is superfoods. Superfoods are usually very expensive powders, sourced a lot of the time from South America. I feel that in time we will be using less superfoods and more locally grown foods. However one superfood that I am a big fan of is Maca.
What is Maca?
Maca is a cruciferous vegetable similar to broccoli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage although it has a nutty, earthy flavour. It is grown in Peru at high altitude and it is the root that is consumed, usually in a powder form but sometimes in capsules or liquid. It contains over 55 naturally occurring phyto-chemicals which are especially essential for hormonal health. Maca assists the body to produce hormones consistently and effectively by bringing balance to the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. It is a highly nutritious food.
28g Maca also contains:
20g carbohydrates (of which 2g is fibre and 9g is sugar)
4g protein (including over 20 amino acids, 8 of which are essential)
133% RDI Vitamin C
16% RDI Vitamin B6
23% RDI Iron
16% RDI Potassium
11% RDI Manganese
*Recommended Daily Intake
What are the other benefits of Maca?
Maca root is referred to by many other names such as ‘Peruvian Gingseng’ or ‘natural Viagra’ because of the benefits that it can have. Some of these may include:
1. Increased Energy (better than caffeine!)
2. Increased Stamina
Maca has been shown to assist athletes because it can help build muscle and boost energy and stamina. Various studies have shown increased stamina during running and cycling trials although these are mainly small studies or animal studies, therefore further research is warranted in this area
3. Increased Libido (Both men and women)
4. Helps improve Fertility and Sperm Quality
A 2001 study published in the Asian Journal of Andrology showed that men who took maca for four months showed in an increase in volume, count and motility of sperm.
5. Helps ease Menopausal Symptoms
Including hot flushes and disturbed sleep as well as protecting bone health which can decline when hormone levels
6. Assist with Memory and Concentration as well as Feeling Alert
Studies have shown that maca can assist with and improve mitochondrial function and slow down age related cognitive decline
7. Improves Mood
Research studies have shown that maca can assist with symptoms of depression especially during menopause.
8. Assists with Coping with Stress
9. Antioxidant Booster
Maca acts as a natural antioxidant and can boost levels of glutathione and superoxide dismutase , thereby providing immune support as well as balancing cholesterol and glucose levels.
Maca can be added to smoothies, cereal or home baked goodies such as museli bars.
Whilst maca is considered to be generally safe there are some situations where cautious use is recommended. If you are affected by any of the following please be sure to discuss with your medical practitioner prior to use:
- Thyroid Issues
- Copper toxicity
- MTHFR polymorphisms
- High blood pressure
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding please consult with your medical practitioner before consuming maca.
One of my favourite smoothie recipes using maca can be found here.
If you’re interested in incorporating maca into your diet, click here to purchase.