10 Health Benefits of Maca


Maca is found in the Peruvian Andes mountains thousands of feet above the ground. Maca is a vegetable related to the white radish family, and the communities in Peru have used the root of the vegetable for medical and cooking purposes for hundreds of years. This specific vegetable is unlike any other due to its dense nutritional value. One ounce of maca root powder contains protein, vitamin C, fiber, copper, iron, potassium, vitamin B6, and manganese. The people of Peru mainly consume the root in a dry, crushed form in order to keep all of its vitamins and minerals from breaking down. Drying the root activates its biochemicals. Here are the 10 health benefits to adding Maca to your next smoothie or breakfast: 

  • Boosting energy and endurance: Maca is believed to provide strength and endurance. The biochemical macamides from the maca act to balance and benefit our brain. This chemical is activated once the maca is dried correctly for 3 months. This results in an improved reaction to stressors and better control over the nervous system once ingested. The more control over the nervous system our body has, the fewer swings in hormones, mood, energy, immunity, and cognition our body will go through in times of chronic stress. 
  • Increasing fertility in men: In Peru, it has been believed for decades that maca has the potential to increase fertility in men. In this recent study by Ana Alcalde, sixty-nine patients with mild asthenozoospermia and/or mild oligozoospermia, which means patients with reduced sperm motility and/or low sperm count, were given two grams of maca for 12-weeks. The patients treated with maca showed improved seminal concentration compared to patients treated with placebo, but the sperm’s size, shape, volume, and mobility were not significantly changed. 
  • Improving mood: In Peru, maca is referred to as the food of the brain. Maca is widely believed to help enhance resistance to stress, whether it is physical or emotional. It can also help with anxiety and depression. In this study, they tested petroleum ether extract from maca in mice and confirmed the results. Maca can reduce psychological symptoms associated with mental health imbalances independent of hormonal production.  In addition, maca acts like an antidepressant and can be used as a medical food for individuals with depression. However, further studies are necessary to identify the specific compounds that produce these effects. 
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  • Reducing blood pressure: Maca may also be used to improve blood pressure. In a study by L. Stojanovska, twenty-nine postmenopausal Chinese women received either a placebo or 3.3g/day of maca for 12-weeks. The maca extract showed significant decreases in diastolic blood pressure and decrease in depression after testing at weeks 6 and 12. 
  • Increase libido in men and women: Like oysters, dark chocolate, truffles, celery, etc. Maca is also said to increase sexual drive and function. There is little recent clinical evidence to support the effectiveness of maca as an aphrodisiac benefactor, but Dr. Hyla Cass stated that maca “restore hormonal imbalance and related sexual desire.” In a 2002 study, postmenopausal women benefited from taking 3.5g/day of maca and resulted in lower sexual dysfunction. 
  • Relieve symptoms of menopause: Maca root is believed to help balance levels of the hormone estrogen in perimenopause women. This stage is where the estrogen level fluctuates, which results in various symptoms. Maca itself does not contain estrogen or hormones. Maca helps normalize the effects of this condition including, but not limited to, hot flashes, low sex drive, mood changes, fatigue. To help control the symptoms it is advised to take two tablets a day of maca.
  • Improve learning and memory: The root of the maca comes in various colors and each is believed to have its unique properties. For example, the yellow maca can build long-term mental balance, the black maca can benefit your memory and act as an antidepressant. In addition, the black maca is said to improve motor neuron function, mental clarity, and cognitive function. A recent study showed maca improved endurance capacity and motor coordination in middle-aged mice. Furthermore, for the first time, the neuroprotective effects of maca were followed by the advancement of mitochondrial respiratory function. In conclusion, cognitive function is associated with mitochondrial respiration.
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  • Antioxidant-rich: Maca has many properties that benefit our bodies. A study showed that glucosinolates and macamides are responsible for the plants’ antioxidant activity in yellow maca. Antioxidants are similar to vitamins and minerals but antioxidants prevent the damage caused by free radicals by neutralizing them.  In addition, the maca properties promote glutathione and superoxide dismutase in the body which are natural antioxidants. Maca extract can also have a protective effect when applied to your skin, and this is attributed to polyphenol antioxidants and glucosinolates. This makes it act similar to sunscreen but should not fully replace actual sunscreen. 
  • Vitamins and minerals: Maca has been known to benefit our body in many ways. For example, maca contains calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B1 and B12, and fatty acids that help control the nervous system.  In addition, maca has sterols, calcium, and vitamin C to build body muscle mass and starches that aid in physical endurance. 
  • Reducing erectile dysfunction: Sexual dysfunction is a condition that affects 20-30% of men and 40-45% of women. Researchers from Pusan National University’s Division of Clinical Medicine in South Korea confirmed that maca improved the effects of erectile dysfunction (ED) in male patients. Furthermore, they performed a randomized clinical trial and assessed the effects of maca in patients with ED using the International Index of ED-5; this assessment showed significant results. 

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