This plant grows only at altitude and mainly in Peru (Andres plateau from 3500 to 4500 m). It has been cultivated there for at least 3000 years. It grows in extreme climatic conditions (winds, rocky ground, freezing temperature at night). Originally eaten fresh like a potato, maca could also be dried, then reduced to powder for better preservation. This powder could be used to cook oatmeal or pancakes or to be exchanged for corn which is not cultivated at high altitude. Even today, Peruvians consume large amounts of it up to 500 g per day. According to traditional Peruvian medicine, the medicinal properties of dried maca are numerous: sexual and fertility disorders, weakened immune system, anemia, tuberculosis, menstrual disorders, menopausal symptoms, constipation, joint pain, depression, etc. It is nicknamed “Peruvian Ginseng”.
Nutritional value of maca powder
|For ¼ cup (60 ml)|
|Dietary fiber||2 g|
|Vitamin C||80 mg|
Health effects of maca powder
Unfortunately, scientific studies on maca powder and its benefits are very limited and of poor methodological quality. The effects on sexual health, as well as on the mood balance during menopause are promising, but we will have to wait a little while before issuing recommendations, especially on the dosage to have a significant effect.
Vitamin C / antioxidants
Maca powder is an excellent source of vitamin C. In addition to its antioxidant role, vitamin C contributes to the maintenance of the integrity of the skin, helps wound healing, protects cells from premature aging caused by free radicals and facilitates immune functions. In addition, it facilitates the absorption of non-heme iron of plant origin.
Maca also contains flavonoids and isothiocynates, compounds with strong antioxidant potential (1).
Maca powder is a good source of plant-based iron. This mineral is essential for the transport of oxygen and the formation of red blood cells in the blood. It also plays a role in the production of new cells, hormones and neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses). It should be noted that the iron contained in plants is not absorbed as well by the body as the iron contained in food of animal origin. However, the absorption of iron from plants is favored if it is consumed with certain nutrients, such as vitamin C.
Use of maca
Maca is sold in dried powder form or in capsule or liquid form. It is found in health food supermarkets or in the aisle of organic products at the grocery store. Maca has a nutty and caramel flavor. It can therefore be added to muffin recipes, in smoothies, breakfast cereals, oatmeal, yogurt, coffee, and even in salad dressings. Maca powder can be stored for 10 months in a cool, dry place, away from light and moisture.
If you are taking any medication, ask your pharmacist or doctor before starting daily consumption of maca.