Amazing Maca Root Benefits
So many factors go into being healthy, and many of these factors have to do with your lifestyle and how you fuel your body. When it comes to nutrition, you already know all about the big three nutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. However, there’s so much more to a healthy diet than macronutrients.
In order to enjoy optimal health now and to support longevity as you age, you need to be thinking about micronutrients, too. That means making sure you get enough vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other compounds that help to support the myriad of functions your body is carrying out at any given moment.
These days, there are so many new and interesting foods to try that are packed with a variety of micronutrients. Many of them are easy to include in your everyday diet in the form of juice, powder, or pill supplements.
Below, you can learn about one superfood that is sweeping the nation with its many reported benefits: maca root.
Table of contents:
- What is Maca Root?
- Maca Root Benefits for Ancient Cultures
- Learn More about Maca Root: Taste, Texture, and How to Eat It
- Health Benefits of Maca Root
- How to Store Maca Root for Optimal Freshness
- Side Effects of Maca Root
- Where to Find Maca Root
What Is Maca Root?
Maca root is a plant that typically grows in the Andes Mountains of Peru. This root is part of the cruciferous family of vegetables, which means it is closely related to many vegetables commonly eaten in the U.S., such as kale, broccoli, and cabbage.
Due to the many benefits of maca root, it has been an important part of Peruvian culture and cuisine for centuries. In fact, maca root is among a small number of edible plants that are able to survive the altitude and harsh conditions in the Andes at more than 13,000 feet.
Though maca root is a staple in Peru and nearby countries, the root’s many positive health effects have just started to become known worldwide.
Is Maca Root Considered a Superfood?
A variety of food types can be included under the category of superfood. This term refers to any food that contains significant amounts of vitamins, minerals, and other health-boosting compounds.
In most cases, superfoods are supported by extensive research that suggests noticeable improvements in health markers after regular use. Maca root falls into this category! Though maca root benefits are still being researched, many promising studies point to significant health effects from eating this superfood regularly.
Maca Root Benefits for Ancient Cultures
Since maca root is indigenous to the Andes Mountains in Peru, this root has made up a significant portion of the diets of Andean people for thousands of years.
The Andean people historically used maca as a naturopathic medicine to treat a variety of different health problems, including rheumatic disease and respiratory issues. Aside from the medicinal maca root benefits, the superfood was also a staple in everyday life for the Andean people. It was prepared as a porridge or even a fermented beverage.
Many of the residents of this area of Peru still include maca root in their everyday diets. As the demand for maca root has grown over time, more farmers in other countries are growing maca root in regions that are similar to the Andes.
For example, maca root is now plentiful in China’s Yunnan Province, a mountainous region that can support the root’s unique growing conditions.
Learn More About Maca Root: Taste, Texture, and How to Eat It
The color of maca root can vary between black, red, and yellow, and this color determines how different maca root products are categorized. Though all maca root types can offer similar health benefits, some are better suited for different needs.
Red maca powder is the most common type of maca root product for its general wellness-boosting properties and its ease of consumption.
On its own, maca root has an earthy and nutty taste with subtle hints of butterscotch, making it a delicious addition to a variety of foods. Black maca root tends to have a more bitter taste, while products with lighter-colored roots are sweeter and milder.
Different Ways to Consume Maca Root
There are so many easy and delicious ways to include maca root benefits in your healthy lifestyle. Sweeter types of maca root crushed into powder can taste great with oatmeal, cereal, smoothies, or acai bowls mixed with other fruits and vegetables.
All you have to do is add approximately one tablespoon of maca powder into your diet per day to start reaping the benefits.
Some people stick with one tablespoon per day, but others gradually increase to two or three because they enjoy the taste and want to increase their micronutrient intake even more. Make sure to start small to see how well your body reacts to maca root.
If you’re adding maca root powder into a heated dish such as oatmeal, don’t cook the maca powder in the microwave or on the stove. High temperatures can reduce the nutritional value of the superfood. Instead, just add in your maca powder after your food has been heated.
Can I Take a Maca Root Pill?
Don’t love the taste of maca root or can’t find it at your local grocery store? You can still enjoy all of the maca root benefits in pill form if it’s more convenient for you.
Maca root supplement pills are readily available in more stores than powdered or whole maca root. Maca root pills come in a variety of dosages, from low to high potency. If you’re not sure where to start, ask a medical provider or a registered dietician which dose is best for your needs.
Best Superfoods to Combine with Maca Root
Many other superfoods also come in powder form, making it easy to combine them with maca root. Some of these include ginger, acai, and camu camu, which all have their own unique flavors and health benefits. Acai is also available in puréed form if you would like to mix maca root into your favorite acai bowl!
Health Benefits of Maca Root
Because of the many maca root benefits, it’s worth including in your daily diet if you want to stay healthy long-term and enjoy better health today. As the effects of this superfood continue to be studied, its value will only increase in the wellness industry.
Packed with Antioxidants
Maca root is a great source of antioxidants, which are naturally occurring compounds that help your body fight the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are unstable atoms that are very chemically reactive, which means they have the potential to damage cells and cause disease.
Consuming antioxidants in your diet each day can help to lower the number of free radicals present in your body and reduce your risk of illness.
Due to the high content of antioxidants in maca root, there may be a link between consumption of this superfood and improved memory. According to a 2011 study, black maca, in particular, may have the ability to improve the function of memory in the brain and also increase focus.
Helps Ease Stress Symptoms
Maca root is considered an adaptogen — an herb that naturally aids the body in adapting to increased stressors. Stressors on the body could be anything from a significant change in routine to an illness, and adaptogens like maca root make it easier for the body to adjust by helping to balance the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.
This helps to regulate cortisol levels and reduce the damage that excess stress can cause to the body over time.
Eases Menopause Symptoms
Every woman reaches menopause, which is the time menstrual periods cease. Estrogen levels decrease significantly during menopause, so menopause can come along with a variety of related symptoms like mood swings, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and trouble sleeping.
Early studies suggest that maca root may have some benefits for women going through menopause. It could help to alleviate the severity of uncomfortable symptoms. However, maca root is not a replacement for hormone treatments, sleep supplements, or over-the-counter pain medication.
May Preserve Brain Function
Keeping a high level of cognitive function as you age is a priority for most people, and maca root is one of many natural foods that may have properties to support that.
In fact, one study conducted with rats that had regular access to maca root indicated a likely correlation between the superfood and improved brain function and motor skills. This could mean preserved cognitive function could be confirmed as one of the best maca root benefits after more research.
How to Store Maca Root for Optimal Freshness
Properly storing your maca root at home will depend on which form you purchased it in. Maca root pills are the easiest to store as they don’t have to be refrigerated and can be kept for a long period without expiring.
However, it’s still important to check the expiration date on all pill supplements before consumption and to store your maca root pills in a cool, dry place.
Maca root powder is also relatively long-lasting, depending on how well you seal it between uses. Store your maca powder in an enclosed area away from the sunlight, such as a drawer, cabinet, or pantry. Maca root powder usually doesn’t need to be refrigerated, but it may be necessary if you live in an especially humid climate.
Whole maca root is typically harder to find than its other forms, but if you do purchase whole maca root, keep it as you would any root vegetable. That could mean keeping it unrefrigerated in a cool area of your kitchen and consuming within a few days or refrigerating it to extend its shelf life.
Side Effects and Concerns to Be Aware of
Maca root is generally safe for consumption, but you should always make sure you’re buying maca root powder or supplements from a highly reviewed and tested brand. Additionally, those with thyroid issues may want to moderate their intake of maca root due to its high levels of goitrogens, which can impair the function of the thyroid.
Where to Find Maca Root
Maca root supplements are available in most health food stores. But what if you could start your juice cleanse without even leaving your front door? Clean Juice is here to make that a reality.
Visit our website to learn more about jump-starting or maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Contact us today to get started with Clean Juice.
- National Library of Medicine
- Top 9 Adaptogenic Herbs
- Medical News Today
- Maca Root Benefits
- Gaia Herbs
Disclaimer: The information presented here is for educational purposes only and is in no way intended as a substitute for medical counseling. Consult your doctor before using any health treatment, including natural remedies, and tell your doctor if you have a serious medical condition or are taking any medications.
If you’re unsure whether maca root would be a healthy addition to your wellness routine, ask your doctor if any of your health details might make it unsafe for you.