Some of the best things start with the word “maca.”
There’s the macarena. And of course macaroni. But my favorite maca is maca root!
While maca has only recently garnered the interest from other parts of the world, Peruvians have been using maca for medicinal and culinary purposes for thousands of years.
And after flying to Peru to visit our maca farmer, I was inspired to share the magic behind maca!
What is maca?
Maca (pronounced mah-kah), or maca root, grows exclusively in the mountains of Peru and at very high altitudes. (We source our maca from a farm at 18,000 feet!) Due to the harsh conditions, it’s one of the only things that grows at that height.
The name “maca root” is misleading because it’s actually a cruciferous vegetable, which means it's related to kale, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.
Maca root, also known as Peruvian ginseng, grows underground and looks similar to a turnip or parsnip. It comes in a variety of colors including red, white (or gold) and black.
On the inside, maca is loaded with important vitamins and minerals (it rivals baobab when it comes to vitamin C!), as well as 20 amino acids — 8 of them essential.
Like other cruciferous vegetables, maca contains glucosinolates. When chewed, blended or chopped, a chemical reaction converts glucosinolates to isothiocyanates (ITCs), which are known for their anti-cancer effects.
7 magical maca root health benefits
1. Maca root increases libido
Looking for some sexual healing? Forget Marvin Gaye; it’s all about maca! One of maca’s most well-known (and heavily marketed) benefits is that it’s an aphrodisiac. And science backs that claim up!
According to a 2010 systematic review, two randomized clinical trials suggested that maca can have a positive effect on sexual dysfunction or sexual desire in both menopausal women and adult men after 6 weeks of ingestion.
Maca seems to be especially potent for males. A 2002 study found that compared to those who took a placebo, men who consumed 1.5-3 grams of maca experienced an increase in sexual desire.
2. Maca root reduces erectile dysfunction
Maca is like the viagra of superfoods — it reduces erectile dysfunction. A small 2009 study, researchers gave 50 men with mild erectile dysfunction 2.4 grams of maca extract or a placebo.
After 12 weeks, the men who received the maca extract saw a “significant effect” on their sexual performance.
3. Maca root increases male fertility
Need more proof that maca is party in your plants? In addition to improving male arousal and sexual performance, it also increases male fertility.
In a 2015 study, researchers provided 20 male volunteers aged 24-40 with maca. After taking 1.4 grams of the Peruvian penile superfood or a placebo every day for 12 weeks, “sperm concentration and motility showed rising trends.”
Another systematic review of small randomized clinical trials showered similar results that maca root did in fact improve semen quality.
4. Maca root improves your mood
Looking for a natural way to improve your mood (besides our Chocolate Lover mix)? Maca can help!
One study showed that maca root reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, especially in post-menopausal women. (The same study also showed maca root can also lowers sexual dysfunction.)
This may be due to the fact that maca contains flavonoids.
5. Maca root balances hormones
Maca is an adaptogen, which means it can help the body naturally adapt to external stressors.
One of maca's many adaptogenic functions is its ability to balance hormones either when your body is under or over producing them.
A 2006 study published in “International Biomedical Science Journal,” found that organic maca is particularly beneficial for early post-menopausal women. The study concluded maca balanced hormone levels and relieved symptoms of menopausal discomfort, including hot flashes and night sweating.
6. Maca root provides a boost of energy
Maca is a popular supplement with athletes and bodybuilders because its believed to increase athletic endurance and performance.
Few clinical studies have been conducted, but legend has it that Incan soldiers would carry maca into battle for strength and endurance. Even our maca farmer admits he eats maca for its energizing effects to play soccer!
7. Maca root may improve memory
Add maca root to the list of brain superfoods! (It’s also why we include it in our Power Matcha mix!)
In Peru, natives give maca to children to improve their performance in school. And various animal studies also support maca’s memory-enhancing capabilities.
How to use maca root
Maca has a nutty flavor and you’ll mostly find maca root in powdered form, like in our Energy Bomb, Power Matcha and Forever Beautiful mixes.
While maca is mostly harvested for its root (Michael took a bite out of one that was freshly plucked from the Peruvian dirt!) you can also eat the greens.
We source our maca from a small organic farm in Peru. Compared to large farms, a small farm allows for better control, especially when it comes to pests. Large farms will use insecticides or pesticides, our organic farm doesn’t. Instead, they farmers are able to check the area frequently and if there is a problem, they can remove it before it becomes widespread.
We believe we have some of the best tasting maca powder available. The secret? Jorge, our maca farmer, says it’s because he makes an offering to the land and his ancestors before he plants the seeds.
Adding maca into your diet is super easy. Just add any of our four supermixes that include maca to your smoothies, oatmeal, water or plant-based milk and start soaking up that maca magic!