It’s time you experienced the health benefits of maca root
08/13/2020 / By Leslie Locklear / Comments
It’s time you experienced the health benefits of maca root

This might sound like something straight out of an Indiana Jones movie, but high up in the Andes mountains of South America grows a root crop that might just give your early morning cup of joe a run for its money: the maca plant.

Also known as “Peruvian ginseng,” the maca plant, or Lepidium meyenii, is a cruciferous vegetable whose taproot was once extensively used by the Incas and other Andean peoples as a food source and as a component of traditional medicines and potions.

According to historians, the Incas — who were among the first to cultivate the plant 2,000 years ago — held maca in such high regard because they believed it could supply whoever ate its roots with the strength, endurance and vitality needed to survive the harsh Andean wilderness.

And as it turns out, maca does possess all of these properties, and they’re all thanks to its impressive nutrient stores.

The maca plant’s taproot is made up of 65 percent carbohydrates, 13 percent protein, 8.5 percent insoluble fiber and 2.2 percent fat. It also contains vitamins B1, B2, C and E, as well as minerals like iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus.

From a one-ounce serving of this potent superfood, you can get the following:

  • 4 grams of protein
  • 2 grams of fiber
  • 85 percent of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for copper
  • 23 percent  of the RDI for iron
  • 15 percent  of the RDI for potassium
  • 10 percent  of the RDI for manganese
  • 133 percent  of the RDI for vitamin C
  • 15 percent of the RDI for vitamin B6

Maca root also contains large amounts of antioxidants, amino acids, free-form fatty acids and plant sterols. This, according to experts, is what makes maca root one of the world’s most potent superfoods.

Still not convinced? Here’s another fact: Because it is so nutritious, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) even included maca root in their advanced space menu in the early 1990s, upon the suggestion of Carlos Noriega, a Peruvian-American astronaut. How’s that for an endorsement?

What health benefits can I get from maca roots?

An ancient superfood in more ways than one, the maca root is chock-full of health-promoting nutrients and plant compounds, all of which unsurprisingly, have been linked to numerous health benefits.

Here are some of them:

Maca root can help increase your energy levels

Perhaps the closest thing the Ancient Incas had to energy bars or espresso shots, the maca root possesses impressive energy-boosting properties. It’s effects are so potent, in fact, that they surpass those of coffee and mass-market energy drinks without causing that nasty caffeine- and sugar-induced crash, of course.

According to a study published in The Journal of Ethnopharmacology, male cyclists showed significantly improved performance during a 40-kilometer timed trial after consuming maca root extract for two weeks. How’s that for an energy enhancer?

Maca root contains natural antioxidants

Aside from being a wellspring of vitamins and minerals, maca root also contains large amounts of catechins and polyphenols — bioactive plant chemicals that are known for their potent antioxidant properties.

Because of its high levels of antioxidants, experts say maca root can help protect the body from oxidative stress and damage, as well as other external threats.

Maca root supports healthy cognitive function and helps uplift your mood

If you’re planning to pull an all-nighter for work or school, then maca root powder might just be what you need.

According to a review published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, maca root can help support mental clarity and healthy cognitive function, thanks to its antioxidant properties.

Practically a gift that just keeps on giving, maca root’s energy-boosting capabilities can also support your ability to focus on your tasks more efficiently. How great is that?

Maca root can help decrease stressful feelings

If you’re starting to feel a bit stressed from work, consider yourself lucky because maca root is also a powerful adaptogen.

Adaptogens are herbs, plants or natural substances that help the body achieve homeostasis or balance, allowing it to adapt to different stressors more effectively.

This means that adding maca root to your favorite recipes regularly can help your body maintain a healthy stress response.

Maca root can support healthy libido in both men and women

According to historians, Inca royalty and warriors would eat maca root during times of war. This is because maca root improves vigor and ferocity, which every warrior needs on the battlefield. Maca root is also a powerful aphrodisiac.

According to a study published in the journal Andrologia, maca root successfully increased self-reported sexual desire in men after eight weeks of supplementation. The researchers noted that maca root exerted this effect regardless of other factors that could have influenced the participants’ libido, such as hormone levels and mood.

Are maca roots hard to find?

Because of its exotic nature and colorful history, you might be thinking that getting your hand on maca root would be difficult. But that — fortunately — is not the case.

Maca root, in the form of flour, extracts or supplements, is readily available in most health food stores and specialty groceries.

But those looking for fresh maca root may be out of luck, however, as the export of unprocessed maca roots and seeds has been banned by the Peruvian government since 2003.

Are there risks to adding maca to my diet?

According to the Botanical Safety Handbook: 2nd Edition, maca root is rated as a Safety Class 1A herb, which means it is generally safe to consume. But because of its potency, maca root may cause digestive issues if you incorporate large amounts of it into your diet.

According to nutritionists, while the general serving size of maca ranges from one to two tablespoons, it is better to start with one-fourth to one-half teaspoon of the powdered root every other day until the body gets used to it.

How can I add maca powder to my diet?

Aside from it being quite a ubiquitous product in health food stores, maca root is incredibly easy to add to any type of diet: You can either take it as a supplement, or, if you purchase it in powdered form, add it to foods like smoothies, baked goods, porridge and even desserts.

With that being said, here are some recipes that you can try:

RECIPE: Almond, Maca and Cinnamon Smoothie

Smoothies are a good way to incorporate superfoods into your daily diet. This simple recipe is a creamy, tasty treat that’s perfect as a liquid dessert or as a filling post-workout snack.


  • 2 Tablespoons organic raw almond butter
  • 1 Tablespoon organic virgin flaxseed oil
  • 2 Teaspoons organic maca root powder
  • ½ Teaspoon ground organic cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon organic pea protein powder
  • 1 Teaspoon organic vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ Cups organic coconut milk or any organic vegan milk substitute
  • Approximately 10 ice cubes
  • 2 Organic medjool dates, pitted


  1. Put everything into a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Taste and adjust flavors, if needed.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

RECIPE: 5-Ingredient Vegan Dark Chocolate Matcha Cups

Who says healthy can’t be tasty? Combining three very different yet equally tasty flavors together, these vegan dark chocolate cups are a match made in antioxidant heaven!


  • 2 Cups vegan dark chocolate chips
  • 2 Teaspoons extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon matcha powder
  • 1/3 Cup creamy cashew butter
  • 1 1/5 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 Teaspoon maca root powder


  1. Line your mini muffin pan with liners. Alternatively, spray the muffin pan with vegan cooking spray or wipe with extra virgin coconut oil.
  2. Place half of the chocolate and coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between until the mixture is well-incorporated.
  3. When the chocolate mixture has melted, fill each liner about a third of the way full.
  4. Place the muffin pan in the freezer.
  5. While waiting for the chocolate to harden, prepare the matcha filling.
  6. In a food processor, blend together the matcha powder, cashew butter and maple syrup until well-incorporated.
  7. Roll the mixture into little balls.
  8. Check if the chocolate has set.
  9. Once set, add the matcha balls on top of the dark chocolate layer in each muffin tin.
  10. Repeat the second step using the remaining chocolate and coconut oil.
  11. Pour on top of the matcha balls.
  12. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes or until fully set.

A superfood in every sense of the word, maca root is a potent ingredient and supplement that you can add to your daily diet. With its impressive nutritional profile and well-documented health benefits, maca root will certainly make a difference in your overall health and wellness.

Sources include: 1 2 3

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