Everything You Need to Know About Maca

The harsh, seemingly inhospitable regions of the high Andes are full of glorious gifts to the world, and maca, a root vegetable in the mustard family, is among them.
by on Friday, January 14, 2022

Maca Root: A Gift From the Andes

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The harsh, seemingly inhospitable regions of the high Andes are full of glorious gifts to the world. Maca, a root vegetable in the mustard family, is among them. It is one of a few crops that can be grown at extremely high altitudes (up to 15,000ft / 4500 meters). Its benefits have reached from the livestock of Peru to humans all over the world.

History & Origin

The plant is native to the Peruvian Central Andes, and maca of the best quality maca still orginiates there. According to archaeological findings, humans began domesticating maca root began about 2000 years ago in what is now Junin, Peru. Maca does grow in other climates. However, the medicinal root is largest and most potent when it comes from its original home of the high Andes.

People indigenous to the area recognized the positive effects that maca root had for their livestock. It gave them energy and fertility, among other benefits. So they began consuming it themselves. Maca became an important staple of the Andean diet as well as a medicinal supplement. This nutritionally dense plant supported the people to adapt, reproduce, and thrive in harsh conditions. The Andes are known for extreme cold, rugged terrain, low oxygen, intense sunlight and strong winds. 

Maca, which grows naturally in a variety of colors, in the wild and in cultivation, is in the Brassicaceae family. Apart from being fun to say, this is a family of vegetables with loads of health benefits. Maca shares many of these with other members of its plant family, like broccoli, kale, cabbage, rutabagas, turnips, and radishes.

Maca hit international markets for the first time in 1964, but it wasn’t widely accepted until the early 2000s. During the 1980s, maca cultivation reached record lows. In the late 1990s, health conscious doctors and other people outside of Latin America began to use maca powder began to use maca. From 2000 to 2010 Peru’s export of maca multiplied by five. It suddenly became one of the country’s top exports.

Nutrition & Health Benefits

Maca root is a good source of carbs, is low in fat, and contains a fair amount of fiber. It has some protein. Maca is also high in some essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C and vitamin B6, copper, iron, potassium and manganese. It contains various plant compounds, including glucosinolates and polyphenols. It’s a real sampler platter of nutrition, along with some fun other properties too. 

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Maca contains plant compounds called flavonoids. These have been suggested to be at least partly responsible for certain psychological benefits, such as reduced anxiety and symptoms of depression, particularly in menopausal women. 

Rumor has it that maca is also good at improving sexual desire. A review from 2010 found evidence that maca improves sexual desire after at least six weeks of consistent consumption. Although the studies include very small sample sizes, there is also some evidence that maca can increase fertility in men and ease the symptoms of menopause in women. 

Maca root powder is a popular supplement among bodybuilders and athletes, with claims of muscle gains, increased strength, boosted energy and improved exercise performance. Evidence is slim, but a few animal studies and one small study of male cyclists do point to this outcome. 

Legend has it that Incan warriors used maca to maintain vigor and vitality. 

Best Ways To Use Maca

Maca comes in powder form, so you can easily mix it into many of your preferred drinks, doughs, and dishes. Try it in all your favorite smoothies. It also works well with overnight oats or mixed into pancakes and waffles.

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The general recommendation is to take 20 grams of maca powder per day. As with any new supplement, it may be best to start with less. 

Maca powder has a butterscotch-like smell and a nutty flavor. It is a good option for adding an energy boost to your morning smoothies. It is especially good with smoothies that have a creamy, caramel or cacao flavor. 

Try a smoothie with banana, cacao, cashew milk, chia and maca. You won’t be disappointed. 

Or sweeten your golden milk with maca powder for an immune-boosting, inflammation-fighting, and energy-giving treat. 

Maca Root Producers From Our Network

Pachamama Qampac is a producer from Panama that not only sells quality products, but also offers extensive nutrition counseling as part of their model. They believe that all our food is a gift from Mother Earth to nourish us and that part of living in a healthy way is using the food we consume to raise our awareness. The brand aims to share this belief and practice with the world. 

Maca is a gift from the Andes, full of energy-giving, vitality-boosting vigor. Mix it in to a smoothie or oatmeal today and let us know how you feel.

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