The Peruvian herb, maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a wonderful addition to many diets due to its numerous medicinal properties that benefit both the body and mind.
In its natural form, the maca plant is recognizable for its frilly leaves, green top and fleshy root, the latter of which is unique to plants within maca’s genus. Found in various colors, including cream, gold, green, blue, red, purple and black, the maca root is the part of the plant hailed in the herbal medicine realm as a multi-faceted remedy for common ailments.
Maca root has been safely consumed by people over hundreds of years, and modern research studies have examined the positive effects that this herb offers on specific areas of health and well-being. Read on to discover nine ways that maca, in cooked, capsule or powdered form, can help to make your natural diet even more marvelous!
1. Provides An Increase In Energy
If you tend to feel tired or sluggish regularly, and you are looking for a natural way to boost your energy levels, maca root just might be for you. The nutritional punch that maca root packs can help you to feel more alert, clear-minded and capable of performing daily tasks. Maca root’s effects on energy levels have been studied by researchers, and one summary of multiple experiments involving different colors of maca found that the black-colored variety is particularly beneficial for relieving fatigue. Try some maca in the mornings to get your body moving.
2. Offers Versatility In Preparation And Consumption
Although the most common way to consume maca root is in powder and capsule form, you can also get creative with cooking it if you wish. Although some people find maca root to be somewhat bitter, and therefore an acquired taste, in vegetable form it can be boiled, mashed, fermented, ground into flour or roasted. Keep in mind that maca root should not be eaten raw, as cooking it dilutes the strong bitterness. If you choose to take it as an herbal supplement, aim for one tablespoon of powder or two 500-mg capsules on a daily basis.
3. Packs A Great Deal Of Fiber And Minerals
As is the case with many herbal medicines, maca root is an excellent source of various nutrients and minerals that work to keep your body systems functioning properly. It is quite high in dietary fiber and therefore ideal for encouraging a healthy digestive system. Consider maca root as a supplement if you need a boost of calcium, magnesium, selenium and potassium. Healthy fatty acids, such as linolenic acid and oleic acid, are found in maca root, as are 19 amino acids. This herb is also naturally low in sodium and a good source of zinc and iron.
4. Relieves Bothersome Symptoms Of Menopause
Menopause can be a trying time for many women, with hot flashes, extreme fatigue, vaginal dryness, difficulty in falling asleep, lowered libido and low mood being among the most common symptoms. These symptoms are brought about by hormonal changes and fluctuations, which can be brought back into balance with the use of maca root. Women who are reluctant to take traditional medications to treat menopause can try maca as a natural, gentler way to ease discomfort. One study shows that maca is significantly effective in alleviating psychological symptoms such as anxiety and sexual dysfunction in women who have gone through menopause.
5. Enhances Mood And Lifts Mild Depression
Depression affects millions of people in varying degrees of severity, and those with milder symptoms of the disorder may wish to try maca root as an alternative to traditional antidepressant medications. If you experience this type of depression but are concerned about medication side effects such as fatigue, weight gain, nausea and headaches, opt for maca root, which can balance your brain chemistry without causing physical or mental complications. In fact, an interesting research study performed on mice demonstrated that six weeks of maca extract ingestion at levels of 250 and 500 mg/kg resulted in antidepressant effects caused by an increase in dopamine and noradrenaline.
6. Elevates Libido And Fertility In Men
Women are not the only ones who can enjoy an improved quality of life with help from maca root; the herbal supplement is also known to offer benefits for men who experience fertility and libido issues. Used for this purpose by Peruvians since ancient times, maca is a natural aphrodisiac, alleviating low sex drive, impotency and other issues related to sexual dysfunction in men. Those who are affected by frustration, anxiety and low self-confidence in regard to decreased male fertility can also explore maca as a remedy. Consider this study in which maca showed promise in increasing both sperm motility and count.
7. Helps To Reduce Pre-Menstrual And Menstrual Issues
In addition to treating symptoms of menopause that negatively affect women’s physical and mental health, maca provides relief from a number of side effects associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menstruation itself. Integrate maca into your dietary routine as a means of easing the most bothersome bodily symptoms of PMS and menstruation, including heavy bleeding and cramping. Because women who are either having or soon expecting a period also commonly suffer from low or fluctuating moods, the mental health benefits of maca can calm the mind as well as the body during this monthly process.
8. Clears Up Acne And Other Skin Problems
If you enjoy taking a natural approach to skin care, you may be pleased to know that maca is a great herb for treating skin issues and maintaining epidermal health. Give maca a try if your skin is plagued with acne, for example, as the herb’s effects on this skin condition can be positive for both women and men. The damage caused to skin by UVA and UVB ray exposure, which is common in people who spend a great deal of time in the sun, may also be prevented or reduced with help from maca extract. A study done on mice with black, yellow and red maca extract applied topically showed antioxidant benefits and the prevention of sunburn cells forming from UVB rays.
9. Boosts Athletic Endurance And Stamina
Elevate your athletic endurance and increase your stamina during intense physical activity by adding maca to your regimen of natural supplements. When given to cyclists in a research study, maca extract was shown to improve their overall time and performance.
Ensure that your diet supplies you with a healthy amount of iodine when taking maca, as this herb is a source of glucosinolates, which are linked to goiters in conjunction with low iodine levels. One easy way to alleviate any concerns in this area is to opt for maca varieties with roots of black, red, purple and other dark colors. These types of maca are naturally iodine-rich in addition to offering the various health benefits associated with this magical herb.