3 Essential Reasons Why You Should Include Maca Root in Your Daily Routine
by Vickie Chin on May 01, 2023
Fed up with constantly battling fatigue? Does it feel like your mood is on a never-ending rollercoaster?
It's time to break free from these daily challenges and welcome a life brimming with energy and emotional harmony. Introducing Maca root – the ancient energy superfood that's been a trusted ally for generations in the Andes, addressing concerns ranging from fertility issues to weak bones to forgetfulness.
What Is Maca?
The maca root looks somewhat like an ugly turnip and is in the cruciferous family of vegetables. It's a food crop but is also used as a dietary supplement in its dried and powdered form. The Latin name for it is Lepidium meyenii, and it comes in several colors, such as yellow, red, and black. Each color has slightly different properties.
Because it's a food and not a drug, the medicinal benefits of the plant have not been confirmed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but there are numerous reports of improved health when maca is added to the diet.
It is a known adaptogen, which helps the body adapt to stressful situations, and it also has other important chemical compositions that may improve several areas of health. Some of these components are alkaloids and glucosinolates which are thought to have some medicinal properties.
Maca nutrients include dietary fiber, protein, vitamin C, copper, and a variety of other antioxidants, phytonutrients, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that are essential to good health. It's a real superfood, as described in our Superfood Spotlight: Maca.
Positive Effects of Using Maca
Ongoing research is investigating the many benefits that are historically said to be associated with the consumption of maca root. The effects most often cited are those related to the ability to manage stress, improve energy and stamina, balance hormones, support mood, and improve memory. There are few reports of negative effects.
Better quality of life is certainly a result worth investigating for yourself. Overall, the reported positive effects are impressive enough to look into maca root a little closer. The three that stand out as being beneficial to everyone are described below.
Enhanced Energy Levels
Having more energy without the jitteriness that caffeine can cause allows one to enjoy life more fully. Maca energy is a natural energy that does not leave us feeling exhausted at the end of a busy day. We can stay active without that afternoon slump that comes with artificial energy boosters.
The importance of being active is well-known and the benefits are undeniable. But so many of us hit an energy deficit before we get done with our responsibilities. There's just no energy to add an exercise routine to our already overwhelming daily routine.
Maintaining good energy levels throughout the day is so important for getting in enough activity to promote a healthy weight and good cardiovascular health. Exercise should energize us, not exhaust us. That's what can happen if we do not have the energy to go to the gym or take that walk after work.
It's said that the Incas used maca to give them extra energy before going into battle. Our battles are not usually rooted in warfare but in the challenges of modern life. Our jobs, our families, and our interests and hobbies all require our energy. Regular use of maca can ensure that we have enough energy for all those important aspects of life.
Boosted Stamina and Endurance
Athletes may find that the maca stamina and maca endurance they get by adding a supplement to their diets gives them an edge in competition. You don't have to be a pro athlete, either. It helps the after-work gym visitor work out more efficiently just as much as it helps the sports team heroes seen on TV.
The adaptogenic qualities of maca root help the body meet the challenges of both physical and mental stress. It can help muscles work harder and longer.
No matter if your sport is weight lifting, bike racing, or running marathons, maca can give your muscles that extra energy to go the distance.
And the antioxidant qualities help prevent and repair cellular damage. Both results can boost stamina and endurance by protecting our bodies from the wear and tear of our athletic endeavors.
Improved Mood and Memory
Being healthier and more energetic just makes us feel better, which naturally improves our mood. Having the energy to exercise boosts our endorphins, making us happier. That's just one way that maca improves our mood.
Using maca root for mood enhancement has some scientific support. Flavonoids have been shown to decrease both anxiety and depression in some people. Adaptogens help us cope with stressful situations, which also supports both our mood and our memory. The same can be said for having balanced hormones. Maca root is full of those healthy flavinoids and adaptogens!
Our cognitive abilities improve when we have less stress and more energy. Maca could also delay or improve some age-related memory loss for some people. Studies are being done on this aspect of better health with maca supplementation.
Anything that improves our cardiovascular health will also improve blood flow to our brains, which improves our memory and ability to think. Healthy bodies and healthy brains go together. Maca root can benefit both.
How to Use Maca
You probably will not be able to find fresh maca root outside of its traditional growing area in the Andes. However, it's not hard to find maca in powdered form as a dietary supplement. There are also preparations in capsule and liquid forms, but for dietary supplementation, the powder is the way to go.
Here's how to use maca powder for health and vitality.
The gelatinized form has less starch and is easier to digest. It's best when taken cold rather than heated, which can destroy some of the nutrients. This is not to say that it should not be added to warm beverages or foods, just that you don't want to cook it at high heat.
Choosing which color of maca to use does not have to be tricky. They all have similar benefits, although some colors are known for certain health benefits. Generally speaking, darker colors have a stronger effect on hormones and contain higher levels of antioxidants and other nutrients.
- The white or yellow maca powder is a great starting point. It's sweeter and supports energy and hormone levels. The aroma and taste have been compared to butterscotch.
- The red or purple powders have a stronger taste and offer more stress-reducing adaptogenic effects. And the gray or black powders can be a little bit bitter, but they also have even more phytonutrients and potential health benefits.
If you have questions about which one to use, reach out to the supplier of your maca product.
As with any supplement, it's best to start with the least powerful formula that meets your specific needs. Begin by adding the smallest dosage to your daily routine and work up to the amount that feels right to you.
Adding 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of powder to food or beverages is a great way to introduce maca into your diet. You can increase the amount gradually. It's generally safe and well-tolerated. Most people can work up to 2-3 tablespoons of maca powder a day.
Given its energy-producing effect, you will probably want to keep your maca consumption relegated to the morning hours so that it does not interfere with your sleep at night.
Here are some ideas for you to try:
- Mix into your morning coffee or tea. It goes well with hot cocoa, too.
- It's an ideal addition to breakfast smoothies.
- Stir into hot cereals like oatmeal or Cream of Wheat.
- Add to any energy bar or energy bite recipe.
- Sprinkle on yogurt, applesauce, or puddings.
- Incorporate into pancakes and baked goods.
- Top a nut butter sandwich.
- Mix well with coconut water or juice.
There are a few reasons to avoid adding maca powder to your diet. Because of its effect on hormones, those who have thyroid issues or certain diseases that are affected by hormonal balance—such as some cancers—should avoid taking it altogether. Rarely, someone may have an allergic reaction to maca and should discontinue taking it.
For most people, maca is very safe and can be quite beneficial. There is no downside to having more energy and stamina or better moods and memory. While results will vary, many people report improvements in these areas and others. The best way to see if it will work for you is to give it a try.
When shopping for maca powder, look for a quality product from a respected company like Organic Traditions. Here are two of their highly rated, gelatinized, and organic supplements containing maca powder:
You will also find a wealth of recipes using maca powder and other superfoods on this site.
Why not try maca powder in some of your favorite foods for a while?
See for yourself if the legendary Incan superfood gives you a better quality of life. It's not likely to hurt, and the benefits can be surprisingly effective!