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Maca – aka ‘Peruvian ginseng’ or Lepidium meyenni – who should try it.
I love food that ‘does stuff’. Functional food / superfood / food as medicine – whatever you want to call it, food that can make a noticeable change when you eat it is cool.
I especially love it when there is a ‘historical uses’ & a ‘scientific studies’ reason to give it a try, as there definitely is with maca powder.
It has been used for at least 2000 years as a fertility / libido / energy tonic in Peru where it is grown on the foothills of the Andes. The Aztecs would apparently use it to promote energy, strength & stamina for going into battle, but then consumption was prohibited after the conquering of a village – to save the women from its libido-enhancing effects!
I became interested in Maca after working in healthfood stores & repeatedly hearing positive feedback on it. I always ask customers what they use things for & if they notice much difference etc (nosey naturopath, yep but that’s how you learn).
Maca powder is something that many women swear by for helping them through their menopausal years (stress, energy, libido) & men love it for boosting strength, libido & athletic performance. This mostly comes down to adrenal support – super important to support adrenals (ie don’t be living on caffeine & not enough sleep if approaching menopause or wanting to stay strong & virile for the long haul!)
So for boosting general vitality I’ve always kept maca in the pantry & I use it sometimes in smoothies, or just mixed in with yoghurt whenever I feel like an added boost (you know, on days when I have a lot of conquering or ravaging to do). And of course it’s in the ‘BallBags’ protein ball mix.
The flavour by itself can take some getting used to – it’s not unpleasant, just different – ‘earthy’. It has a sweet almost biscuity or butterscotch-like taste that works well with cinnamon, yoghurt, protein balls, smoothies, some healthy baking etc. It is just made from a dried, powdered root vegetable – so it’s kinda starchy in texture.
Maca is considered an ‘adaptogen’ (like the ginsengs & many other ‘energy’ boosting herbs). Adaptogens support our adrenals & help us to handle stress better (wether it be mental or physical). Most people will notice more energy when using adaptogen herbs & often libido improvements as well, because when your general energy is higher, you will have more left over for lovin! Most of us don’t really feel like getting it on when stressed, it’s about survival – your body knows that making babies is a bad idea when you feel like you’re barely surviving!
Who should use maca and who should avoid maca? From my experience & research, some people do really really well on maca & then it’s just not right for others. Definitely worth a try if you’re suffering from poor energy, chronic fatigue, depression, low libido, are menopausal, feeling depleted, adrenally exhausted, having trouble conceiving, not ovulating regularly etc – but if you’re all good hormonally or know that you have excess oestrogen or an outta control libido then I don’t advise using it regularly at high doses (or just bear in mind that it may have an effect so be observant)!
Start small – 1 teaspoon daily, but then if all feels good, you can increase – dose can range quite a bit, apparently effective from 1.5 teaspoons up to a tablespoon or 2 daily at the higher end (that’s a very ‘earthy’ smoothie, & will be way too much for many!)
If you have thyroid issues – be aware that maca does contain goitrogens (just like many foods including kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts etc – it is part of the same family). So don’t be going overboard on kale-loaded green smoothies with added maca if your thyroid is a problem area. Also probably not advisable with hormone sensitive cancers.
Muscle building smoothie using Maca:
This is a post-workout smoothie for those wanting to build muscle (that’s most of us because muscle will burn fat for you, even when you’re asleep)! This recipe serves 3-4 (or maybe 2 huge footy players) so make it for the family or pour into jars for a couple of days – or you can easily do the maths for 1 serve!
Links to some research on Maca:
Whats your favourite superfood ingredient?
Love to hear it what it is…