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Why Maca Is Worthy of Superfood Status
There’s a lot of buzz about maca being a superfood. Especially when it comes to women, hormones, and menopause. So, does it live up to the hype? Does maca powder help balance hormones, improve libido, and give your energy and mood a boost?
Maca powder is indeed a superfood (and you know I don’t say that lightly). Dr Amy Shah, a New York-based integrative and functional medicine physician and assistant professor at Columbia University, says maca – as an adaptogenic herb - can help the body manage environmental stress. According to Dr Shah, adaptogens may help stimulate the body’s stress protection system by balancing the body’s hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis. The HPA axis is responsible for how the central nervous system and hormone systems respond to stress. Maca has also been touted the “menopause miracle” in helping ease the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause including hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings and fatigue.
So, what is maca?
Maca is a South American medicinal plant. You may have heard of it described as “Peruvian ginseng”. Its natural environment is high up in the Andes mountains. The root of the maca plant is ground into powder. You can take maca as a powder, a liquid extract or in capsules. For me, I love the powder, blended into a smoothie, bliss balls or in baked treats. You may be familiar with yellow maca, a light brown powder with a nutty flavour. But did you know there’s more than one type of maca? There’s yellow, red and black maca and each type has specific healing properties.
Studies show red maca can be effective in building bone density. Red maca also has the highest number of amino acids – protein building blocks – of all the maca types.
Red maca benefits - it may:
Relieve depressive symptoms
Reduce bone density loss
Relieve menopause symptoms
The rarest type of maca, it provides the most antioxidants of the types. It’s particularly potent at helping increase libido for both men and women.
Black maca benefits - it may:
Strengthen the immune system
Enhance mood and ease depression
Boost memory and focus
The most common type of maca, with a nutty, mild flavour. Enhances overall vitality and mood and contains almost all essential amino acids and free fatty acids. It also has significant amounts of Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 and C and minerals iron, magnesium, zinc and calcium.
Yellow maca benefits - it may:
Improve skin health
Support overall vitality and wellness
Reduce feelings of stress
To get the most out of your maca, go for a blend of the 3 types!
My maca powder is made up of a blend of yellow, red and black maca which means it has added benefits than simply taking the yellow, most common maca. My maca is grown in Junin, Peru, by indigenous farmers and is ethically sourced. It’s grown at elevations of 3,800 to 4,800 meters above sea level in the Andes Mountains. During the growing process the maca plant uniquely absorbs the rich nutrients in the soil to provide all the nutrients that enhance balance in the body. To maintain the soil integrity, fields where maca is grown for two years must also lay for four years to replenish the nutrient content of the soil.
How to incorporate maca into your daily routine.
There are so many ways to get maca into you daily routine! My very favourite is to add a teaspoon to my muesli, usually stirred through with my raspberry flavoured marine collagen. It's delicious added to your favourite smoothie (try this maca cacao shake), to bliss balls, to this divine and calming black sesame milk drink or this maca hot choc. And don't look past these maca and peanut butter overnight oats! or this mango and raspberry chia pudding!
A final word on maca…
Be aware the very cheap alternatives of yellow maca you find in the supermarket won’t give you the same benefits as traditionally grown maca powder from Peru. Watch out for quality maca grown in the traditional way at high altitude with 100% processing and soil integrity. Read labels and only give your body the best - if it doesn't say it's from Peru, it is likely from China.
Ps; Curious about maca? Order my premium maca blend of yellow, red and black maca here.