Marvelous maca

You’ve likely heard of it.

But you don’t really know what it is. Or what it does.

And, really, do you need another so-called superfood to add to your diet?

Well, maybe not. But I’m a huge fan of gathering information and evidence…and then I decide what I think works best for me at this stage of my life.


Maca is indeed a robust, powerful  superfood. It is a tuber from the cruciferous family – a cousin to broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, turnip and radish. Maca has been grown and cultivated in South America for approximately 2600 years, high in the Peruvian Andes. In fact, it is the highest-altitude crop on Earth, grown at about 10,000 feet above sea level!

Typically, it is dried and ground into a powder-like consistency for consumption.

(photo courtesy

What are the health benefits of maca?

Powerful adaptogen – Maca is an adaptogen, which means it helps to stabilize/normalize physiological responses in the body and thus improve homeostasis. An adaptogen – and in this case, maca – works as needed by the body to decrease stress, increase strength, stamina, and/or libido.

Hormone balancing – Maca is wonderful for younger women who suffer from PMS and mature women going through menopause, helping to relieve symptoms. Maca helps to increase hormone production and yet, unlike soy, cohosh, wild yam and flaxseed, it is free of plant hormones.

Mood and energy booster – Maca acts on the hypothalamus, pituitary glands, and adrenals (endocrine glands), thus increasing energy, vitality and libido.

Aphrodisiac/fertility enhancer – There is significant research illustrating maca’s effect on sexual function. Not only is it touted to assist men in experiencing a more active libido, it increases fertility in both men and women. It is also purported to help women produce more breast milk after pregnancy.

Chronic fatigue fighter – and overall sleep enhancer. The energy-boosting capacity of maca helps with motivation and movement, and after a full, functioning day, will aid in a good night’s sleep. It is important to note, however, that maca must be taken early in the day, otherwise it will have the opposite effect and interrupt sleep.

Maca is vitamin- and mineral-rich, supplying ample amounts of: B1, B2, C, E, iron, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, zinc and selenium. It increases oxygen content in the blood, thus helping with various environmental stressors, such as altitude sickness.

New research shows that maca can improve the skin’s structural matrix and hair thickness.

How do I ‘eat’ maca?

There are many ways you can bring maca into your diet. First of all, it is important to emphasize that maca should be taken in the morning as it is incredibly energy-promoting. Secondly, start slow. That is, a scant teaspoon is all you need to start, eventually making your way up to a full tablespoon. It is recommended that you take a regular break from maca – stop consuming it for about a week every 4 weeks or so, if you decide to take it consistently.

Add a teaspoon of maca powder to: smoothies, juices, chocolate desserts, oatmeal, soups, and salad dressings. The taste is slightly malt-like – a bit sweet, butterscotch-y, earthy.

Warning: if you have thyroid disease, PCOS or breast cancer, be sure to check with your health care provider before taking maca.