What’s So Great About Lepidium Meyenii (Maca Root)?

What’s So Great About Lepidium Meyenii (Maca Root)?

Like I have to tell you?! Okay, I may or may not have cheated and dipped into the trusty Wikipedia vaults to appear brainy but in this case it wouldn’t have mattered because Latin or not, I really didn’t know much about maca root until I started researching for this post. And like so often happens with these posts, it looks like we may have to find a space in the meal plan for yet another freaky looking little root thingy (I await the National Maca Marketing Board’s call to borrow that line).

Maca is most often found in powdered form and used as a supplement although the root itself can be eaten and maca flour is also available as an alternative to grain flours.  It is grown mostly in Peru and comes in three primary variations including white (sweeter), black (bitter and considered the best for enhancing energy and stamina) and red (recently shown to decrease prostate size in lab rats).

According to Wiki and www.nutritiondata.com, “the nutritional value of dried maca root is high, similar to cereal grains such as rice and wheat. The average composition is 60-75% carbohydrates, 10-14% protein, 8.5% dietary fibre, and 2.2% fats. Maca is rich in the dietary minerals calcium and potassium (and low in sodium), and contains the essential trace elements iron, iodine, copper, manganese and zinc as well as fatty acids including linolenic acid, palmitic acid, and oleic acids as well as 19 amino acids.”

Okay, so maca has a pretty decent basic nutritional profile and is considered as “safe to eat as any other vegetable”. But if we’re already eating our veggies, why should we bother to give maca the time of day? The additional health benefits may be worth it. Some studies have shown maca can ease menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and anxiety. It also has a significant amount of naturally occurring iodine, which is linked to a healthy thyroid and normal metabolism and growth. But stop the presses and send the impressionable children out of the room because one of maca’s greatest claims to fame is its potential effect on libido and fertility. Most of the studies have concentrated on men although some small studies have shown a possible connection between maca consumption and female mood and sex drive. With regards to men,  “maca’s reported beneficial effects for sexual function could be due to its high concentration of proteins and vital nutrients (as well as) a chemical called p-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate, which reputedly has aphrodisiac properties.” What that boils down to is that “maca has also been shown to improve sperm production, sperm motility, and semen volume.”  Interesting…and also, eww.

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1 Comment

  1. Chantal M.
    June 18, 12:15 Reply

    Maca is a great supplement which I often use for days when coffee and tea fail me. I like the effect, but don’t like the taste, so I usually mix one teaspoon into a yogurt. Interestingly enough, maca has a tremendous impact on the whole endocrine system, but has no plant hormones itself. It really is an interesting product of nature.

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