Thought of as Peruvian ginseng, maca is not only a plant grown in the Andean mountains where few other plants can survive, it is a cruciferous vegetable of the mustard family.
While some people create a fermented drink with it called maca chichi, in the United States it is used as a supplement or added to foods in powdered form. Since maca is traditionally used as a tonic to help with a variety of ailments like respiratory disorders, anemia, arthritis, endurance and stamina, I think it’s worth noting just how versatile a supplement can be.
To Ferment or Not to Ferment
Fermented maca is more bioavailable since it must be fermented inside the intestinal tract in order for the body to obtain any of its phytochemicals. Research has unveiled a new phytochemical unique to maca, including glucosinolates (found in broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, etc.), which can fight diseases and increase endurance while limiting fatigue and inflammation. Fermented maca is also high in tannins, flavonoids, and acids which help the intestinal tract flora.
Thanks to the March 2019 issue of New Living, here are six study-based maca wonders.
Flavonoids are believed to improve mood, while a study in 14 postmenopausal women found that maca can reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.
2. Free Radicals
Promoting natural antioxidants, maca works to fight off free radicals such as superoxide dismutase and glutathione. Some believe antioxidants can even prevent heart disease, among many other health conditions.
3. Learning and Memory
Studies suggest that maca can have many benefits for learning and memory performance, while researchers believe it could be helpful in treating cognitive conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
4. Menopausal Symptoms
Some proponents of maca think it can help balance estrogen levels. This is key because in the midst of perimenopause (pre-menopause), these levels fluctuate, causing an array of symptoms. In fact, an International Journal of Biomedical Science study found that postmenopausal women who took two maca-containing tablets daily showed fewer symptoms, including night sweats and hot flashes.
5. Skin Protection
An International Journal of Dermatology study revealed that extracts from maca leaves could quite possibly help prevent the damage of skin cells that have been burned from sunlight…potentially averting skin cancer!
A preliminary study demonstrated that using maca extract for 14 days improved performance for male cyclists in a 40-kilometer time trial, which points to why some athletes and bodybuilders take it for the energy boost they need to meet their goals.
How to Take Maca
Capsule, liquid, and powder are all ways maca can be consumed as a supplement. Gelatinized maca is a great idea for increased potency and absorption, while organic maca is becoming increasingly popular among health-conscious supplement consumers. Something to consider!
** Please consult with a healthcare professional before taking dietary supplements.