Adding natural supplements to your diet is a safe, easy way to enhance your daily intake of vitamins and minerals. Maca root supplement is effective in helping you not only improve the functions of your body and brain, but also to increase your energy levels and your ability to learn and retain information. You can benefit from a maca supplement by simply adding 1 or 2 teaspoons to meals or smoothies. Or, you can replace espresso drinks with a natural maca beverage. For an added boost to your day, try using maca powder to make easy, energizing maca oatmeal for breakfast.
What Is Maca?
Maca, or Peruvian ginseng, is an herbaceous root vegetable that grows high – at an elevation of 13,000 feet – in the Andes mountains of Peru. The plant takes two years to complete its growing cycle before it’s harvested, dried and ground into flour or a powdered maca supplement. Although the root can be consumed fresh as a vegetable, the mild earthy, nutty flavor of maca root is particularly good when added to prepared dishes, smoothies or lattes with foamed milk. While fresh roots are usually available only to those who live near the harvest, maca powder is widely exported and is an easy addition to many foods and drinks.
A healthy carb, maca root is highly nutritious and contains a fair amount of protein and fiber. Each ounce of maca root contains more than 100 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C, 85 percent of your recommended daily intake of copper and nearly 25 percent of a day’s iron intake. Other vitamins and minerals it contains include manganese, B6 and potassium.
Maca benefits both men and women by increasing their libido, which is one of the best-known uses for the powder. Some users report that the plant is also effective in reducing their anxiety and depression. When consumed for two weeks, maca supplements can help increase energy and physical performance. Black maca root is used to enhance memory and the ability to learn new information.
Benefits for Men
While maca root provides general benefits for both men and women, some maca benefits are specific to men. From boosting athletic performance in male cyclists, according to one study, to improving overall mood, maca’s benefits have proven to be far-reaching. For example, studies reveal positive results in increasing fertility in men by improving both the quality and quantity of sperm.
Maca root has also been proven to help decrease benign prostatic hyperplasia, or the enlargement of the prostate gland, which can cause difficulties in urinating. Red maca is best for reducing the size of the prostate, largely due to the glucosinolates, the natural compounds that form oils in pungent plants such as mustard, maca and horseradish.
Benefits for Women
Maca root is valuable to women in that it helps with myriad menstruation problems and symptoms of menopause. For postmenopausal women, maca supplements reduce depression and help protect bone health. Those going through menopause will find maca root may help minimize hot flashes and disrupted sleep patterns.
In menstruating women, maca supplements help balance hormones and act as a natural relief for abdominal pain and cramps. The addition of maca root to dishes like oatmeal or smoothies at breakfast increases the iron in each serving; 1 ounce is considered beneficial in helping reduce the negative symptoms.
How to Use Maca
Maca supplements are available in several forms. You can find it in 500 milligram capsules, but more commonly, it’s sold as a liquid extract or powder. While no set limits or suggested intake of maca root has been established, in most studies of maca supplements, the subjects consume 1.5 to 5 grams of maca root per day. Maca supplements are primarily created from yellow maca root, though other varieties, such as red maca and black maca, can be found. Dark maca root has proven helpful in increasing memory and learning retention.
It’s easy to incorporate maca powder into the foods and drinks you consume on a daily basis. For a treat that will last all week without daily preparation, try baking energy bars with maca powder. In addition, you can pour maca into fruit and vegetable smoothies. If you really enjoy the maca supplement, you may want to try mixing the powder into steamed milk with a touch of sugar to make a warm, soothing latte. One of the most popular ways to consume maca powder, however, is to stir it into oatmeal.
How to Make Maca Oatmeal
Making maca oatmeal is not only easy, but it’s also one of the most popular ways to add a maca supplement into your daily diet. The earthy, nutty flavor of maca powder combines well with the flavor of oatmeal to produce a tasty breakfast in which other healthy, vitamin-boosting ingredients can be added.
Total Time: 10 minutes | Prep Time: 3 minutes | Serves: 1 person
- 1/3 cup whole rolled oats
- 2/3 cup water
- 3 teaspoons maca powder
- Optional: 1 tablespoon coconut cream
- Optional: 1 teaspoon chia seeds, honey and cinnamon
- Optional: sliced apple, banana or other oatmeal toppings
- In a saucepan, combine the oats, water and maca powder over medium heat.
- Cook for 5 minutes, stirring the mixture until it’s the desired thickness. If the mixture is too thick for your liking, add 2 tablespoons of water at a time, slowly, until the consistency of the oats has thinned.
- For a creamier, more indulgent bowl of oats, add a tablespoon of coconut cream and stir thoroughly to combine.
- Pour the cooked oatmeal with its maca powder into a bowl. Add honey, cinnamon and chia seeds, which will thicken the oats and provide a good source of omega 3s, to the bowl if desired. Mix together thoroughly.
- Top the oatmeal with sliced apple or banana, nut butter, walnuts, coconut flakes or any other oatmeal toppings you like.
Maca Side Effects
Maca root is widely considered to be a safe natural supplement. There are, however, a few considerations to take into account. For example, pregnant or breastfeeding women should always consult with their doctors before adding a new supplement such as maca powder into their daily regimen. Additionally, Peruvian natives believe fresh, raw maca root may have negative side effects; therefore, it should not be eaten raw, but boiled first.
Those with thyroid problems also should exercise caution when consuming maca powder. Maca root contains goitrogens, compounds that can interfere with thyroid function, especially in those who already experience abnormal thyroid function.
If you have a condition that’s sensitive to estrogen, such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer or uterine cancer, avoid taking maca root. Maca supplements can mimic the effects of estrogen and have a negative effect.