In the vegetable kingdom, Maca sits atop the world: physically, it grows at higher altitudes than any other crop, being cultivated at up to 4,000 meters above sea level. Maca also makes you feel on top of the world, offering a boost unlike any other plant for your energy, libido and nutrition. And it tastes delicious! The countless constructive qualities of Maca, which we will explore in this article, have rightly earned it the esteemed label of an ultimate superfood.
Maca, (known by the botanically minded as Lepidium Meyenii, and on the streets as Peruvian Ginseng), is a perennial plant and a member of the cruciferous family. This is the same plant family that brought you broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, radish and turnips. The resemblance is striking: Maca looks like a large turnip, growing up to 3 inches in diameter, has a short stem with low lying leaves, small white flowers comparable to those seen in the mustard family.
The tuberous root part of the plant is the part consumed, which is usually whitish, yellow, red, purple or black in color. Each color of Maca has slightly different properties, with the lighter colors being less nutritionally dense than the darker ones, and black Maca being the most powerful one.
The History of Maca
Maca has a long history dating back to at least 1,600 B.C., when records establish it was first widely cultivated by the Pumpush people of the Peruvian Andes in South America. Passing from the Yaro peoples to the Incas over the following centuries, Maca found its way into the hands of the Invading Spanish conquistadors in the 1500’s. In 1549, Maca was the only food delivered to the Spanish colonial government, in a time when the invaders detested all other indigenous crops.
The reason the Spanish recognised the potency of Maca was because their forces underwent a large amount of stress, (what with all the conquering and all,) which had a damaging effect on their fertility. When they consumed and discovered the fertility enhancing properties of Maca, they deemed it a precious resource. Their equally stressed livestock, unaccustomed to the strange climate, were also sexually replenished by this bountiful vegetable. Were it not for Maca, they may not have survived. Because of this Maca was even more valuable to them than gold!
Knowledge of Maca almost completely disappeared, along with most of the Incan culture, into the fog of history. It wasn’t until the 1960’s that botanical scientists rediscovered it. In the early 90’s, Maca was classified as being nearly extinct. Luckily for us and our sexy parts, a resurgence in interest of Maca has kept this superfood alive and thriving.
Nutritious and Delicious
When planted, Maca soaks up all the nutritional goodness in the earth which accounts for its abundant nourishment.
- Plenty of protein (18 amino acids)
- High levels of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and sulphur
- Vitamins B1, B2, C and E
- Omegas 3, 6 and 9 as well as 17 other fatty acids
- 6 sterols (compounds that form cell membranes and act as chemical messengers)
- 31 trace minerals
- Phytonutrients, including:
- Alkaloids: mysterious chemical compounds whose function is not fully understood, but some believe this is the source of Maca’s libido enhancing properties.
- Saponins: compounds that increase the body’s absorption of nutrients, boost the immune system and fight cancerous cells.
- Tannins: organic compounds that perform a wide range of services for the body including protecting cells from oxidative damage and inhibiting the growth of bacteria, fungi and viruses.
Maca is easily digested and its many nutrients are highly bioavailable, making it a great food for people who are ill, malnourished or have digestive problems. Peruvians use Maca as a regular vegetable, enjoying it in soups, stews, or ground up into flour for breads, cakes and other baked delights. It’s flavour is slightly sweet, similar to butterscotch and vanilla. In the US Maca can be grown, though not as successfully as in South America, and is more commonly consumed as a powder, added to sweet and savory foods or beverages, or in capsule form.
An adaptogen is a substance that essentially adapts to the body’s specific needs, acting as a highly intelligent agent that balances out the body’s physiological processes to reduce stress, balance hormones, stabilize the cardiovascular system, nervous system and musculature, and strengthen the immune system.
Maca’s adaptogenic properties increase:
- Hormone production
- Oxygen flow
Maca is effective in treating numerous health conditions including:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Menstrual pain
- Stomach cancer
This One’s For All The Lovers
Maca is renowned for helping people get jiggy with it. It has awesome aphrodisiac attributes: Maca increases libido by 180% (I’d like to see how they test that), increases sperm count by 200% (useful for making babies), along with improved sperm mobility (how good they are at map reading), and increases DHEA levels (a precursor to testosterone made in the adrenal glands that also fights the effects of aging).
Taking Maca before lovemaking amplifies the heat in the bedroom! The powerful nutrient of Maca supports the endocrine system to produce the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen (for men and women, respectively), amplifying our most natural and enjoyable human drives. This makes Maca an excellent and natural way to improve your chances of conceiving. Maca has also been known to help men overcome erectile dysfunction (some call it Nature’s Viagra).
Maca provides so many benefits, it might be quicker to tell you what it doesn’t do. Nourishing the body and mind, boosting concentration, immune function, stamina, strength, sexual appetite, sperm count and virility in men and fertility in women, what’s not to love? This extraordinary vegetable may look like a humble, unremarkable turnip, but don’t let its appearance fool you into thinking this isn’t one of the most powerful superfoods on the planet.
Support Each Other
By sharing this article on social media you help others interested in plant-based nutrition and natural aphrodisiacs know they are not alone. Every piece of vital information that reaches the public’s attention has the potential to shift our planet towards a more harmonious existence. Many people are suffering a loss of libido and reduced fertility due to our toxic environment and may well be in need of a maca boost. Spread the sexy world of plants far and wide, share this information now.
[expand title="Sources and References"]
Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future by David Wolfe
Maca: Adaptogen and Hormonal Regulator by Beth M. Ley, PhD
Maca (Smart Supplementation) by Gene Bruno, MS, MHS
The Power of Maca: Peruvian Superfood by Lorrie Ingram, B.H.SC(HONS), RHN, RNCP