Friday, 6 January 2012

Superfood Spotlight: Maca Root (let's get it on....)

Happy New Year!  First post of 2012!  I don't know about you, but my return to work this week has been rather painful - getting up at 7am just doesn't suit me after 10 days off!  And how can I still be fighting the cold I picked up on boxing day?!?  Sigh, oh well.  I still feel so happy that it's 2012!  I hope your new year is off to a great start too :)

Perhaps you've heard of today's superfood, maca, a small radish-like plant grown high in the Andes in Peru, used as a root vegetable and medicinal herb for thousands of years.  Though it's not a really pretty plant, it's actually a sexy superfood that is known to rev up the libido, increase energy and stamina, and balance out hormones, along with a bunch of other benefits.

Apparently, Incan warriors would eat maca before going off into battle to give them increased strength and endurance.  But they would have to stop taking it before returning to the villages, to keep the women safe from the powerful libido boosting effects of maca.  Sounds sexy!


Maca is a nutritional powerhouse

Maca contains the following, which absolutely puts it into the category of "superfood": 
  • Composition: 59% carbohydrates, 10.2% protein, 8.5% fiber, 2.2% lipids 
  • Essential Amino Acids: nearly all including Aspartic Acid, Glutamic acid, Serine, Histidine, Glycine, Threonine, Alanine, Tyrosine, Phenylalanine, Valine, Methionine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, HO- Proline, Proline, Sarcosine 
  • Free Fatty Acids: 20 have been found of which the most abundant are linolenic acid, palmitic acid, oleic acid 
  • Vitamins: A, B1, B2, B3, C, D 
  • Minerals: iron, magnesium, copper, zinc, sodium, potassium, calcium 
  • Macaenes and macamides: novel polyunsaturated acids and their amides 
  • Sterols: campesterol, stigmasterol, beta-sitosterol 
  • Alkaloids: Aromatic glucosinolates including: benzyl glucosinolate, p-methoxybenzyl glucosinolate 
  • Isothyocyanates: benzyl isothiocyanate, p-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate

Maca is an adaptogen

This means that maca increases the body's ability to defend itself against both physical and mental weakening, and potential illness, and it helps restore balance within the entire body.  Where this especially helps us is with respect to our endocrine system and balancing our hormones, something I'm a big fan of.  Maca does not contain hormones, but provides a unique set of nutrients that directly fuel the endocrine system and help the glands to produce vital hormones in precise dosages predetermined by one's own body.  This is great news for those with hypothyroidism, menopausal women, women with PMS, and men with low testosterone.  Maca helps balance one's hormones in the way their body needs.

Maca increases stamina, strength, and athletic performance

From Livestrong:
"Maca contains protein, amino acids, vitamins and minerals -- all nutrients that you need to fuel exercise. In addition, its antioxidant effects may help it prevent delayed-onset muscle soreness after a strenuous workout. According to Peak Performance, studies suggest that antioxidants enhance the adaptive response to exercise-induced muscle damage by increasing the number of immune cells responsible for muscle repair. Maca's purported mood-lifting effects may help provide increased motivation for exercising and working out. Finally, maca's high levels of calcium, magnesium and silica can promote bone health and possibly reduce chances of fractures, making it of particular interest to athletes."
Maca can help those with anemia

Maca has a higher iron content than most red meats, so those who suffer from anemia could consider incorporating maca into their supplement routine, for an extra iron boost.  Also great for vegetarians and vegans!

Maca is an aphrodisiac

Isn't this what everyone came here to read about?  From
"Maca root is believed to help sexual performance and act as an aphrodisiac that boosts libido in both men and women. Chemical research has demonstrated that maca contains a chemical called p-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate, which has reputed aphrodisiac properties.  Because maca is thought to balance hormonal activity, it is believed to be useful in cases of sterility and other reproductive and sexual disorders.
In men, it is believed to treat male impotence and erectile dysfunction and may, in fact, increase seminal volume and sperm motility. There are also claims that maca especially enhances sexual performance and endurance. The April, 2000, issue of Urology reported that the sexual performance claims made by those who used maca were consistent with the legendary reports coming from Peru. In women, it is said to increase libido, perk up a low sex drive and may, because of the herb's glucosinolate content, enhance fertility."
There have been numerous documented studies on maca and libido/sexual function, and even sperm quality and fertility.

Peruvian maca root is the highest growing food plant
anywhere in the world, growing at an elevation of
14,000 feet above sea level.

Maca root is available at health stores in loose powder and capsule form.  If taking as a powder, you can sprinkle it over cereal, or make a smoothie.  Of course, the root  vegetable itself is edible, and I have read that it tastes like potato, though I don't imagine it would be wildly available here.  I personally do not take maca at this time, since I've been on a whole cocktail of other supplements, so I can't share my own anecdotal story.  If you have a story to share, please do!  But um, keep it clean! ;)

Have a wonderful, super sexy weekend!


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