Getting to the Root of Maca


| 9/3/2014 11:13:00 AM


Tags: maca, medicinal herbs, herbalism, Herbal Academy of New England, Annie Hall, Massachusetts,

It enhances libido, balances hormones, and might even be a form of hormone replacement therapy, so say certain maca marketing materials, which appear to be based on rodent studies funded by those very same supplement marketers. But what do quality, independent studies on humans have to say? And what about traditional use and indigenous rights of the people who have been growing maca as their primary food source for millennia? Let’s get to the root of maca. 

What Is Maca?

Getting to the Root of Maca

For thousands of years, a radish-like root called maca has been persuaded out of the planet’s worst farmland high in the plateaus of the Peruvian Andes: rocky soil blasted by high winds, intense sunlight, and high temperatures alternating with subfreezing temperatures. It is said that maca, Lepidium meyenii, an herbaceous perennial (grown as an annual) in the Brassicaceae (Cruciferae) family, is the world’s most elevated cultivated food crop, growing at 12,500-14,500 feet above sea level. There are several varieties of maca including red, white, yellow, and black. 

Highly nutritious, maca has been used as a staple food source by the people of Central Peru for thousands of years, as well as a ceremonial offering in traditional sacred rites, as currency, and as medicine to improve overall health in both animals and people. The Incans first domesticated the plant over 2,000 years ago, and in the 1550s a Spanish conquistador chronicled his observations of traditional maca use in the Peruvian highlands.  

Maca is nutrient-dense and is rich in copper, vitamin C, and potassium as well as trace elements like iodine, iron, and zinc, fatty acids, and amino acids. Dried maca root consists of about 10-14% protein and 60-75% carbohydrates. In terms of daily nutrient value, 100 grams (about 20 teaspoons) of maca powder contains 475% vitamin C, 82% iron, 25% calcium, 300% copper, 57% potassium, 29% niacin, and 57% vitamin B6.

Fresh maca is eaten either roasted or baked, while dried maca is made into a fermented health drink called maca chica or incorporated into jams, porridges, and puddings. 

sarah
9/24/2014 5:49:02 AM

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