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Maca – The Superfood From The Andes

Maca is the superfood of the South American Incas. Today, the tuber is used as a natural aphrodisiac and is used in naturopathy for lack of libido and potency problems, but also for unfulfilled desire to have children during menopause.

Maca: The superfood from the Andes

Maca is the superfood of the South American Incas. Today, the tuber is used as a natural aphrodisiac and is used in naturopathy for lack of libido and erectile dysfunction, but also for unfulfilled desire to have children during menopause. Athletes also use Maca to enhance performance, while brain workers love the mental alertness Maca confers. But maca can do even more.

Maca from the highlands of Peru

Maca is the tuberous root of a Peruvian cress plant from the cruciferous family. Maca prefers to grow in the Andes at over 4,000 meters above sea level, where the robust plant seemingly effortlessly defies wind, cold and aggressive UV radiation. It is precisely this extreme robustness that it gives to all those who consume it.

Maca was therefore already used by the Incas when they built their mysterious city in the mountains – Machu Picchu – in the 15th century. But the traces lead back much further: Maca is said to have been cultivated more than 2000 years ago and valued as a strengthening food.

The Spaniards also quickly recognized the power of the small tuber and exported tons of it to their home country.

Traditional recipes with Maca

In Peru, Maca is still eaten as a vegetable and honored as a medicinal plant, especially by the indigenous population. They are highly valued for their exorbitant nutritional value and rejuvenating properties, and they are often eaten up to three times a day.

To do this, the plant is roasted, boiled, roasted, or heated in ashes, then dried, and then ground up. The indigenous peoples of the Andes use maca powder like flour for baking and cooking. A modern muffin recipe can be found at the end of the article.

Traditionally, maca powder is also simply stirred into hot water or milk, resulting in a sweet, nutritious drink with a cocoa-like character. Maca porridge is also popular. To do this, mix maca powder with pureed fruit and honey.

Maca in Peruvian natural medicine

In Peruvian natural medicine, the maca root is known for its warming properties. Similar to Chinese medicine, the Andean people divide food into heating and cooling foods. Therefore, it is also used by Peruvians for arthritic complaints (rheumatism) and diseases of the respiratory tract, but also to promote fertility in humans and animals.

Of course, evidence-based science has now pounced on the little tuber and gained amazing insights in the process.

Maca makes you want it

Maca’s most well-known property is its aphrodisiac properties. Numerous studies have dealt with this topic and confirm the pleasure-enhancing and potency-enhancing power of Maca.

In 2008, the journal CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics published a study by Dr. Dording and colleagues from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. The scientists examined 16 participants (mainly women) with an average age of mid-thirties. They all suffered from a so-called SSRI-related sexual dysfunction.

The term SSRI refers to a group of antidepressants whose complex of side effects can include sexual disorders of all kinds, such as e.g. B. a reduced or completely disappeared libido, impotence in men, premature orgasm or no orgasm at all, numb sex organs to emotional numbness.

In a said randomized double-blind study, some of the subjects received 1.5 grams of maca per day, others 3 grams. It was shown that the higher dose of 3 grams of maca per day (but not 1.5 grams) to a significant improvement in sexual symptoms. The researchers also found that Maca was very well tolerated. They concluded their study report by concluding that maca can reduce SSRI-related sexual dysfunction and, in particular, have a beneficial effect on libido.

Maca for menopause symptoms

Maca has a similarly beneficial effect on sexual reluctance in women during or after menopause – as Australian researchers from the School of Biomedical and Health Sciences at Victoria University found in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study.

The scientists prescribed 3.5 grams of maca powder daily for the study participants for a period of 6 weeks. It then turned out that Maca had not influenced the hormone levels in the women in any way, but was able to alleviate the decisive – especially psychological – symptoms.

Depression and anxiety as well as symptoms of sexual dysfunction decreased significantly under the effect of maca. Since maca does not seem to irritate the hormone balance, maca is considered a reliable partner for the problems mentioned – at least for women.

And how does Maca work in men?

Maca instead of Viagra

Maca does not stop at men either and not only ensures more desire for sex but also that the desire can be followed by impressive deeds.

In a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru, Dr. Gonzales, and colleagues show that maca also has an aphrodisiac effect in men.

In this study, the 21- to 56-year-old subjects received either 1.5 grams of maca daily or 3 grams of maca or a placebo.

After 8 weeks, there was a significant increase in sexual desire in the maca group—without maca affecting testosterone or estradiol levels in any way.

Testosterone is the hormone that is actually used in conventional medicine to increase libido and potency in men. If maca now increases potency without increasing testosterone levels, this also means that maca should not have a negative effect on the prostate, which is a common side effect of testosterone administration.

As a result, Maca users report feeling stronger, more productive, healthier, and “just want more.” The increase in libido and potency seems to be accompanied by an overall energy boost that apparently extends to the sperm.

Maca and Cordyceps: THE combination of potency and strength

A very good recommendation from naturopathy would be to combine the intake of Maca with the medicinal mushroom Cordyceps. Cordyceps is also known to be a potency and libido booster and can therefore either enhance or complement the properties of Maca.

Cordyceps increases potency and libido in several ways. On the one hand, the vital mushroom promotes blood circulation in the penis, regulates the balance of sex hormones, and also improves – just like Maca – the sperm quality.

Maca improves sperm quality

About 2 million couples trying unsuccessfully to have a child in Germany. In many cases, men’s sperm are simply too slow, too sparse, or even deformed. Conventional medicine has only one option here, namely artificial insemination in the laboratory, whereby one of the few slow-moving sperm is injected directly into the egg cell.

If you ask about ways to improve sperm quality, conventional medicine has little advice. However, in addition to an overall healthy diet and lifestyle rich in vital substances, maca represents a natural way of increasing not only the size and number but also the mobility of the sperm.

In another study by the Peruvian University of Lima, the positive effect of Maca on sperm quality was very clear. In this study, men between the ages of 24 and 44 received 1.5 or 3 grams of Maca (3 or 6 capsules of 500 mg) for four months.

At the beginning of the study, as at the end, the test persons’ sperm were analyzed and their hormone values ​​(LH, FSH, prolactin, and testosterone) were determined. Lo and behold: In this study, the four-month treatment with Maca led to a larger sperm volume, a higher sperm count, and better sperm motility.

Here, too, the hormone levels did not change significantly under the influence of Maca. Interestingly, it also didn’t matter whether the subjects took 1.5 or 3 grams of maca per day. So the lower dose did not lead to limited success. However, both groups showed improved sperm quality.

However, the minimum treatment time of four months is important. If you take it for a shorter period of time, you can assume that the success will be much less, because the sperm need three months to mature.

Incidentally, the Incas knew all of this at least five hundred years ago, which is said to be written down in ancient writings. When the Spanish conquerors banished the native shepherds and their flocks to the mountains, this resettlement had an extremely negative effect on the fertility of the sheep. The mountain Indians then advised the shepherds to give the animals Maca – and soon there were new offspring.

Maca makes you strong against stress

Maca is known to work, but how exactly it works has not been proven. Conventional medicine attributes a disturbed libido or sexual dysfunction primarily to a hormonal imbalance. This can be confirmed in many cases, but not in all.

It is now interesting that maca is known to improve libido without affecting the hormonal balance – whether it was disturbed or not. However, this rather indicates an adaptogenic effect.

Adaptogen means that the organism adapts to stress and unfavorable circumstances, i.e. it becomes so strong that unfavorable circumstances are no longer unfavorable for it and consequently no longer mean stress. The maca plant did this during its evolution, adapting to the harsh conditions of the Andean highlands until it felt comfortable and at home there, i.e. not stressed at all.

With the help of Maca, the Aymara, i.e. those people who share the rugged and inhospitable habitat with Maca, were also able to do this. Yes, they can even achieve top physical performance there, which one of us would not even come close to achieving in European climes.

Maca is therefore an ideal companion that can help us to bear stress better or – even better – to no longer perceive it as stress at all.

Maca reduces cholesterol levels

What would a superfood be if it couldn’t also have a positive effect on cholesterol levels and digestion? So too, of course, maca. The power tuber contains a whole range of plant sterols such as sitosterol, campesterol, ergosterol, brassicasterol, etc.

All of these plant sterols are natural substances that bear a strong resemblance to animal cholesterol but do not increase cholesterol levels, on the contrary, lower them. By inhibiting the absorption of cholesterol in the small intestine, they ensure a reduction in LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol).

Thus, Maca is also useful if you want to effectively protect against atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases that are associated with the accumulation of excessive amounts of LDL cholesterol. Phytosterols also have a positive effect on prostate health.

Maca for digestion

The digestive-regulating effect is often the first thing maca users feel. Finally, going to the toilet every day runs smoothly, which on the one hand is due to the fiber content of the Maca tuber, but on the other hand, is also part of the “normal” holistic effect of a great superfood and its unique mixture of bioactive substances.

Maca – The Andean ginseng

As we have seen, the miracle tuber maca can do a great deal. It lowers cholesterol levels, optimizes digestion, increases potency, improves libido, relieves anxiety and depression, increases fertility, and makes you resistant to stress.

The mood-lifting effect in particular indicates a certain influence on the brain. and that’s the way it is. Maca increases the energy level of the entire organism and in this way improves the brain’s ability to perform and concentrate.

At the same time, Maca is considered a helper for improving physical condition and for muscle building. In weight training, Maca is therefore often referred to as a healthy alternative to steroids.

All these effects explain why maca is sometimes referred to as Andean ginseng and has become known as an all-around tonic for all ages and uses.

Finally, in its native Asia, ginseng is also a means of improving physical and mental performance – especially in old age. In Peru, for example, Maca is eaten by the elderly, but of course also by competitive athletes and physically demanding farmers.

Maca for better sex in old age

Maca improves women’s menopausal symptoms, increases the desire for sex – both in women and in men, makes men more efficient, and also strengthens their physical condition. So what could be better for the elderly and their age-related sex issues than maca? Consequently, Maca belongs to the holistic repertoire of all those people who want to experience sex in old age in an enjoyable and exciting way.

Maca – The vital substance bomb

In addition, Maca is an unparalleled nutrient and vital substance bomb. It contains carbohydrates, lots of protein, and valuable fatty acids as well as over 30 minerals and trace elements.

Maca is – if you consume it in relevant amounts – a good supplier of iron (15 mg per 100 g maca powder), iodine, manganese, phosphorus, sulfur, and zinc. Maca is also an interesting source of calcium and provides a fantastic 250 mg of calcium per 100 g of maca powder. Maca also contains almost all vitamins and also provides active enzymes and all essential amino acids.

Maca also contains numerous other active ingredients, such as mustard oil glycosides, macaenes, and macamides, all of which are jointly responsible for Maca’s overall health-promoting effect. No wonder, then, that maca was an indispensable staple along with the potato on the Andean plateaus.

And now we wish you a good appetite with the Maca Muffins.

Maca muffins

Makes about 10-12 muffins

Ingredients:

Dry ingredients:

  • 60 g wholemeal flour (e.g. spelled, but also buckwheat or another gluten-free flour)
  • 40 g spelled flour type 1050
  • 30g maca powder
  • 100 g coconut blossom sugar
  • 1 small pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar baking powder
  • 1 small pinch of cayenne pepper (if you don’t like it spicy, leave out the cayenne)

Moist ingredients:

  • 60 ml coconut oil
  • 120 ml almond milk
  • 120 ml warm water with 2 tsp chia seeds (leave to swell for at least 5 minutes before further use)
  • 3 tbsp orange juice (freshly squeezed)
  • Grated zest of ½ unwaxed organic orange
  • 1 mashed banana

In addition, depending on your mood: Approx. 5 – 10 tablespoons of coconut flakes, organic chocolate chips, walnut pieces, or blueberries.

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease a muffin pan or line it with paper liners.

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.

Gradually stir in the wet ingredients and continue beating until a soft dough forms. A mixer, set to the lowest level, can be used for this.

Finally, fold in one of the desired additives such as chocolate chips, coconut flakes, pieces of nuts, etc. You can also divide the dough into two or three parts and then put the chocolate chips in one part and the coconut flakes or similar in the other part.

Divide the batter between the muffin tins and sprinkle a pinch of coconut blossom sugar and/or chia seeds on each muffin.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 180 degrees (fan oven 160) on the middle rack.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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