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Five Awesome Benefits of the Superfood Maca Powder

Maca is a cruciferous plant native to Peru that has a long history of being a super food. In fact, legend has it that the Incan warriors during the ancient times ate maca before going into a battle. They believed that maca would give them the fierceness and strength they need to win on the battlefield.

Today, maca is called the Peruvian ginseng. It belongs to the same family as radish, with its roots dried and produced in powder form.

Maca powder is available in most health food stores. It comes in a variety of colors like yellow, black and red. Aside from being the most widely available, maca powder is also the cheapest. But it is also possible to find maca in other forms like capsule, liquid and extract.

Most people describe the taste of maca root powder as earthy and nutty. It is usually added to sweet treats, oatmeal and smoothies.

Nutritional profile of maca powder

Maca powder is highly nutritious. It is rich in protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and fat. It contains more than 20 amino acids, including eight essential amino acids. These include linoleic acid, lauric acid, palmitic acid and steric acid.

It also has high levels of vitamins B1, B2, C and E. Maca also boosts of high amounts of essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, iron, sulfur and sodium.

Health benefits of maca powder

1. Improves sexual function and increases libido
There are plenty of anecdotes on how maca powder can enhance sex drive. It’s long been promoted as an aphrodisiac; capable of boosting the body’s hormonal production and increasing fertility in the process.

There are limited studies delving into the effects of maca powder in a person’s sex drive. One study conducted by Peruvian researchers had adult men given either 3 grams a day of maca powder or placebo. After the eight-week study period, it was found that those who took maca had felt an increase in sexual desire.

Another study had Italian researchers giving either 2400mg/day of maca or placebo to 50 adult men complaining of erectile dysfunction. After the 12-week period, those in the maca group saw greater improvement in their sexual function.

2. Relieves menstrual issues
Maca has been used by South American women to alleviate cramps, hot flashes and related menstrual issues. High in fatty acids and minerals, maca can boost hormone production. It can particularly control estrogen levels in the body. Maca can also reduce painful PMS symptoms and increase fertility in women.

3. Boosts energy levels
Maca is known to boost energy levels. In fact, it is an ingredient typically used in athletic supplements. Aside from increasing energy, it can also help a person gain muscle, improve strength and enhance exercise performance.

One small study had eight male cyclists supplemented with maca powder extract for 14 days. It was found that the cyclists improved their time in completing a 40-kilometer bike ride after being supplemented with maca.

Scientists are still unsure how maca is able to boost energy. One theory is that it helps stabilize blood sugar levels. This, in turn, prevents energy spikes and dips. Another belief is that it can improve adrenal health, which is responsible for regulation of mood and energy throughout the day.

Some athletes reportedly use maca to boost their performance. Moca powder can be added to coffee or tea, or incorporated in smoothies, cereals or oatmeal.

4. It protects the skin against UV radiation
Ultraviolet rays from the sun can damage unprotected or exposed skin. Over time, UV radiation may increase risks of skin cancer. It can also cause wrinkles and premature aging.

However, maca may help protect your skin against the harmful UV rays. Applying maca powder to your skin has been found to be effective in protecting the skin from UV radiation.

In one study, maca extract was applied to the skin of five rats. After the three-week period, it was found that maca prevented the animals’ skin from being damaged by UV exposure. The researchers attributed this to the glucosinolates and polyphenol antioxidants found in maca extract.

5. It improves mental function
Maca can also improve brain function. In Peru, maca is traditionally used to improve children’s performance in school. Animal studies have also shown that maca can have a positive impact on the memory of rodents with memory impairment.

How to take maca powder

There’s no recommended serving size for maca powder. However, most people start with a tablespoon of it daily then work their way up to having two to three tablespoons a day. Due to the ability of maca to boost energy and stamina, people usually take maca powder before exercising.

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