MACA – What’s the Hype?

 

Root from South America, widely considered to be an aphrodisiac… but what is it really and what is the story? Take a look at the facts:

1. Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is native to the Andes in South America. It is a cruciferous plant (like Broccoli, Kale, cabbage and even mustard) and therefore full of Vitamins, fibre and phytochemicals.

2. The growth habit, size, and proportions of maca are roughly similar to those of the radish and the turnip, to which it is related

3.  The nutritional value of dried maca root is very high, similar to grains such as rice or wheat. The average values are 60-75% carbohydrates, 10-14% protein, 8.5% dietary fiber, and 2.2% fats.

4. Maca is rich in calcium and potassium, contains iron, iodine, copper,manganese, and zinc as well as fatty acids including linolenic acid, palmitic acid, and oleic acids, and 19 out of 22 amino acids1

maca

(1R,3S)-1-Methyltetrahydro-carboline-3-carboxylic acid

5. In addition to sugars and proteins, maca contains uridine, malic acid and its benzoyl derivative, and the glucosinolates, glucotropaeolinand m-methoxyglucotropaeolin. The methanol extract of maca tuber also contains (1R,3S)-1-methyltetrahydro-carboline-3-carboxylic acid, a molecule which is reported to have an extensive effect on the central nervous system2. Many different alkamides are also found in maca.

6. Further, maca contains selenium and magnesium and polysaccharides. Maca’s reported beneficial effects for sexual function could be due to its high concentration of proteins and vital nutrients3maca contains a chemical called p-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate, which reputedly has aphrodisiac properties4

7. Side effects – Maca is consumed as food by humans and animals in South America. This suggests any risk from consumption is  minimal.

Conclusion

Jam packed with the best nature has to offer, but little scientific research, very acquired taste, no side effects (it is a vegetable), don’t overconsume – try it out!

  1.  “Database entry for Maca Lepidium meyenii Maca – Lepidium peruvianum, Chacon – Maca – Lepidium meyenii Maca – Lepidium meyenii Maca”
  2. “Piacente, Sonia; Carbone, V., Plaza, A., Zampelli, A. & Pizza, C. (2002). “Investigation of the Tuber Constituents of Maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp.)”. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 50 (20): 5621–5625. doi:10.1021/jf020280x. PMID 12236688″
  3. “Chacón de Popovici, G (1997). La importancia de Lepidium peruvianum (“Maca”) en la alimentacion y salud del ser humano y animal 2,000 anos antes y desputes del Cristo y en el siglo XXI.. Lima: Servicios Gráficos “ROMERO”)”
  4. “Clément, Céline; Diaz Grados; Diego A.; Bharathi A.; Khan I. A.; Mayer A. C.; Ponce A.; Dante D.; Manrique I.; Kreuzer M. (2010). “Influence of colour type and previous cultivation on secondary metabolites in hypocotyls and leaves of maca (Lepidium meyenii Walpers)”. JOURNAL OF THE SCIENCE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE 90 (5): 861–869.”
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