Eating for Health Maca is one of my favorite supplements, but I've never written a full article about it until now.

Published on August 9th, 2016 | by Andrea Bertoli

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Health Benefits of Maca and How Do You Use It?

Maca is one of my favorite supplements. Learn the health benefits of maca plus my favorite maca recipes and where to buy this healthy superfood.

Maca is one of my favorite supplements. Learn the health benefits of maca plus my favorite maca recipes and where to buy this healthy superfood.

I love maca’s flavor and there are lots of health benefits of maca, so let’s dig into this awesome herb!

I don’t usually fall for the hype of superfoods or supplements. We believe the real solution to health is a diet full of natural foods, like lots of vegetables and fruits, grains and some beans, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats.

maca root

raw maca root– looks like turnips right?

But there is definitely a place in our diets for select supplements, especially if they are affordable, delicious, and beneficial.

This is why I love maca, and it’s been a long-term supplement for me and my partner.

What is Maca?

Maca is a root vegetable that is related to equally-adorable radish and turnip of the Brassica family, except that it grows at super high elevations in the Andes mountains in Peru and Bolivia. Nutritionally, it’s pretty good: maca contains calcium, potassium, and trace elements like iron, iodine, copper, manganese, selenium, and zinc; the darker roots (red or black) contain higher amounts of natural iodine.  

You can buy raw maca, but it’s generally recommended to choose gelatinized (skinned and roasted). The term gelatinized has nothing to do with gelatin (derived from animals), but just means removing the skin and roasted the root at low heat, helping to improve digestibility and bioavailability.

Why Maca is My Favorite Superfood

Let’s take the superfood criteria I listed above as our starting point: affordable, delicious, and beneficial.

Of course everyone has their definition of affordable, but for me maca is an affordable supplement to my diet, mostly because it offers so many benefits. My current brand of choice is TerraSoul, which offers a gelatinized maca on Amazon for under $30; this bag easily lasts us a few months with almost daily use.

Maca Powder I

maca powder, ready to be blended and loved

Health Benefits of Maca

Maca is an awesome addition to my daily diet. Here are some of the purported health benefits of maca:

+ Maca is an adaptogen (also known as an adaptogenic herb): Adaptogen is a fancy word that means it works to give your body what it needs WHEN it needs it. If you’re feeling low energy, it can give you a boost; if you need to calm your anxiety, it does that too. There are only a few herbs in this unique category, which includes tulsi, ashwagandha, ginseng, and schisandra.

+ Maca can help with stress management: Maca is deeply nourishing for your adrenal glands. Adrenals are small glands that sit atop your kidneys and help produce our stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Both of these hormones have a negative connotation, but are helpful for getting us through our daily activities. But when they get out of balance– due to chronic stress, poor diet, or excessive caffeine consumption– we can burn out our adrenals. Maca is credited with helping nourish the adrenals, and it’s extremely beneficial to combine with caffeine to help offset the adrenal fatigue associated with caffeine.

maca mocha smoothie

My maca mocha smoothie, made without caffeine to help support your adrenals. Also, yums!

+ The Best Energy Boost: A few years ago, I was working a long stretch of days during a store opening, waking up early, working really hard all day teaching and talking and running around, and was so totally drained of energy. We’ve all been there, right? Just ready to sleep on the dining table at like 6pm from full exhaustion. But there was more work to do, so I whisked up maca with some water, and immediately felt my energy rise enough to get me through the rest of the day. It was like filling up the gas tank: I went from empty to full in just a few sips. This was the most powerful example for me about what a strong supplement maca can be. Whenever I start to feel depleted, due to stress, travel, or just being too busy, I add a little maca to my drink or food to nourish my body back to balance.

+ Maca might boost your mojo: Perhaps the reason maca is most famous is that it is used to boost libido. My Peruvian friend gave me a little wink when he saw it in our kitchen, and said that all men in Peru take maca for this very reason! It’s been called Nature’s Viagra for its ability to spike sexual function in both men and women, although the studies are limited in their conclusions. But, if maca does help your adrenals and other hormones, and helps you balance stress, that could improve your sex life in a roundabout way!

Maca is not recommended during pregnancy or lactation, but there are not many other contraindications. Most studies show it can be taken for long periods without negative outcomes.

My Favorite Easy Maca Recipes

Maca has a earthy, malty, caramel flavor, and I think it blends well with most foods. Not everyone loves maca on the first taste, so try pairing it with other foods if it’s your first time sampling it.

Chocolate is an easy pairing for maca, and so is coffee. You can blend maca into warm or cold coffee, stir it into chia pudding, oatmeal or porridge, blend into smoothies, or melt into homemade superfood chocolates. It’s blends best with a blender, but will also often mix with cold beverages just by shaking!

Below the recipes you’ll see some links to our Amazon store with my personal favorite maca brands, including single herb powder, some blends, and even capsules if the flavor of maca doesn’t agree with you. If you purchase these, EDB earns a small commission.

Vegan Bulletproof Coffee: Add maca to my favorite vegan bulletproof coffee for a superfood boost.

Superfood Chia Pudding: An easy breakfast or dessert! Simply stir in 1 Tablespoon of maca and/or cacao into the recipe at the beginning, then enjoy the superfood boost!

superfood chia pudding

Homemade Superfood Chocolates: easy to make, easier to love. Seems really fancy, but are quite simple!

Superfood-Chocolate-Truffles-600x600

Blueberry Maca Smoothie: A sweet, purple way to hide greens and maca. The flavors are perfect together!

Caffeine-Free Maca Mocha: Whether you drink coffee or not, this awesome treat is divine sipping with maca, chocolate and herbal coffee. See image above!

Maca Energy Bites: Easy homemade nut/date bars for outdoor adventures or a sweet treat for long days at the office.

maca energy bites

How to Buy Maca

As I mentioned above, here are a few links to my favorite brands of maca. Gaia, TerraSoul, and Navitas are all brands I’ve used and LOVED:

+ Gaia Maca Powder

+ TerraSoul Maca Powder

+ Navitas Naturals Maca Powder

+ HealthForce Maca Blends

+ Gaia Maca capsules

Image credits: maca illustrationmaca powder, and maca root images from BigStock; other images from author/@VibrantWellness, VibrantWellnessJournal.com

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About the Author

A vegan chef, cookbook author, educator, writer, surfer, and yogi based in San Francisco, Andrea is also the Accounts Manager for Important Media. Follow her foodie adventures at AndreaBertoli.com, Vibrant Wellness Journal, Green Living Ideas and Eat Drink Better. Find more from Andrea on Facebook and Instagram



One Response to Health Benefits of Maca and How Do You Use It?

  1. John Turner says:

    Please provide randomized-control-trial studies to substantiate any claims made about Maca.

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