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Maca: Peruvian Superfood

By Jess Lewis-Peltier
February 23, 2011
File under: Healthy Eating, Natural Remedies


When it comes to super foods, maca is by far one of the most diverse and powerful. Grown in the Peruvian Andes in some of the most extreme environmental conditions, its properties are that of creating balance in the most extreme body conditions.

Maca is a malt-flavored root grown in poor soil at elevations between 9,000 and 14,000 feet. Maca is then harvested and dried and powdered at lower elevations in the sun.

Maca is an adaptogen. Adaptogens are tonic herbs that increase the body’s resistance to dis-ease and stress. Additionally, Maca is full of nutrients and one of the best superfoods for a broad range of physical and mental ailments.

Maca is approximately 10 percent protein and contains nearly all of the essential amino acids. Maca also contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C and D, iron, magnesium, copper, zinc, sodium, potassium, calcium and at more than 20 fatty acids.

Top five uses for Maca:

1. Serum cholesterol reduction: Maca contains several types of plant sterols, specifically beta-sitosterol and campesterol, which naturally lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).

2. Improved circulation: An important sterol found in Maca is stigmasterol. This sterol has been shown to reduce inflammation and speeds tissue repair. In addition, macamides and macacenes improve circulation, helping enhance libido in both men and women. Maca has also been thought to correct fertility in some women.

3. Balanced hormones: Maca contains several very important amino acids some of which are hormone regulators. Tyrosine is a precursor to T3 and T4, which helps balance Thyroid function. Maca works on the pineal and pituitary glands, helping balance the gender specific hormones of both men and women making it very gender neutral.

4. Diminished depression: The various hormone regulators in Maca not only help with hormone balancing, they also help alleviate chemically induced depression. This amazing root contains neurotransmitter precursors, which work with the body’s existing serotonin reuptake pumps.

5. Increased stamina: Maca is grown and eaten where there at elevations in the central Andes where there is much less oxygen available. It’s been a staple food known for increasing stamina for thousands of years. The various minerals, vitamins and sterols that help increase circulation and reduce inflammation also help to increase the amount of oxygen available in the blood making this superfood perfect for athletes.

There has been an amazing and not often talked about discovery that is worth mentioning. Maca contains isothiocyanates, which are are a group of naturally occurring compounds found in certain plant foods shown to be cancer preventive, inhibiting the growth of tumors. With all of the amazing properties already proven to be effective, the potential for helping reduce the risk of cancer is an additional benefit of adding Maca to your super food regimen.

Jess’s favorite Maca tonic:

1 scoop vanilla vegan protein powder
2 tsp. raw Maca powder*
½ cup mango, papaya or avocado
1 cup almond milk
½ cup ice cubes

Blend all ingredients together for a balancing tonic to enjoy every day.

*Be sure to buy raw Maca as pasteurization deactivates several of the sterols and amino acids

Jess Lewis-Peltier, ‘The Holistic Yogini‘ is a naturopath, biochemist, herbalist and yoga teacher living in southern California Facebook Jess and follow her on Twitter.

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An alternative approach to health, wellness and disease prevention. Marie Oser and her team of bloggers bring you creative natural solutions to issues affecting our health and wellbeing.

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