To look at, it could be a spring onion, but the Maca is much more than that. In our review of the superfoods and functional extracts, we certainly couldn’t forget one of the latest trends arriving directly from the Cordillera of the Andes. The part used for food supplements is a fleshy round-shaped tuber, with a colour varying from yellow to dark red. And it’s in the root part where all its nutrients and adaptogens are concentrated.
“THE LOST CROP OF THE INCAS”
This is what it was called by some researchers upon the rediscovery of its powerful beneficial effects which were already known to pre-Columbian cultures. These considered Maca as a gift of the gods since it gave energy, health and resistance and permitted the tribes to support enormous workloads. In addition, it was cultivated as a food and at times was used as an ointment in religious dance ceremonies. According to the account of Brother Antonio Vásquez de Espinoza dating to 1598, the fame of this plant was also due to its aphrodisiac and reinvigorating qualities, able to increase sexual desire and fertility, both of men and women.
Maca is currently used by the Andes populations as a versatile food, both cooked and dried, both as a side-dish and as a main course, just like potatoes. Its toasted powder, instead, is used in the preparation of desserts and alcoholic drinks.
Maca root contains all the most important nutrients, essential for our organism, making it practically a complete food. For this reason, is has been considered for thousands of years as a powerful supplement with remarkable medicinal virtues.
It has the ability to improve resistance to stress and tiredness. This reinvigorating and energising property is attributable to its action on the production of glucose, starting from the reserves of energy; it makes this energy available in the event of physical or intellectual activity. For this reason it’s defined as an “adaptogen” food, because it’s able to provide more energy to the body when this is necessary, making it a previous ally for improving the adaptability of the body to stressful situations.
While lacking in caffeine, the Maca root has a similar effect as coffee, stimulating and re-equilibrating the nervous system and assisting concentration, mental clarity and memory. Thanks to its toning and energising action, which recalls the properties of ginseng, Maca is a natural help for those suffering from chronic tiredness and for those who perform challenging intellectual activities.
Maca has anabolic properties because, thanks to the presence of amino-acids, it helps to increase the muscular mass in athletes; it can, therefore, be used as a food supplement in high energy consumption activities.
Rich in vitamins A, C and the group B, calcium, iron and zinc, it acts beneficially on the nervous system, improving concentration. It’s recommended for reinforcing the immune system in combatting all flu symptoms such as fever, cough and colds.
Thanks to its alkaloids and sterols, Maca also has an extraordinary equilibrating effect on the hormonal system, able to promote both male and female fertility. It’s also known as “Peruvian Viagra” for its ability to stimulate the sexual libido.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE
If you decide to purchase Maca in powder, it must absolutely be ORGANIC. To use it you simply have to stir it into hot or cold water, or add it to fruit and vegetable shakes, to yoghurt or vegetable drinks. Finally it can be used as an ingredient for desserts. One of the latest novelties in terms of functional drinks is Macaccino, the Maca and cocoa-based drink, tasty and energising, ideal to drink during the autumn afternoons to come!