Ingredient of the Month 28: Maca Powder
|Maca root commonly comes as a powder.|
Dried maca root is high in carbs (60-75%), is 10-14% protein and also contains some fibre. Maca has low sodium content, but is rich in calcium and potassium. It also contains iron, iodine, copper, manganese, zinc, magnesium, selenium, phosphorous and essential fatty acids. Vitamins B, C and E are also found in maca.
It is said that maca can improve libido and fertility, and it is also a hormone balancer, making it a good supplement for women with menstrual issues or menopause symptoms; it can relieve cramps, hot flushes ("flashes") and mood swings. However, pregnant or lactating women should avoid taking maca.
For some people. maca seems to clear acne and blemishes (maybe because it balances hormones?), and perhaps because of all nutrients, taking maca powder does seem to give increased energy and endurance.
Maca is definitely an acquired taste! It is kind of woody, sweet, bitter and pungent all at the same time. I can vouch for the fact that you can get used to it, and it does hide itself well amongst other ingredients. So how much maca should you have? It is recommended that you start with smaller amounts, say a teaspoon a day, and build up. That way you can take note of the effects and avoid overdoing it (too much maca can throw your hormones out of balance). A tablespoon a day is considered average.
You can add maca to smoothies, salads, puddings, drinks etc. but the benefits are lost if it is added to very hot food or cooked.
Here's a smoothie recipe to start you off:
Cacao Maca Shake