The name of black maca might connote to be a mystical substance with dangerous effects. But in reality, it is a plant that has numerous health boosting qualities and it has stirred quite a buzz among people. Let’s look into the details of black maca.
What is Black Maca?
Maca or Lepidium meyenii is part of cruciferous family and is related to vegetables like kale, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage. It is found native to the Andes plateaus of Peru. In Peru it was used for medicinal and culinary purposes since a long time. The main edible part of black maca plant is the root. The root of maca plant is dried and consumed in powder form. Maca exists in several colors ranging from white to black. However black maca is gaining popularity due to its many health boosting properties.
Themaca root powder is a good source of important mineral and vitamins this makes it very nutritious.
One ounce of maca root powder contains:
- Fat: 1 gram
- Calories: 91
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Carbs: 20 grams
- Protein: 4 grams
Maca root is also good source of essential minerals (copper, manganese) and essential vitamins (vitamin C, vitamin B6). It also contains several other important plant compounds such as polyphenols and glucosinolates.
Health conditions and black maca:
The following health benefits of black maca are supported by small scale research and studies.
- Blood pressure: In an observational study maca intake was associated with lower blood pressure. In another study postmenopausal women after regular intake of maca showed lower blood pressure.
- Inflammation and oxidative stress: In a group of 50 people, people who regularly consumed maca have lower inflammatory markers as compared to those who did not take maca.
- Blood Glucose: Black maca has shown to lower blood glucose level in a study of 197 adults. This is promising result however more results are required.
- Anxiety and Depression: Maca intake has been associated with reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety especially in post-menopausal women.
Maca and its role in male fertility:
Maca root holds promising results to treat people with different sexual dysfunctions e.g. male infertility. In terms of male infertility sperm quantity and quality is really important.
In one study improved sperm motility and concentration was observed in healthy male adults who were given maca as compare to those who were given placebo. The hormone levels of both groups remained same.
This result was confirmed by another study that even though hormone levels were not changed but a significant increase in seminal volume, sperm motility and motile sperm count was increased in participants who were taking maca supplements.
Maca relieve symptoms of Menopause:
During menopause the decline in estrogen levels causes unpleasant symptoms such as mood swings, hot flashes, irritability, sleep problems and vaginal dryness. Even though it is not recognized as an effective medicine but research results are promising.
It was found through results of a small study that 3.5g intake of maca daily reduces post-menopausal symptoms such as depression, anxiety and improved sexual function.
In another review of four studies that had menopausal women as subjects showed that maca helps reducing menopausal symptoms such as interrupted sleep and hot flashes.
Increase Libido in men and women:
Traditionally maca was taken in as aphrodisiac. This claim is backed by research now, regular intake of maca has shown improved sexual desire.
In another meta-analysis study conducted in 2010 it was concluded that intake of maca increases improved sexual desire. In these studies, both male and female participants were enrolled.
Maca can protect skin from sun:
There is some strong evidence that state when maca extract is applied on skin, it helps in protecting your skin from harmful UV radiations. This protective effect of maca on skin is due to the presence of glucosinolates and polyphenol antioxidants in maca extracts.
It is important to note that maca extract can only protect skin when applied on skin not when eaten. Also, it cannot be replaced with a conventional sun-screen.
Black maca and memory:
Black maca is considered useful in promoting healthy cognitive function. Black maca helps in improved memory and learning due to its capacity to reduce oxidative stress.
Energy and mood:
Black maca is consumed to boost mood and energy. A study on cyclists showed that group of cyclists who consumed black maca showed better result as compare to those who did not consumed black maca.
Black maca have shown positive results on bone architecture of female mice. It can also help in increasing bone density in women.
How to use black maca:
- Black maca supplements are readily available. These supplements are available in powder form, liquid extract or 500mg capsule form.
- Black maca can also be used as an adaptogen, a substance that helps in managing stress and helps body to adapt, and overall vitality and energy booster.
- It is very easy to incorporate black maca in your diet. It can be added in baked goods, smoothies, oatmeal and more.
- The optimal dose for black maca intake has not been established yet. However, 1.5-5 grams of black maca root powder per day is considered safe.
- Black maca is readily available in supermarkets or healthy food stores. You can also buy it from online retailers. Amazon have very good selection.
Safety and side-effects:
- Black maca is considered safe for most people.
- Consumption of fresh maca root can causes serious health related issues. So boiling maca roots before consumption is recommended by natives.
- People with under-lying thyroid disorder should not take black maca. As it contains goitrogens, a substance that affects thyroid glands normal function.
- To avoid any adverse effects Pregnant or breast-feeding mothers should consult with their doctor before black maca consumption.
Adding black maca in your diet is very promising in achieving several health benefits. However, most of these studies are conducted on small scale and on animals. More extensive researches are required. Consult your doctor before consuming black maca for medicinal purpose.