You might have heard people refer to maca powder as a superfood and now you’re wondering whether it is actually worth the hype. In this blog, I’ll talk about some of the benefits of maca powder, as well as some of the ways you can use it.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about maca powder!
What is maca powder?
Maca powder comes from the maca root — which is native to the Central Andes region of Peru, a high-altitude area that has perfect conditions for growing the maca plants. The maca plant is actually a cruciferous vegetable, which means it is in the same plant family as broccoli, kale, turnips and cabbage. Maca is available in a powder, liquid or tablet form.
Like a lot of root vegetables, maca grows in different colours. The most common colour is yellow but you may also see black, red, white, orange or purple maca root too. The root of the maca plant is ground down to make a powder, which can be used in lots of different ways.
Sometimes called ‘Peruvian Ginseng’, maca root powder has a number of nutritional and health benefits, which is why we’re hearing about it much more. Traditionally, maca powder is used because of its medicinal properties — it’s known for boosting energy and is thought to improve both brain and reproductive function.
Maca powder benefits
Now that you know all about what maca powder actually is, I’m sure you want to know whether it is something you should include in your diet or not. Just like a number of other superfoods, such as chia seeds or turmeric, maca can provide some additional health benefits. These are a few you might not know about:
Nutritional benefits of maca powder
From a nutritional perspective, maca powder is quite high in a number of nutrients. It is a good source of carbohydrates, as well as fat and protein. Maca includes more than 20 amino acids, which your body uses to help grow and repair muscles — making it beneficial for people who work out regularly.
Maca also contains vitamin C, B6, copper, iron, potassium, fibre and manganese. The range of vitamins and minerals in maca mean it can help increase immune health and general wellbeing!
Maca powder may boost energy levels
Maca can be great for increasing energy naturally, thanks to its high carbohydrate content. Carbohydrates help to give your body energy, so maca can be a good supplement option to help boost your energy levels.
If you love to rely on a cup of coffee to get you going in the morning, switching to a smoothie with a teaspoon of maca powder may be a good substitute. Maca powder can help to give you energy without the use of stimulants like caffeine.
Maca may improve brain function
Not only does maca powder have a strong nutritional profile (as I mentioned above), it is also high in antioxidants. These two things are important for brain health. Antioxidants work to fight cell damage, so they can help to protect your brain as you age.
In Peru, where it has been used for thousands of years, maca has been linked with improved cognitive ability (brain function).
Maca may be a mood booster
Maca powder is an adaptogen, a class of herb that can help the body to adapt to stresses. Adaptogens support your body’s systems, particularly your endocrine, nervous and immune systems, to help you manage stressful situations. As an adaptogen, maca powder may help to support your endocrine system, which is responsible for producing the hormones that help to regulate your metabolism, sleep and mood. A balanced endocrine system means fewer fluctuations in these hormones, so you may notice more stable sleep patterns and moods.
Maca powder is said to help boost feelings of happiness as well, with some studies showing maca can help increase dopamine and noradrenaline — chemical neurotransmitters that are linked to the reward part of your brain.
Maca can help to balance hormones
One of the maca powder benefits you may have heard is it may help to balance hormones. As I’ve explained above, maca is an adaptogen, which means it may support the systems that produce hormones within your body. That means maca powder may be able to help restore balance in different hormones being produced by the body — particularly in times of stress or illness. It is thought that women with hormone-related concerns, such as PMS, may benefit from introducing maca into their diet.
How to use maca powder
The general recommendation is it can be safe to take up to 20g of maca powder each day, however, if you’ve never used it before, start with a smaller amount. One teaspoon (approximately 5g) is a good amount to start with, particularly as you get used to the flavour. Maca powder can have a butterscotch-like smell and a nutty flavour, so it can be a good option for adding an energy boost for smoothies in the morning.
Maca root powder can be easily added to a number of different types of recipes, including smoothies, bliss balls, dips and oats. If you’re interested in using maca powder, a simple way to include it in your diet is to add one teaspoon of powder to the snack ideas mentioned above. You can try adding maca powder to these recipes of mine too:
Golden milk — add a little sweetness to your turmeric latte or hot chocolate with a teaspoon of maca
Bliss balls — add a teaspoon of maca powder with the ingredients when processing and make these snacks even more energy-packed.
Peaches and Cream Smoothie — a teaspoon of powder with your smoothie can help ward off some sugar cravings.
You can also add maca powder to raw desserts, pancakes or a homemade granola!
Maca powder side effects
So by now, you’ve read through the list of benefits of maca powder and you might be thinking that it sounds like a superfood you need to add to your diet.
Before you start using it every day, I do want to touch on some maca powder side effects that you should consider. As I explained above, maca root is a cruciferous vegetable, which can be a little more difficult for some people to digest. If you tend to feel bloated or notice any abdominal discomfort after eating broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage, be aware that maca may have the same effect on you.
Ladies who are pregnant or breastfeeding and people who have thyroid issues should avoid including maca powder in their diet. At this stage, there isn’t enough research to determine whether it is safe to consume during this time. It’s always a good idea to chat with your healthcare professional before adding any supplements to your diet, so keep this in mind with maca powder as well.
Should you try maca powder?
Maca powder can be a helpful way to squeeze in some extra nutrients, especially if you are training harder than normal and want to help your body to recover. While I think a nutritious, well-balanced diet is key to overall good health, maca powder can be beneficial as long as you are not relying on a supplement to get all of your nutrients.
If you are looking for ways to increase your energy or muscle growth, including maca powder in smoothies or snacks is a quick way to do this. Just remember to take it slowly to begin with, especially while you get used to the flavour.
How To Use Maca Powder & Unlock Its Benefits – Kayla Itsines is written by Louise Tilley for www.kaylaitsines.com