For two thousand years, this ancient superfood thrived silently in the high Andean mountains. With extreme weather condition, this hardy plant and its secret was open only to the ancient Incans. At one time, this plant is used by the Incans as a form of currency. During the Spanish colonization of the country, the Incans use this plant to pay their taxes. Although the plant has survived and been a staple for the indigenous locals, this ancient plant known as maca, is now gaining popularity in the western world.
Cultivating the Maca Plant
Because of its potential as a staple for food and medicinal uses, many people have tried to cultivate the plant outside of the Andean mountains. In Bolivia, a variety of the plant was grown in a greenhouse. However due to the different climate conditions, the experiment was not successful. From the historical data gathered, the maca plant was not only used for its beneficial effects to health but also for its purportedly sexual properties. Recent studies conducted on animal test subjects revealed promising result when it comes to the possibility of reducing prostate gland size. Small studies were conducted to study the effects of the plant not only for its sexual properties but also for its effects on the patient’s hormone levels.
Research on the Maca Plant
Early research revealed that the maca plant has potentials when it comes to balancing the hormone levels. It is alleged that the plant has properties that help encourage the adrenal gland to produce energy. The plant also has the ability to balance the hormone levels of women undergoing post-menopausal stage by decreasing the menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings. It also acts as an aphrodisiac for both sexes not only in increasing sexual desire but also in balancing the hormones and decreasing symptoms of depression.
The dried maca root has nutritional value compared to the cereal grains that are a staple for many individuals. Its chemical makeup is composed of 60% carbohydrates, 8.5% fiber, 10% protein and 2.2% fat. The plant is also rich in calcium, selenium and magnesium. Interestingly, the Department of Veteran Affairs has studied selenium and found that selenium can help prevent cancer. A similar study focused on male rats being fed with maca. The result show a decrease in the size of the prostate glands of the test subjects.
Preparing the Maca Superfood
The ancient Incans use the maca root as part of their daily food intake; it can be roasted, boiled and mashed as well as dried and used as flour. Nowadays, the maca plant is dried and powdered or made into gelatin. In Norway, the maca plant is considered as medicine and a prescription is needed for one to be able to use the extracts.
There are varieties of the maca plant and the color seems to display their uses. The black maca is said to be beneficial for someone who wants to increase their energy level. The cream one is ideal for food due to its sweet flavor. The red maca, on the other hand, is said to be able to help reduce the prostate size. Aside from these colors, some maca in gold, green and purple are also available. Each color of the maca is considered as a unique identifier for the plant and each has the potential to cure different ailments.