The maca plant is indigenous to the mountainous Andean plateau in Peru and is quite popular for its fleshy taproot. The root of the plant, which is what the locals refer to when identifying the maca has been a staple in their diet since the ancient Incan’s time and is usually used as vegetable crop as well as a medicinal plant. Today, the plant remains a part of the local people’s diet but has recently gained attention due to its high nutritional content and energizing properties.
One of the popular health benefits of the maca plant is the fact that many have claimed its aphrodisiac properties that are said to help increase one’s sexual desire. Researches and studies have been conducted to prove this benefit and one of the most notable was the one published in CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics in 2008. The study involves 16 women volunteers who had sexual issues because of their intake of antidepressant drugs. Regular intake of the maca root showed an increase in the test subject’s libido or sexual desire. Aside from problem stemming from use of antidepressant drugs, studies have also revealed that the plant can help males who are experiencing erectile dysfunction causes by high glucosinolate levels in their body.
Another benefit of taking the maca plant it that it would help increase one’s stamina. The Incan Empire is renowned for their fierceness as well as their contribution to the humankind especially the popular ancient site – Macchu Picchu. It is believed that the ancient warriors took the maca root as it has high carbohydrate levels resulting in increased stamina. The plant is composed of 60% carbohydrates, which contribute to increase in strength and energy levels. Today, many athletes take the maca powder in place of anabolic steroids to help them improve their stamina level.
Aside from carbohydrates, the plant is also rich in protein with approximately 10% content, which is comparable to other vegetables. Protein is important for the body as it helps build and repair tissue cells.
Do you know that 10 grams of the maca root contain about 52 micrograms of iodine? Humans need iodine in their body and the recommended daily intake is 150 micrograms per day. However many people have iodine deficiency which can affect their thyroid glands among other things. Kelp and other sea vegetables have high iodine content but for people who live far from the ocean, maca roots are excellent replacement. It is said that the darker the root, the more iodine the plant contains.
For people who want to lower their cholesterol level, the maca root contains plant sterols that can reduce one’s cholesterol level. The plant contains campestrol, sitosterol, ergostadienol, ergosterol and other sterols, which help in interfering in the absorption of cholesterol in the body. The plant can also help guard our body against cardiovascular diseases as well as atherosclerosis.
People that have problems with their bowel movement would benefit from taking maca roots. The plant contains 9% dietary fiber acting as a natural laxative for people who have constipation or problems with their bowel movement. As it is composed of fiber, it can also act as an appetite suppressant as the fiber absorbs water making us feel full longer.
Men and women who are looking for natural nutrient supplements would benefit from taking the maca root. It is rich in not only fiber, protein and carbohydrates, but in nutrients such as iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium. The plant is also rich in fatty acids such as oleic, linoleic and palmitic acids, which are needed for brain function.