Maca is an intriguing plant. This little Peruvian plant only grows in the most inhospitable places in the world, right in the Andean mountains, which are known for its extreme weather conditions.
It has become popular across the world as a fertility aid and aphrodisiac. Not only does it serve as an aphrodisiac but the plant’s nutritional value is also something to be greatly considered. The maca roots have a mild and almost earthly flavor to it and complements nicely with chocolates; the taste disappears when it is added to smoothies. As the plant grows in popularity, it is easy to see why many researches and studies are being conducted. Below is a closer look at what the maca root does and how to prepare it.
Maca and Sex Drive?
Unlike traditional aphrodisiacs such as animal horns and genital organs, maca plants actually seem to have an effect. There is some evidence that seems to back up the plant’s sex enhancing properties. In a 2002 double-sided blind study, 57 men were the test subjects. The men were given 1.5g, 3g and placebo as daily supplement for 12 weeks. After the 8th week, the two groups given the maca reported an increase in their sexual desire.
Another study is composed of 30 men that are on SSRIs. SSRI is an anti-depressant that decreases the sexual drive of the patient. A daily intake of 3g can significantly affect the sex drive. Those who were taking the 1.5g of maca however did not experience any change. A similar study was also conducted with 45 women who also reported significant changes. Another study, made up of eight athletes who consumed 10g of maca daily, has also shown an increase their sexual desire.
Although the studies are small and rely only on self-reporting, these studies are all double blind, randomized and placebo controlled. The studies indicate that maca does increase libido. A 2001 study showed that patients who take 1.5g and 3g maca daily could experience an increase in sperm motility and sperm count. It also showed that maca decreases erectile dysfunction and thus the claim that maca is an aphrodisiac was proven.
What makes the plant quite interesting is that researchers do not actually understand how it increases the sex drive. The sex drive is usually linked to sex hormones and with maca, it doesn’t seem to be the case as researchers haven’t found any changes in the testosterone and estrogen levels of the people that took the maca even though the participants reported an increased in their libido.
Maca Gets Moldy
Traditionally, the Peruvian maca root is dried and crushed into powder form. The dried maca powder is what one can usually find in health food stores. The problem with the maca is that it grows moldy during the drying process, which can result into a proliferation of aflatoxin, which is a potent carcinogen. Maca powder was on the Bulletproof drawing board but they found it a problem since even the highest quality maca root does contain 13pbb aflatoxin, which is not permissible under the Bulletproof standards.
For those who want to purchase maca, it is important to source it out from high-end health stores. For those who feel sick and foggy after intake of maca, you might have used a moldy batch. If you are buying a whole maca root, soak the root overnight to remove some of the mold toxins.
Cook Your Maca
Although the maca looks like a root and tastes like one, it is actually a cruciferous vegetable belonging to the family of kale, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts. Like other cruciferous vegetables, the plant contains goitrogens, which is an anti-nutrient that disrupts the thyroid hormone. Although it does contain goitrogens, these do not stand well when exposed to heat and as such, it is important to cook the maca well.
If you find fresh maca root, you need to have it baked or boiled. Once boiled, one can mash it and add this to other foods or serve it like potatoes. For powdered maca, gelatinized form works. Despite this, the gelatinized maca is not gelatinous. When the powder is mixed, the gelatinization process removes the anti-nutrients, starches and protein, which leaves the maca’s aphrodisiac properties intact.
Maca and its Nutrients
Maca is rich in vitamin C, potassium, copper, iron and vitamin B. Maca comes in different varieties and the darker ones are high in tough to find iodine. Maca has a sweet and slightly malty and nutty flavor, which pairs well with vanilla and chocolate and as such, it is a great add-on to protein shakes and smoothies. One can also add some to their coffee as the high starch content can take you out of ketosis. However, it is important that one should cook the maca well to avoid mold toxins in the process.