If you, like us, have most experimented with maca by ordering the occasional maca latte from your local independent coffee shop, then this article is for you.
Maca—different from the highly prized green tea matcha traditionally from Japan and China—is the powdered version of the maca root from the South America Andes. The superfood tastes earthy and (some say) like caramel.
Nutritionists say the maca provides major health benefits. “[Maca] may benefit our hormonal health by regulating the endocrine system—the collection of glands that produce hormones to regulate metabolism, growth, sexual function, reproduction, sleep and mood,” said performance dietitian Jessica Spendlove in HuffPost Australia.
A study published in the journal Pharmaceuticals tested the effects of daily maca consumption by 175 participations. At the end of the 12-week study, researchers concluded that maca positively affected the participants’ mood, energy and health status.
Now for the dubious claims
Maca is often credited with being a major libido-booster, but when you start to unravel that, there’s probably not a whole lot of truth to the claim.
Maca root’s ability to get you in the mood is more of a theory than something that has been confirmed through scientific research, said Dr. Keith-Thomas Ayoob, EdD, RD, FAND to Elite Daily.
So maybe don’t chug a maca latte before your next date.
How to incorporate it into your diet
Maca powder is incredibly versatile. Stir a serving into your morning coffee, add it to a smoothie, mix it into a stir fry or even put it in hot chocolate.
It can be frustrating to invest in a whole bag of a superfood without knowing if you’ll like the taste or if you’ll notice its health benefits. Some retailers sell individual packets of maca, which are smaller and less expensive. Not only will you be able to try out the ingredient for yourself without going home with a year’s worth of powder, but the single-serving pouches make this the perfect product to take on-the-go to work or the gym.
As with any dietary supplement, you might want to check in with your doctor before you commit to incorporating maca into your daily meals.
“If you take medications or have a medical condition, herbs are not something to just play with,” Dr. Ayoob said. “Some can have serious interactions with medication or in people with certain medical conditions.”
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “Extracts from maca might act like estrogen.” As per the NIH, if you have any condition that could be made worse by extra estrogen exposure, you shouldn’t use maca without a doctor’s permission. People with hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis or uterine fibroids should be extra cautious.