Friday, October 31st, 2014

Maca: Miracle Energy Enhancer?

Published on August 1, 2009 by   ·   15 Comments Pin It
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Over the last few years, there has been a lot of buzz and much written about Maca. Is it really  a “superfood” that enhances energy (sexual and otherwise?)   We even recently heard a women claim it helped her get pregnant!   What’s the real spiel on Maca?   We asked Nutritionist Katherine Pennington for the scoop;

Maca is a root vegetable much like a carrot or turnip that is grown in the mineral-rich volcanic soil in the Peruvian mountains. Although we are just now hearing about it, Maca is not just this new phenomenon. Maca has been around for hundreds of years and has been used by the Peruvians as well as the Spanish Conquistadors who invaded Peru. The Conquistadors who were not used to the high altitudes found that eating this ancient plant helped them and their animals combat stress and thrive in the higher altitudes.

Although Maca has been most written about most for its “benefits in the bedroom,” in actuality Maca helps enhance what I call our inner-core strength, hormonal balance, cravings for sugar, and our ability to deal with physical, emotional and mental stress by supporting the adrenal glands. If we feel stronger and we are less stressed, well I guess we are more in the mood!

Maca is also used by athletes who want to prevent injuries and recover more quickly from their workouts. Basically exercise, while beneficial to our bodies, is essentially a stress. In order to train most effectively, we need to not only train hard but allow our bodies to rest and rejuvenate more quickly after our workouts. Maca helps with this by balancing out hormonal levels and supporting the adrenal so that the body can “bounce back.” Additionally, Maca contains sterols, a steroid-like compound found in plants and animals that promotes the quick regeneration of fatigued muscle tissue.

Lastly, as referenced above Maca helps with sugar and carbohydrate cravings. Maca has a similar molecular makeup to serotonin, the “feel happy” chemical in our body. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that sends messages between our nerve tissues. The higher the serotonin level the happier we feel! Lower levels have also been linked to depression or that feeling of being “down.” When our body is stressed, we crave carbohydrates or sugar in the attempt to mimic or create serotonin in the body. Maca satisfies the body’s need for more serotonin and makes us feel happier, less stressed and more satisfied and our cravings decrease.

When I first heard about it, I was skeptical about all the hype too but have been suggesting it to clients as well as have been using it myself. I have felt (and they have reported) that they feel more balanced and energized!

Maca Extreme, $25 @ Sunfood.com

Maca Extreme, $25 @ Sunfood.com

Maca comes in powdered form and can be found in any health food store. You can also purchase it online atwww.sunfood.com. Maca tastes slightly nutty much like flax seed but does not have a strong taste. Add Maca to your morning fruit smoothie, in your baking, sprinkle it over your cereal, or use it as a topping on your salads.   It, much like flax, is easy to incorporate into your diet.   Navitas Naturals recommends using 2 parts fat (like cacao or nut butter), 2 parts sweetener (like agave nectar or yacon syrup), and 1 part maca when creating new Maca recipes. A simple way to add energy to your busy day!

Try this tasty smoothie recipe from the grand masters of superfoods at Navitas Naturals:

** Super Chill Summer Smoothie **

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Tbsp. Maca Powder
  • 1/4 cup Cashews
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Powder (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp.   Camu Powder (optional)
  • 8 ounces Coconut milk (or dairy-free milk of choice)
  • 1/4 cup Pitted dates
  • 2 cups Ice
  • pinch of Sea salt

Directions: Place just the cashews in the blender and grind them on high until they are fine to buttery. Add the rest of the ingredients and again blend on high. Enjoy in a cold glass

Founded by nutritional consultant Katherine Pennington, Be in Balance offers holistic health and lifestyle counseling for women and men who want to lose weight, gain energy, sleep better, reduce stress, get in shape and achieve a greater sense of well-being, balance and happiness in their lives and those of their families.   For more information, please visit her website at www.be-n-balance.com or   send an email to katherine@be-n-balance.com.

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Readers Comments (15)

  1. Kristin says:

    Maca is fabulous! I love my two-maca-smoothies per week. Any more than two or three per week and I’m jazzed up more than coffee ever could get me going.

  2. admin says:

    This is really fascinating….I must get my hands on some. Thanks for the tip as always!!!

  3. elaine says:

    Interesting. But why is it only available (or so it seems) in powder form? Is the vegetable itself available somewhere?

    Presumably, the ancient Perunvians and the Conquistadors didn’t eat it by processing it into a powder and whipping up a smoothie!

    I’ll keep my eye out for it.

    Thanks for the info.

    Elaine

  4. Kristin says:

    I’ve never seen it sold in its root form! I think it was ground up the way maize was though for the purpose of digestion. Maize as you know is undigestable in its full, natural state.

  5. RubyAthena says:

    OK, I’m going to try it. I’m on a new workout regime and I am looking for something that’ll give me more energy.

    Thanks!

  6. Ari Solomon says:

    I’ve tried maca in my shakes but I’ve found it to have a very strong, almost medicinal flavor. Has anyone else found this or am I crazy?

  7. Ariela says:

    I haven’t had a chance to try maca yet! Now that I know more about it I’ll try it in place of flax in my smoothies!

  8. Dear Readers,
    I will try to answer all of your questions… I do not know why it comes in dry form. I am assuming that the medicinal properties would have a very limited shelf life if it were not put in dried form. It also might be hard to use. To answer someone’s question about the taste…I have not found that Maca has a strong taste but if you are adding it to smoothies and find that it does perhaps you are either putting too much (it is very potent) or perhaps you need to add agave nectar or another sweetener until you get used to the taste. Hope this is helpful.

    Katherine

  9. Allison Tray says:

    Thanks for posting this CJ! My girlfriend was born and raised in Peru and swears by the stuff. She said her Mom gave it to her and her siblings growing up. GREAT for energy!

  10. [...] Introducing my most favorite supplement in the world: Maca! [...]

  11. kevin says:

    I picked up some Amazing Grass Superfoods powder at whole foods last week (on sale too – only $20). It has Maca in it, amongst other goodies. I bought the chocolate variety – been mixing it with some ground chia seed (another recent recommendation, thanks!) and chocolate almond milk for my breakfast smoothies. I really dig it thus far and the powder is pretty pleasant tasting.

    http://www.amazinggrass.com/chocolate-green-superfood-powder.html

  12. Kiera says:

    Its not in root form because they cannot get it into the country in root form because of the insects etc that could be on the root. They get it into powder in Peru and then import it. David Wolfe told me this… He managed to sneak in a few small ones and gave me one on my birthday, trust me the powder is easier and better :)

  13. Maca Guru says:

    In Peru maca is first air dried (to prevent the root from going bad) and then stored so locals can enjoy Maca benefits for a long period of time. Peru people make porridge out of maca, beer, or they roast / bake it in ashes.

    However, less processed Maca root, more nutritious and effective it is. Pure maca has a nice but rather strong taste and its positive effects can be visible in just a week or two. The recipe above is just great for Maca in powder form.
    Thanks for the recipe :)

  14. Melody says:

    AMAZING recipe!! I make this a couple of times week. i <3 maca




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