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 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 **
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 email@example.com.
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