It seems like everywhere you turn there's a new "maca" product out there. However, there's nothing "new" about it.
In fact, the use of maca has been around for thousands of years. It just happens to be picking up steam now more than ever before.
But have you ever heard of maca and wondered what in the world it was, what it does, and why you should care?
Well you're not alone.
And we've got everything you might possibly need in way of answers.
So if you're curious about maca and whether or not you should be adding it to your daily dietary routine, keep on reading.
What Exactly is Maca?
Maca itself is a cruciferous vegetable. More commonly used veggies in this category include cabbage, bok choy, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
The plant name itself comes from the leafy petals, when opened, give the image of a cross (cruciferous comes from the latin word cruciferae, which means cross bearing).
The maca plant itself comes from the Andes Mountain region of Peru.
When cultivated, the plant shares a similar characteristic with radishes.
However, unlike other specimens found within the same plant family, it is not the portion that grows above ground that is consumed. Instead, what is used from the maca plant is the root.
The maca root has been used for hundreds of years in Peru, typically ground up and served within a tea.
What is an Adaptogen?
The term "adaptogen" is not part of the maca plant title.
Instead, this is given to certain plants that help improve the body's ability to reduce the impact of stressors while boosting the hormonal balance within the body.
The term "adaptogen" has been around since the 1940s, but a true definition for "adaptogen" did not come about for another 20 years, when researchers indicated adaptogens needed to be safe for the host to consume, that it would help reduce the impact of stressors, and that it would improve the body's functionality, in some shape or form.
In other words, an adaptogen helps the body "adapt" to continually evolving stressors.
When you suffer from stress, your body will produce a series of hormones to help make up for it. Depending on the level and the kind of stress, different hormones are produced.
Over time, this hormonal production can cause other problems within your body.
Due to this, it is important to correct and reduce the impact of stress.
Everything within your body is connected. So when there's an issue with one aspect of it, the rest will compensate for it.
If you sit incorrectly, your bones will adjust to keep you seated, which in turn causes your muscles to shift and pull in ways it shouldn't, in order to keep your body up.
This increases tension on the nerves and other areas of the body.
A similar issue occurs with stress. Stress causes you to suffer from stomach aches, experience a reduction in sleep quality and a number of other internal issues.
Hormone production increases to make up for it, but the flood of hormones alters how your body functions.
It may also put stress on your adrenal glands and lead to serious health problems with your adrenal glands. Adaptogen plants can help prevent this.
The Maca Adaptogen Root Health Benefits
The biggest benefit packed into maca is its abundance of antioxidants.
Antioxidants are used to help remove free radicals within the body. This helps fight off and prevent the development of cancer cells, not to mention more common forms of sickness and illness.
The high levels of antioxidants within maca has also shown to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides that build up within the liver.
It can also help reduce the level of blood sugar while helping you avoid other more common chronic diseases.
If you struggle with energy levels, and with it, a drop in your overall quality of mood, maca may be the right addition to your diet as well.
Maca helps improve your level of alertness, without a long digestive time.
Of course, maca is also often served in a tea form, combined with green and black teas. This helps boost the energy levels while giving you the additional benefits green and black teas offer the body.
When using maca to boost your energy level, you won't experience the same jitters or the crash often connected with extensive caffeinated consumption, which is caused when the body suddenly comes down from the increased levels of caffeine inside the system.
Maca doesn't have the kind of caffeine it is as other items (such as coffee), but as it helps maintain the levels of blood sugar you do not have the sudden increase and drop off.
If you are a female, overtime you may experience shifts in your estrogen levels. This can lead to mood swings. You may also feel bloated during menstruation periods. Maca can help with this. It has been found to balance out hormonal levels (one of the main properties of an adaptogen plant).
Maca can also help reduce the symptoms you may suffer from menopause, such as night sweats and hot flashes.
Not to be outdone, if you are a male there are benefits for you with maca as well. It doesn't affect your testosterone levels as it does with estrogen, but it has been showed to improve your overall sexual health and boost your fertility.
So, if you have a low sperm count and are looking for ways to increase your sexual wellbeing in an attempt to have a child, adding maca to your diet may help with this.
Nutritional Makeup of Maca
A traditional serving of maca is about two tablespoons of maca powder.
Each serving is 91 calories and has 20 grams of carbohydrates (it includes two grams of fiber, so the "total carbs" if you are on an Atkins based diet is 18).
There are four grams of protein and one gram of fat. It also comes with vitamin B6, iron, copper, Vitamin C and potassium.
Maca comes with a number of healthy benefits, all of which you can obtain through many of the recently released products.
When pop culture suddenly shows an interest in such a product that has been around for thousands of years it typically has something to do with a celebrity.
Whatever the reason behind why maca has popped up onto the stage, it's easier now than ever before to purchase inexpensive, quality maca.
So if you're interested in the health benefits available, now is a great time to check it out.