Maca- superfood of the Inca warriors
Maca- superfood of the Inca warriors
Maca, named Lepidium meyenii by Gerard Walters in 1843 is an edible herbaceous plant native to South America, grown at very high altitudes (as high as 4,300m above sea level) in the Andes mountains of Peru. It is one of the only things grown at this height, also in a very difficult environment for crops to grow. Temperatures of the growing season vary from -2 to 13 Degrees Celsius, with strong winds, sunlight and frosts being characteristics of the native habitat of Maca. It is these harsh conditions which produce the powerful nutritional and phytochemical profile. Known as the Peruvian ginseng, Maca powder is ground from the root into a powder and can be used to make medicine.
Peruvians have used Maca as a staple crop for thousands of years as it was one of the few plants Andean plateau-dwellers could grow successfully. Records show it being used both for food and a herbal supplement, for at least 3000 years. The Incas, who cooked it in soups, ate it to fuel themselves before battle and increase their strength and endurance.
Maca is an adaptogen traditionally used to support and balance the body in times of stress, increase energy and libido and balance hormones. It has a strong nutritional profile containing over 20 amino acids, iron, copper, potassium, calcium, B group vitamins and magnesium just to name a few. The plant is related to the radish. It has an earthy, nutty taste and is easily added to drinks and foods.
Promote vitality, wellbeing and a healthy mind with Maca. Some of the key benefits of adding this powerful plant into your daily diet include
Boosting energy and endurance- being an adaptogen, it gives your body the ability to adapt or resist what’s going on around it. Some scientific evidence suggests that it can give you a shot of energy and increase stamina.
Improve mood, libido and fertility- Maca contains flavonoids which are thought to improve mood and reduce anxiety. It has also been shown to increase libido and fertility in healthy adults.
Fighting free radicals- Maca promotes natural antioxidants in the body such as glutathione and superoxide dismutase. Antioxidants fight off free radicals which damage cells in the body. Antioxidants may help prevent some health conditions including heart disease and cancer.
Reduce menopause symptoms- Maca may help to balance levels of the hormone estrogen. One study found postmenopausal women taking maca daily experienced reduced symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats.
Improve learning and memory- some literature suggests maca may have benefits for learning and memory performance. Researches suggest that it could be helpful for treating conditions that affect these processes.
Traditionally, Peruvians drink the powder as a tea which is the healthiest way to consume the powder. The heat makes the healthy compounds more bioactive, or easier for the body to extract and put to work. Add it to your coffee and golden lattes, as a nutritional boost to your baked goods or simply add it whilst cooking your porridge for an easy breakfast that packs a punch.
Below is one of my favourite Maca recipes. This latte gives a good burst of clean energy and is a great alternative to replace your morning or afternoon coffee. I make a large batch of the dry ingredients which can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3months. Then its quick and simple to whisk everything together on the stove. Enjoy!
Ingredients for a large batch of dry maca mixture. Ingredients may be changed or amounts varied depending upon your taste.
1 C maca powder
1 1/4C of cacao powder
1/2 C coconut sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp tumeric (optional)
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
To make a maca latte for 1 you will need:
1 1/2 C milk or plant milk of choice
1/2 tsp coconut oil (optional)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 T dry maca mixture
- Place 2 or 3 T maca mixture in a small saucepan.
- Add 1/4 C milk and whisk into a smooth paste
- Add remaining milk, coconut oil and vanilla. Whisk to combine.
- Heat over medium heat until desired temperature is reached. Enjoy!