Maca: The Superfood That Can Help With Erectile Dysfunction
The term superfood seems to be thrown around a lot. Everything from blueberries to ginger is considered a superfood; it has gotten to the point that we can’t tell the truly exceptional foods from the average ones.
In order to be thought of as an exceptional food, the item needs an exceptional nutritional profile. Not just a few extra vitamins and minerals, but a comprehensive line-up of nutrient and proven benefits outside the realm of helping you meet your daily intake goals. Introducing maca. This Peruvian staple has finally made its way to the Western world and with good reason: it is a true superfood.
What is Maca?
Maca is a root that is grown within the Peruvian Andes mountains of Peru and Bolivia – although it’s far more associated with Peru. Its growing process is rare in and of itself as the root is grown around 4,000 meters (over 13,000 feet). What’s more, there isn’t just one type of maca; there are three types: red, yellow, and black. All three are incredibly nutritious and offer an array of benefits, which we’ll discuss more below.
Nutritious Value of Maca
Before we jump into what maca and what the effects of Maca can do for you, let’s break down its nutritional value, the source behind its benefits. Maca has all the bells and whistles that you’d expect from what is considered a cruciferous vegetable, so we’ll focus on its specialized nutrients. For a plant, maca is surprisingly rich in protein, and with this comes an abundance of muscle building and recovery-supporting amino acids.
Maca also contains over 20 healthy fatty acids; again, a rarity for a plant. The most notable forms of healthy fats include stearic acid, oleic acid, linolenic acid, and palmitic acid. As far as vitamins and minerals, maca shows above-average levels of the following:
- Vitamin C
- B-vitamins 1, 2, 3
Maca root is a cruciferous vegetable, and while you can eat it as a root, it’s most common to dry it out, grind it up, and use the power in drinks or meals. As with most vegetables, maca has a love it or hate it taste, which is why people mix it in with sweeter drinks. Its earthy taste also has hints of toast and nuts, but if you’re not a fan, you can easily mask the taste or take it in capsule form.
There are many Maca products and when purchasing maca, you’ll quickly realize that its easiest to acquire yellow maca, since it makes up most of the crop. Black maca is said to be the lowest percentage of what is grown; however, that doesn’t mean its bad or doesn’t have its share of benefits. In fact, black maca is thought to be the best for fertility, sex drive, sperm count, erectile dysfunction, and fitness-related performance.
The Maca Benefits
Speaking of the benefits of maca, let’s dive into the many scientific-proven effects of maca and what they can offer you. Below are the many Maca benefits:
Increases Libido in Men
Hands down, the most famous benefit of maca is its ability to support male libido, sexual desire, and sexual function. In one study, subjects were suffering from erectile dysfunction caused by their selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors, more commonly known as antidepressants. Those subjects who received maca, instead of a placebo, reported a significant increase in both sexual function and sexual libido. In another study, maca was shown to be an effective and natural solution to increase sexual function, performance, and desire in healthy men.
The Possibility of Increased Fertility in Men
For men suffering from issues with fertility, maca may offer a natural and effective solution. Several studies show that maca has a direct influence on sperm count, sperm motility, and the chance of pregnancy. In one study, researchers confirmed that supplementation with maca increased the sperm count and epididymal sperm motility. The most effective type was black maca; it showed the greatest results in regards to male fertility.
In another study, maca was provided to male subjects in either a 1,500 mg dose or a 3,000 mg dose over the course of four months. Researchers concluded that men taking the maca supplements experienced a significant boost in seminal volume, sperm count, motile sperm count, and sperm motility.
May Reduce Prostate Size
As men age, the health of their prostate becomes more and more important. If a prostate is swollen and enlarged, it can cause a number of other troubling symptoms such as pain and inability to urinate. Your diet is one of the best ways to protect your prostate, and maca should be a part of your daily meal plan.
Studies show that daily consumption of maca is associated with prostate health. In one animal-based study, rats with enlarged prostates were given red maca supplements. After only two weeks, researchers noted a dramatic difference in the size of the prostate and the levels of zinc in the rats. All rats given maca had improved symptoms and prostate health.
These results were duplicated in another study where rats were given all three types of maca. The rats given the red maca experienced the greatest benefit in regard to prostate health.
Can Improve Mood
Depression can strike at any time and at any age. Older women going through menopause, for example, report depression, anxiety, and mood swings. Men experiencing low testosterone will report the same. Instead of putting yourself through the side effects of antidepressants, you can try using maca.
Maca has been shown to positively impact your mood. In one study involving post-menopausal women, maca successfully alleviated symptoms of depression, anxiety, and mood swings. These results were echoed in another study involving post-menopausal women. Subjects had lower levels of depression, anxiety, and blood pressure.
Can Help Boost Sports Performance and Energy
Who doesn’t want that extra edge when they step into the gym? If you’ve been doubling up on your servings of a pre-workout supplement, you may want to reconsider and try a natural alternative. Maca has been used for thousands of years for energy. Maca’s nutrient profile contains essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants; all of which are essential for supporting daily energy. What about using maca for training and for sports?
One study provided swimmers with a maca supplement or a placebo. Researchers found that those swimmers who had ingested a maca supplement had a higher level of endurance during swimming trials. The benefit of increased endurance and better performance can also be seen in another study where cyclists completed a 40 km cycling time trial. Those cyclists taking maca demonstrated a superior performance.
Helps Protect Skin from the Sun
It’s easy to forget about covering up and protecting our skin when we step outside. If you want to avoid skin-related cancer and premature aging, it’s critical that you care for your skin. Modern-day sunblocks are useful but packed with a lot of potentially troublesome chemicals. Maca might be a natural and effective alternative.
Studies confirm that maca’s antioxidant properties can help to protect the skin from the inside out. One comprehensive review of maca demonstrated that it had the ability to protect the skin against ultraviolet radiation. This claim was echoed in a different study where the three types of maca were applied directly to the skin of rats. The rats were then exposed to UV light. The result? Red maca offered the most protection, followed by black and yellow, from the damaging effects of the UV light.
May Benefit Brain Health
Our cognitive health is one of our most precious resources. It allows us to live independent lives well into old age. It’s also the key to being productive, learning new things, and maintaining a high level of function. You can try your luck with different nootropics, or you can go with a natural alternative.
Maca has been suggested to be of great benefit to the health of your brain and cognitive ability. In one study, maca supplementation was shown to boost the function and health of mitochondria while preventing cognitive decline due to the natural aging process.
Potential to Improve Learning and Memory
Continuing with the point above, in another study, rats were given ethanol as a way to impair their memories. The rats were then split up into two groups, one received a placebo, the other received black maca. The group that received the maca showed a significant improvement in memory thanks to the polyphenolic compounds within.
How to take Maca?
No matter which type you choose, there are two primary ways to incorporate maca into your diet.
Maca Root Powder
Maca is traditionally sold in powder form. In the U.S., you can easily find maca at your local health food store in pre-packaged bags. If you’re traveling to Peru, make it a point to stock on fresh maca, which will be dramatically cheaper.
Maca Root Supplement
If you’re not a fan of smoothies or adding in maca powder to your protein shakes, you can go with a capsule-based maca supplement.
The Recommended Maca Dosage
The ideal dosage used in many of the studies listed above is 3,000 mg. Taking more than this each day will not result in a greater degree of benefit.
The Maca Side Effects
It should be noted that study after study has deemed maca to be safe for consumption. With that said, it can present a few unwanted side effects. Consuming maca root that has not been cooked has the potential to cause gastric distress, so be sure to always boil or bake the root. Best to play it safe and buy it in powder or capsule form.
Maca also contains an anti-nutrient called goitrogen. While goitrogen won’t impact most people taking it, if you have prior thyroid issues, you may want to reconsider. Goitrogens have been shown to interfere with proper thyroid function. Finally, if you are currently taking any medication that influences your hormones, especially estrogen, talk with your doctor before trying maca as it may interfere with the medication.
Maca: A True Superfood
This traditional Peruvian food is the source of an impressive nutrition profile as well as several benefits, all of which have been proven in a scientific setting. Before turning to Big Pharma for your ailments such as weight loss, energy, anxiety, or fertility, consider maca.
All three types of maca have been shown to be effective at improving your health in a number of ways. Best of all, maca is far safer and cheaper than a prescription drug. If you need a certain medication, talk to your doctor to see if maca could complement the drug, thereby requiring a lower dose. If you don’t have an issue with any of the benefits listed above, maca can still act as an effective preventative measure for your overall health.