Packed full of minerals, and resembling a cross between a radish and a parsnip, Peru’s native maca has received a great deal of attention — and rightly so!
Now commonly referred to as a superfood, maca is often hailed for its impressive health benefits when included in a balanced, daily diet. But if you can’t get hold of fresh maca — or don’t know what to do with it! — you’ll be pleased to know that many stores now sell maca in powder form, making it easy to add a superfood boost to everyday dishes.
But hold up for a second. Whilst many health claims toward this veg certainly stand up, there are also plenty of myths and exaggerated claims, with little concrete research to back them up.
So, if you want to discover the true (and pretty surprising!) benefits of maca powder — plus a number of tasty ways to start eating maca powder today — then we’ve got your back.
Here’s how this simple vegetable can help boost your overall health with a few delicious maca recipes to try at home….
Maca’s impressive nutritional value lives up to the hype
Before any ingredient can be called a superfood, significant research needs to go into the actual health benefits it delivers.
Fortunately for maca, researchers have found some very impressive results indeed.
Just one ounce of authentic maca root powder contains a sizeable amount of fibre, vitamin C, and essential minerals such as iron, potassium and copper. Maca is also incredibly low in fat and contains a decent source of carbs for helping maintain healthy energy levels.
All in all, maca is a simple method of giving your body a serious nutritional boost on a daily basis. Nice!
Can maca root powder aid physical performance? Possibly!
Due to the reported energy benefits maca may provide, it makes sense to assume this could be applicable to exercise and sports too.
So it’s little surprise that maca root powder is commonly taken as a supplement by avid athletes and bodybuilders.
However, it’s important to remember the role of research when making such claims. As of now, there’s little scientific evidence to suggest regular ingestion of maca has any positive effects on boosting strength or muscle mass. But certain studies have been conducted with regard to endurance training, suggesting maca’s exercise benefits perhaps aren’t all mythical after all.
For example, one study in particular found cyclists were able to improve their typical time taken to finish a 25-mile bike ride, after supplementing their diet with maca root powder for 14 days prior to the event.
Whilst it’s clear greater research needs to be conducted in order to further investigate the benefits of maca powder on exercise and sports performance, results so far are seemingly encouraging.
Would you believe that the benefits of maca powder may include boosting libido?
As a woman, it’s totally normal to experience a decrease in libido from time to time.
If you do, it’s really nothing to worry about!
That being said, if you find your libido isn’t where you want it to be, or it begins to cause problems in the bedroom, maca may be a surprising solution.
In fact, one of the focal benefits typically associated with maca is the ability to boost libido. In one research review, both men and women saw significant improvements to libido and sexual function after introducing maca powder to their diet.
Research suggests that maca could protect skin from harmful UV rays
It’s no secret how dangerous UV rays can be for our overall skin health. Not only can frequent sun exposure speed up the ageing process, but the risk of developing skin cancer is also strongly correlated to UV damage.
However, when topically applied to the skin, concentrated maca extract could provide an extra layer of effective protection against damage caused by UV radiation. Numerous studies have been carried out investigating this, with generally positive effects shown.
But, in a similar sense to the benefits of maca powder associated with sports performance, research in this area remains relatively limited — with many current studies involving animals as opposed to humans.
This being said, as few side effects have been found with topical maca application, it certainly can’t hurt to experiment with this method in protecting your skin even further!
Provided you don’t replace your current SPF with maca extract and still continue to apply sunscreen as normal, you could experience an even stronger barrier of protection during the summer months.
Sound good? Here’s 3 easy maca recipes you need to try!
Now we’ve covered some of the most credible benefits of maca powder, you may be thinking this ‘miracle ingredient’ could be difficult to come by — and even more challenging to include into your daily diet.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth!
As maca is typically consumed in powder form, it’s actually super convenient to mix in to a variety of different dishes and recipes. With many of these recipes quick and easy to make from the comfort of your very own home, upping your superfood game definitely isn’t as tasking as you may think.
So what does maca taste like?
Generally, maca is described as tasting earthy and nutty. And depending on what you pair it with, can even produce a comforting malted flavour too!
The good news is that maca typically never tastes too strong, so it won’t become a dominant flavour when mixed with other ingredients. That means, even if you aren’t a massive fan of earthy, nutty tastes, you can still get on-board with the maca trend.
Maca energy bites
Needing just 5 minutes and a simple food processor, these energy bites are a great way to include maca powder into your diet.
Even better, you can easily take them on-the-go and use them for a quick pick-me-up when you’re feeling a little tired!
- 1 tablespoon maca powder
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 10 medjool dates
- ½ cup pistachios
- ½ cup sunflower seeds
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2-3 tablespoons water
Simply add all dry ingredients to a food processor, and blitz until coarse. Slowly add the dates and water and keep mixing until a dough-like consistency is achieved. Roll into individual balls and place in the fridge to harden — a couple of minutes should do it!
This recipe should be enough to make around 15 bitesize pieces, they can safely be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or frozen meaning you don’t have to eat them all right away.
Super quick and easy, these maca energy bites are the perfect energy-boosting snack.
Mango & strawberry maca smoothie
Smoothies: by far one of the easiest methods of including maca powder into your diet.
You can add a teaspoon of maca into virtually any smoothie of your choice (including protein shakes!), but here’s a simple recipe you can try at home with super fruity flavours designed to complement the nutty earthiness of maca.
- 1 teaspoon maca powder
- ½ cup frozen strawberry
- ½ cup frozen bitesize mango pieces
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
Simply put all the above ingredients into a blender/smoothie maker, and blitz until smooth!
The vibrant fruity flavours of strawberry and mango perfectly offset the earthy tones of maca powder, whilst the vanilla adds an instant hit of deep sweetness. Perfect to be enjoyed at virtually any time of the day, you can even add some oats to the mix if you’re looking to create a more substantial breakfast smoothie to keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Maca coconut flour pancakes
The perfect weekend breakfast, these maca coconut flour pancakes couldn’t be easier to make.
Packed with nutrition and the ideal recipe for one person (4 small pancakes), the following is a great choice for treaty weekend mornings at home.
- 1 tablespoon maca powder
- 2 tablespoon coconut flour
- 2 tablespoon tapioca flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon coconut sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoon milk of your choice
- ½ teaspoon of coconut oil
Start by mixing all the dry ingredients together, then adding the eggs and milk. Whisk until a smooth batter is formed, and add a little more milk if the mix seems too stiff.
Add your coconut oil into a non-stick frying pan, and allow to warm-up over a medium heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of batter to form a single pancake, and flatten down until roughly 4 inches in size. Turn over after 2-3 minutes (or until small bubbles begin appearing), then flip and continue cooking for a further 2 minutes.
Repeat until all batter has been used, and decorate with toppings of your choice!
Delicious and nutritious, these maca pancakes are great for mornings when you have a little more time on your hands.
Time to add maca powder to the shopping list?
And there you have it — some potentially brilliant benefits of maca powder, alongside simple recipes for adding this emerging health food into deliciously healthy dishes.
Whether maca is truly worthy of its current ‘super’ status is still up for debate, but with further research we’re much more likely to establish more concrete conclusions in the future.
For now, maca’s certainly worth a shot!