Maca (lepidium meyenii) is an ancient root vegetable native to the high Andes of Peru and Boliva that grows in a range of colors. Dedicated Maca farmers have isolated as many as 40 different shades or nuances of colors among these roots. Yet, the dominant tones are off white to yellow, light gray to black and light pink to dark red. Traditionally, all of these multi-colored roots were lumped together, stored together and consumed together. But in the late 1990s research began to reveal that there are nutritional and even functional differences among Maca root colors. And by 2010, when the seminal study on differences between Maca colors was published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, Maca roots were commonly divided into three main "phenotypes" or groups: Black, Red and Yellow Maca. In this article we explore specifically what makes the Black roots unique.
If you climb the 14,000 feet (4,400m) up from Lima to a Maca field high on the Junin plateau during harvest time, you see something very interesting. As you observe the workers gently digging roots from the ground, you’ll notice that there are significantly more yellow and red colored roots than black ones. No one knows exactly why, but Black Maca roots are the least common color of all. In fact, they account for just about 15% of the annual harvest. It’s especially strange considering that the same batch of Maca seeds consistently produces, year after year, roughly the same percentages of Red, Yellow and Black roots.
As you can see from the images on this page, the black of these roots is found primarily in the skin. Underneath that layer of skin, all Maca roots are whitish in color, similar to common radishes. In Peru, after the roots are harvested, they are taken to be dried either in the sun or in large dehydrators. Either way, before drying the roots are separated by color and size. Once fully dry they are ready to make the trip to a processing facility where they are cleaned and ground into the Maca root powder that is the most common form of Maca consumed today. It’s worth noting here that the export of whole roots from Peru is unlawful and the closest to whole dried roots available outside of Peru are chipped Maca. Here at The Maca Team, we also offer Black Maca Chips.
Beside the color of their skin, what else sets Black Maca apart? Over the past 15 years research has revealed several distinguishing features. As of 2019, there are more than 40 peer reviewed studies published specifically on Black Maca. You can view all of those, including the ones we reference below using this link.
A study published in 2018 compared the functional biological activities of the 3 main phenotypes of Maca. The study concluded that the lipids and polysaccharides of Black Maca showed higher antioxidant effect than Red and Yellow. Red was less than 10% behind Black and Yellow about 25%.
A study from 2018 found that Black Maca extract prevents metabolism disorders by helping regulate glucose, which is an important metabolite for humans. The brain requires about 50% of its calories from glucose and red blood cells subsist exclusively on glucose. This study showed that Black Maca enhances the production of glucose in the body and may thereby support a healthier metabolism.
From 2006 to 2018 there have been seven significant independent studies done on how Black colored roots of Maca affect both sperm production and sperm motility. The seminal study in 2006 found that Black Maca was the only color to effectively support the production of sperm among rats tested. It also found that, “Black Maca affects sperm count as early as 1 day after beginning of treatment.”
The second study found that “..(Black) Maca increased epididymal sperm count after 84 days of treatment..” in the male rats studied. Similar results were found in 2016 with a increase in daily sperm production. Another study using Mice found that sperm motility as well as sexual dysfunction was affected positively by adding black Maca root.
In 2011 two different studies, one from China and one from Peru found that Black Maca helped laboratory mice improve their memory and concentration skills. Dose-response effect of black maca in subjects with memory impairment, Rubio, J and ...Black Maca (Lepidium meyenii) on Memory Impairment, various)
In 2010 a team of 6 researchers reported that Red and Black Maca were found to be the best at improving and protecting bone structure especially in mice who had their ovaries removed. (Effects of different varieties of Maca on bone structure, Gonzalez, C et. al.)
In 2006 a Peruvian team observed that while all Maca contributed favorably to reducing depression, Black Maca also improved the learning and concentration abilities of laboratory mice. (...Maca on Learning and Depression, Rubio, J.). And a more recent study from 2016 from an esteemed group of international researchers found that it improved mood as well as overall “quality of life”. “Accepatability, Safety and Efficacy of Oral Admnistration of Black or Red Maca
As a food, Maca can have some extraordinary effects on people. This is primarily because it works to balance the endocrine system. Since healthy hormone levels related to several aspects of wellness, this simple, traditional food from Peru can lead to several benefits. We have outlined those general health benefits and overall effects of Maca in this article.
Now, as to specific benefits of Black Maca roots, let’s take a look with words from some of our customers. Please note that maca products are not intended to diagnose or treat any health condition. If you have any doubts or questions regarding your health, please see a competent health care professional.
Muscle Building and Fitness
Alterness and Energy
Based on the research and reviews, we cite above, Black Maca is sometimes considered as "men's Maca." We often receive questions asking if women can also take it. While Black Maca does work better for male fertility and libido than other Maca colors, women can and do take it regularly. That's because Maca, regardless of color, does not contain any hormones. Instead it acts as a supplement that stimulates the body to achieve a healthy hormone balance. p>
Black Maca is our second best-selling product and our experience combined with the research above leads us to recommend it for: p>
If you are in search of any type of Maca, it's always important to consider the source quality and freshness of any product you purchase because ultimately this will determine how effective it is. Here are a few tips to help you make the best choice:
We offer our fair trade, non-gmo, organic products in various presentations.
First, there is Raw Maca,- which is treated at low temperatures to maintain all of its potency. We offer 2 kinds:
Second is Gelatinized Black Maca, which is pre-cooked to remove starch content. We highly recommend this for anyone with sensitive digestion. Again we offer two kinds:
These 4 types are available in powder, capsules and even liquid Maca extract form. If you’d like more help use our “Maca Finder” product selection tool here.
Here are a couple of recipes using Black Maca root powder to get you started on putting it into your daily diet.
Maca Energy Smoothie
Instructions: Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
Quick Maca Oatmeal
Combining Maca with oatmeal is an easy way for healthy children and healthy men and women to enjoy Maca. Make sure to use Gelatinized Maca if you have a sensitive stomach.
Preparation: After oatmeal has been cooked, stir in remaining ingredients. Garnish with cubed apple and serve immediately.
We hope this article has helped you understand more about this amazing superfood from Peru. If you have any questions, please let us know. We're happy to help.
Enjoy the day!