Maca is a hardy plant that is native to the Peruvian Andes. Its root is notable for containing a large number of beneficial vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other nutrients. While it is not uncommon for this root vegetable to be referred to as a supplement, this can be rather inaccurate and misleading.
The term maca supplement refers mainly to capsules, pills, and tinctures that are created using maca root and which are thought to improve health in some way. However, if you are interested in experiencing the potential benefits of maca for yourself, it’s important to understand that maca, itself, is not a supplement at all, nor is it an herb or drug. And it shouldn’t be compared to such substances either.
Instead, maca is a highly nutrient-dense food crop that has been cultivated in the high Andes for millennia, and which originally acquired outside attention for its ability to increase stamina and fertility. There are several historical references to its usage in the 1500s and 1600s as an important food source, and it was long used in traditional Incan medicine as well.
Today, many mistake it as a supplement because of all of the potential health benefits that may be enjoyed by taking this root vegetable, despite the fact that it is simply a starchy root that happens to contain a lot of nutrients. It’s not to be confused with herbal remedies or supplements, which act on the body in different ways and are usually marketed for a specific purpose.
Maca root’s potential benefits instead come from its unique nutrient profile, and not due to the presence of any specific medicinal compounds as is the case with most herbs. This guide will cover some of the most important reasons why maca is far more than a mere supplement and should be thought of as a helpful part of a healthy diet. This way you will understand why maca works the way it does and how best how to incorporate this plant into your meals.
Maca Root Has Been A Dietary Staple For Thousands of Years
One of the most important facts that should be noted about maca root and how it is used for any potential health benefits, is that it has long been a dietary staple of the native Peruvians. Dating back to Incan times, this plant has been exclusively cultivated as a food source not only for people but for animals as well.
While it was widely known to be potentially beneficial in matters of increasing stamina, for instance, it’s important to note the distinction between a plant that is used as a dietary staple and one that is used primarily in traditional medicine. No one is growing lavender or St. John’s Wort just to chop it up to put in salads or grind into powders for power smoothies. These are herbs that are grown almost exclusively for the specific plant-based compounds that they contain, that are known to potentially provide certain health benefits.
Maca root is an entirely different kind of plant, that has more in common with the potato or radish rather than an herb. The actual plant itself is related to broccoli and cauliflower, though the portion that concerns us is the root in this case. The starchy root comes in a variety of colors and is somewhat small, with off-white flesh, and can be prepared and eaten in numerous ways.
Maca can actually be consumed raw, not unlike a radish, although it is much more commonly cooked in a variety of ways, such as baking and boiling. This helps break down the starch for easier consumption, similar to potatoes. Traditionally, maca was boiled down into a mash or porridge and served along with other foods. While raw maca preserves nutrient content and can be adapted into a powder for easier incorporation into smoothies and other drinks, the traditional way of eating this vegetable usually included some form of baking or boiling.
Clearly, this point alone separates maca root from the classic idea of a “supplement” or “herbal remedy.” Maca is a nutrient-rich food that has been a regular part of the Peruvian diet for centuries and is still eaten in this traditional fashion to this day. Why this distinction needs to be made is because it can help frame how you utilize maca in your everyday life. Rather than treat it like some kind of drug, you can feel free to add it to your breakfast, lunch, and dinner to enhance your overall diet.
Maca Root Contains Many Wholesome Nutrients
While many plants, including fruits, vegetables, herbs, roots, and even bark do contain a plethora of beneficial nutrients in varying amounts, maca root stands out as a highly nutritious vegetable and should be considered an important dietary staple rather than just supplemental in nature.
Not unlike blueberries and avocados, maca root is actually considered a “superfood” given its wide variety of different nutrients, including antioxidants, which are thought to help your cells fight against free radicals, the precursor to cancer and heart disease. Rather than simply containing one or two specific or sought-after compounds or vitamins as is the case with many herbs, maca is truly a beneficial vegetable that would be a welcome addition to a complete and wholesome diet.
This distinction is important because the variety of different nutrients in maca would seem to indicate why it is such a useful dietary staple. Much like other healthy vegetables that make up our diet, maca contains many different nutrients, all of which address different areas of the body for a more holistic approach to health.
We know how important a healthy diet is to the overall functioning of our body. Including a diverse amount of different fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods in our diet is important in order to make sure we are receiving all of the right nutrients. Part of the reason why a certain fruit or vegetable gets labeled a “superfood” is because of the sheer amount of nutrients it contains. Unlike a vegetable such as celery, which may contain only a handful of beneficial nutrients, maca root is absolutely packed with vitamins and minerals, as well as rarer and more obscure nutrients such as anti-cancer glucosinolates, essential amino acids, plant sterols, and important fatty acids as well.
The fact that maca root is so nutritionally dense and has been shown to potentially benefit the body in so many ways, earns it the title of “superfood.” Rather than thinking of maca as something that should be taken only once in a while to improve your health as needed, it’s better to approach it properly as a root vegetable that should be completely incorporated into your diet like any other healthy vegetable, so you may enjoy its potential benefits over time.
There’s Nothing Synthetic or Unnatural About Maca
Another important point about maca is that it is a completely natural product, no different than a sack of organic onions that you would pick up at the grocery store. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with synthetic substances or products, it should be noted that maca doesn’t have to be changed or enhanced in any way to acquire the nutrients it possesses. These come with the package!
Why is this important? Often, the potential effectiveness of a health product is determined by how well it can be absorbed by the body. All of the nutrients in the world don’t matter if your body doesn’t know what to do with them. One of the best parts about maca root is that it contains highly bioavailable nutrition. This means that our bodies don’t have any trouble absorbing the nutrients within this vegetable.
What makes a nutrient bioavailable? This is still something that researchers are looking into, but as far as we know, in a natural environment, nutrients are not isolated and instead are joined with numerous plant-based compounds and cofactors, which aid in the digestion and absorption of the nutrient in question. Antioxidants, for example, are thought to enhance bioavailability in certain fruits and vegetables, making the nutrients they contain more optimal for us than in “fortified” foods like breakfast cereal.
The fact that maca not only contains a high degree of nutrients but that these important vitamins and minerals can be easily incorporated into our body speaks volumes as to why this root vegetable may be so potentially beneficial for our well-being. While it isn’t necessarily a hard and fast rule, synthetic nutrients don’t often have the same amount of bioavailability as natural nutrients do.
The fact that maca can be consumed like most other natural foods and that its nutrients are highly bioavailable is a great indicator that it should be referred to as a vegetable and not a supplement or drug. While the idea of maca supplements have been popularized, making the distinction between supplements and foods will help you to make better dietary choices. A “supplement” is something you take alongside your diet, while a vegetable is something that is a part of your diet.
Maca May Promote General Wellness
Likely due to its incredible nutrient profile, maca root is considered to be an adaptogen. These special kinds of foods help the body resist the effects of stress and in general promote overall bodily wellness. What’s more, many of the potential benefits of eating maca on a regular basis include hormonal balance, increased energy, more endurance, better muscle recovery, and clearer skin. These health benefits seem to indicate that maca isn’t simply suited for specifically addressing one particular part of the body or one specific disease, but rather is better suited at promoting general wellness.
This also puts maca more in line with the same kind of benefits you would expect out of eating other healthy vegetables and fruits, such as acai berries, pomegranates, kale, and broccoli, only to a somewhat greater degree. Maca should be treated as a part of a complete and healthy diet, rather than something to supplement or bolster your diet.
Also in line with maca’s role as a healthy vegetable is how often you can consume it. With most drugs, including herbal supplements, you are restricted to how much of it you can take in one day. This is for your own safety, as the powerful active ingredients and compounds in these products could potentially be dangerous in too large a quantity.
Maca on the other hand faces no such restrictions. It would be like saying “watch your potato intake,” or only being allowed to consume five blueberries at a time for fear of receiving too many antioxidants. Obviously, no one would make such assertions, and the same goes for maca. Although there are basic dosage guidelines when using maca powder, maca capsules, and similar maca products, these are only recommended serving sizes and not to be thought of as a hard rule.
Rather than thinking in terms of “maca supplements,” it’s much better to simply embrace maca root as a part of a healthy diet. If you are wondering how you can get some of this nutritious vegetable, you’re in the right place. Here at The Maca Team, we specialize in providing a wide variety of high-quality organic maca products that you can use to improve your diet.
Not only do we carry all of the different colors of maca, such as red and black, but all of our maca is also as fresh as possible and available in both raw and gelatinized forms, depending on how sensitive your digestion is. If you are interested in improving your overall nutrient intake as easily as possible, we have a maca product that is sure to meet your needs. We even carry nutritious whole maca root chips which you can use to make your own traditional Peruvian mazamorra, which is similar to porridge and makes for a hearty breakfast!
Not sure which of our high-quality maca products is right for you, or have questions about our growing and packing process? We would love to help answer any questions you might have and help you start getting some of this incredible vegetable in your diet. Simply give us a call at 888-919-8616 or send us a message.