If you visit a Maca farm in the mountains of Peru during harvest time, you'll see that Maca roots grow in a variety of colors. This is quite interesting because all Maca roots come from the same seeds, grow in the same soils, and belong to the same species (Lepidium meyenii a.k.a Lepidium peruvianum). For 1000s of years, this has not been an issue; all colors of Maca were lumped together at harvest and then consumed as a mixture to boost energy and fertility. That changed in the late 1990s when researchers began to discover that the different colors of roots have slightly different nutritional profiles and potential benefits. Since then, Maca has been separated into 3 main phenotypes: black, red and yellow. Even though, as Maca specialists, we now make Maca available in those 3 colors as well as in a traditional blend of all 3, Red has certainly become a customer favorite over the years – and with good reason. In this article we’ll explain why.
Maca is a traditional food and grows under harsh conditions in the very high mountains of Peru (above 13,000 ft / 4000 m). It is in fact, the world’s highest growing food crops. Maca responds well to extreme differences in temperatures, subpar soil conditions, high winds and intense sunlight. Because of where and how it grows, this plant has resisted intensive domestication. In the high Andes, it has never been “standardized” or genetically modified. For that reason, Maca still demonstrates a healthy diversity of natural variations in size, and color. We have, in fact, seen a range of Maca root color differences that is astounding. One of our Maca farmers says he can identify over 30 different types. As for Red Maca, roots that fall under the red phenotype, range in color from light pink to dark maroon – some with lighter or darker spots and some with a solid color. When Maca roots are harvested, farmers dig them out with a small pick and place them into burlap bags for transport. The roots are then transported to a central location where they are immediately separated by color: red, black and yellow and then dried. All of this is done by hand and supports 1000s of farmers each year.
Seen from the outside, it's the skin of course. Like black and yellow roots, the red color is limited to the skin. If you cut open any Maca root, you'll see that the flesh inside is actually an off white - similar to a common radish. That's why you'll notice that Maca powders only vary slightly in color, all of them being a light brown color. A black Maca powder will only be slightly darker than a yellow one typically. And a red powder won't be completely red. Rather it will have a somewhat reddish hue or be a bit darker than the others.
But below the skin there is more to the story. All organically grown Peruvain Maca powders share a nearly identical nutritional profile, but powder from red roots has been shown, under analysis, to be higher in certain compounds that can work to support the body in antioxidant and antitumoral activity. It has also been shown among all Maca colors to contain somewhat higher levels of other phytonutrients including alkaloids, tannins, saponis and steroids.
Another significant difference between red, black and yellow is the taste. Most people find the flavor of Maca in general to be similar to a malty caramel flavor. Some people love it and some don't. In terms of Maca from red roots, we've found it to be the most palatable. It has a gentler and milder flavor and is undoubtedly the sweetest of all colors. In fact, some of our customers even use it on their oatmeal instead of a standard sweetener!
Over the past 15 years, Maca has drawn the attention of several medical professionals and scientists. Their work has produced some very promising and interesting results regarding red Maca and its efficacy. We have compiled this research from the Pubmed database. You can review these studies in more depth by clicking here.
An seminal study done on the red phenotype of Maca was published in the “Journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology” 2005; 3:5. In it 8 medical research scientists report that over the course of 42 days: “Red Maca but neither yellow nor black Maca reduced significantly ventral prostate size in rats.
This study prompted several others including one published in “Andrologia” in May 2012 which concluded that “…RM administered from day 1 to day 14 reduced prostate size and zinc levels in rats where prostatic hyperplasia was induced…” and another from Dec 2017 “Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine” which found that “..red maca reduced prostate size in Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) by restoring expression of ERβ without affecting androgen receptors and ERα.”
2. Bone Strength and Density
In 2010 researchers from the Universidad Peruana, Lima published a study on the effects of Maca on bone structure in rats that had had their ovaries removed. The conclusion was that both “Red and Black Maca have protective effects on bone architecture in OVX rats without showing estrogenic effects on uterine weight.”
Another study from the same University in 2009 found Black Maca to increase sperm production more than Yellow or Red Maca. The study concluded that while Red Maca, like other Macas, had a favorable effect on energy, mood and sexual desire, it did little to increase the volume of sperm production.
3. Wound Healing
In a December 2017 article published in “High Altitude Medicine and Biology,” research found that “…RM at high altitude generates a positive effect on wound healing, decreasing the number of neutrophils and increasing the number of macrophages in the wound healing at day 7 post-wounding.”
4. Higher Nutrient Levels
The aforementioned study from 2005 also goes on to report that in under pyhtochemical analysis for 7 RED-Webfunctional nutrient groups, “Highest peak values were observed for Red Maca, intermediate values for Yellow Maca and low values for Black Maca.”
And a study from “International Journal of Biomedical Science” in September 2015 concluded: “The Red Maca phenotype showed the highest concentrations of Glucosinolates as compared to the Black and Yellow Maca.
5. Mood and Energy
Finally, a comparative study on the various Maca colors from Aug 2016 in the journal “Pharmaceuticals” found that “…effects on mood, energy, and chronic mountain sickness (CMS) score were better with red maca.” This study also indicated that all types of Maca gave people a higher quality of life score.
We could actually write an entire article based on the feedback we’ve received over the years from happy men and women regarding what it has done for them. When we combine that feedback with the research above we can safely say all of the following. Before launching into all of that, we want to stress that Maca is just a food – it is not a drug, nor a supplement. It takes time to work and may not work for everyone. The benefits we are writing of below come from customers who have shared them over the years and imply no guarantees. Maca is not intended to treat any health condition. It has not been reviewed by the FDA (for whatever that is worth) and still it somehow may help you. The quotes below come from reviews posted on our site. They are not comprehensive, but just the ones that are most relevant to Red Maca. See all of Maca Benefits in one place.
Higher energy and feeling better:
"I LOVE this product. My energy level is consistently higher, even with a new, more intense workout schedule, I am also getting more out of my workouts while my appetite is under control. My body just feels better EVERYDAY. After several years of perio-menopause I feel like myself again. The red maca has a sweeter taste that I like." - Diana on 4th Nov 2018
"HI, I'm a 62 year old woman, purchased to "balance hormones"? if that is at all possible, yet noticed my memory better, especially when trying to recall something eluding me, the answer would just pop up in my mind. I really noticed a difference.” – JP on 19th Sep 2018
“...this stuff is what WORKS! I took this for hormonal balance and to help with my period symptoms. I’m AMAZED 3-4 months being on this how it has drastically changed my whole life! My period symptoms went from 100% down to 30% - i feel like my life has changed.” -Bethany on 10th Jun 2018
“I have been using the raw, red maca powder to control my menopausal hot flashes for a year and a half. It has been working wonderfully! It took a bit so if you try this be patient. For me it was around the 4th or 5th week of consistently taking my daily dose when suddenly my hot flashes were gone ....” Tamara Anderson on 3rd Jun 2018
"I'm 36yrs old and suffer from hormonal acne. Always seem to have my brain in a fog and depression seemed to habe taken hold of me. It took 2 months of taking maca red to see a difference. My face has cleared and I now can focus clearer. I feel happier all the time too.” Anonymous on 13th Mar 2018
"I just love my maca! I'm 66, and suffered a mild stroke a year ago...I was suffering from "brain fog" and fatigue. The maca has given me energy and cleared a great deal of my mental sluggishness. I reached out to all my friends and have several family members trying it out too. " Sabina Gogol on 1st Jan 2018
"I have had a prostate problem for several years. I would buy prostate supplements that cost around 30.00 a month. The supplements had very little if any affects on my prostate. Within 2 weeks, my prostate showed great improvement, I have used it for 1/12 years and will continue to take Red Maca, and highly recommend it." - Mike
Sample Size 100g:
Carbohydrates 62.6g, Fat 0.82g, Fibre 5.3g, Protein 17.9g
Protein Components (%): Albumins & Globulins 74, Glutelins 15.3, Prolamins 10.6, True Protein 42.1
Vitamin & Minerals (mg %): Ascorbic Acid 3.52, Boron 12, Calcium 490, Iron 80, Magnesium 70, Niacin 43, Phosphorous 320, Potassium 113, Riboflavin 0.61, Sodium 20, Thiamine 0.42, Zinc 12. Amino Acids: Alanine 63.1, Arginine 99.4, Asparatic Acid 91.7, Red Maca PowderGlutamatic Acid 156, Glycine 68.3, HO-Proline 26, Hystidine 21.9, Isoleucine 47.4, Leucine 91, Lysine 54.5 Methionine 28, Phenylalanine 55.3 Proline 0.5, Sarcosine 0.7, Serine 50.4, Threonine 33.1, Tyrosine 30.6, Valine 79.3
The most common way of enjoying Maca is in powder form. It’s the most economical because of less labor and materials needed in comparison to capsules and extracts and it’s the easiest to use in great tasting recipes. Here are two recipes that combine other superfoods. Enjoy!
Maca Hot Chocolate
Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Place ingredients in a small sauce pan and slowly warm to temperature desired
Combine banana, vanilla and milk in high speed blender, blend on highest speed to a smooth liquid. In mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and maca. Pour banana milk into dry ingredients, whisk until just combined.
Using 1/4 cup scoop, form pancakes onto prepared (buttered, sprayed) griddle over low heat. Pancakes will not bubble, will easily come up to turn after about one minute. Flip and cook another half minute or so, until cooked through.
Serve with sliced banana and maple syrup.
At The Maca Team, our entire focus is on Maca. We have it in powder, capsules and extracts and also in sundried and premium preparations. Don’t worry too much about which one to take. They all provide benefits and you can rest assured that all of our products are organic, GMO-Free, fresh, potent and from Peru. But in general if you have any digestive issues, we recommend getting a gelatinized (pre-cooked) Maca or a Maca extract as these are easiest to digest. Have a look here to find the best maca for you.
If you have any questions, please let us know. We're happy to help! Thanks for reading and enjoy the day!