In the world of Acai Bowls, Exotic Smoothies and Cold Pressed Juicing - trends come and go. But are these Superfood trends worthy of their weight in gold? We explore the science behind Maca, an up-and-coming Superfood known for its energizing properties. Some even call it nature’s viagra!
Photo via: 8fit
Maca, also known by its scientific name of Lepidium Meyenii, is a biennial (that means it takes two years to complete its biological lifecycle) plant from South America. Used widely by the ancient Peruvians as trade currency and a fortifying tonic, there have been records of Incan soldiers carrying Maca roots into battle to lend them aid in their conquests.
Once reserved strictly for the Royals to use, Maca is now the superfood flavour of the month in health food stores all over the world. The root is usually grounded up into a fragrant, butterscotch-tasting powder after being harvested.
But how great is it for your health? Here are 3 amazing things that the Superfood can do for you!
Photo via: Shape Magazine
The human body is designed to release cortisol as a response to stress. The hormone courses through the veins, sending signals to the heart to beat faster than normal, giving a boost to the senses in preparation to fight or take flight.
As much as the evolutionary response helped our early ancestors, modern life has become increasingly stressful and this has become a boon instead. Those who experience chronic stress may burn out easily and are at a greater risk of health problems such as heart disease.
A possible solution would be phytotherapy, the use of plants for their healing abilities. Adaptogens like Maca are a unique class of healing plants: They help balance, restore and protect the body by helping it adapt to external stressors like job-stress, illnesses and anxiety. This study has linked the consumption of Maca to the lowered scores in depression and anxiety inventories.
Need a boost? Forget the coffee
Maca might just be the boost in the morning you're looking for –sans the caffeine jitters.
Researchers have also found that maca compared with a placebo, acted as an energizer in apparently healthy men. Several studies have also found that the consumption of maca root aids with recall and focus thanks to its high antioxidant content.
Get it up sans the pills
Some call Maca nature's answer to viagra. A 2002 study found that Maca helped to boost libido in participating men at 8 and 12 weeks of treatment. However, studies so far have debunked the myth that Maca aids in boosting testosterone levels, having been inconclusive so far.
Clinical trials have also drawn the link between Maca and male fertility. It was found that Maca consumption resulted in improved sperm production and sperm motility.