For thousands of years, the ancient Incan empire developed a strong, resilient agriculture system that thrived even in the tough climates of the highlands of the Andes Mountains. One of the principles of their agricultural development was the diversification of different species that were well adapted to the local climatic conditions. In fact, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN considers the Andes region to be one of the centers in the world for food diversity.
Tubers made up an essential part of their diet, with well over 3,000 types of different tubers cultivated throughout their territory. One of the most commonly cultivated and eaten of these tubers was the maca root which wasn’t discovered by westerners until the mid-1800’s. While the medicinal and nutritional properties of the maca root were well known by people throughout the Andes region for thousands of years, only recently have people in industrialized societies begun to discover the true benefits of this magical plant.
Below, we will explain what black maca is, the top 8 health and nutritional benefits of the black maca root, and the different ways that black maca root can be consumed. Finally, we’ll offer our suggestions for the best companies offering quality black maca products on the market today.
What is Black Maca?
Black Maca is known as Lepidium meyenii in Latin. It is a tuber that was originally grown in the highlands of the Andes Mountain in Peru, principally near the Lake Junin region. While this crop was only adapted to the cooler mountainous regions, it was traded extensively throughout the ancient Incan Empire with the highlands indigenous peoples trading black maca root for other lowland stale crops such as corn and quinoa.
For thousands of generations, then, the Andean peoples have known of the numerous health benefits associated with the black maca plant. Similar in size to a large radish or small turnip, this root vegetable also loosely resembles a type of white carrot. The small green leaves never grow more than 20 cm of the ground, making this a unique plant in that the majority of the growth occurs underground.
The actual roots of the maca plant, which are the edible part of the plant, vary in size and shape and can be spherical, rectangular and even triangular. Furthermore, the color of the root can range from a gold or cream color, to darker hues of reds, purples and blacks. Black maca is by far the most common and the most recognized by the outside world for its health benefits.
8 Benefits of Black Maca
What exactly are the health benefits that the Incans knew of and what does modern day scientific investigation tell us about the benefits and medicinal properties of this unique plant? Below we look at 8 of the most important health and nutritional benefits of black maca.
1. High in Protein and Essential Vitamins
While many people take black maca for its health properties that we will explore below, it is actually one of the most overall nutritious foods on the market. One ounce of black maca powder will give you over 130% of your vitamin C, 4 grams of protein, and 85% of your daily copper intake. It is also a good source of other essential vitamins and minerals such as iron, potassium and manganese.
2. Libido Enhancer
Daily consumption of black maca has also been proven to boost sexual desire in both men and women. The enhanced fertility that supposedly comes with consuming black maca is most likely due to the increased libido that comes with this unique plant. One recent study confirmed that black maca root does improve the sex drive in healthy, middle aged men.
3. Alleviate Symptoms of Menopause
Along with increasing the sex drive, black maca has also been shown to help relieve the worse symptoms of menopause in women. While there are several symptoms related to menopause, one study found that black maca is especially effective in helping to reduce hot flashes and irritability at night.
4. Increases Endurance
Many professional athletes, bodybuilders, and weight lifters have recently begun taking black maca supplements because of the increased endurance that it offers during extreme physical activity. Swimmers especially have found that regular consumption of black maca allows them to go longer and farther during training.
5. Protects from UV Radiation
Much has been written recently about the potential dangers of excessive application of sunscreen which may in fact include several carcinogens. For people who are looking for a more natural and safer alternative, black maca extract, when applied to the skin can help to protect your body from the harmful UV rays of the sun.
6. Reduce Prostrate Size
The prostate gland causes all sorts of problems in aging men. From difficulty with urinating to prostate cancer, many men fear the problems that come with aging. Regular consumption of black maca might very well help to reduce the size of the prostate gland in men. Since larger prostate glands can cause problems passing urine and potentially lead to cancer, black maca consumption is encouraged in aging men, not to mention that it can also help induce sexual desire.
7. Improve Memory
Regular consumption of black maca might also help to improve your overall brain functioning. From helping children with learning disabilities to improving your long term memory, regular consumption of this important root can be essential for maintaining a healthy, alert brain and memory.
8. Increases Fertility
Not only does black maca root improve libido, there is also some evidence showing that black maca root might also improve the sperm quality in men. For men who are having fertility troubles, black maca can be an important addition to other types of fertility treatments.
Ways to Consume Black Maca
Unless you live in a cold, mountainous region above 13,000 feet with limited amounts of sunlight, you probably won’t have much luck trying to grow your own black maca. While black maca root can be consumed like any other root vegetable, most of the commercial black maca cultivation dries the root into powder form. Dried black maca root can last for several years while still maintaining its nutritional and medicinal properties.
It is also possible to gelatinize maca root through gentle heat and pressure. This process separates the thick fibers from the rest of the root making it easier to consume. Most of the black maca root sold in pill form comes in gelatinized form. Though less common, you can also find liquid extracts of black maca root as well.
Pros of Black Maca Powder and Dosage Information
By far, the most common way to consume black maca is in powdered form. As mentioned above, the main benefit of consuming black maca powder is that the hypocotyls that are in the root can be stored for several years without losing their medicinal and nutritional properties.
There are several different ways to take black maca powder depending on what you are using it for. However, most medical professionals recommend taking it as a nutritional and medicinal supplement on a daily basis. Anywhere between 1 and 5 grams per day of black maca powder is the usual dosage.
Pros of Black Maca Pills and Dosage Information
Black maca can also be taken in pill form. For people who have weak digestive tracts, black maca pills or capsules will usually contain gelatinized forms of black maca root. This process removes all of the thick, hard to digest fibers from the plant and allows for easier digestion. A 500 mg pill or capsule can be taken once a day to begin. If you feel you need a more potent dose, you can take up to a gram in pill form safely.
The Best Way to Consume Black Maca
The best way to consume black maca depends largely on how your own situation and context. If you can get fresh black maca root, simply cooking up the root like a potato will offer you the most direct benefits. If you happen to visit Peru or some other Andean country, you might also be able to get your hands on bulk black maca flour which is simply dried and powdered black maca root which would be the best bang for your buck.
If you are looking for commercial products, powdered black maca is usually the preferred option because of the versatility it offers. With powdered black maca, you can mix it into shakes or smoothies to cover up the nutty taste that some people do not particularly enjoy.
Black Maca Side Effects
As a completely natural product, black maca has virtually no side effects. However, black maca is known to affect the hormone levels in human beings, so it should not be taken by people who are on other chemical medications for hormone treatment. Furthermore, people with high blood pressure should also consult with a medical professional before taking black maca on a regular basis.
Top 5 Best Black Maca Products Online
While there are dozens of suppliers of black maca products online, the following five products offer high quality black maca that you can safely use on a daily basis.
- Madre Nature Gelatinized Black Maca
- The Maca Team Raw Capsules
- Desirable Shapes Peru Black Maca Tablets
- The Organique Company Black Maca Powder
- Natural Life Labs Capsules