With life as busy as it is today, some people can’t get through the morning without several cups of coffee. Although large amounts of caffeine typically deliver a surge in energy, a crash is inevitable, usually occurring in mid-afternoon. Fortunately, there’s another way to boost get-up-and-go in the morning and sustain energy throughout the day. Breakfast smoothies made with maca boost energy, and a lot more!
What is Maca?
Maca is a root that grows wild in several South American countries including Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru. Inhabitants of the Andes have cultivated it as a dietary staple for thousands of years.
Growing from 7,000 to 11,000 feet in altitude, maca is one of the highest-growing plants in the world. It is a rich source of many beneficial nutrients including amino acids and vitamins B1, B2, B12, C and E. Maca is also high in important minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. Maca can be found in most natural food stores or online in the form of tablets, liquid extract or maca root powder.
Maca Health Benefits
Here are just a few of the ways in which maca can improve your health:
Although there are few existing studies examining the effects of maca on energy levels, people who cultivate it claim that it definitely improves energy. Athletes who have discovered maca use it for a boost in energy and endurance. Most people report a subtle improvement occurring anywhere from minutes to hours after consumption.
Maca is an adaptogenic herb, which is a natural substance that helps the body adapt to biological, chemical and physical stress. In balancing body systems, adaptogens also help protect people from illness.
Because they help regulate the digestive system, reproductive organs, the brain and nervous system, hormones are exceedingly important to the human body. By supporting the pituitary gland, which is responsible for the production of hormones, maca helps to ensure a healthy balance.
Improves Mood after Menopause
According to a study in 2008 published in the journal, Menopause, maca may help alleviate anxiety and depression in postmenopausal women. Researchers gave 14 postmenopausal women 3.5 grams of powdered maca daily for six weeks and then a matching placebo for an additional six weeks. As compared to the placebo, maca helped lower levels of anxiety and depression in the women. Many of the subjects experienced enhanced desire as well.
In addition to a libido boost in postmenopausal women, studies examining the effects of maca supplements on men have shown that maca can positively affect a man’s personal perception of his general and sexual wellbeing and boost sexual desire.
Some maca users also report these added health benefits:
Enhanced mental clarity
Improved sexual function for men and women
Regulation of PMS symptoms and mood swings
Diminished hot flashes in menopause
Reduced skin problems associated with unbalanced hormones
Maca has a butterscotch aroma and an earthy, malty flavor, which makes it a good ingredient for soups and stews. For a non-caffeinated, sustained energy boost, try maca root power added to a smoothie. Here is a recipe for a delicious maca smoothie loaded with healthy nutrients.
Creamy-Delicious Maca Smoothie
1 banana, sliced
1 cup ice cubes
1 ½ cups almond milk or coconut milk
1 tbsp. maca powder
1 tbsp. cacao powder
2 tbsp. natural peanut butter
2 tbsp. honey
Blend all ingredients in a heavy-duty blender until smooth and creamy. Pour into two glasses and enjoy with a friend or loved one.
Incorporating maca root into a wellness routine comes with many health benefits. Although maca is thought to be safe, certain people should not consume it, including pregnant and lactating women. Individuals with allergies to related vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower should also avoid maca. People currently suffering from a chronic disease or women on birth control pills should check with a health care professional before making maca part of a dietary routine.
License: Royalty Free or iStock
Jillian Fritsen wrote this article about the overall health benefits of maca.