Maca is a member of the cruciferous family, alongside its crunchy cousins broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, radishes, and turnips. Maca is cultivated for its root, which comes in different colors - off-white, yellow, red, purple, or black - and its traditionally dried, powdered, and/or cooked. The dried root tastes slightly malty with butterscotch overtones, so it works easily into smoothies, dressings, teas, nutmilks, and coffee. It also pairs well with chocolate.
For approximately 2,600 years, maca has thrived high in the Peruvian Andes of South America. Today, maca is still the highest altitude crop on earth and is cultivated by descendants of the Incas at altitudes between 9,000 and 14,000 feet (about 2,700 and 4,300 meters) above sea level. Its growing region is intense, barren, and inhospitable. In the face of such extremes, this plant has developed incredibly powerful adaptogenic properties.
Maca has the ability to balance your glandular-hormonal system, nervous system, cardiovascular system, and musculature. It also works to make your body adaptable to stressful situations. It acts on the adrenals to provide you with energy while at the same time keeping you calm and levelheaded. Maca shows promise for stress management, and studies show that maca supplementation can reduce anxiety and even help fight depression.
As you know, stress is a beauty killer, so maca is a potent ally in your war against stress.
The libido- and fertility-enhancing properties of maca are due to its action on the hypothalamus, the sex-hormone center of the brain. The hypothalamus stimulates the pituitary gland to secrete luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone, which in turn stimulate the adrenal glands and gonads to secrete testosterone, progesterone, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).
Why is this important? As you become overburdened with toxins, demineralized, and suffer from poor nutrition, you produce less of these hormones. This decrease in hormones causes the physical signs of aging. Therefore increasing hormone production naturally with maca can keep your body looking younger longer. Fortunately, since maca is an adaptogen, it will keep your hormones in check, leveling them out only when needed.
Maca is composed of around 76 percent carbohydrates, 8 percent fiber, 5 percent fat, and slightly more than 10 percent protein. Although it is not a complete protein, it contains twenty amino acids including seven of the essential ones. It is such an outstanding source of hormone precursors that it provides many of the same effects high-protein foods typically provide to boost the shine of your hair and to strengthen your nails.
Maca also offers macro- and micronutrients, including thirty-one different minerals to optimize cellular function. Two of my favorite beauty minerals are iron and iodine, which are important to note because they support your thyroid. When your thyroid isn't functioning properly, it leads to hair thinning and sallow skin. Maca can play an important role in strengthening your mane and maintaining youthful skin tone.
Also note that maca is best taken in cycles. Include it three weeks during the month, then take the next week off for a maximum effectiveness.
Maca powder is a great emulsifier. It can be used to draw fats/oils together with starches/sugars in any recipe, making it a perfect key ingredient to any salad dressing.
Maca Magic Dressing
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons raw tahini
2 tablespoons spring water
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon Maca powder
1 teaspoon raw organic honey
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan Salt
Blend all the ingredients together in a high-speed blender until the mixture is smooth. Pour the dressing over your choice of greens & ENJOY!