Why You Should Add Maca to Your Diet NOW

(Photo: Blissful Basil)

Are you ready to add another miracle food to your menus? We thought so – which is why maca should be on the top of your shopping list.

"Maca can be a really great addition to a healthy routine," certified Holistic Chef Laura Lea Goldberg explains. "Maca is an adaptogen, which means it helps the body adapt to stress and 'normalize' — which can mean a lot of different things, from boosting energy to increasing libido."

Like other favorites matcha and turmeric, maca is a superfood indigenous people have been consuming and reaping the benefits from for centuries, yet it's become highly popularized recently as a natural remedy for a full range of conditions – especially for women.

What It Is
Maca is a plant belonging to the radish family that grows in Central Peru in the Andes Mountains, and its root is used to make medicine. Most commonly used in powder form, maca has a long history of being one of the world's natural super foods.

Maca provides a powerful source of nutrition including: Vitamins B, C and E, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Copper, Zinc, Manganese, Phosphorus, Selenium, Sulphur, Iron and over 20 amino acids, including 8 essential amino acids.

It has a pleasant, nutty taste and an odor similar to butterscotch that makes it ideal for using in daily foods like smoothies, soups and baked goods.

Supports Mood
Maca is considered an "adaptogen," which is a name for certain plants and natural substances that help the body naturally adapt to stressors. It also contains nautral fatty acids, which nutrition research shows to be necessary for supporting mood and overall breain health. Fatty acids might also help in stabilizing analytical skills, cognitive function and rational thinking.

Enhances Energy
Proponents of the powder have described feeling more "alive" and energetic after taking maca. "For some people, Maca is an amazing source of natural energy, so they can throw it in a smoothie each morning or stir it into oatmeal," Goldberg says. Rich in vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids, which all support energy levels, maca has even been touted for its role in enhancing athletic performances.

Decreases Menopause Symptoms
Since maca helps balance hormone levels, it also contributes to decreasing menopause symptoms by controlling the estrogen levels in the body. Women who take maca have reported a reduction in pesky issues such as hot flashes, sleep disruptions and night sweats.

Improves Sexual Function
Historically, maca has been considered a potent aphrodisiac and a fighter against chemically-induced sexual dysfunction in women who have lost their sex drive due to taking antidepressants.

Increases Fertility
Speaking of aphrodisiacs, Goldberg says maca can aid in infertility issues. "Maca can also help boost fertility for woman who are struggling and want to start with natural alternatives." Studies have shown maca's use as a fertility enhancer – especially for women – citing it's ability to increase a hormone in the pituitary gland that's associated with fertility.

In addition to these health benefits, maca has also been known to lessen symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, improve memory, boost the immune system and help fight osteoporosis.

(Photo: iStock)

Goldberg adds there are lots of ways you can incorporate maca into your diet. "You can bake maca into cookies, or just take it as a supplement, but smoothies are definitely my favorite means of transport!" To start using maca, try this peanut butter maca smoothie, maca energy bites or this superfood maca pudding.