For hundreds of years Maca’s reputation for enhancing strength, fertility and sexual desire has been well known to people from Peru!
It is believed that this root began to be domesticated as early as 1600 BC by Andean people. When taking herds higher at altitudes where Maca grew, native Andean people noticed their herds became stronger and more fertile after eating the root. When introduced to ordinary people they soon become aware of increased (their own) stamina and energy.
In English, this root is known as Maca, Peruvian Ginseng. In Spanish Maca root is most commonly known as Maca, Maka, Maca-Maca, Maino and Ayak Chichira.
During Inca, time legend has it that this special food was given to warriors before the battle for a better strength and enhanced energy. However, the legend also has it that after a victory, soldiers were not allowed to consume Maca due to its “special healing power and desire for women”. Meaning, Maca was not given to warriors in order to protect women from soldier’s powerful sexual impulses.
There are also claims that Spaniards used Maca for enhancing physical energy and fertility. And some facts indicate that Peruvian people used Maca not only as a food but simply as a payment of taxes to Spain.
For some reason usage of Maca decreased in time, where only Peruvians continued to consume this root, until recently.
Lepidium Peruvianum – the plant itself
Lepidium Peruvianum root was continued to be used by Peruvians as food, for its medicinal purposes to this day and as an important source of nutrition (Maca has the highest nutritional value of any food grown in high altitude). For culinary purposes, Maca has been prepared as porridge, pudding, coffee or jam, baked or roasted (maca recipes). As a medicine Maca is consumed to treat PMS, menopause, to enhance memory, increase energy and as stamina builder.
During 70’ a botanical research was carried in Peru where “the forgotten crops of the Andes” were studied, one being maca root. When Dr Qun Yi Zheng together with his crew did a research on Maca, they discovered amazing nutritional value Maca has. Since then Maca has attracted doctors and researchers around the world, thus becoming one of the most popular nutritionally rich natural healthy root.
Due to the very high nutritional value of dried Maca and its extraordinary health benefits, this food becomes a very popular plant not only in Peru but also worldwide.
Maca growing in Peru
Maca is organically cultivated in the Andes Mountains in Peru, at altitudes of approximately 3500 – 4500 m (11,500 – 15,000 ft). The main growing region for this root is limited and it is in the Junin and Cerro de Pasco district of Peru. The largest cultivated area is found around Lake Junín at Huayre, Carhuamayo, Uco, Ondores, Junín, Ninacana and Vicco.
Because of a very specific and harsh climate in Peru, only a few crops can be cultivated. Cultivated in the harshest of environments, maca served people in Peru as a main source of nutrition. To survive and keep healthy and fertile (both people and animals) to this day, Peruvians are still consuming Maca.
Maca root as a superfood
It is a fact and it is also confirmed that pure maca root has a really high level of nutrients necessary to maintain and improve health and overall well being.
It is also clinically proven that due to its extremely rich nutritional value, and its special abilities, this root not only recovers the body but also promotes rapid healing and eliminates different kinds of stress-related problems.
Based on its historical facts and essential nutrient value, maca became a well known super healthy food during the past twenty years, around the world.
Maca nutrition facts
Maca contains a valuable amount of vitamins, minerals, sterols, amino acids, glucosinolates and polysaccharides, two of three essential fatty acids (oleic and linoleic) and a total of 18 amino acids. Vitamin and mineral levels in some cases represent 100% of the recommended daily value. Here are more details about maca nutrition:
– Selenium, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Phosphorous, Zinc, Copper, Potassium, Silica.
– Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Vitamin E.
– Alanine, Arginine, Aspartate, Glutamine, Glycine, Histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, proline, sarcosine, serine, threonine, tyrosine and valine.
– Laric, palmitic, palitoleic, linoleic, arachidic, steric, behanic, nervonic, llignoceric, tridecanoic, perntadecanoic, nonadecanoic and eicosenoic (linoleic, palmetic and oleic acid are the primary fatty acids).
– Brassicasterol, erogosterol, ergostadienol, campestrol, sitosterol, stigmasterol.
Dried maca root
– Carbohydrates 59%, Protein 10%, Dietary fiber 8,5% and Lipid 2,2 %
– Maca contains 4 alkaloids, Macaina 1, 2, 3 and 4. The maka alkaloids stimulate the hormone regulators of the reproductive system located in the brain. They also activate hormones that regulate the metabolism of calcium and phosphorous in the blood.
– Maca has high protein content which is much higher from other plants. For example, Maca has 5 times more proteins and 4 times more fibre than the potato, having less fat.
Please note: To benefit from the nutritional value of this root, when you buy maca products look out if it was grown organically (without the use of pesticides) and where about it was grown in Peru (some areas in Peru are affected by contaminated water from mines). The natural soil where pure maca is grown is in Junin area, the soil is fertilized with sheep manure and it contains a great amount of minerals which makes maca nutritional value extremely high.