In case you're just joining The Soulful Spoon for the first time, I'm doing a special Superfood Spotlight Series to highlight my top favorite 14 superfoods over the next two weeks, along with all the health benefits, recipes to go along with them, and products that contain these superfoods.
Yesterday on Day One I kicked things off with raw cacao, so if you didn't get to check out that delicious post, be sure you do!:)
Today moves on to one of my absolute favorite superfoods that I can't even imagine being without...
What is Maca and Where Does it Come From?
Maca is a root vegetable that looks a lot like a turnip in its original form.
It comes from Peru and is one of the most prized foods in South America. It is grown at high elevations, and contains incredible amounts of soil-based nutrients. Because it can not be sold in whole form in the United States, it is now available as a powder here in the United States.
What Does Maca Taste Like?
Maca is sold in two versions: gelatanized and raw. Gelatanized is often recommended since it is said to be easier to digest, however, it contains a much bittter taste than raw maca. Raw maca is very creamy, has a caramel/butterscotch, and slightly malt flavor, and I actually find it digests seamlessly for me, despite my many digestive difficulties. A high quality raw maca should taste good-not bitter!
Why Use Maca?
- Maca is known for its hormone-boosting properties the most. It can help assist with menopausal issues, low-libido, fertility, low-energy, and can enhance your strength.
- Maca also helps improve PMS symptoms, depression, and chronic anxiety, to my experience. I started using maca three years ago and have ever since. It has made a huge improvement in my mood, energy, and is instantly calming as soon as I consume it. Anytime I feel especially anxious, maca always seems to help.
- Maca makes a powerful combination when mixed with cacao for easing anxiety and depression. They also taste phenomenal together too, by the way!
Here are 10 Fast Health Facts About Maca:
1. Maca contains a total of 20 amino acids and contains ALL essential amino acids your body needs for optimal protein utilization. This makes maca a complete source of plant-based protein.
2. Unlike most starches, maca is low in sugar and rich in easy to digest fiber. It is a naturally lower-carb root vegetable, especially in its raw powdered form.
3. Maca contains high levels of bioavailable calcium and magnesium, which both strengthen your bones and provide support for your overall body. Calcium and magnesium are also critical for your nervous system and can help reduce/eliminate stress and anxiety.
4. Maca helps combat the toxicity of excess environmental estrogens we encounter through cleaning supplies, beauty products, and other toxic chemicals that create an estrogen dominance in our bodies that can lead to weight gain, reproductive disorders, hormonal imbalances, and chronic anxiety. Maca helps detoxify the body from harmful estrogens to create a healing balance, all over a short period of time.
5. Maca is an adaptogen, meaning it adjusts to help you whether you need energy or relief from stress. When you are fatigued, it can help boost your metabolism to provide you energy. When you are stressed and have anxious energy, it also provides a sense of calm and can help you rest.
6. Maca balances and heals the adrenal glands. Your adrenal glands are a key hormonal gland and a critical element to a healthy endocrine system. Your adrenal health controls everything from your energy to your thyroid, to your weight. Maca's balancing properties bring almost immediate healing to your adrenals, helping you feel more balanced.
7. Maca can reduce and eliminate hot flashes and menstrual cramps. It is excellent for female hormone health, and I noticed quick relief from my hot flashes once I started using it during my eating disorder recovery.
8. Maca helps strengthen the brain due to high Vitamin B12, along with other B vitamins such as Vitamin B6 and B3.
9. Maca is grown at the highest altitude in the world of all plant foods, located in the Andes Mountains in Peru. For this reason, it retains more nutrients from the soil than other root vegetables, due to less soil toxicity from environmental factors.
10. Contains over 20 essential fatty acids that your body uses to support your heart, metabolism, brain, and your digestive system. Overall, maca is very low in fat, yet by weight, it is a fantastic source of metabolism and heart-friendly EFA's (essential fatty acids) of all vegetables out there.
*Did You Know?*
Maca was used in South America years ago for women who had trouble with both fertility and low-libido because maca balances progesterone and estrogen in the body. It was considered a prize food among all South American women, and one of the most sought-ought foods of all plant-foods in this region.
*Note* Maca is incredibly potent, and more is not better when it comes to this superfood. Keep it to one serving a day since more may do you more harm than none at all.
What Kind of Maca is the Best?
- There are multitudes of maca brands and varieties out there, but after trying several brands, I have found one that I go back to every single time the most, mostly for the taste, digestibility, and health benefits:
Plain and simple- once you try this maca, you will never want another, I can promise! (*This post is not sponsored- I truly do buy this brand and use it everyday because I love it.*)
- It is creamy and sweet, but not only that, it's also more satisfying and contains NO bitterness whatsoever.
- Healthforce Maca-Force also contains enzymes AND contains probiotics for the best digestibility factor. It is grown with soil-based probiotics, which have been linked to a higher immune system and healthier digestive system. Maca-Force contains over 7 billions probiotic cultures in just one tablespoon! (It is also gluten-free, organic, vegan, and sugar-free).
- Maca-Force also contains: ginger root, vanilla bean, lucuma fruit (another superfood) and yacon-root (another sweet root vegetable). Both lucuma and yacon root are used in Maca-Force to act as a natural source of "food" for the probiotics since they are both pre-biotics.
- Maca-Force is low in carbohydrates, has under 1 gram of fat, has no effect on your glycemic index, has 1 gram of sugar, almost 2 grams of fiber, and contains over 45 servings in one container.
*Note* Healthforce Nutritionals also makes a mint flavor of Maca-Force made with carob and mint, but I'm not a fan of that flavor. I actually have an allergy to carob since it is in the same botanical family as soy, and I get the same reaction when I eat it that I do when I eat soy (which is extreme fatigue, bloating, and a headache almost instantly). Many people use carob as an alternative to chocolate, but I personally would just rather have chocolate and avoid the allergy altogether.
As I always say though, see what works for you!
How I Use Maca:
- Like most of my superfoods, I use maca in my daily smoothie. I use a serving (one tablespoon), and my energy is completely balanced and noticeable the rest of the day. It's nothing like energy you get from caffeine either.
- Superfoods, including maca, provide a very balancing energy that allows you to focus better, think more clearly, and be more active all throughout the day, but won't keep you up at night.
- I find a smoothie is the easiest way to use maca, along with using it in raw energy bites and bars. It has a delicious sweet and creamy taste that reminds me of butterscotch, so I like to use it in a variety of ways.
How to Use Maca (My Favorite Recipes):
As I mentioned, I mostly use maca in a smoothie for quick, easy absorption, and because it enhances the taste. I do recommend you add a sweetener such as stevia, or if you like bananas, you can use that too, or even frozen berries would be nice. It compliments cacao exceptionally well too.
I also use maca in my favorite raw energy recipes, and have my favorite smoothies and raw energy recipes listed below:
and my Cocoa Maca Acai Truffles!
Maca Resource Information:
If you want to read more about maca, check out some of my favorite resources below:
I hope you'll give maca a try if you're not already a fan. If you're not using it, it's definitely worth your time to see how it works for you. I'd never go back to being without it again after seeing the healing benefits in my life, especially after my hormones changed so much.
To buy my favorite maca, you can save $5 off your order through iHerb through my discount link, or just type in coupon code TEZ763 at checkout from whatever else you'd like to buy. Any orders over $40 also get $10 off:)
So you tell me, have you ever used maca? I know some of you have already told me you love it:) If you have a link to a favorite recipe, feel free to share it below, or just tell me your favorite way to eat it.
See you tomorrow and have a fantastic evening!:)