For us here at Haumana, we are always looking for healthy and exciting ingredients to add to our energy bars. If case you didn’t already know, we always choose a new flavour every month for our Discovery box. Which is why, for the upcoming month of September, we decided to partner up with our friends over at Arc’Teryx to bring you the amazing Maca flavour!
The Maca root is often labeled as a “superfood” and is known for its numerous positive health benefits. But what exactly makes the Maca plant so interesting? Also, why has it gotten so popular over the last few years? Well, grab yourself a snack (ideally, one of our bars) and let’s try to find answers to these questions!
What is “Maca”?
First, let’s start off by taking a quick look at the maca plant and its history. The Maca plant is typically cultivated in the Andes, the large continental mountain range in South America. More specifically, the Maca root is mainly cultivated in Peru, but there are some neighbouring countries which cultivate the plant as well. Maca has actually been cultivated for thousands of years, and some experts even suggest that the plant has been used since 3800 B.C.
Throughout history, this plant was used for much more than just its nutritional value. In fact, even in ancient times, this plant was used to increase the fertility and the overall energy of livestock. Those positive effects seemed to carry over to humans as well, and the Maca plant quickly became an important part of the Peruvian diet.
The 3 Types of Maca
There are also 3 different types of Maca: Red, Yellow and Black. Each type has its own benefits and uses. Yellow maca is the most common type, making up approximately 60% of the harvest. It is generally used for the traditional benefits of the maca root, such as energy, sexual function and mood improvement. This is the type of Maca that we are using for the month of September!
Red Maca is rarer, and makes up about 20% of the harvest. Much like yellow maca, it has a positive impact on sexual function but it is specifically good for improving female fertility and libido, while also improving prostate function and libido for men as well.
Finally, black maca is only about 10-15% of the harvest and is the rarest form of maca. It is primarily used to combat brain fog, fatigue, depression and the loss of co-ordination, while also improving strength.
What exactly are the positive effects of Maca?
Perhaps the most notable aspect of the Maca plant is its impact on sexual health, more specifically fertility. A few clinical trials have shown that the Maca root can increase sperm count as well as sperm motility in animals and humans(1). Maca also seems to have a significant effect on sexual desire (libido) for both women and men as well as an effect on sexual performance, and can often help with sexual problems like erectile dysfunction.
These sexual health benefits may very well explain the recent interest in the Maca root. But they are not the only factor to consider. As mentioned earlier, the Maca plant is also known for its positive effect on energy levels, and can be used as a natural ‘energy booster’. Several studies have shown that Maca may increase energy and physical performance levels and it might also have a direct impact in lowering anxiety levels. The Maca root also has had a positive impact on lowering depression scores in certain clinical trials.
However, it’s important to note that these health benefits are not well documented yet. Studies have shown promising results, but there is a lack of scientific explanation behind those results. In the future we might have a better idea as to how the Maca root provides these benefits, as more trials and research are done.
We’ve talked about the health benefits, but what about the nutritional values of Maca? Well, Maca is not only healthy but it is also very nutritious, as is it a great source of carbohydrates, calcium and iron.
The Maca root is certainly a very promising natural ingredient, with a long history of being used for its numerous health benefits dating back to ancient history. No matter which type of Maca you decide to use, research has shown potential health benefits for people of all ages and gender. For us, exploring interesting, healthy ingredients from around the world is very important, which is why Maca is the perfect flavour to introduce to our bars for the month of September.
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3184420/ (Gonzales)
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28811221/ (Is the hype around the reproductive health claims of maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp.) justified?)