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Maca, My Love…

by Lisa on April 8, 2010

On Valentine’s Day, I made a smoothie that was so good it warrants mentioning again—it came from Sarma at One Lucky Duck. Purchasing from this store is one of my favorite indulgences—I wait till she sends out a “free shipping” email and then I buy lots of great stuff with the gift cards I bought myself for Christmas (she had a deal going on—something like, buy a $200 gift card and get a $50 gift card for free…So I bought a couple).

Anyway, the Valentine’s Day Smoothie had Maca in it. Before that, I was meaning to try Maca for quite some time. I kept reading about its benefits, and I just didn’t take the time to buy it because, well…there are a lot of things out there that claim a lot of great things.  It’s not that they don’t do what is promised, it’s just that you can’t consume everything that’s considered a superfood (I frequently have to remind myself of that!).

The bottom line is that I wish I found and tried Maca sooner.

There are a lot of benefits, and Maca has been used since ancient times when the Aztecs (or was it the Incans?) would consume it before going into war because it gave them sustained energy they needed for battle. Maca is an adaptogen. This means it enters your body and normalizes your hormones and reverses the load you’ve placed on your liver (from doing things like drinking coffee or ingesting other stimulants). Maca gives you energy without making you pay it back later (i.e. there’s no crash because it’s not a stimulant).

What is it? It’s a ground up root, that sort of looks like a turnip. It has an earthy flavor (gritty and a little bitter). I recently recommended it to my Mom, and told her the best way to consume it would be in a smoothie.  The next day she sent me an email telling me how awful it tasted.  I asked her what she put it with, and she had sprinkled it on her cereal. Um, I’m not sure where that idea came from, but I don’t recommend it!  Maca is not tasty—it needs to be put with things that cover up the taste.  What better way to cover up flavors than with a smoothie!?

Maca is not for everyone. I recommend you try it if you want a boost in your mood and a greater feeling of energy. If I drink a smoothie with maca in it around lunch time, I’m good to go (usually doing work or working out) till bedtime.  Sometimes it makes my body temperature increase (i.e. I get a little sweaty).  I’m cool with that–but if you don’t like to be warm, watch out for this side effect.

The thing is, everyone is going to feel differently when they consume maca. Since it normalizes hormone function (not just sex hormones, people), it can even ease PMS and menopause symptoms. It should help a little in the metabolism department (indirectly), and like I said before—-you’ll feel happier and more motivated!  I just got done telling people that motivation is intrinsic—that there aren’t things or people that can motivate you, and that it comes from importance you place (or create) for a certain aspect of your life.  Well, I’m going to modify that and say that Maca can give you a boost here too. This doesn’t mean it will work immediately and it won’t be the end-all to your woes, but it helps!  I find that I need to ingest it for a day or two before I start to feel any different.

How much? Some sources say More is Better. Other sources say to start out with a teaspoon and gradually increase to a tablespoon per day. I, personally, throw a tablespoon in a smoothie everyday (almost)…and then later if I have another smoothie I throw in a little more. Is this right?  Don’t know—but it works for me. I recommend starting slowly with just a little bit in case you don’t like how it makes you feel.

Obviously, before you begin ingesting anything new, you should research it for yourself. I think it’s valuable to know about Maca, and then depending on your personal needs and habits you can decide whether or not to try it. It doesn’t hurt to consult your doctor either, but I’m guessing most of them won’t know about it (did you know that doctors get about 1-credit hour worth of nutrition training in medical school?  Funny, right?  Not really—but some of them do take an interest on their own).

What do you think?  Have you tried it?  Would you?  Let me know if you want a sample and I’ll give you one so you don’t have to purchase an entire package (I buy Navitas Naturals or Sequel Naturals brands).


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