What is maca?
The bed (Lepidium meyenii) is an annual or biennial herbaceous plant that grows in the highest parts of the Andes mountain range, lifting about 10 to 20 centimeters off the ground. It has been famous in the area since time immemorial for its great resistance to extreme conditions, since its habitat is between 3,500 and 4,500 meters, which is why it has been traditionally used as food, especially its roots, in the form of radish.
Turmeric, miracle or miracle plant?
The same they are eaten cooked or dried in the sun and turned into powder. The first form is the traditional one in the peoples of the Andes, and according to some studies in mice, it involves a greater nutritional richness compared to the dried root, which, according to the study, would be very poor nutritionally.
The dried and ground root is used mainly as a way to preserve maca, as it is known that it can last up to two years in these conditions. Later, the dried root can be used to cook a traditional mash fermented with goat’s milk called mazamorra, or else grind it into a powder for medicinal purposes.
Maca has been cultivated since ancient times and the first Spaniards who arrived in the Andes area already described its consumption, as reported by Fray Antonio Vasquez de Espinoza in a description of the year 1598.
Among other observations of the time, stands out the vitality and resistance of the cattle that consumed maca in height in front of the animals that the Spaniards brought. Apparently, an increase in fertility is also described among the indigenous herd and is attributed to the consumption of maca.
The truth is that maca has survived to this day as a superfood and also a miraculous plant that is capable of acting as an aphrodisiac, memorizer, energizer, protector against osteoporosis, protector against benign prostate hyperplasia, protector against hair loss , and some other virtues. Thousands of web pages have helped the diffusion of these alleged properties. What is true about that? It is an unfounded myth or there is verification scientific?
For now you have to pay attention to its composition: Maca root powder is made up of close to:
- 14% protein
- 76.5% carbohydrates
- 2% fat
- 8.5% fiber.
It also provides more than 20 amino acids, including eight of the ten essential amino acids, twenty free fatty acids as beneficial as lauric, linoleic, palmitic, oleic, or steric acid. It also provides small amounts of vitamins B-1, B-2, C and E. And as for the minerals Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Copper, Zinc, Manganese, Phosphorus, Selenium, Sulfur, Sodium and Iron.
In other words, we can consider maca a fairly complete food, although perhaps excessively high in carbohydrates, but good as an immediate energy source and rich in fiber, which reduces the glycemic index of sugars, although very low in fat.
A composition, undoubtedly, good to survive at high altitudes where extra hemoglobin is needed due to the low concentration of oxygen in the air. This fact may explain its appreciation among the Andean populations.
Does maca work miracles?
However, it is not at all clear that it works miracles although benefits have been reported according to a 2014 review on its biological properties. It indicated the existence of studies that confirmed its positive effects in laboratory mice on benign prostatic hyperplasia, osteoporosis, spermatogenesis, memory and fatigue.
Additionally, the review clarified that existing studies are not sufficient to be conclusive and that more research is needed. It also stressed that no toxic dose has been observed due to hormonal interference, as claimed by various urban legends.
Another study also did not observe hormonal increase at the plasma level in men after ingesting maca for twelve weeks, which would rule out its aphrodisiac virtues.
Instead yes an increase in spermatogenesis would have been observed on mice located at 4,300 meters of altitude and fed with maca, which would support the impressions that the first Europeans had, although this is not conclusive evidence. Finally, there are no studies that corroborate that it positively affects the prevention of alopecia or hair loss.
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Source: ElDiario.es – ElDiario.es by www.eldiario.es.
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