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Maca: a Peruvian superfood

Photo Credit: Maca with leaves removed., originally uploaded by Cesar Moncloa.

I was recently offered a taste of a food i had not heard of. Being a curious vegetarian, I decided to try it. A new flavor can sometimes feel like you have discovered a new color. A specific molecular configuration can create havoc on your tongue. Maca is a root vegetable that originates in the Andean plateaus. It is a cruciferous vegetable, similar to broccoli, cabbage, mustard and collard greens. The flavor is especially earthy and nutty. Maca possesses many virtuous health-promoting attributes. For thousands of years, maca has been used as an aphrodisiac and fertility enhancer in Peruvian culture.

Maca grows exclusively in high altitudes: 4000-4500 meters above sea level. According to common local folklore, it is a well-known protector and preserver of fertility and sexual function, which are reduced at such high altitudes. The biological activity of the plant is located in the root. Maca is eaten raw or boiled. The roots may be dried and are known to preserve their bio-functional properties for years. Maca may be used int the preparation of jams and jellies. It can be ground into a flour and used in cookies and breads. The leaves may be eaten in a salad.

Human studies have shown that Maca enhances sexual desire in men who were given 1.5-3g of maca for12 weeks. Ingested maca did not show an increase in serum testosterone levels or sexual reproductive hormone levels. How maca affects sexual desire is not clear; however, it is reassuring to see that it does not increase levels of testosterone, its precursors, or reproductive hormones. Although low levels of testosterone are linked to hypo-sexuality, improving sexual function by increasing testosterone levels is risky as increased levels of testosterone and its precursors have been linked to prostate cancer. In another study, sperm count, sperm motility, and seminal volume increased in adult men treated with maca (1.5-3g) for 4 months. Again, reproductive hormone levels were unchanged. Maca may have an effect via a phytoestrogenic mechanism; however, this has not been clarified.

In animal studies, red maca was shown to decrease prostate size. Maca also shows skin protective benefits particularly with exposure to sunlight (ultraviolet radiation). Furthermore, all varieties of maca show antidepressant activity. Indeed, Maca is a highly functional food with numerous benefits.


  1. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology
  2. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine
  3. Photodermatology, Photoimmunology, and Photomedicine
  4. Asian Journal of Andrology’s
  5. Journal of Endocrinology
  6. Asian Journal of Andrology
  7. NCBI Alternative Medicine Review
  8. NCBI Biomedical Papers

1 Comment »

  tricajus@erectile-dyfunction-cure wrote @ March 15th, 2010 at 7:56 am

Maca is also popularly known as Peruvian Ginseng. During the Inca Empire the consumption of maca is only limited to the privilege classes and rewarded as gifts to warriors. Maca which is one of the main ingredients of Tricajus works extremely well for people having erectile dyfunction problem.

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