Maca is a cruciferous root vegetable that looks like a cross between a radish and a turnip. It is native to the Andes and is often referred to as “Peruvian ginseng” because like ginseng it is also an adaptogen. Adaptogens are extremely therapeutic because they work on our physiological and emotional processes.

Legend has it that the Incan and Spanish warriors were reputed to take Maca root before battle to increase their energy, performance and recovery time. Maca also found it’s way into the barter system and was used as currency due to it’s immense value. Even today, Maca stands on top of the list of Peru’s top agricultural exports.

The Root Of All Goodness

Maca is generally available and consumed in powdered form. Once harvested the maca root is traditionally dried in the sun and then powdered to be cooked. However it can be cooked either by roasting it or boiling it. The advantage of cooking the root over drying it is that it makes it more digestible. It also retains the original properties and enzymes better when it’s cooked than dried.

Maca is hailed as a miracle food because it balances the different body systems and functions and also boosts energy and immunity. It might even take over coffee as a pick-me-up. The great thing about maca is that it doesn’t contain any caffeine, processed sugar or energy enhancers and hence doesn’t stress out your adrenal glands. It is capable of boosting your energy in a natural, balanced and consistent manner.

From a nutritional standpoint, maca is rich in vital vitamins and minerals. It has high amounts of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and iron, and also contains a few essential amino acids. It has a very high protein and fiber content compared to other root veggies and is also low in calories. Above all, it is an adaptogenic root that assists and supports the body to handle and manage stress.

Legend has it that the Incan and Spanish warriors were reputed to take Maca root before battle to increase their energy, performance and recovery time

How Much Is Too Much

Maca consumption has risen given the popularity of this tuber as a superfood. More than the cooked version of maca, it is consumed more as a supplement and a food ingredient.  has It has recently become very popular as a superfood and is being used widely as a supplement and food ingredient. It is advised that in the beginning, maca should be taken in very small quantities – say about half a teaspoon, and then slowly graduate to a teaspoon as it can trigger your hormones and create an imbalance. Consult your nutritionist before experimenting with any new food trends.

If you want to cook with maca, its best to balance this superfood with other wholesome ingredients. Maca has a very malty taste and may not go well with some foods. It is an emulsifier and imparts a smooth consistency and texture to whatever it is added to. The easiest way to consume maca is by  adding it to your protein shake or in a fruit smoothie. However, you can use it in really anything-from soups to baked goods. But some ardently believe that maca loses its properties when cooked.

Maca is relatively new in Indian markets and may need a detailed search if you want to get your hands on this gem. In terms of price, it is high as compared to other superfoods. A 100 gram pack could cost you anywhere between Rs. 650-800.

Here are some easy and quick ways of using maca

1. It can be supplemented for or added to dry fruits like nuts, dates, figs and prunes.
2. It’s a yummy treat when added to grated or desiccated coconut.
3. Maca goes well when mixed with fruit/veggie juices or smoothies.
4. Sprinkle it over your cereal, hot or cold and enjoy it for breakfast.
5. Since maca has therapeutic properties, it can be added to a glass of milk and consumed before bed for a good nights rest.

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