Maca has the scientific name of Lepidium meyeniiand is a vegetable that is native to Andes Mountains of Peru. Resembling the size and appearance of turnip or radish, maca has a green top with yellow, purple or black roots. The hypocotyls or the root of maca has a pleasant taste and is made into a powder by grinding after harvesting. For centuries Peruvians have used maca powders for their health benefits and as a natural source for many vitamins. Maca roots have different colors and black maca is believed to be more beneficial for muscle growth than red or yellow maca while red maca is known to improve testosterone levels.
Although maca has a taste that resembles that of a root, it is a cruciferous vegetable on the lines of cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and kale all of which belong to the Brassica family. All of these cruciferous vegetables contain goitrogens that are known to impact the functioning of the thyroid gland when an excess of these are consumed in raw form. Cooking processes destroy these goitrogens so it is always advised to cook maca to render it completely safe. Maca root can be consumed after baking or boiling while maca root power can be added to cooked food and dishes like soups, broths or stocks.
Maca like the other vegetables in the Brassica family has good stores of vitamin C, potassium, iron, and copper and provides some B vitamins. Maca is available in several shades, with darker roots being rich in iodine as well that is an important mineral to prevent goiter (a condition that results from iodine deficiency).
Because of the nutty and sweetish flavor of maca, it can be blended into protein shakes with flavors of vanilla or chocolate. Maca root powder can also be added to coffee.
Benefits Of Maca For Men
1. Boosts sex drive
A 2002 double-blind study divided 57 participants into three groups. The first group received 1.5 grams of maca; the second was given 3 grams of maca while the third group received a placebo. These supplements were administered every day for twelve weeks. At the eighth week, the men who received maca supplements reported that they felt improved sexual desire.
In another study twenty men who were depressed and on antidepressants were enrolled. Antidepressants such as SSRI (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are usually given to treat depression and are known to impact sexual desire negatively in men. These men were divided into two groups and one received 1.5 grams of maca while the other was administered 3 grams of maca every day. The group that got 3 grams said their libido improved while the ones that received 1.5 grams did not report any improvement.
Maca extract of up to 10 grams a day given to eight athletes resulted in enhanced sexual desire although it did not have significant improvement in endurance or energy levels.
A 2001 study also showed that maca when given in 1.5 gram or 3-gram doses every day was effective in boosting fertility with improved sperm motility as well as sperm count while also improving erectile dysfunction.
2. Fights chronic diseases
Maca root boosts the levels of superoxide dismutase and glutathione which are the natural antioxidants in the human body. These chemicals neutralize free radicals that are implicated in various chronic lifestyle diseases including heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, Alzheimer's and arthritis. A test tube study of 2014 found that the starches extracted from the maca roots had a considerable antioxidant activity that was highly effective in quenching free radicals.
Another study conducted on animals in the Czech Republic found administration of maca in concentrated doses improved the antioxidant levels in rats. Maca also decreased triglyceride and cholesterol levels besides reducing blood sugar levels considerably in rats. The high antioxidant levels in maca were also shown to have a protective effect against neurological damage that occurs in conditions such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's in another study.
3. Enhanced energy and mood
Using maca powder regularly can result in improved energy levels in men. They reported that they feel more energized, alert and driven after using maca every day. The plus side to using maca is that it does not have the unpleasant jittery side effects, unlike caffeine. Caffeine increases stamina and alertness but is known to cause shakiness, fast heartbeat and withdrawal symptoms on regular use. Clinical trials show maca can boost stamina and energy without these unpleasant side effects. Some studies also show that maca can be a very effective anti-depressant.
Maca can boost fertility in both men and women but men experience more benefits from regular consumption of maca. Maca powder supplementation for eight weeks in men resulted in improvement in both sperm count and quality which are the two main factors that impact fertility levels.
Nieto et al conducted a study in 2006 wherein participants were administered maca at a dose of 2 grams for twelve days. Sperm counts of these men were tested at two days’ intervals. The researchers found that the sperm count was increased in men after one day of maca treatment. At the end of the seventh day, there was a considerable improvement in sperm production as well.
Yet another study by J.Rubio and others also showed maca was effective in reversing infertility that was caused due to chemical exposure. After dividing the participants into two groups, the researchers gave lead acetate which is a known toxic metal to both groups. One group received maca while the control group did not. Significant improvement in fertility was found in the group that received maca.
5. Erectile dysfunction
Maca is known to be effective in treating erectile dysfunction. An Italy based double-blind clinical trial enrolled fifty men with mild erectile dysfunction. One group received 2.4 grams of maca while the other received a placebo. Upon reviewing the results at the end of twelve weeks, the researchers found the men who got maca supplements had an improvement in erectile function as compared to the placebo group.
Disclaimer: The vitamin health information published on this web page is solely intended for educational purposes. VitaminsOnly strongly recommends to consult health care professionals for any questions concerning your health.
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