Wellness Hub August 2016 Maca 101 Tara Ali August 23, 2016 Share You’ve probably seen maca nestled among it’s neighbours, spirulina and acai, on the shelves in the health food store. But what is it actually for, and do you need it in your life? Botanically, it’s related to cruciferous veg like broccoli, but it’s a bit more exciting than your standard greens. Think of maca as the cousin of ginseng, with advocates hailing its ginseng-style wellbeing and vitality-boosting qualities, but it’s also traditionally known for its benefits to the hormonal system. Intrigue. “Maca is a rich source of antioxidants to protect against oxidative stress. It supports sexual health, a very important component of physical and mental wellbeing. Many people also take maca as a general wellbeing and vitality tonic,” says Sherree Banh, nutritionist at Swisse. Natural wonders of the world Native to the high Andes mountains of Peru, the maca root contains many fatty acids and amino acids has a strong earthy, nutty taste. In South America it has been regarded for centuries as a miracle food, used to treat everything from erectile dysfunction to fertility, boosting the immune system and libido. People today commonly take it to help with: Enhancing vitality Hormone health and balance Menopause symptoms Boosting sex drive Maca-backers have reported noticing a little energy boost after having maca - a bit like a coffee, but without the jitters. OK sign me up, how do I use it? Maca powder can be added to smoothies, cereals, juices or even used as an extra ingredient in baking, says Banh. “Generally speaking, there is no correct amount to use. Powders differ in concentrations and are also different to eating the maca root itself.“ As it’s quite strong-tasting start off with a small amount and see if you like the taste. Try Sherree’s wake-up call smoothie to get started: Maca-nana smoothie This smoothie is a good source of vitamin B6, potassium and niacin. These vitamins and minerals are great for energy and maintaining a healthy nervous system. Ingredients: 1 banana 250 ml almond milk ½ tsp cinnamon 1 tsp maca powder Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth and enjoy!