What are its benefits?
Nutritious maca root is a great addition to the diet. It is a good source of carbs, is low in fat, and contains a fair amount of protein and fiber. It’s also high in some important vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, copper and iron. Further, it contains various bioactive compounds, including polyphenols and glucosinolates.
Various studies have looked at maca’s health benefits:
- Randomized clinical trials in humans indicate that maca has a positive effect on energy and mood, may decrease anxiety, and may improve sexual desire in men and women.
- One review of four studies in menopausal women found that maca helped alleviate menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and interrupted sleep.
- The polyphenols and glucosinolates in maca have an antioxidant effect.
- A handful of studies show it may boost endurance and performance in sports.
In terms of polyphenols’ effects on the microbiome, recent research is encouraging. Due to the chemical structure of most polyphenols, they are not easily absorbed, so they have a longer time in the intestine to interact with microbiota. Studies support that dietary phenols reaching the gut microbes (along with the metabolites generated) modify and produce variations in the microbiota through their prebiotic effects on beneficial bacteria and antimicrobial action against pathogenic microflora.
- Specifically, dietary polyphenols can affect populations of bacteria by interfering with their “quorum sensing” ability, membrane permeability, and sensitizing them to chemicals that are seen by the body as foreign. Polyphenols have other effects as well – they can affect gut metabolism, immunity, and can have anti-inflammatory effects.
- The mechanism is thought to be that the gut microbiome changes polyphenols into bioactive compounds, which then influence the intestinal ecology and affect health. Studies in animals and in humans have shown that prescribed amounts of particular polyphenols may inhibit certain bacterial groups, while others can then flourish in the now-available ecological niche.
What is it?
The maca plant (Lepidium meyenii) is found in the Andes and is sometimes referred to as Peruvian ginseng. It is a cruciferous vegetable with a long history of culinary and medicinal use in Peru. The main edible portion of the plant is the root. It exists in several colors, such as white, golden, red, and black. It is dried and ground into powder and has an earthy, nutty flavor.
For More Information
- 9 Benefits of Maca Root (and Potential Side Effects)
- Lepidium meyenii (Maca): a plant from the highlands of Peru–from tradition to science
- Maca (Lepidium meyenii) for treatment of menopausal symptoms: A systematic review
- Top 5 Maca Root Benefits and Nutrition
- Beneficial Effects of Dietary Polyphenols on Gut Microbiota and Strategies to Improve Delivery Efficiency