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Maca - The Superfood of the Andes

Last week we started taking at look at Maca through the lens of Nadine’s wonderful experience, as she told us how the incredible Peruvian root helped her overcome fertility issues that seemed to be insurmountable. This week we’ll be discussing the finer details of our Maca, how it’s grown and why so many people are discovering the health benefits to be gained from its use.  

Growing beyond the tree line 4,000 metres above sea-level, the Maca root is one of the only edible plants that can be found at this altitude. It’s considered one of the main superfoods, primarily for its unique alkaloids which optimise the function of the hormonal system, but also for its high protein content and good mineral profile. It’s a very hardy plant and since the mountains in Peru’s Junín province are volcanic, natural erosion means that the ground is particularly mineral-rich and therefore so is our Maca: it absorbs all those great minerals from the soil. Indeed, so effective is the root at absorbing nutrients from the soil that growers have to leave the fields fallow for six or seven years in between crops. This isn’t a problem as there’s a huge amount of land up there upon which nothing else can be grown due to the altitude. The grower association we work with in Junín is a member of the Fair Trade Association, where Maca really makes a difference socially, providing a sustainable source of income in an area where little else grows.

Superfood Maca{image - freshly harvested Maca}

Maca is central to those cultures and has been for millennia, so it’s widely recognised as a powerful food; people know that it grants them this special energy. The Pumpush people of the region have been cultivating and consuming it as a staple food for thousands of years. Since it makes up a considerable part of their diet, they generally cook it, brew drinks from it or even use it to make a sort of porridge, whilst the leaves of the plant are used to make salads. Maca has quite an unusual taste and tends to provoke strong reactions; Scott’s daughter loves it, whereas Scott himself isn’t keen at all. It’s very distinctive, with a slightly bitter caramel flavour. It’s a whole food, since the root is harvested, dried and then milled into a powder, so you can have as much as you want. However, if you take too much to start with you can feel queasy, so build up slowly. We‘re often asked why our product costs so much less than other brands. It’s simple: we buy our 100% certified organic Maca directly from our grower association in Junín, whom we pay a premium price to. We then put the same markup on the Maca as all of the other products we sell, and that’s how we arrive at the price.



The benefits that Nadine and her family enjoyed, similar to thousands of others who’ve experimented with Maca, are due to the unique alkaloids which it contains. These alkaloids work on the master glands, the hypothalamus and the pituitary, which control the functioning of the hormonal system. They’re understood to help “tune up” the master glands, so basically if you’re experiencing any hormonal issues, adrenal issues, chronic fatigue, male fertility issues or the menopause for example, it works to help optimise the functioning of the master glands. It’s considered an adaptogen, which means it’s a herb which stimulates resistance to stress, trauma, anxiety and fatigue. It’s also good to stop taking it for a little while every few months, because although the body gets a kick from it and gains energy, it also adapts to its force. It’s not a stimulant per se; it gives you energy through optimising your adrenal glands. Some people get more benefits from consuming more of it, whereas others find that large doses don’t agree with them. You need to listen to you own body and monitor it in the context of your own hormonal system; with a minimal dose you can experience real benefits, but if you’re a high-performance athlete for example, you may want to consume more, as you’ll require something different to those who simply need a bit more energy.

It’s often cited that Maca was eaten by Inca imperial warriors before battles, their legendary strength imparted by the preparatory consumption of copious amounts of Maca. Whether or not this oft-repeated historical usage is actually true has yet to be determined, though a quick word of warning may be pertinent at this point…if you’re taking it, you might want to have your partner take it too. Not to be too risqué, but this stuff is proven to make you feel that little extra bit frisky…as a number of us here at Loving Earth have found out! Until next week, take care!

Read next: Maca - Nadine's Story

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