Black maca. Its very name connotes a mystical substance, something that might even be dangerous. On the contrary, people are buzzing about black maca lately because of its many health-boosting qualities. Let’s start from the beginning.
Kinds of Maca
First off, maca is a root native to the Andean plateaus of Peru that’s part of the cruciferous family (think broccoli or cabbage). Today it’s used nutritionally and as a supplement in powder or capsule form, often as an adaptogen (something that helps the body adapt to and manage stress) and an overall energy and vitality booster, according to Brian Tanzer, M.S., nutritionist and manager of scientific affairs for The Vitamin Shoppe.
There are three types of maca: red, yellow, and black—and each has its own individual properties. Yellow maca is very common (and the most affordable, because it’s the most harvested type of maca). Red maca, the second most common, is often used to promote sexual function and happens to taste the sweetest. The rarest type, Black maca, is now quickly gaining popularity because of its many health-boosting properties, as well as the fact that it’s hardest to come by.
Here are four functions Black maca can positively affect:
While more research is still needed, Black maca may be useful for promoting healthier cognitive function. A study on mice in the Journal of Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine found that Black maca may improve learning and memory by its capacity to reduce oxidative stress. “When different varieties of maca (red, yellow and black) were compared for its capacity to induce memory improvement, Black maca showed the greatest effect,” the study reported.
2. Sperm Count
Maca has been believed to promote a strong reproductive system (boosting sexual behavior and libido), and new evidence says it can also potentially increase sperm count. In a study done on mice, it was also shown that Black maca improved sperm count, according to the journal Andrologia.
3. Energy & Mood
Maca is frequently consumed to boost both both energy and mood. The research looking at maca for energy and mood is still developing, but some randomized trials have shown promise, according to a study done by the journal Ethnopharmacology.
The study looked at cyclists and found they had performed better after maca supplementation, as opposed to those who did not supplement with maca. A 2008 study in the journal Menopause also found that maca may have a positive effect on the moods of those with depression and anxiety. While people might not be swapping coffee for black maca any time soon, it may be a great way to supplement your morning ritual.
4. bone Health
Black maca was shown to have some protective effects on bone architecture in female mice, according to a study in Research in Complimentary Science. It may also increase bone density in women, according to the journal International Journal of Biomedical Science.
If you’re interested in taking black maca, it’s easy to do: You can pop the maca powder into a smoothie, sprinkle it on your yogurt, or add a few teaspoons to your favorite baked good recipe.
Maca also comes in gelatinized form, which is said to be easier on the digestive system since it has had the starch removed. In gelatinized maca, the nutrients are also more potent. On the other hand, gelatinized maca has fewer enzymes and glucosinates (which can help balance hormones), since the heating process destroys them.