A few years ago it was still unknown, but today the maca root is becoming increasingly popular. Whether as a delicious addition to meals or as a sensible dietary supplement – Maca is a very unique superfood with many vital substances. The Incas had known it for a long time, now we are finally getting a taste for it.
What is the Maca root anyway?
High up in the Andes, at an altitude of 4,000 to 4,400 meters above sea level, a very special plant grows in Peru: the Maca plant, a type of cress from the cruciferous family. However, it is not the plant that is so special, but the bulbous, yellowish-red root that is reminiscent of turnips from the outside.
The Inca (the legendary indigenous people of Peru) knew, cultivated and consumed the Maca root more than 3,000 years ago. They trusted in the many ingredients of the tuber and believed that the root made you strong and vigorous. After all, the plant survives the extreme weather of the Andes and easily withstands wind, weather, weather, cold and rain. Before important missions and events, the Inca soldiers therefore consumed a lot of maca to strengthen themselves.
Over time, maca became one of the most important foods in South America. The relevance of the Maca tuber can roughly be compared with that of our potatoes. Like our domestic potatoes, Maca can be processed into many other foods. The maca tuber, also known as Peruvian ginseng, is often boiled, baked and made into a pulp. Mazamorra is popular, a very sweet porridge in which the baked Maca tuber is mixed with corn, water, milk and sugar. In Peru and many other Latin American countries, this dish is a well-known national dish.
A few years ago, Maca found its way to Europe – athletes in particular discovered the tubers for themselves. In Germany, the dried powder can now be found more and more often and is considered a high-quality superfood.
The ingredients of maca
The unique thing about the Maca root is not only its characteristic, sweet and nutty taste, but also its special nutritional composition. Precisely because the nutritional value is so high, the inhabitants of Peru prefer to use the Maca tuber instead of corn, rice or wheat.
A Maca tuber consists of about 65% carbohydrates, 15% proteins and 9% fiber, 2.5% are fats such as omega-6 (linoleic acid) and omega-9 (oleic acid), 4.5% are water and 4% % consist of a mixture of minerals and vitamins with many different vital substances.
The mineral magnesium, the trace elements iron and zinc as well as the vitamins B3 and C characterize the Maca tuber.
Magnesium is an essential trace element for the human body and is particularly important for the bones and muscles. The trace element can effectively reduce tiredness and contribute to the electrolyte balance. If there is a magnesium deficiency, you will often notice this from severe muscle cramps. 100 g of maca contain around 104 mg of magnesium. An adult person needs around 300 to 350 g of magnesium per day.
In terms of quantity, iron is the most important trace element in the human body. It is essential for the formation of red blood cells and enables oxygen to be transported. Iron deficiency occurs in many people and is the most well-known deficiency symptom worldwide. This deficiency is characterized by tiredness and an increased susceptibility to infections. Since animal products such as meat and fish in particular contain a lot of iron, maca is a good alternative for vegetarians. 100 g of maca powder contains around 15 mg of iron, which is the recommended daily amount of iron.
Zinc is also a trace element and occurs in small amounts in the body. Nevertheless, this trace element is essential and plays an important role in many different processes. Zinc is required for normal metabolism and plays an important role in maintaining normal testosterone levels in the blood. An impaired libido and fertility can therefore be signs of a zinc deficiency. A weakened immune system is also a symptom of zinc deficiency. 100 g of maca contain 12 mg of zinc. Depending on age and gender, the daily requirement is 7 to 16 mg zinc.
• Vitamin C
Vitamin C is also called ascorbic acid. Vitamin C is important for your body because it helps build connective tissue, protects cells from oxidative stress, contributes to normal energy metabolism and can reduce fatigue. Nonspecific symptoms such as delayed wound healing often show up with a vitamin C deficiency. First and foremost, you can get enough vitamin C from fresh fruit and thus achieve the recommended daily amount of 95 to 110 mg particularly quickly. Maca contains 3 mg per 100 g.
• Vitamin B3
Also known as niacin, the vitamin is an important vitamin from the B complex. Your body needs vitamin B3 for numerous metabolic processes, contributes to the normal functioning of the energy metabolism and can reduce fatigue. A vitamin B3 deficiency occurs very rarely, as your organism can produce the vitamin itself from the body’s own substance tryptophan. Nevertheless, an intake of vitamin B3 through food or dietary supplements is suitable. The root contains 35 mg of vitamin B3 per 100 g of maca. The recommended daily amount of vitamin B3 is 11 to 16 mg.
Maca powder or capsules – the choice is yours!
While in Peru the Maca root is offered in almost every small farmer’s shop or large supermarket, the whole tuber is very rare in this country and is more likely to be found in Latin American supermarkets. The tuber is very difficult to transport from Peru to Germany because it can dry out quickly and therefore does not stay fresh. There is hardly any other growing area for maca than in Peru, as the conditions for the plant in the Andes are perfect. It is difficult to simulate this particular weather in other areas.
Maca is therefore often called in Germany Maca powder offered. To do this, the tuber is dried and ground. In the composition of the ingredients, the powder does not differ at all from the tuber.
If you like it fast and want to consume maca because of its vital substances, you can easily take maca capsules. Maca powder is ideal for your sporty kitchen. The taste of the powder takes some getting used to on its own, because maca tastes sweet, nutty and a bit spicy at the same time. However, if you mix Maca into your drinks or food, you can enjoy very special, refined and delicious dishes!
Are you still unsure how to best process Maca powder? Then we have put together 3 quick recipes for you:
1. Maca Smoothies – Fruity, sweet and light and light for every taste
• A handful of fruit according to your taste (e.g. a mixture of berries, bananas, pears)
• 2 teaspoons of maca powder
• 1 tablespoon of cocoa
• 1 dash of lime or lemon
• 200 ml of milk, almond milk or soy milk
• 30 ml of coffee or espresso
How to do it:
Cut large types of fruit such as bananas or pears into large pieces. Now put all the other ingredients in a blender and mix vigorously until you get a creamy mixture. The smoothie is ready.
You can refine this basic recipe as you wish. Add e.g. vanilla, turmeric, hemp seeds or chia seeds. Ice cream makes the smoothie something very special. Don’t you like cocoa or coffee? Then just forego it and add a little more fruit and a little more milk instead. You can customize the smoothie to suit your taste. Enjoy your meal!
2. Homemade Maca Hummus – delicious dip for fresh bread
• 1 can of chickpeas
• 3 tbsp sesame mushrooms (also called tahini)
• 1 to 2 cloves of garlic
• juice of 1 lemon
• 1 to 2 tablespoons of maca powder
• 100 ml of cold water
• To refine and season: salt, pepper, cumin, paprika powder and olive oil
How to do it:
Drain the canned chickpeas in a colander. Puree the chickpeas finely and mix them with the sesame nut, lemon juice, garlic clove and maca powder. Then slowly mix the cold water into the mass until a fluffy sauce is formed. You can then refine the hummus as required with salt, pepper, cumin, paprika powder or olive oil.
Then serve the hummus – it tastes particularly delicious with traditional pita bread, flatbread or fresh stone-baked bread.
3. Maca bars – bars for that extra helping of energy
• 5 to 6 tablespoons of cocoa
• 1 to 2 tablespoons of maca powder
• 300 g dates
• 300 g cashew nuts
• 70 g almonds
• 30 g desiccated coconut
• 1 pinch of salt
• 1 teaspoon of honey
• 1 tablespoon of water
• Various nuts such as cashew nuts, walnuts, almonds
How to do it:
Mix the cocoa, maca, dates, cashew nuts, almonds and desiccated coconut and a pinch of salt in a blender. Then fold in the teaspoon of honey and the tablespoon of water so that it becomes a dough-like consistency.
Place the dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet. If you want, you can now spread a few whole nuts such as cashews, walnuts and almonds over the mass. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Then cut the day into equal parts.
The snack is suitable for in between, before exercise or as a breakfast bar.