Maca is a superfood native to the Peruvian Andes that has been cultivated for over 2,000 years. This Andean crop is produced between 3,900 and 4,500 masl in a place characterized by areas of rocky, arid terrain, intense sunlight, winds, and sub-zero temperatures. For this reason, it is known for being a crop with excellent adaptation capable of withstanding very adverse factors.
There are approximately eight different ecotypes in the growing areas that differ according to the color of their roots: yellow, purple, white, black, gray, yellow/purple, and white/purple. Among these ecotypes, yellow is the most common crop.
Maca is internationally recognized due to: its high nutritional value (higher than other roots and tubers), its carbohydrate, mineral (calcium, phosphorus, iron) and vitamin content. Some researchers attribute that maca roots contain various compounds of interest for their health benefits.
In that sense, what are these compounds and what is their importance?
Among the group of secondary metabolites, macaenes, macamides and glucosinolates stand out the most for being associated with great properties and for their function as typical markers.
Macaenes and macamides are lipid compounds belonging to the biologically active group of maca that are directly related to the improvement of sexual health and brain function. These compounds have been shown to increase the production of nitric oxide, a compound that helps dilate blood vessels and improve blood circulation. Additionally, macaenes and macamides are recognized for their contribution to memory enhancement and anxiety reduction in animal studies.
Regarding glucosinolates, they are the secondary metabolites that generate great interest among scientists due to their biological activities. Mainly for its anticancer properties and capacity to fight pathogens. Additionally, they are believed to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Glucosinolates may help regulate blood sugar levels and improve cardiovascular health.
In general, the consumption of maca and its bioactive compounds can have many health benefits, as long as it is consumed in moderation and in adequate doses. However, it is important to note that research on the effects of maca and its compounds is limited and more studies are needed to fully understand its effects in humans.
Also, as with any food or supplement, it’s important to be aware of possible drug interactions and potential side effects. Therefore, it is recommended to speak with a doctor before starting to consume maca or any other dietary supplement.
Remember that maca can be consumed in various forms, powder, capsules or liquid extract. The fastest way to consume it is by adding powdered maca to smoothies, yogurts or juices. It is also possible to include in the preparation of bakery and pastry recipes.
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