If you've ever been to Los Angeles (or even just a fancy coffee shop), you've probably heard of maca. From creamy maca lattes to maca pastries, it seems like the ingredient pops up all the time in sweet treats. But you may be wondering what it is, not to mention what it does for your body. What is maca powder? It's not as weird as you might think.
Maca powder is the powdered version of the maca root, which originated in Peru. In my personal opinion, it tastes a little bitter, but also earthy and almost like caramel. Adding the ingredient to smoothies or even a steaming hot chocolate won't only boost the flavor, but it can also potentially provide some major health benefits. "[Maca] may benefit our hormonal health by regulating the endocrine system — the collection of glands that produce hormones to regulate metabolism, growth, sexual function, reproduction, sleep and mood," performance dietitian Jessica Spendlove, told HuffPost Australia.
Don't be afraid to stir a serving of maca into your morning coffee, because the ingredient could also give you an energy kick. A study published in the journal Pharmaceuticals tested the effects of daily maca consumption by 175 participants. At the end of the 12-week study, researchers concluded that maca positively affected the participants' mood, energy, and health status.
Maca is often credited with being a major libido-booster, but there's probably not a whole lot of truth to that, TBH. Before you down a maca latte in anticipation of your upcoming date, just know that the ingredient mostly likely won't make you want to get it on more than you usually would. Dr. Keith-Thomas Ayoob, EdD, RD, FAND, tells Elite Daily that maca root's ability to get you in the mood is more of a theory than something that has been confirmed through scientific research.
As with any dietary supplement, you might want to check in with your doctor before you commit to incorporating maca into your daily meals. "If you take medications or have a medical condition, herbs are not something to just play with," Dr. Ayoob warns. "Some can have serious interactions with medication or in people with certain medical conditions." According do the National Institutes of Health (NIH), "Extracts from maca might act like estrogen." As per the NIH, if you have any condition that could be made worse by extra estrogen exposure, you shouldn't use maca without a doctor's permission. People with hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids should be extra cautious, according to the NIH.
It can be frustrating to invest in a whole bag of a superfood without knowing if you'll like the taste or if you'll notice its health benefits. Care/of sells individual packets of maca for $7 for five servings. Not only will you be able to try out the ingredient for yourself without going home with a pound of the stuff, but the single-serving pouches make this the perfect product to take on-the-go to work or the gym. Care/of recommends combining one pack with your favorite protein powder and a cup of cold liquid for the perfect, energizing smoothie. You can also stir the ingredient into coffee or tea for some extra flavor, which is a great and easy way to get started with the supplement.